Infinity Ward Amazed by Rampant PC Piracy

By Chris Faylor, Jan 15, 2008 11:18am PST Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PC, PS3, X360) developer Infinity Ward was shocked to discover an unexpectedly high level of piracy in regards to the PC versions of its acclaimed FPS.

After using his blog to reveal that the developer is quite happy with the recent number of PC owners playing the game online, the studio's community relations manager fourzerotwo expressed amazement at how many of those players were running a pirated copy of the game.

"What wasn't fantastic was the percentage of those numbers who were playing on stolen copies of the game on stolen / cracked CD keys of pirated copies (and that was only people playing online)," he posted under the heading "They Wonder Why People Don't Make PC Games Any More."

Renowned development houses id Software and Epic Games chimed in on the matter last year, with both noting that they were pursuing multiplatform development due to piracy of their PC titles. Two of last year's biggest PC titles--Epic's Unreal Tournament III and Crytek's Crysis--both made low retail sales debuts, though the effect of piracy on those numbers is unclear.

"I've seen studios close as the result of it, I've seen people lose their homes.," former Ritual QA manager Mike Russell told Shacknews when discussing the effects of piracy. "I guess I'm more vocal than a lot of people because I've seen the personal side of it, and it's just sad that we have so many people looking for a way of justifying it.

Irrational Games' 2K Boston and 2K Australia's attempts to protect the PC edition BioShock from piracy, meanwhile, caused a very vocal community outcry when the game was released last August.

Exact figures regarding the piracy of Cod4 were not disclosed, though fourzerotwo promises to provide them if able. "It blows me away at the amount of people willing to steal games (or anything) simply because it's not physical or it's on the safety of the internet to do," he concluded.

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  • Even when I know a game is good, I have a few conditions before I am willing to purchase it.

    1. I require a Linux version. I could play games on WINE, but why would I waste money on a game if I'm not even sure about how well it will work?

    2. Ridiculous "copy protection" schemes such as checking with a server before playing a single-player game (Steam) are not okay. I am 100% fine with a CD key being required to connect to an internet server, though. I just don't want to be inconvenienced for being a legitimate customer.

    3. I'm not going to pay $99 AUD for a game, with the exception of (see below) id games. I don't mind waiting for a good game to drop in price, but if only games were priced more sensibly around $50 AUD or even $60 AUD, they'd be much more purchasable. (Hint: At $20 or $30 AUD, I am willing to impulse-buy games on the spot!)

    If game developers want people to purchase their games, they should probably look into making them more purchasable.

    I never hesitate to buy id Software games because they are always the very best at customer friendliness. They generally disable any kind of CD check with a patch after a reasonable time period, they always offer a Linux version, and after a few years they even release the source code to the game under the GPL, which I think increases the value of the game quite significantly because it keeps it playable (both technically and in terms of still being interesting) even years later. I've got much more out of each DOOM or Quake game than I have out of any other games.



  • Maybe part of the problem is the inability to rent PC games. I don't want to pay $60 for every Xbox or Wii game I want to try out, so I have Gamefly for that. I haven't been playing a ton of PC stuff lately, but if I wanted to there's no similar option. I'd have to just determine from reviews and stuff which are the AAA titles worth paying for. (since I won't put the time in to just play them all)

    Maybe at one point there was a good reason not to rent PC games, because it made copying easier or whatever, or because PC games get "installed." Nowadays that's a joke. Everybody has broadband and online piracy is made so easy by the people packaging the releases that it's only a step or two harder than getting a game via Steam or something.

    Steam could be a good way to do the rental thing, actually. You'd have a few game slots, and you wouldn't have to manually uninstall stuff, Steam could automatically hold onto your savegames but delete game data files when no longer used, etc.