Archive for the ‘Console’ Category

“Phase one, Underpants. Phase two, erm… something. Phase three, Profit!”

After playing the Duke Nukem Fovever Demo, I can see this phrase going global. Of course it originally came from SouthPark, where Gnomes are stealing Underpants in preparation of their business venture.

It works on every level, just replace the word “underpants” and you have a 2010 phrase for:  “a leap of faith, into the pits of Idiocracy”.

Sometime ago, WarFace used the same analogy:

 

In much the same way as the SouthPark episode portraits it, it goes a little like this:

Phase one install a DRM on a PC game.

Phase two … Something.

Phase three … profit for the PC gaming publishers.

However after several decades, it has never been able to show that it indeed makes a profit! Of course the current claim is that DRM software is supposed to stop “causal piracy”! As in a friend copying the game and giving it to a friend!

But this also assumes two things:

1)      That people are unable to use the internet and “Google search” and find the files to remove the copy protection.

2)      That piracy is too difficult in the first place. As we believe that people are more likely to share a pirated copy! (As in share an illegal download among friends.)

What is worse is that all security companies seem to gloss over the fact that DRMs impose, limit, and assume. DRMs target loyal customers and not those illegally downloading products. Then DRMs companies make a huge profit and claiming it a success.

Technology has a nasty habit of forgetting that at the end of the PC is an actual human being. Loyalty is a bit of a two way street, when you forget that, your customer base will be less loyal to your products. This is not a criticism about any particular DRM technology; each one is clever in its own respect. Unfortunately DRM companies just don’t understand piracy’s one simple trait!

Take the two current PC games that have yet to be cracked, both from Ubisoft, using the same implementation of UbiDRM (v2). Both with over 230 days of being crack free, you would think that Tom Clancy’s HAWX 2 and Shaun White Skateboarding Ubisoft have it figured out!

Has sales gone up? Probably a little!

Has the company’s reputation been damaged by the implementation of UbiDRM? Oh yes…

Is Ubisoft using the same implementation in any game since? Oh no…!

It shows that a DRM doesn’t increase profits and that publishers know it! But in a strange coincidence, upsetting customers affects your company image, profit, and loyalty.  Publishers are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and something needs to change…!

Customers First, Piracy Second, and as always a DRM should come dead last!

But what do you think?

Is it right for a publisher to use DRMs on customers?

Do publishers have a right to protect their software?

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There are different classes of illegal downloaders and each group makes a part of the whole piracy market. In its simplest form the Piracy Pyramid looks like the picture below and the illegal population consists of Crackers, Uploaders and Downloaders. As the colour gradient suggest, the top of the pyramid represents a very small percentage, which is probably less than 5%, of the illegal population.

 

Imagine if the Cracking Groups one day decided not to share the crack with the illegal downloaders. Instantly 95% of the illegal population would have no choice but to either move on, or buy the game. That’s mind blowing!

And personally … one of the things that really annoyed me… Sometimes illegal downloaders are very ungrateful. Not all, but those small minority, the ones that normally have big voices, would spoil it for the rest of the population! As wrong as it is, they are getting things for free, and yet most of the time comment boxes are filled with complaints, rather than thanks!

So what is a Free Rider Pirate? This refers to an illegal downloader that downloads anything and everything, regardless of what it is. They enjoy downloading because they have enough HD space, bandwidth, and perhaps are internet pack rats. They are often described as people would never buy this material, and almost to the point that it becomes a self propagating justification.

WarFace has heard all the excuses, but in all honesty there are only a handful of original ones. Even though most of the excuses are debunked fairly quickly, the pure arrogance of piracy is the fundamental belief that it will happen. There is nothing publishers or game developers can do to stop it; pirates will always crack your software.

This isn’t completely true… but you have to be smart about it! As the Music and Movie industries have shown all too often; suing anyone and everyone regardless of proof, shows that you are dealing with big cold hearted companies that don’t care!

But in this blog I am looking at one of the excuses that I always knew was rubbish, the Free Rider. The excuse, which most illegal downloading is done by a small group of downloaders! There are no stats for this, but it helps when I say it like this; that 10% of the total copy infringers, the free riders, are illegally downloading 80% of the material on the internet.

What this in effect is saying, that one illegal download doesn’t equal one sale. Basically “Free Rider” pirates are downloading so much, and wouldn’t buy it anyway, that if you discounted this portion of the illegal scene; the piracy figures would be very small. Therefore the leftover illegal downloaders, who might perhaps buy the product, are such a small percentage that the losses to the company are supposedly minuscule!

Apart from the fact it’s supposed to be an excuse for the “Free Rider Pirates” that they would never buy it anyway. It also seems to be an excuse for the rest of the illegal downloaders who might have paid for it. However these excuses never have any proof, facts or figures, but ultimately it helps keep the piracy thought alive!

So how do you work out the difference between a free rider pirate and an illegal downloader? And of course what percentage of the piracy market do they own?

If there is such a group of illegal downloaders that just download anything and everything. Well call me silly but they should have a major presence on the P2P networks. Therefore the difference between a highly popular torrent and a lowly one should be the 20% of average illegal downloaders. Because they are the ones who only download in small amounts! Right?

The graph below tracks a number of illegal titles recorded throughout 2010. We have listed them in order of the number of illegal downloads per day, the lowest, Silent Hunter 5 (106) to the highest, Call of Duty: Black Ops (26,713).

 

But it clearly shows that as the popularity of games is higher, so are the number of times it’s downloaded. To be honest this is what you would expect, games that are popular are downloaded more times than unpopular ones.

However in the test results we have Call of Duty: Black Ops the block buster of 2010, both legal and illegal. This wildly upsets the results, in favour of the Pro-Publishers, putting the Free Rider population at 0.004% of the illegal downloader population. So let’s call that an anomaly and exclude the results for Call of Duty: Black Ops.

But still there is no evidence for the “Free Rider” pirates, as the table below shows. From the total results, by taking the first 5 and the last 5, then comparing the difference, it puts the Free Rider at around 2.6% of the population.

 

Then if you look at the first and last 10 results, 20 results, and finally first half by the second half; you can see there is no correlation to “Free Rider” pirates owning the majority of the illegal population. The most you can suggest is 14.4% could possibly be downloading lots of illegal material.

  

14.4% (12,620 downloaders per day)

85.6% (75,049 downloaders per day)

87,669 (Total downloaders per day)

Are there hoarding pirates out there? Of course! Do we all know one? Probably, it’s very likely! But this is no reason to claim its prevalent, and even less of a reason to use this as an excuse to justify all illegal downloading habits! 

I know what you are going to say next! That this is rubbish! free riders make up “80%” of any particular torrent not “80%” of the illegal downloading scene. So if we assume that 80% of a torrent is a waste, and we get no revenue from it, we can show an estimation of the losses.

If we take the lowest torrent, Silent Hunter 5, with roughly 106 illegal downloads a day. Assuming only 20% (21) of the illegal downloaders are going to buy Silent Hunter 5 every day, worldwide. The total losses over 6 months is € 135,376 for the lowest popular torrent in our test range.

 

The highest, Call of Duty: Black Ops, would have lost € 34,116,107 over 6 months. The 2nd highest being Medal of Honor and its loss was € 10,375,445 over 6 months. Of course Black Ops was a block buster anomaly of 2010. If you are wondering what the average 6 month loss is, if Black Ops was discounted, it comes out € 2,153,176.

Please feel free to download and view the data sheet containing all the results used in this experiment: http://www.warfaceaps.com/files/FreeRider-DataSheet.pdf

While you can argue these figures; what you really have to ask, is € 135,376 worth putting an anti-strategy plan in place? For example, it may seem like a small amount for a PC game, and €34 million seems like an awful lot. But from a previous WarFace blog we calculated the legitimate sales of Call of Duty: Black Ops using the quanties reported from this feed http://gamrfeed.vgchartz.com/story/82685/call-of-duty-black-ops-sells-7-million-copies-on-day-one/.

We calculated that Black Ops sold roughly 210,000 copies on the PC, taking 3% of the sales market share. The PC versions was sold at a cheaper price of € 44.99, the consoles price was € 54.99, and the first day sales was € 9,447,900 million for the PC. Plus you have to remember the above piracy loss € 34 million is also based on the lower € 34.99 game. Every statistical result is in favour of piracy being a problem and having a profoundly negative effect on business!

This clearly shows that 20% of the illegal downloading population makes a significant difference. Of course it depends on the popularity of the game in the first place, but the piracy losses could be far greater. The average income lost per title for the 6 month shelf life of a game has been calculated at around € 2 million.

Call of Duty: Black Ops sold roughly 375 million Euros on the first day across all platforms.  But the likes of Ubisoft Silent Hunter 5’s loss of € 135,376 could be perceived as nothing. But it isn’t, in these trying times Publishers will be cutting back on expenses, and one of the main ones is Game Developer costs!

If you have to ask how far you could stretch € 135,376, then you’re not a small software development team in the tough world of gaming media! Struggling week by week, hoping your publisher will reward your talented work and that gamers will recognise your games.

On 11th of February 2011, Crysis 2 was illegally leaked; the official release would be a month later on the 22nd March 2011. But what really is interesting, that the first game Crysis was a PC release only. But they soon realised after the amount of Piracy, releasing a PC exclusive title was unsound as a business plan! If I was Crytek, I would flat out refuse to release Crysis 3 on the PC at all!

What does this say for the PC industry as a whole? Does it make sense to release PC games at all? Sure people by PC games, but when Call of Duty: Black Ops makes € 227,108,700 on the Xbox and € 138,574,800 on the PS3. You have to wonder from a business point of view why go to the expense of releasing on the PC at all? Now ask yourself do you honestly believe that piracy isn’t killing the PC industry?

What are your opinions on PC gaming Piracy? Do you think there is a small group of people illegally downloading the whole illegal market? And if you think there is, how many people do you know who download at such an extremely high rate?

Following the much praised Modern Warfare 2, again the Call of Duty series has broken all records for the first day sales. After all the court cases, the feuds, and the tantrums that followed MF2 Treyarch has pulled this one out of the bag. The first day sales being reported as 7 million copies worldwide, everyone must be happy with that!

 

But what I am finding more and more, when people talk about gaming sales. They are talking Xbox and PS3, but when it comes to PC versions everyone shuts up. It’s all about perception, and the PC sales are just embarrassing. Even though it took a while, I found that the sales market share of the Xbox 360 was at 59% and the PS3 at 36%. The PC market share was not so clear cut!

 

“Xbox 360 takes the largest proportion of sales with 59%, 36% for PS3 and the remainder on PC, Wii and DS.”

 

Call of Duty: Black Ops Sales Top $360 Millionhttp://news.teamxbox.com/xbox/23252/Call-of-Duty-Black-Ops-Sales-Top-360-Million/

By: – “-Sparky-” Nov. 11th, 2010 10:08 am

 It seems that the hype surrounding Call of Duty: Black Ops has paid off for Activision. The game launched on November 9th in North America and the U.K. with massive ad campaigns that spread across gaming websites, billboards and television ads. Day one sales for Black Ops totaled 5.6 million copies or $360 million dollars.

 These sales figures eclipse last year’s launch of Modern Warefare 2 which sold 4.7 million units within the first 24 hours. Activision is hailing this launch as the “biggest launch in entertainment” surpassing the opening weekend set by the film Avatar last December.

 

Call of Duty: Black Ops Sells 7 Million Copies on Day Onehttp://gamrfeed.vgchartz.com/story/82685/call-of-duty-black-ops-sells-7-million-copies-on-day-one/

by Brett Walton on 10 November 2010

 According to early VGChartz estimates, Call of Duty: Black Ops has become the fastest-selling game of all time with over 7 million units sold on day one following over 4.5 million preorders as reported earlier in the week. If the 7 million for Black Ops holds true, it would make the launch around 10% larger than Modern Warfare 2 and the biggest of all time.

 Lending some extra weight to our estimations are reports that over 4 million users have now connected to Xbox Live to play Black Ops and similarly impressive figures via PSN. Breaking the data down, we estimate over 3.6 million units were sold in the USA, 1.4 million units in the UK, over a million units in continental Europe and 350,000 units in Canada. Xbox 360 takes the largest proportion of sales with 59%, 36% for PS3 and the remainder on PC, Wii and DS.

 

 

The article states, perhaps a little flippantly, the “remainder on PC, Wii and DS” fight for the rest of the market share scraps. This sentence is all too telling! It wasn’t even worth the effort to work out the remainder, which was 5% of the sales. On top of all of that the PC has now been pigeon holed with a girl’s game console and a girls, hand held, game console.

 To claw some dignity back for the PC gamers, am going to assume and desperately hope that the sale market share was 3% for PC, while the Wii and DS combined was the final 2%. I chose this because I seem to remember the market share for Modern Warfare 2 was also 3% for the PC.

 

 I suppose it’s interesting to know that the Xbox and the PS3 games are more expensive than the PC version. Under the Euro, both Console versions sell at a MRSP of €54.99, while the PC version is €10 cheaper, at €44.99.

GameStop Irelandhttp://www.gamestop.ie/core/common/default.aspx?quickSearch=Black%20Ops 

 Price Check (27/11/2010)

Call Of Duty: Black Ops Std (Xbox 360) = € 54.99

Call Of Duty: Black Ops Std (PS3) = € 54.99

Call Of Duty: Black Ops Std (PC) = € 44.99

 

 The table below shows us that the PC sales brought in just under 10 million Euros for Activision. This isn’t bad, but dwarfs in comparison when compared to the sales of the Xbox or even PS3. Even if 210,000 units were sold at the console price, you still be looking at a drop in the pond.

  

 Even though the more expensive Xbox 360 version and PS3 out sold the cheaper PC version, “The Poor Pirate Excuse” tells a different story. The PC version has been downloaded illegally a disproportionately amount of times compared to all the console versions put together. For the full story you can read here at: wordpress blog

Below are the main two slides from that blog:

 These pie charts show the illegal downloading proportion for the same game title across several different gaming platforms. The difference between the console, marked in Red, and the PC platform marked in Blue, is extremely clear and one sided.

 

This table shows the percentage value of the illegal downloading on a Console platform vs the PC platform. As you can see, generally the PC platform has a clear majority easily averaging 95% of the illegal downloads. Unless it’s a “high want value” game, then people who own a console are far more willing to illegally download it, the percentage becomes roughly 75%.

The Tables and Pie Charts dispel a belief that piracy happens because games are way too expensive. This is wrong, bearing in mind that PC games are normally cheaper than Console versions and that they are a want and not a need. The evidence shows that for Call of Duty: Black Ops the PC sales are out stripped by 2404% for the Xbox, and by 1467% for the PS3. Then in the same light, the PC illegal downloaders outweigh the consoles by 78%, compared to 22%. It just doesn’t make any sense.

It makes perfect sense if you cast a big shiny light on piracy and say it for what it is! Illegal downloading and pirating software material is far greater and easier on the PC. That nobody wants to pay for a game, when the perceived value of a PC game has become nothing.

Unlike the Xbox and the PS3 that need modchips to play the games. And this is no longer completely true as the hacks are getting much simpler! Most people are unwilling to use these kind solutions as it normally requires some complex steps and if it goes wrong then warrantees are void. The PC is a different beast, as the user normally has a certain degree of computer skills. For them, rar files and an illegal ISO, is a park walk with a Segway!

 

So how many times was Call of Duty: Black OPS illegally downloaded on its first day? Well this is a hard question for a number of reasons.

Firstly, in the piracy world, things happen a little differently, the game was available 5 days before, on Thursday 4th November.

Secondly, the piracy market isn’t exactly like the conventional retail market.

Normally illegal torrents released on the official date do not peak straight away. They climb rapidly and then peak in 1-2 days; afterwards the tail off comes down slowly for about 1-2 weeks, were it reaches a saturation level. Normally at saturation level the Seeder graph line meets the Peer level, and it can stay like this, slowly decreasing for many months. Just through observation, torrents stay active for many years, depending on the popularity of the game. Black OPs downloading peak didn’t happen until Friday 12th and Saturday 13th of November 2010. Below is an example of the time line for one illegal torrent for the PC game Mafia 2.

 

So counting all the illegal downloads up to 1 day of the official release date across 7 illegal torrents for Call of Duty: Black OPS. We have a total illegal download count of 592,736, this is more than twice the PC sale estimate.

 

If we count the Seed and Peers of all the torrents, to when it peaks on Sunday 14th, from when it first appears on Thursday 4th. The illegal downloads figure dramatically rises to 1,817,990. From our experiments, most illegal downloaders don’t anticipate a release, but as soon as they hear of it, say a TV advert, then they join the P2P network.

However the Torrent Watch experiment was not designed to find the specific illegal downloads on any particular day. It was designed to say over the period of 6 month the average estimated loss, which we say is 10%, of a game would be roughly… this much. In this case over a period of 6 months there would be an estimated figure of 26,713 downloads a day. This comes to €120,181 per day, which is 26,713 x €44.99 x 10%. So if you imagine this loss over 6 months, being 182.5 days, you come to a rough amount of €21,933,032.

This is how we arrived at this figure of 26,713 downloads per day for Call of Duty: Black OPs. Torrent watch looks at the aggregate Seed and Peers 4 times a day. This gives us two curves per torrent, showing the numbers currently downloading from the illegal market. To turn this into an illegal download figure we estimated the rough time it takes to download 7 GB. But this depends on a number of factors like network speed, if people are sharing, the users connection speed and so on. So we generalised it, and said that if someone was to download 7 GB in 2 days (48 hours) they would need an average connection speed of 41 kb/s. In today’s internet connection terms is small, and seems like an average download speed!

 

The table shows the total recorded Seeders and Peers, and the number of days the tests was active for the particular torrent. You can see the total count of Seed and Peers for each of the Call of Duty: Black Ops torrents. From these numbers we calculate our recoup figure, taking the 10% as the minimum, to see what the return could be!

I suppose it really depends on the popularity you place on the PC platform, as 3-5% worldwide market share never felt right to me! While I don’t think it’s in the same bracket as the PS3 or even the Xbox, I would like to believe that the actual share is much higher. There is no bases for saying this, but if we look at the gradient of the Xbox to the PS3 which is 0.61. By extending this gradient for the PC it gives a unit count of 1.5 million, a total sale of roughly €67 million, and a recalculated market share of 18%.

 

But as I have said; other than a straight gradient through the Xbox and the PS3 there is no proof for this. However on a subjective look, my own personal belief, it does feel more in line with the total sales. But I guess we shall never know? But WarFace will struggle to find out one day!

 

As for records, this is sure to be the most illegal download of this year. Torrentfreak releases those figures around the 27th December. My predictions for games in this year’s top 10 will be in this order Call of Duty: Black OPS, Mafia 2, Fallout New Vegas, Medal of Honor, Darksiders, PES 2011, and StarCraft 2: Wings of liberty.  As for the number of illegal downloads, I am guessing it will be a whopper of a number at around 6-7 million illegal downloads.

The more worrying fact in all of this is the constant rise of illegal downloading. In 2008 the top most illegally downloaded was 1.7 million (Spore), last year 2009 it was 4.1 million (Modern Warfare 2), and if this year is as I suspect! Then it paints a bad picture for the PC Platform, and a very shaky one for the future of PC gaming!

 

 Well as a publisher I’d have to ask myself why bother releasing a game for the PC at all?

Why don’t I just give it away for free…?

 

At least for that PC game the piracy level would be 0%, and that would be another record!

As a PC man, this is hard for me to say, so listen carefully as I shall say it only once.

“Consoles might be a more popular gaming rig!”

Oh… I think I am going to be sick…

Well it’s true, while there are many benefits of all platforms, the PC has always been highly adaptable and versatile. It is even possible to use Wii remotes with a PC! But of course the main benefit is that a PC is graphically better in all respects, with the worst problem being the cost and complex nature of the machine.

But as a “sit down in your living room and help you relax”, you have to admit, Consoles win every time.  There is nothing better for many a hard worker around the world to come home. Switch on the Box, and the Console and start playing. Which would mean that consoles would be far more popular, right?

Some of the claims I hear from Pro-Pirates is that PC games are rubbish, they have no lasting content, and aren’t worthy of being bought. Gaming consoles are far more popular, but is piracy levels greater than the PC? No, deep down we all know that piracy is greater on the PC because it’s easier, and because it’s easier people pirate more!

What really amazes me about this kind of quote, that “PC Games are rubbish!” People don’t seem to understand that most games are released across the platforms. So if a game that does well in sales, then it can’t mean that the game is rubbish, as it will be the same content across the platform board. More often than not “rubbish” games do exceptionally well in console sales and exceptionally well in PC piracy.

This leads me to believe that pirates are lying! This is just an excuse, so pirates can justify not having to pay for a game. Games are expensive, and no one likes buying a product, and having the feeling they have just been ripped off. But how come we can understand that compensation fraud is driving up the costs of insurance, but not piracy driving up the costs of games. It’s killing the PC industry; just not kid yourself into believing otherwise!

There are some Good Games, Bad Games and Downright Ugly ones too; the platform has nothing to do with the quality. Actually the quality should affect the consoles versions even more, because you can always patch a PC game. A console game is much harder, unless you hold off, as the recently released Fallout: New Vegas stands testament to!

Watch this it’s very funny and scary (PC Version): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToKIkw3LIoQ

On a PC game this can be patched and downloaded easily and quickly, as in the case for this Steam version.

One of the best was to judge piracy level is to look at the game releases on the PC and Console Gaming rigs. For the Consoles we have the Xbox 360, the PS3 (PlayStation), The Wii, PS2, and Hand Held Devises such as the PSP (PlayStation Portable). These are just to name a few, but in this test I have only looked for the main three XBox, PS3, and PC.

I have used a torrent search engine, because it makes life so much easier, and then searched for games that stretched the platform divide. The torrent search engine provides a static count of the Seed and Peers. I took those results and then divided up the torrent by the platform, either PC or Console, and counted the total seed and peers.

Image of the search for Call of Duty: Black OPS 

If we look at the table of all the torrent results we find some astounding results. We have all assumed that piracy for the PC was greater than the Console, but to find the huge gap between each level is shocking. 

The last two columns show the percentage increase between the Console and PC. So for Call of Duty Black OPS, you can see an increase of 146% (Seed) and 452% (Peer). As a ratio that would be nearly 1.5 and 4.5 greater than the console. Now consider the average illegal PC game will have 18 times more seeders and 20 times more peers than its console counterpart. 

The pie charts show the Console as red, the seed being dark read and the peers being light red, while the PC being in blue. Each individual game title shows a clear majority of blue compared to red sections.

But it is also worthy of note that of all the games displayed, there is a clear two tier piracy level. On the one hand you can see the 6 of the games clearly show a console minority of under 10%. While 3 games show a clear console minority of around 25%.

 

This indicates that the 3 games (Call of Duty: Black OPS, Star Wars: Force Unleashed 2, and PES2011) are highly anticipated games. This allows you to draw a number of conclusions!

Either    (1) The PC platform is far more popular than Consoles!

Or           (2) That people really don’t want to pay for games, and the PC is the machine for the Job!

If you’d like to download the data sheet, that has all the names of the torrents and their counts, you can do so here.  (http://www.warfaceaps.com/files/PCvsConsole Data Sheet.pdf)

What should be taken away from this?

I think it is a good idea to note, from this experiment at least, it suggests there are two types of games. The ones that do well and the ones that do not, platform and cost does not decide. Of course there is probably a sliding scale of games ratings. But unpopular games don’t get pirated more, in fact, as suspected the more popular games are, funnily enough, pirated more.

But what is clearly stated here is that piracy on the PC is far greater than the Console. The lowest percentage being 72%, this shows a serious problem with releasing games on the PC. If you owned a gaming company, producing something that you worked hard on, no matter if it was rubbish. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that there is an awful gamble when it comes to the PC platform.

I know it’s probably not true, but I’d like to think that the PC catapulted gaming into the main stream. If I am honest, piracy probably had something to do with the widespread gaming situation we have today. But if I take that one step further, I believe that piracy will also have a hand in undoing all the great work it started.

A Great Shame!

One of the main problems that I come across is no matter what I show people, they still don’t want to listen. And I am quite well aware of the lack of statistics and vagueness of the whole topic of illegal downloading. Also the vagueness and lack of any proof people post in return. Still when I show people the results I come up with, and a lot of it is based in hard facts, people still insist on the same old unproven chestnuts.

And it’s not that I don’t respect people’s views, because we are all entitled to one. But whatever excuse the illegal downloader subscribes to, there is one undeniable fact. Downloading illegally is plain wrong! Unfortunately it is that simple statement, which takes a really long time for illegal downloaders to process. Flat out wrong, no justifications, only excuses, some good but most are just plain awful. To state that “I am poor/wasn’t going to buy it/against DRMs”, and so on, really doesn’t give you the right.

I think a lot of this comes from the little white lies that we tell ourselves!

“It’s a big money grabbing publishing house that can take the hit!”

“It harms no one!”

“Software is copying, not theft!”

“I wouldn’t have bought it anyway!”

“I can’t afford it!”

“I hate DRM’s!”

And my personal favourite:

“Hey, **** you *****! I am an illegal downloader and I ****** do what I ******* well please *******. Kiss my ******* you piece of **** next time I **** and I’ll ******* and then ****** while ***** your mother!”

There are some arguments that you just can’t answer back too! Some have valid points, very few mind you, but the rest of the illegal downloaders hide behind them!

In my mind only two points have merit; one, they experience software issues with the DRM product and illegally download it. Second they would like to play the game without the DVD in the drive. But there are crack sites that just host the modified exe file that allow you to play the game!

But both of points have merit because the person has bought the product in the first place!

I don’t think illegal downloaders have realised the severity of it all. And the true means test here is the cracker groups themselves. Who have almost started pleading with people to actually support the publisher companies and buy the products?

[Images of cracking groups, these are the nfo files that come with the cracks and illegal downloads. The message in the red circle is clear with them all support the publishers!]

The people to whom illegal downloaders owe so much too, beside the publishing house, crackers are almost begging P2P networks to stop pirating PC games and buy it! And it’s only fair isn’t it, that when you take someone’s work, you’d buy it? If you went into a restaurant and the food was ok, it’s your right as a consumer to complain, or never go back, not to keep going back and never pay! Then claim the food is rubbish, no lasting content, or too expensive.

But I think the main problem these days is illegal downloaders have wrongly justified their position. Using a number of childish excuses to overlook the fact that they are fundamentally stealing a product! Claiming that you wouldn’t buy it in the first place seems like the silliest excuse. This is the biggest contradiction; an illegal downloader is not interested in buying it, but still interested enough to actually steal it. No one steals things because it is worthless!

So the illegal downloader, say a young male, possibly in college who favours games/movies with blood, guts, and killer moves. Why would they download the latest my little pony/ carebears movies? At first it seems to lend credit to the excuse that people download because they can!

But we forget the human traits of storing and gluttony. We call them packrats, where someone will not throw anything out regardless if it is of any actual use. With data, this is even more of a problem. Memory, or hard drive space is so cheap, it seems like a waste not to fill it! It’s been hard coded into our brains, and downloading illegally for fills the very same need. That need to horde and store, just in case we have a bad nuclear winter!

Illegal downloaders don’t do this often; downloading media they have no intention of using, but still hide behind this as if it was the norm. The reason why they download is because after years, you come to realise one fundamental thing. Illegal downloaders have been so glutinous that they have over saturated their viewing content. They have downloaded so much, so when they see a link for something different, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”, and they think “why not!” Even if they have no idea what it is, but still download just in case!

I suppose what really boggles the mind, and it took me a long time to understand this. Why would you want to illegally download something that isn’t worth something!

I put it to you that Illegal material is worth something, and why people download illegally. And if it is worth something then this means it is stealing!

If it is stealing then is it not fair to contribute something back to the publishers? To keep them going, to allow them to run, and publish more games so you can keep illegally downloading!

What would you think?

(The number of days between the release of a PC Game, to the day that someone is able to search, download, and play it illegally?)

A quick explanation: Cracks are the game files that have been altered and had the security DRM removed from them. As in they have been “cracked” opened. Workarounds are game files that still have the DRM in some form, but it has been fooled into believing that the game is legal.

 

 

I have known this for some time; it’s not a secret or even an unwritten rule. It’s just one of those things that people know and yet can’t tell you why it is true. But if I were to put it more accurately I have assumed it’s the same day as the release! In my experience I have found this to be true of every game, beside the odd exceptions.

Out of all the games release, the exceptions are so few and far between that you can practically list them all. Since the dawn of PC gaming I can’t name more than a handful of games that have been pirate free for 10 days or more. I keep coming back to this list thinking I missed hundreds, but off the top of my head they are:

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory 422 days
Alone in the Dark [2008] 55 Days
Bioshock 10 Days
The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena 26 Days
The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom 34 Days

 (If you can think of any others, Please post them in the comments section!)

Oh and then there is the case of the two Sims 2 Expansion games, Nightlife and University. Both games come with a complete work around, and you are able to download and play illegally. But for some reason no known cracks exist! This is strange, but I am guessing that cracker groups, on their busy work schedule, never got around to these or just plain forgot!

When we look at the current releases of PC games; and even I admit that the dataset isn’t as large as I would like it to be. But from these results we see that the majority of games, 63%, are cracked before or on the release date! One day after the release and you’re looking at 84%, and by the second day 92% of games have already been cracked. I suspect that as time goes on, and I collect more data, I expect the three percentage figures to only grow.

 

What can we take from this?

I suppose the first thing; it doesn’t paint a good picture for DRM products. I mean if you compare this to some other product, say seat belts for cars! The sales man tells you there is a 63% chance that this seat belt won’t hold in a crash! Personally I am looking at another car, in the 37% bracket! Then you find out that 100% the cars will be broken, fatally, in some way it might be in 1 or 422 days!

Well hell, I am walking!

The second question is why does nothing seem to work? If it does work, it seems to be one Game, and only one time? If I show you the table again, and tell you the DRM that protects them you get an inkling into why these seem to fail.

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory 422 days StarForce 3
Alone in the Dark [2008] 55 Days SecuROM v7 + SecuROM PA
Bioshock 10 Days SecuROM v7 + SecuROM PA + Serial
The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena 26 Days Tages + Solidshield
The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom 34 Days Ubisoft DRM

 

At the time they were brand new ways of protecting the digital media. Only the SecuROM seems to have struck gold with 2 games, and we are specially talking about the SecuROM PA DRM, and not the SecuROM v7 which still remains ineffective as it ever did!

But you have to realise that Alone in the Dark and Bioshock were release quite close to each other. Yes that is the secret that the more time a protection system is out there, the more time Crackers have to play and experiment in removing them.

With the SecuROM PA system, this was an online activation system, one of the first of the era. And as you can see the first time was good, the second time, ok, and the third? As I said, the more time someone gets their hands on your protection system the more time they have to exploit weaknesses!

But what about these current always online activation DRMs, like the new Ubisoft DRM, and the much shadowed EA DRM. Well for starters the crack for EA always online activation didn’t exist straight away. The First game with the DRM was Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, had a work around posted, not a crack. But because this was only 3 days after the game, and the game itself was wildly unpopular, it fell to the sidelines. I think 10 days later a true crack existed, but it was still a partial work around, but please don’t quote me!

As for the new Ubisoft DRM, it being most noted for the amount of boasting and failing. The biggest fail, that as it was cracked within 24 hours Ubisoft were still boasting about it. Well this time, it was Ubisoft dancing the Hempen jig. (Old pirate talk, for hanging, please don’t ask how I know; meaning that Ubisoft hung themselves!) What people don’t realise about this DRM, is that it is extremely clever, and all the cracking groups have a great respect for it. Now that counts for something?!? Doesn’t it?

All these DRM’s, they are all trying to be too clever, with varying degrees of success. But the problem with that is once people know how you are doing it, and the crackers are very good at removing it. It no longer becomes a challenge, it almost become the same repeatable steps to breaking the software. (And yes I know I am over generalising to a fault.)

But what I am really getting too is that DRMs tend to protect the game in the same way every time. So if SecuROM v7 does it this way, you can bet, SecuROM v8 (Just released), is still going to have the same fundamental flaws. (First game with SecuROM v8, which I know of, is Medal of Honor [2010], “-1” if you were wondering!)

Now you might not realise it, having to break something in one particular way each time is a strength, and one we take advantage of. Without spilling the beans, what we do is make our products crackable but only in one way; the longest possible. Another thing; DRMs are left to fend for themselves; we feel this is a big mistake.

When 92% games are illegally available within 2 days of the release date. It is not hard to believe that piracy is probably the greatest reason in killing the PC industry. Funny though, we at WarFace respect the Crackers, for the challenge and the technical skill. It’s just a shame that cracks are released to non-sceners, because most illegal downloaders don’t deserve it!

It is always with a great hesitancy that I publish any results that prove something about the PC. It is so hard to get any kind of statistics on the subject, and even harder to know if it’s from a trustworthy source. In this case publisher companies don’t often release results for PC game sales. What they tend to do is to release a combine sale figure, if they do it at all. A combine result of consoles and PC makes it difficult to know how well/badly the PC games are doing in the fight against piracy!

Mass Effect 2 Week One Sales Top 2 MillionBioware’s sci-fi sequel comes out swinging during its launch week.

By Dustin Quillen, 01/29/2010

http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3177757

Wondering how Mass Effect 2 is selling just three days out from its January 26 release date? If EA’s internal figures are to be believed, things are going just fine over at Bioware. The publisher announced that Commander Shepard’s spacefaring sequel has moved over 2 million copies this week.

BioShock 2 Ships 3 Million, GTA IV Sales Top 15 Millionhttp://www.n4g.com/pc/News-485636.aspx

Take-Two announced new sales figures today during its fiscal 2010 first quarter results. The company’s first major title in 2010, BioShock 2, has shipped 3 million copies.

 

Assassin’s Creed II sales soar over 6 million January 14, 2010 in News

http://www.gamegrep.com/news/28696-assassins_creed_ii_sales_soar_over_6_million/

Despite being threatened by several other titles back in Novemeber 2009, Ubisoft today confirmed that Assassin’s Creed II has surpassed 6 million units sold.

 

I spent many days searching the internet for news articles, reports, and whitepapers. I was lucky to come across the next two pieces. While these are not definitive by any means they do go a long way in proving trends.

PC Games 14% of 2007 Retail Games Sales; World of Warcraft and Sims Top PC Sales Chartsby Aaron Linde Jan 24, 2008 5:16pm CST

http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/50939

Data from the sales-tracking firm NPD reveals that retailers sold 267.8 million games in 2007, 36.4 million of which were PC titles. Console games brought in $6.6 billion, selling 153.9 million units total, while portable software hauled a record $2 billion in revenue with 77.5 million units sold.

1 World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade 2.25 million
2 World of Warcraft 914,000
3 The Sims 2 Seasons Expansion Pack 433,000
4 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare 383,000
5 Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars 343,000
6 Sim City 4 Deluxe 284,000
7 The Sims 2 281,000
8 The Sims 2 Bon Voyage Expansion Pack 271,000
9 Age of Empires III 259,000
10 The Sims 2 Pets Expansion Pack 236,000

 Table Edited

NPD: Record Year for Industry Totals $17.94 Billion; Halo 3, Nintendo Consoles Dominateby Nick Breckon Jan 17, 2008 7:01pm

http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/50809

The top ten software titles follow, listed in order of units sold:

1 Halo 3                                                                 X360 4.82 million
2 Wii Play with Wii Remote                           Wii 4.12 million
3 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare              X360 3.04 million
4 Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock             PS2 2.72 million
5 Super Mario Galaxy                                      Wii 2.52 million
6 Pokemon Diamond Version                      DS 2.48 million
7 Madden NFL 08                                              PS2 1.90 million
8 Guitar Hero II                                                  PS2 1.89 million
9 Assassin’s Creed                                            X360 1.87 million
10 Mario Party 8                                                  Wii 1.82 million

Table Edited  

 

Normally the Top 10 Charts will only tell you what games are the current favourites. Revealing the position they hold, what their previous position was, but no sales figures or units. What is so good about these two charts are the clear differences, though again I state clearly that this is by far definitive, and only allows us to draw some generalisations!

If you look at the figures between the two tables, one thing is very clear; that Console sales outstrip PC game sales many times over. The differences are huge, so huge there has to be a good reason for this. As you can see the largest percentage increase is 873%, and the average is 655%. So straight away I am more likely to sell 6 times more on the console than the PC.

Rank PC Retail Sales Console Sales Percentage increase!
1 2,250,000 4,820,000 214%
2 914,000 4,120,000 451%
3 433,000 3,040,000 702%
4 383,000 2,720,000 710%
5 343,000 2,520,000 735%
6 284,000 2,480,000 873%
7 281,000 1,900,000 676%
8 271,000 1,890,000 697%
9 259,000 1,870,000 722%
10 236,000 1,820,000 771%

 

Now there are probably a number of reasons why people prefer to play games on the console. Some people prefer a big screen TV, and PC machine specifications can confuse a lot of people. But personally I believe the biggest reason why console sales are 6 times higher than PC, is because console games are harder to pirate.

The other note worthy thing about the PC table, the results are very gradual until they hit the top two spots, where the results suddenly start to double.

 

This isn’t a coincidence, and I believe it is because of the special nature of the top 2 games. World of Warcraft games are purely online server games, which means they have a pretty unique protection system. Anyone who disobeys the rules, yet alone tries to play the game illegally can be met with severe punishment, like being kicked off the server for good. So anyone caught with a duplicate serial key, a unique identifier, will lose their game and makes it almost impossible to pirate.

What does this say for the sales of PC games?

WarFace is setting to find this question out! While it will be almost impossible to rule out piracy, we are going to account for it. By taking results of both illegal downloaders and customers, we can find the ratio. WarFace will once and for all answer one of the biggest questions of the modern age!