Piracy Troubles Finally Solved

Chris Kennedy's picture

After years of struggle between those that would create software and those that would steal it, Capcom has finally found the perfect, DRM-free way to prevent people from stealing the PC version of Super Street Fighter IV.

They're just not going to release it.

Producer Yoshinori Ono stated that the PC platform was "number one in piracy." He said that the game would essentially be considered free on the PC platform. He didn't rule out a possible release for the PC sometime in the future - possibly after a powerful copy protection solution is achieved.

Source - Gamasutra

We know that this struggle between software companies, end users, and pirates has raged for several "eras" of computer gaming. Is this really the direction things are headed now? While consoles are not considered perfect when it comes to copy protection of software, they do create a much more controlled environment for companies to release their software. As consoles approach PCs in terms of capabilities, do companies just believe that simply ignoring the PC as a gaming platform is the way to go?

I certainly hope that this is a Capcom-only way of thinking. They certainly do just fine in the console market. Perhaps this means they can safely ignore the PC gamers' market.

While I don't game on PC as I did throughout the late eighties and on through the nineties, I am quick to raise my hand and state that the PC gives a different feel to gaming AND also easily spans multiple eras compared to a console. Don't get me wrong - I am certainly a fan of consoles, but to see a software company practically give up simply because they don't want to worry about piracy is absolutely ridiculous.

I guess the lesson here is that we just shouldn't make PC games anymore.

Wait....what?

Comments

Carl Williams
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Joined: 08/01/2010
I really think this is

I really think this is another way of Capcom saying that the sales of Street Fighter IV were not what they wanted them to be on PC (whether piracy related or not, it is going to be blamed anyhow). Seriously, how many people out there buy fighting games for PC? Most people that are fans of the genre have a console and will be wanting to play against others so they are going to get the version their friends have (which is probably one of the consoles).

Many companies make money on PC with their games. They are mostly independent or slightly lower priced in their efforts but still, they make money and many don't have any kind of DRM. I remember the days when a game that was on consoles and PC had vastly different prices (consoles were usually $49.99 while the PC version would be $29.99 or less, since the company could take a lower profit due to not paying console licensing fees). Nowadays, PC games are the same price as the console version (even though to play on a comparable graphics level, you will have had to invest quite a bit more than $300 in the graphics card in your PC for most titles).

For me, I mainly play on PC (don't have a newer console than the Dreamcast) but with the prices of most newer titles, I simply don't play them and go for the lower priced titles I missed over the years (such as Septerra Core for about $5 versus $60 for Starcraft II, which would require a new graphics card for me to even see the title screen). Companies have priced themselves out of the PC market and are blaming piracy as the reason for low sales figures (I don't doubt many people just pirate rather than buy).

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I'm not a fan of fighting

I'm not a fan of fighting games, but even if I were, it seems Carl is right--they just seem like a better fit for consoles or arcades. Even though it's easy to install two usb controllers--and you might have your PC connected to a big screen--it just seems odd for some reason.

I think we've noticed the PC evolving towards certain genres and away from purely action games. The best PC games (at least since the mid to late 90s) have all been mouse and/or keyboard controlled by default. In this context, Starcraft II makes perfect since. SFIV, though...Again, sure you can pick up excellent USB game pads and joysticks, but they are certainly aren't assumed by the devs, even in most console ports. In short, Capcom would have probably needed to package a controller with the game, driving up the cost (I don't know anyone since Sango Fighter who would try to play a fighting game with the keyboard).

As for the piracy issue, that's what they've been claiming forever. They even say that about many consoles, especially the DS. Anytime a game flops or doesn't sell well, OH, IT'S THOSE NASTY PIRATES WHAT'S DID IT! WE MADE A GREAT GAME! EVERYTHING WAS PERFECT! IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A HUGE HIT BUT THOSE PIRATES! Please. When I hear a publisher start wailing on this, the first thing I ask was whether the game was really as good as they claim. If not, blaming pirates is just silly.

What if every time a movie flopped at the box office, nobody ever thought -- well, the movie sucked. Instead, they started saying that millions of kids were sneaking into theaters and watching their movies for free, without buying tickets!!! What we need is maximum security, armed guards at all the entrances and exits, barcode and retinal scanners; random interruptions in the movie so that ushers can come in and make sure everyone is legitimately there. ARGH!

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cdoty
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Joined: 07/21/2006
Fragmentation

Add in the fact that the PC is such a fragmented market; developing for consoles seems like a no-brainer. I would be willing to bet there are more combinations of OS, graphics, and sound hardware, than there were Java phones in the J2ME days.

Laserdisc (not verified)
Piracy has become the default scapegoat...

Capcom like most other companies blame piracy as the main reason why a game falls flat when they don't reach expected sales figures. They rarely admit any wrong doing on their part such as buggy software, poor marketing or just publishing utter rubbish. By the looks of things on the internet and news outlets the most rampant piracy occurs on the DS platform. The files are small, no amount of high level technical knowledge is required to dump a DS game into a rom file and easily distribute it throughout the internet. BUT DS software sales (good quality games) are pretty strong. PS3 has recently joined this club with the immanent release of a USB key that will allow people to run pirated software EVEN more easily than they could on the PC. It will be interesting to see how PS3 games sales will be effected by this.

I think Capcom could have just come out and say "look PC sales did alright but not enough to warrant the release of SSF4 since a vast majority of fighting game fans purchased it for their console". Or I would've been satisfied with... "We wanted to make the SF4 experience universal, and with hundreds of thousands of different configurations of PCs there's just no way to keep our customer experience consistent between them all." How about... "PC gamers tend not to buy overpriced DLC as much as their console counterparts thus it discourages our superiors at Capcom from releasing SSF4 on the PC platform." And lastly... "We don't want to see "nude patches" for any of our games."

The moral of this story? When a company jumps on the "piracy blame game" -- nine out of ten times it's actually a reason the company is too embarrassed to disclose.

Chris Kennedy
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Joined: 08/31/2008
Off topic

Carl -

I am jumping off my own blog post, but I just wanted to say that I was happy to hear that you picked up Septerra Core. I think most people don't know about that game, and I had a blast with it. That said, it certainly isn't everyone's cup of tea. I should play it again soon. I guess it has been ten years...

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Carl Williams
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Joined: 08/01/2010
I agree with Matt about the

I agree with Matt about the genres situation, mouse controlled stuff usually does better on PC, I mean, when someone releases an RTS or similar title on a console it usually doesn't sell that well because the people that own consoles are usually not into them (due to poor controls and such). Sure, on PC, you have more freedom on what type of controller you use to play games like Street Fighter IV but how many people here have had to resort to using something like Joy2Key because the company making a console port didn't include native controller support?

I love the argument about the handheld market dying due to piracy or whatever. Nintendo marketed the DS to the point where piracy is not as big a part of their final numbers, good games still sell a lot to people that don't pirate. This is something that Sony screwed up when releasing the PSP. They went after EVERYONE, music lovers, movie buffs and gamers and failed to hit ANY of those markets with much force. Had they done like Apple, sent out the trojan horse that we know as the iPod, then slowly dabbled in games (who remembers when they only had Bejeweled and 3 or 4 other games for iPod? This was before the Touch). Now, Apple is kicking hard in all genres of entertainment (ebooks, games, music and movies, even education with many medical apps).

cdoty, were you around when 3D cards first started showing up? Things were A LOT more fragmented back then, to the point where publishers had to release separate versions of the same game depending on the 3D card it was intended to run on. We are closer to a standard now than ever really with the level of power involved and the base graphics cards in computers. The problem is, devs are shooting for hardware that is not coming in the million unit sellers at companies like Dell and HP.

Marketing is a unique beast. Some companies have it down pat such as Nintendo and Apple. Others are out in the cold on it such as Capcom and Sega (which I believe had they marketed the GAMES on Dreamcast rather than the animation in their commercials, we might be looking for the Dreamcast 3 or whatever by now). I agree with Laserdisc there, Capcom is going for the more lucrative console market for DLC. There are plenty of examples of DLC being free on PC but then the console port (Left 4 Dead anyone?) costs money and gives the exact same thing as the PC players get for free. Companies are going to go where the money is.

Chris, I have had a copy of Septerra Core for years (got it used shortly after release), never beat it but I still enjoy playing it (wish it would have gotten a console port, maybe it would have gotten Monolith noticed more). Great game for anyone looking for a game that is similar to Final Fantasy 7 to 9 but still it's own unique voice in the crowded RPG market (plus, it just got a digital re-release on Gamers Gate).

Alex (not verified)
So what if the game was

So what if the game was shitty and got pirated? Does a bad game give you the right to pirate it? When you download a pirated copy, you get something that you didn't pay for, whether it deserved the money or not. That's a lost game sale, right there.

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Piracy
Alex wrote:

So what if the game was shitty and got pirated? Does a bad game give you the right to pirate it? When you download a pirated copy, you get something that you didn't pay for, whether it deserved the money or not. That's a lost game sale, right there.

That's not the argument. The argument is that sales might suck because the game sucks, not because it's being pirated. In fact, I'd be that the pirated copies are proportional to the sales (i.e., a best-seller will be pirated more than a flop). At least, if you study the top game pirated torrents, that seems to be the case.

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Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
Piracy: are you kidding me?
Matt Barton wrote:

That's not the argument. The argument is that sales might suck because the game sucks, not because it's being pirated. In fact, I'd be that the pirated copies are proportional to the sales (i.e., a best-seller will be pirated more than a flop). At least, if you study the top game pirated torrents, that seems to be the case.

I think there's some truth to your statement, particularly the "top ten torrents" argument. But...

There are at least 1 BILLION PC owners out there, according to some statistics. And in my experience, 99.9% of them have no idea what a "torrent" is. In fact, most (all?) PC owners that I currently know barely know what they're doing on a PC. Yet, they're buying games.

It's amazing that these non-tech-savvy people, which seems to comprise the MAJORITY in my experience, even manage to function on a PC, considering how complex computers actually are!!! Yet, they are mega-pirates according to the software publishers.

Here's a typical scenario of me helping my friends with their computers:

Me: I'm going to have to re-format and reinstall Windows. Where's your Windows installation disc?

Friend: My computer has Windows built-in.

Me: No, it doesn't, actually. Where's the installation disc that came with your computer?

Friend: I threw it away. I didn't need it, since my computer has Windows built-in.

Me: Oh my God!!! (Choking myself...) You Frigging Bit-Torrenting pirate!!!!

The computer/Internet revolution sort of just popped up by surprise, and in my view, a whole lot of people joined up with no prior experience (unlike most of us, and many of us being former software pirates!). Most people can do basic things, but are still coming to grips with how much a computer can actually do beyond web-browsing. I think only a small percentage of PC owners are hardcore enough to know how to pirate software. I have no doubt that most (all?) games or other popular software has been cracked and available for download via whatever means, but I think that the average person has no knowledge of this.

I may be wrong, but I think the secret to PC game marketing is lower cost, higher volume. Unlike most modern console gamers, who have to pony up hundreds of dollars (or local/national equivalent) for a few meager games, most hardcore PC gamers have access to HUNDREDS of legally-obtained games, be it freeware, shareware, online, or commercial games. I think the average PC gamer plays MORE games, not less.

Therefore, a PC gamer is less likely to part with $50+ of his cash when he/she knows that they have much more gaming options at their disposal than a locked-in console gamer does.

I could go on an on, but I think the iPhone's library pricing scheme should be a decent model for PC gaming. Like it or not, digital delivery is the future, but you've got to make it cost-effective to the consumer.

The thing is... it all hasn't evolved quite enough yet. Consumers are not savvy enough, the distribution isn't easy enough, and the software isn't cheap enough to make PC gaming the only logical platform (which it is).

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Not really debating, but...
Rowdy Rob wrote:

The thing is... it all hasn't evolved quite enough yet. Consumers are not savvy enough, the distribution isn't easy enough, and the software isn't cheap enough to make PC gaming the only logical platform (which it is).

Not to degrade this thread into a PC versus console debate (which we've done many times before), but again, to call PC gaming the only logical platform (present, future or otherwise) is a bit of a stretch. The problem comes into play with the infinite number of variables in the PC configurations out there. For instance, my PC kicks ass in many ways (including 8GB of memory, 64-bit OS, 7200RPM hard drive, 16GB ReadyBoost drive, etc.), but it has onboard video, meaning it is not a good game machine. One configuration might not have enough RAM to be a good game machine. Another might not have the right OS. Another still might be good otherwise, but have too many processes running at the same time, hogging system resources, etc., affecting performance. So, while the PC is a great game machine, it's by no means perfect, and it's arguable that in many ways it's actually inferior to a dedicated console whose primary purpose (though the big three all have many secondary functions these days) is to play games. It's pop in a disc or download a game and it simply works because there's one core system to code for and one core system for the consumer to buy for. That's simply rarely true on a PC, and even if you have a dedicated gaming PC that's optimized for that function, there are still additional variables to consider (how many details you can have turned on, what controls work best, etc.). It's not a dig, it's not an attack, it's just the reality. And that reality means that for a PC to remain a PC, that situation really can't change, so it will most likely NEVER evolve into the ultimate gaming platform. It doesn't mean it won't continue to be right there though alongside the latest consoles/set top boxes/tablets/etc. in the future.

Also, this is NOT the failing of an uneducated consumer. Just like I don't know a thing about cars, you can't ask the average person to know a thing about computers. I drive my car, I don't service it. Someone else does that. The average person uses their computer, they don't service it (optimize it, understand the variables of the specs, etc.). That's why a console is such a good choice for so many over PC gaming. You take the need to know anything other than "is this game for my console?" out of the equation.

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