DreamRift co-founder: publisher piracy fears lead to unambitious games

Is a pirated game truly a lost sale? Do some people buy games after playing a pirate copy? In a way, it doesn't really matter. The mere belief amongst some publishers that hardcore gamers are frightful pirates is why the DS and 3DS are given over to safe bets like licensed games and sequels, according to Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion dev DreamRift's co-founder Peter Ong.

"There's a perception that the parents/grandparents/non-enthusiast/mainstream/etc. are less likely to go about pirating games," Ong told Gamasutra. "Now I want to make this point loud and clear: Regardless of whether it's true that enthusiast/hardcore gamers are more likely to pirate than mainstream gamers, the fact that publishers believe it to be true has a very real, unfortunate and ugly impact on games."

Ong explained DreamRift's experiences with this. "When we approached publishers to propose potential game projects with them, most of them brought up their concerns about piracy at some point," he said. "Many publishers even cited the issue of piracy as a specific reason why they decided to back away from our game project, especially with it being an original intellectual property concept."

Evidently publishers do still greenlight original properties, but some are inclined to lean towards ideas that are less likely to target players they believe would pirate rather than buy.

"This means that not only are gamers presented with more and more sports/licensed/sequel games in favor of original IP games, but also that even within non-original IP games, the type of design and gameplay will tend toward less innovative/risky mechanics," Ong said.

Boo! There's a pirate behind you! Calm down, dear: I was only joking--this time.