THQ Exec Rails on PC Pirates, Hardware Makers, You

By Aaron Linde, Mar 03, 2008 3:37pm PST Prompted by the closure of Titan Quest developer Iron Lore last week, THQ creative director Michael Fitch ranted on the state of PC gaming and rampant piracy in a post on the Quarter to Three forums

"The research I've seen pegs the piracy rate at between 70-85% on PC in the US, 90%+ in Europe, off the charts in Asia," Fitch wrote. "I didn't believe it at first. It seemed way too high. Then I saw that Bioshock was selling 5 to 1 on console vs. PC. And Call of Duty 4 was selling 10 to 1."

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare developer Infinity Ward recently expressed similar dismay at the high levels of piracy for the PC version of its popular first-person shooter.

Fitch explained that piracy doesn't just harm sales—Titan Quest took a big hit in word of mouth when pirated copies of the game crashed after various failed security checks, prompting a negative response by those who had illegally acquired the game. "A lot of people are talking about how it crashes right when you come out of the first cave," Fitch wrote. "Yeah, that's right. There was a security check there."

But piracy wasn't the only thorn in Fitch's side; the developer claims that hardware vendors make PC game developers' jobs a great deal harder, too. Everything from hardware and software conflicts to simple issues like fragmented drives or spyware, Fitch said, are inevitably blamed on the software developers by consumers.

"Put together consumers who want the cheapest equipment possible with the best performance, manufacturers who don't give a shit what happens to their equipment once they ship it... But, it's always the game's fault when something doesn't work."

There are few better examples of the 'it can't possibly be my fault' culture in the west than gaming forums," he added.

Though some development studios have claimed that making a leap to multiplatform development is the only way to offset loss brought on by piracy, not all developers have had such sour luck. Stardock and Ironclad Games recently announced that their PC strategy title Sins of a Solar Empire—which features no copy protection whatsoever—sold over 100,000 copies in less than a month after release.

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53 Threads | 521 Comments

  • well i think part of the problem is while they want the piracy to stop... which is all fine and good no one wants to conform to one particular way of distributing their media...i mean realisitically if you can write to it you can hack it.. and while not everyone is good at doing that a small margin that distributes out to the public is..

    But thats not to say that digital downloading wouldn't work... in fact most of the content as of late i have gotten for myself has been DLC but in that same vein that sparks a whole new set of unacceptable bullshit... if you all have live and seen EA at work you know what i mean...minus the rockband content...but still in light of that in the future there will need to be a specifed designation for streaming your content without the the developer losing control of it and then it end up being free...

    Hell i used to go after consoles that were dead but now i dont even do that time there will be a way.. it will just take awhile.

  • pc piracy really is ridiculous, pc devs would be doing a whole lot better and have a lot more room to try new IPs if it wasn't so out of hand. frankly 85% sounds low, I can point to any game and name 10 ppl who downloaded it or had a copy given to them for every 1 that bought it legitimately (and this trend was reinforced in my years working at a gamestop that had one of the largest pc selections amongst all stores worldwide). and when people buy the game, they get guilt tripped by the kids who who have felt entitled their entire gaming lives to free games.

  • I dont think pirates are to blame for bad sales, I think its the games that are being made. I am not a fan of Bioshock, COD, Halo, R6(only like the old ones), and all the other FPS games that keep getting pushed out, I want games that are more original then the thing that came out 3 months before it. I pirate games to see if they are worth buying, and usually, within an hour ive already uninstalled and deleted it off my system, but a few times it makes me want to buy the game, such as AudioSurf, played it for 10 min and i went on steam and grabbed it, same with Hearts of Iron 2