Infinity Ward Amazed by Rampant PC Piracy

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.

Chris Faylor was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 15, 2008 11:22 AM

    Yeah, pirating blows. It's really turning developers off, and I can't blame them. Try to protect your game, and people bitch that they're treated like thieves. Don't protect your game and it's stolen to all hell. People make up these weird excuses to validate the behavior that make no sense.

    • reply
      January 15, 2008 11:41 AM

      There are limits. Copy protection only harms the consumer, pirates just work round that shit.

      • reply
        January 15, 2008 12:23 PM


        • reply
          January 15, 2008 12:37 PM

          Bioshock's protection (and other games') went a bit too far. e.g. If you had used certain completely legitimate diagnostics tools like Microsoft's Process Monitor, which is just an enhanced Task Manager really, since booting then you'd have to reboot before the copy protection would let you play. Not just exit the tool but reboot (since it leaves a driver running).

          They also had the thing here it counted the number of installs/uninstalls you did, although I think the fuss over that was a bit over the top. I'm not aware of it causing any real problems and the "6 installs without any uninstalls" limit seemed enough, assuming they eventually patched away the limit. (Nobody wants their old games to stop working because they didn't uninstall them properly over the years, e.g. due to PC rebuilds, and nobody wants to have to uninstall each and every program/game before being allowed to reinstall Windows, assuming the machine is in a state to even let them.)

        • reply
          January 15, 2008 12:46 PM

          So...just because it worked for you? A lot of people were burned by it. I also don't agree with being that limited on installs, it wasn't an acceptable solution. It's also real irritating when they don't label this stuff on the box because you feel like they are doing something underhanded.

          Steam to me is the middleground. It's not unhackable, but it's safer than a disc check and not nearly as painful as other methods.

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          January 15, 2008 12:48 PM

          Inconvenience. The entire concept of pc gaming was to be able to install games onto the hd and be done with it. No hunting down a cd when changing games.

          If you are going to copy protect your software, you might as well also save me some hd space and stream the data. Hell at least then there would be some type of convenience tied to copy protection. Right now it's nothing more than a pain in the ass that is broken the first week the game is released, if not the week before.

    • reply
      January 15, 2008 12:02 PM

      Information wants to be free, man!

      (never mind the thick solid line between 'information' and 'content' ...)

    • reply
      January 15, 2008 1:22 PM

      I would like to expand on your statement, "Try to protect your game, and people bitch that they're treated like thieves. Don't protect your game and it's stolen to all hell."

      There's nothing untrue there. However, it is incomplete, and should read:

      Try to protect your game, and people bitch that they're treated like thieves, and the game is stolen to all hell. Don't protect your game and it's stolen to all hell.

      The 'stolen to all hell' bit is a common denominator. It happens whether they use copy-protection or not. BioShock's copy protection was obtrusive enough to cause a commotion, but it didn't accomplish anything - I still had a cracked copy of the game downloaded before my pre-order was delivered.

      So, long story short, copy protection isn't a useful deterrent to piracy. Quite contrary, piracy these days is easier than being legit. I've been using cracks for my legitimately owned games (with very few exceptions) since 2004, when I bought the Collector's Edition of Half-Life 2 and was unable to play it due to SecuROM protection.

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