Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on March 10, 2008 By Draginol In GalCiv Journals

Recently there has been a lot of talk about how piracy affects PC gaming. And if you listen to game developers, it apparently is a foregone conclusion - if a high quality PC game doesn't sell as many copies as it should, it must be because of piracy.

Now, I don't like piracy at all. It really bugs me when I see my game up on some torrent site just on the principle of the matter. And piracy certainly does cost sales.  But arguing that piracy is the primary factor in lower sales of well made games? I don't think so. People who never buy software aren't lost sales.

Is it about business or glory?

Most people who know of Stardock in the gaming world think of it as a tiny indie shop. And we certainly are tiny in terms of game development. But in the desktop enhancement market, Stardock owns that market and it's a market with many millions of users. According to CNET, 6 of the top 10 most popular desktop enhancements are developed by Stardock.  Our most popular desktop enhancement, WindowBlinds, has almost 14 million downloads just on Download.com. We have over a million registered users.

If you want to talk about piracy, talk about desktop enhancements. The piracy on that is huge.  But the question isn't about piracy. It's about sales

So here is the deal: When you develop for a market, you don't go by the user base. You go by the potential customer base.  That's what most software companies do. They base what they want to create on the size of the market they're developing for. But not PC game developers.

PC game developers seem to focus more on the "cool" factor. What game can they make that will get them glory with the game magazines and gaming websites and hard core gamers? These days, it seems like game developers want to be like rock stars more than businessmen.  I've never considered myself a real game developer. I'm a gamer who happens to know how to code and also happens to be reasonably good at business.

So when I make a game, I focus on making games that I think will be the most profitable. As a gamer, I like most games.  I love Bioshock. I think the Orange Box is one of the best gaming deals ever. I love Company of Heroes and Oblivion was captivating.  My two favorite games of all time are Civilization (I, II, III, and IV) and Total Annihilation. And I won't even get into the hours lost in WoW.  Heck, I even like The Sims. 

So when it comes time to make a game, I don't have a hard time thinking of a game I'd like to play. The hard part is coming up with a game that we can actually make that will be profitable.  And that means looking at the market as a business not about trying to be "cool".

Making games for customers versus making games for users

So even though Galactic Civilizations II sold 300,000 copies making 8 digits in revenue on a budget of less than $1 million, it's still largely off the radar. I practically have to agree to mow editors lawns to get coverage. And you should see Jeff Green's (Games for Windows) yard. I still can't find my hedge trimmers.

Another game that has been off the radar until recently was Sins of a Solar Empire. With a small budget, it has already sold about 200,000 copies in the first month of release. It's the highest rated PC game of 2008 and probably the best selling 2008 PC title.  Neither of these titles have CD copy protection.

And yet we don't get nearly the attention of other PC games. Lack of marketing on our part? We bang on the doors for coverage as next as the next shop. Lack of advertising? Open up your favorite PC game publication for the past few months and take note of all the 2 page spreads for Sins of a Solar Empire. So we certainly try. 

But we still don't get the editorial buzz that some of the big name titles do because our genre isn't considered as "cool" as other genres.  Imagine what our sales would be if our games had gotten game magazine covers and just massive editorial coverage like some of the big name games get.  I don't want to suggest we get treated poorly by game magazine and web sites (not just because I fear them -- which I do), we got good preview coverage on Sins, just not the same level as one of the "mega" titles would get. Hard core gamers have different tastes in games than the mainstream PC gaming market of game buyers. Remember Roller Coaster Tycoon? Heck, how much buzz does The Sims get in terms of editorial when compared to its popularity. Those things just aren't that cool to the hard core gaming crowd that everything seems geared toward despite the fact that they're not the ones buying most of the games.

I won't even mention some of the big name PC titles that GalCiv and Sins have outsold.  There's plenty of PC games that have gotten dedicated covers that haven't sold as well.  So why is that?

Our games sell well for three reasons.  First, they're good games which is a pre-requisite. But there's lots of great games that don't sell well.

The other two reasons are:

  • Our games work on a very wide variety of hardware configurations.
  • Our games target genres with the largest customer bases per cost to produce for.

 

We also don't make games targeting the Chinese market

When you make a game for a target market, you have to look at how many people will actually buy your game combined with how much it will cost to make a game for that target market. What good is a large number of users if they're not going to buy your game? And what good is a market where the minimal commitment to make a game for it is $10 million if the target audience isn't likely to pay for the game?

If the target demographic for your game is full of pirates who won't buy your game, then why support them? That's one of the things I have a hard time understanding.  It's irrelevant how many people will play your game (if you're in the business of selling games that is). It's only relevant how many people are likely to buy your game.

Stardock doesn't make games targeting the Chinese market. If we spent $10 million on a PC game explicitly for the Chinese market and we lost our shirts, would you really feel that much sympathy for us? Or would you think "Duh."

 

You need a machine how fast?

Anyone who keeps track of how many PCs the "Gamer PC" vendors sell each year could tell you that it's insane to develop a game explicitly for hard core gamers.  Insane.  I think people would be shocked to find out how few hard core gamers there really are out there. This data is available. The number of high end graphics cards sold each year isn't a trade secret (in some cases you may have to get an NDA but if you're a partner you can find out). So why are companies making games that require them to sell to 15% of a given market to be profitable? In what other market do companies do that? In other software markets, getting 1% of the target market is considered good.  If you need to sell 500,000 of your game to break even and your game requires Pixel Shader 3 to not look like crap or play like crap, do you you really think that there are 50 MILLION PC users with Pixel Shader 3 capable machines who a) play games and will actually buy your game if a pirated version is available?

In our case, we make games that target the widest possible audience as long as as we can still deliver the gaming experience we set out to.  Anyone who's looked at the graphics in Sins of a Solar Empire would, I think, agree that the graphics are pretty phenomenal (particularly space battles).  But could they be even fancier? Sure. But only if we degraded the gaming experience for the largest chunk of people who buy games.

 

The problem with blaming piracy

I don't want anyone to walk away from this article thinking I am poo-pooing the effect of piracy.  I'm not.  I definitely feel for game developers who want to make kick ass PC games who see their efforts diminished by a bunch of greedy pirates.  I just don't count pirates in the first place.  If you're a pirate, you don't get a vote on what gets made -- or you shouldn't if the company in question is trying to make a profit. 

The reason why we don't put CD copy protection on our games isn't because we're nice guys. We do it because the people who actually buy games don't like to mess with it. Our customers make the rules, not the pirates. Pirates don't count. We know our customers could pirate our games if they want but choose to support our efforts. So we return the favor - we make the games they want and deliver them how they want it. This is also known as operating like every other industry outside the PC game industry.

One of the jokes I've seen in the desktop enhancement market is how "ugly" WindowBlinds skins are (though there are plenty of awesome ones too). But the thing is, the people who buy WindowBlinds tend to like a different style of skin than the people who would never buy it in the first place.  Natural selection, so to speak, over many years has created a number of styles that seem to be unique to people who actually buy WindowBlinds.  That's the problem with piracy.  What gets made targets people who buy it, not the people who would never buy it in the first place. When someone complains about "fat borders" on some popular WindowBlinds skin my question is always "Would you buy WindowBlinds even if there was a perfect skin for you?" and the answer is inevitably "Probably not". That's how it works in every market -- the people who buy stuff call the shots.  Only in the PC game market are the people who pirate stuff still getting the overwhelming percentage of development resources and editorial support.

When you blame piracy for disappointing sales, you tend to tar the entire market with a broad brush.  Piracy isn't evenly distributed in the PC gaming market. And there are far more effective ways of getting people who might buy your product to buy it without inconveniencing them.

Blaming piracy is easy. But it hides other underlying causes.  When Sins popped up as the #1 best selling game at retail a couple weeks ago, a game that has no copy protect whatsoever, that should tell you that piracy is not the primary issue.

In the end, the pirates hurt themselves. PC game developers will either slowly migrate to making games that cater to the people who buy PC games or they'll move to platforms where people are more inclined to buy games.

In the meantime, if you want to make profitable PC games, I'd recommend focusing more effort on satisfying the people willing to spend money on your product and less effort on making what others perceive as hot.  But then again, I don't romanticize PC game development. I just want to play cool games and make a profit on games that I work on.


Comments (Page 11)
on Mar 16, 2008
The 8800s are all crazily expensive. $500+ for a video card? No way.


Uh, what? 8800GT 512 cards cost less than half that, and I've seen a steady stream deals over the past month for even the G92 8800GTS cards as low as $220 after rebates.
on Mar 16, 2008
I think it's reasonable for game makers to expect someone with an interest in games to spend a little money on their video card. For the cost of a couple games, you can get one that will run most of them. Some games do require more top-of-the line hardware, but were's not talking huge amounts of money. I have one of those "$220 after rebate" G92 cards mentioned above and it plays everything smooth on high settings except Crysis. I do have to lower the settings on that one a bit.

I don't really want game makers to cater to low-end hardware. I'm someone who keeps my desktop machine up to date with decent hardware. Even my laptop computer has a good GPU in it. I want games that are not throttled for idiots that shouldn't be attempting to run games on their crap systems in the first place.
on Mar 16, 2008
It's been years since I downloaded a pirated game... so long in fact, I can't even remember what game it would have been. But this was back during college / military days when my money went to important things like rent, electricity and food. Now that I have a pretty nice job and can afford to buy games, I will buy them.

Although there are times when I wish I would have pirated some games so I would have known not to buy them. Quake Wars and Frontlines:Fuel of War being to good examples. Quake Wars looked good in trailers and screenshots, but game play just flat out sucked and I probably played it no more than a week before giving it up altogether. I feel into that same trap with Frontlines... great commercials for it, trailers look awesome and I will admit, the game is a lot of fun... but it was no where near ready. The game is feels like it's still in early beta. There's so many things wrong with the game I wouldn't even know where to begin.

When you look at how EA does business, they almost force you to pirate. BF2 and 2142 have horrible support. I love both games, but 6+ months waiting for a patch to solve server and client crashes is just flat out pathetic. EA has a long standing history of releasing games on an insane schedule and shipping them out knowing they are not ready. The only game I can think of from EA that is an exception is SPORE and that's probably because they like most of us sort of consider it vaporware So a lot of the large guys would rather stick to release dates whether the game is ready or not... so those of us who buy the game end up telling our friends not to bother for awhile because of all the things completely wrong with it. So it ends up being like the music industry. Why would you want to buy a CD that only has 1 or 2 good songs? Why would you want to buy a game when you know ahead of time it has so tons of issues and glitches.

To be honest, I have told a lot of my friends to hold off on Sins of a Solar empire due to the fact of the problems a lot of people are having with graphics drivers. When Nvidia gets a decent driver that solves the freezing problem so many of us have, I will recommend the game, but until that time, I am telling people to hold off. I would hate for someone to buy a game because I told them how great it was, only for them to run into the same freezing / graphics problems that I am having.

When studios start to actually and fully test their games on REAL WORLD SYSTEMS, not in-house workstations, but on the actual hardware we the community have, and they start to see the problems we have, then the PC market will start to come back to life. Stop releasing games that aren't ready... use public open betas with built-in feedback and tools to send hardware and crash reports back automatically, so the problems discovered by the public in the open betas can be addressed and fixed before releasing the game to the consumers who are going to buy it.
on Mar 16, 2008
To be honest, I have told a lot of my friends to hold off on Sins of a Solar empire due to the fact of the problems a lot of people are having with graphics drivers.

I'm using nVidia driver version 169.21 which has been out for a while now. I have zero problems with version 1.03 of Sins. I've had sessions lasting several hours without a single glitch. I have to say it's one of the most stable games I've encountered. Also, I'm running the game with all video settings maxed and it barely loads my GPU. The graphics don't look dumbed down at all and I'm sure the game would run fine on a low-end card. That's a testament to the skill of the programmers and Stardocks desire to release graphically impressive games without requiring high-end hardware.

on Mar 16, 2008
It's not a problem with my hardware. I have zero issues graphically with other games. I've never had a game crash or freeze like I do with Sins. I was using the 169.21 drivers for awhile then went to the 169.25 hoping that would solve the freezing. But it's the same problem in both driver releases.

System wise, I have an AMD 6000+ / 8gb ram / 7950gx2 / Vista 64 Home Premium... so I should be able to run pretty much any game out right now with no problem. I plan on going with a 9800 card when they get released, but until then, the 7950gx2 with 1gb of ram on it shouldn't be the reason the game freezes and locks up on me. Nvidia finally got around to looking at after I went a few rounds with support tickets. I don't really blame the game devs for this, but I am not going to recommend a game that I know does have graphics issues with Nvidia drivers. When Nvidia solves that, then I will recommend the game, but not before.
on Mar 16, 2008
System wise, I have an AMD 6000+ / 8gb ram / 7950gx2 / Vista 64 Home Premium

Oh, okay, totally different platform. For me, it's Intel Core 2 Duo, 8800 GTS, 32 bit Windows XP. This platform has been very problem free for games. I seem to recall reading somwehere before that nVidia has had trouble getting its Vista 64 drivers ironed out.
on Mar 16, 2008
Some of us are old enough to remember when the Atari 520 and 1040 were doomed by pirates. Companies stopped making games/software for them when sales were so low as to be business suicide. That has stuck with me ever since. I buy, period. Same with VHS back in the day, DVDs now and CDs (yes, I still buy CDs, not digital downloads).

I've spent most my gaming time for the last seven years playing MOO II, Civ II & III, Steel Panthers: World at War, Starfleet Command II and a bunch of Hoyles games. Of course, I was restricted because I was using an old computer. Now, I have my new rig, built by me and ready for the current generation of games. (AMD 2.7 GHz 5200+, 8600GTS, 3 GB ram, Vista 32)

One of the big reasons why I didn't get/build a new computer earlier was there weren't games I wanted to play. I'm not a first person shooter type or WoW/Guild Wars/EverQuest or a fan of huge graphics requirements so a lot of the titles of the last five years never appealed to me.

I'm glad Sins came out when I finally made the decision to use the tax refund to build my new machine!!
on Mar 17, 2008
Onyx23: Could it be the CPU? I used to have an AMD CPU, and it hated running some applications in Vista. iTunes in particular crashed with the AMD + Vista combination, and it was a known problem.
on Mar 17, 2008

before i begin my post i'd like to say im sorry for lack of grammar i can do well on tests but i cant practically use it.

anyways i agree and i will admit i have stolen games but not new games i do use torrent sites but only to get music thats afew years old and you cant find any where and games that are pretty much the same *year 2000 and down* usually between 1992 and 1999 cause well you cant even buy those anymore other wise i buy all my games.

so in summery i only pirate things that you cant buy in the first place anymore and yes i agree the hardware thing hell i would have alot more pc games but i got a 2 year old graphics card and my comps not got the best cpu out there so its not able to play the newest games so i ended up buying xbox 360 games more and more often oblivion being my best purchase and i agree people who will buy the game will buy the game i know alot of people who can hack and could crackcd codes etc. but they dont steal their games because they know if they steal them they wont be supporting the company and thus new ones wont be made they also know that its better and more moral to actually pay for a game in the first place so yes i agree only some one who was gonna buy it will and only some one who's comp can actually use it honestly i dont mind older cruddyer graphics so long as its actually a good game with solid play *dont you miss those older games from about between 2-14 years back all the rts and rpgs had better story lines and more inclusive manuals and more work put into them now its all about graphics over game play and it ruins all the genres* anyways im gonna stop rambleing.

on Mar 17, 2008
I love Stardock, I have since GalCiv 2. Admittedly I have participated in some piracy, I'm not terribly proud of myself, but I literally have 78 cents in my bank account right now, and sometimes the urge to play a game is...insatiable. If it is a game I plan on buying, I will pirate it, and buy it when I have the money, if not I just play the demo, or pirate it and delete it after I know I'm not going to buy it. I also pirate games that I bought in the past but lost, or sold the compatible hardware. None of this is to excuse the downloading of software which I don't own, which is illegal. (though only wrong, in my opinion, if there is no intent to buy.)
My point there, is that the embrace and control of piracy would be much better than the outright verboten status it has now. Upshot of that as it is germane to this post. I entirely agree, and have reasons of my own for doing so.

I would also like to add an addendum, defending the reviewers. I served as a video game reviewer a while ago at a now defunct gaming website, so I have something of an idea about this sort of thing. Let me repeat, I love your games. Would I put them on the same front page banner as Bioshock or Mass Effect? Hell no. I don't really like Bioshock that much. It is a great game, not entirely fitting to my tastes though. So why would I ever put a game like Bioshock far more apparent on my site than one I liked 5 times as much? The same reasons you guys don't maximise your graphics at the expense of some gameplay, and don't have anti-piracy software on them. It does not behoove our buyers. The people that click the review links, the ones that buy the magazines are the hard core users, the pirates, the video game elitists. We will accept your advertising money as much as the next group, and we won't refuse to review a good game, but to expect the same amount of coverage as the "mega-hits" is contrary to the very logic you present in your post.

To clarify, I very much agree with your position on all of this, but to properly defend the video game journalists to anyone who reads this far into the comments, journalism is a business, too. We try to be as fair as possible, but when make decisions like the one you brought up (between a blockbuster game and a great sleeper) we will go with the one that our readers will pick up the magazine for. Master Chief will sell a hell of a lot more copies than a big picture of an Altarian and a huge spacecraft.


on Mar 17, 2008
The people that click the review links, the ones that buy the magazines are the hard core users, the pirates, the video game elitists. We will accept your advertising money as much as the next group, and we won't refuse to review a good game, but to expect the same amount of coverage as the "mega-hits" is contrary to the very logic you present in your post.To clarify, I very much agree with your position on all of this, but to properly defend the video game journalists to anyone who reads this far into the comments, journalism is a business, too. We try to be as fair as possible, but when make decisions like the one you brought up (between a blockbuster game and a great sleeper) we will go with the one that our readers will pick up the magazine for. Master Chief will sell a hell of a lot more copies than a big picture of an Altarian and a huge spacecraft.


You are sadly mistaken.

Let me start by saying I am the very definition of hardcore gamer. I have put in 10's of thousands of hours of gaming on every system imaginable since PONG (I am 36 BTW, just barely old enough for PONG to have been my first game "system"). Over the past 30 years I have dumped 10's of thousands of dollars into arcade machines, gaming PC's, consoles, and the associated games over those many hours of play time. So when I speak to what interests hardcore gamers I speak with the authority of one who has 100% lived the life.....

I have this months Game-informer on my desk right now.
The front cover is Alpha Protocol? The article gets 10 page? All this for a game that probably won't be out for over a year and will definitely not implement more than half the "awesome new stuff" that the article mentions.... WTF? The other top story is 6 pages on Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. Is there THAT much new stuff in this version to need 6 pages? Those of us who are Hardcore already know about AP, and those who aren't don't need to know about it for months, not until it is almost out. Almost every Gameinformer is like this too.. Ghostbusters? Brutal Legend? They may be awesome games when they come out, but they are WAY far away, may suck, and may even never make it out the door. For the usefulness of these cover stories they may as well be advertising Daikatana in 1997!

Sins of a Solar Empire on the other hand? It is the PC game of the month in the exact same issue despite never having gotten coverage in the magazine. Does it deserve this? Would it sell copies any slower than Alpha Protocol? NO. Stardock is NOT a dinky publisher. Stardock has had numerous accolades for past games, and produced games that should be serious blockbusters, but instead are merely solidly above average in sales. Why? Because they don't get the kind of free advertising with NON-HARDCORE players they need to really break out. Hardcore players, elitists, those of us "In the know" ALREADY KNOW about these games, so don't try to tell me that is who you are selling magazines too. It is mid-core and casual gamers that ALREADY KNOW about Halo 3. They don't need to be told about that game, it is games like GC2 and Sins that they need to be told more about.

The simple fact that a not-already-hyped game scheduled for a February '09 release like Alpha Protocol is getting a cover is proof that you don't need massive hit games on ever cover. That is not to say that magazines shouldn't do Halo 3 covers and big spreads on such games, but keep in mind there are only enough MEGA titles each year for about 4 covers. The other 8 covers should go to games that are coming out in the next 2 months, aren't going to slip their release by more than a month, and that deserve the sort of attention they aren't getting. I consider it a major failure on Gameinformer's part that they never previously gave at least 1 full page to a game that they later named their PC game of the month.
on Mar 17, 2008
(This is PaperCut)

I feel like you are misinterpreting what I am saying.
The games themselves don't have to be blockbuster, but the genre has to be, in general, a "megahit" genre. I will admit that I did not accurately identify my audience. The audience is the video game "users" he defined, not the buyers only. The whole base of users is going to be more interested in the genres of RPG and FPS than 4X and turn-based. People buy magazines to find out what they will be playing next. Whether they plan on buying it or borrowing it or pirating or whatever, in the context of selling magazines it doesn't matter. In honesty, Sins has gotten a raw deal, mainly because the media COULD play it as the "next Starcraft" or "what to play until StarCraft 2" and people would eat it up. Problem is, they didn't figure that out until after the fact. StarDock should be a more well covered developer in my opinion, but the reality is that it isn't. Another thing AP and GH have going for them is that they are already based on huge properties (Aliens and...well...Aerosmith), both of which will sell even if the people hadn't heard of the games, if they are interested in gaming at all. In addition to all of that, it also sells better to put games that a lot of people already know about in there.
Point is, the game magazines are always going to do what they think will make them more money. In this case StarDock has had the stars line up in just the wrong way that the journalists did not, previous to having played it, believe that it could benefit the hype factory as much as those other titles. Cover titles are decided far in advance based on three things:
1. Recognition of game property (either its own or its source material)
2. Recognition of the game's developers (either persons or entire companies)
3. A feature or idea that generates incredible hype

Pretty much in that order. The game must fulfill at least two of those to be considered. After the list of games has been narrowed, there is a lot more that goes into it, like how likely the game is to actually be good and the discretion of the editors, etc.
Now that StarDock has produced no fewer than 3 gold star titles and proven its commitment to customer service and providing continuing support for its games it can probably now fulfill the second criterion well enough to earn a shot at having a cover feature on their next game, whose feature will probably contain a lot of "Who is StarDock? Why should you care about StarDock?" etc. Then, when StarDock delivers once again (as I am convinced they always will) they will officially be a name to care about (and if you look at the responses to reviews on the internet you will see exactly what I mean. Users now are like "Wow, I never knew this existed" "I found this on accident" and so on and so on. The whole idea being that they really like StarDock now that they have heard of them. In addition the "Ironclad Games" name carries with it this title as well as the reputations of many very famous studios.
I will admit that it is possible that StarDock's next big project will fly under the radar and happen exactly the same as the others. If that happens I will eat my words, but I do admit that the video game journalists are still journalists and as such can be quite stubborn and contradictory. But I will believe that StarDock and Ironclad will get good coverage in, if not their next, their next 2 or 3 games.
on Mar 18, 2008
I don't have time to read 170 posts, but I'll put my $0.02 in anyway. First of all, piracy isn't going to go away by getting mad, calling pirates bad people, or appealing to their higher moral principles.

People pirate because:
A) They can.
Their disposable income is occupied elsewhere, possibly with buying games legitimately.
C) They have a lot of time on their hands.
D) They like the challenge.

Even if no hacks are required, pirating a newer game isn't particularly easy. It requires broadband, knowledge of where to download, and how to put it all together at the end. Most likely it will require some knowledge of the seamy side of the net, and a risk of exposure to associated dangers like viruses, malware, etc.

The average twenty-something female who buys the Sims just isn't going to go there. Besides that, even one PC game is a time-consuming hobby, and if one is gainfully employed, that $50 isn't much compared to the hours of entertainment you get from it. Compare to buying 2.5 new release DVD movies.

As for the Far East, the average Phillipino engineer makes a few hundred dollars per month. I make about 15 times that amount. Proportionally, a $50 PC game in the far east may look like my mortgage payment. I would rather pay $50 than to take a walk on the wild side of the Net. Others may not have that luxury.

I have to agree with Brad on almost every point--in particular the part about games being developed for the sake of developers. A perfect example is the Infinity Engine RPG games. By some twist of fate, Baldur's Gate II was created with a compelling fantasy story line equal to some of the best written novels in the genera. People loved it, and countless people said they would buy more of the same if the stories were good. Evolutionary graphical changes could have kept it somewhat fresh, but still requiring less than cutting edge hardware. But they were never made. Why?

The only reason I can think of is that there isn't any money in it, at least not for developers. Developers have to look out for their job security. They make more money on a 2+ year develpment cycle than a one year cycle. Maybe publishers have a little of the same problem. If they make games with only evolutionary changes, regardless of how many people want them, it may not be as easy to charge top dollar for them.
on Mar 19, 2008
In its classic form, the financial paranoid have to punish the majority because they simply can't control the actions of the few. Yet.in the long run such practices never work.
Most of the computer gaming industry has never really had any pulse on its gamer's dilemnas. With its totally and misleading "requirement specs", most PC game producers have always designed games by using the leading technology available and just assumed we gamers could dumb down the options and make it play on any PC.. The video war between Nvidia and Ati was equally guilty when it comes to incompatabilty. I have had numerous games that played good on one video card but not on the other. Instead of designing for the lowest common machine, the geeks just had to show off
that they had access to machines and video most gamers would never have or could afford..
Sometime in 2008, the game Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution is coming out solely for consoles.. this will be a big nail in the coffin for PC games.. As detailed strategy games have always been the one area where PCs seperated themselves from the Xbox's and Playstaions of the world. This will no longer be the case.
on Mar 19, 2008

@arentol  Actually... they don't make those mags for hardcore gamers like you.  They make those mags for wannabe hardcore gamers like me so I can sound all cool without having to bother to do the research myself.

 

But that's neither here nor there.  I used to be what some would call Hardcore.  Back in the day when I had time.  I can build from scratch, overclock, tweak and otherwise twiddle with my machine with the best of them.  But that takes time I just don't have anymore.  I used to care about bleeding edge.  But when it doesn't work out of the box, it means more of that time I don't have slips away.  So, no.  I'm not Hardcore.  But I get it.  I remember.

And I remember pirating.  Yeah, that's right.  I said it.  I pirated software.  And from that point in my life, I would like to share with you, the community, two examples and let you make your own decisions.  There was a game, I can't recall the name of it anymore but that's not the point, that got rather rave hype and looked to be the next COOL THING.  So when it hit the rags, I went and found the demo the dev had available.  It downloaded, installed, and seemed quite fun.  So when it hit market, I did something unusual.  I bought the sucker.  Went down to the store, picked up a copy, took it home and loaded it on my machine.  Where it crashed nine ways from sunday.  Every time it would try and do a cut scene it hard locked my machine.  So I installed it on my other computer.  Figured it was a Glide vs. GL issue.  Same thing.  Hard locked.  Only this time it did the cut scenes fine.  But DON'T OPEN THE MENU!  Or boom.  Fatal error.  So... I loaded it on my parent's machine.  No overclocking.  No tweaking.  And it wouldn't even load.  Took it back, same day to the retailer.  No refund.  Seal was broken.  It was my coaster to do with what I wanted.


My second example is a little less long winded.  While I hardly keep up on the latest and the greatest... every year I take my vacation time all at once.  I take it in November, so that between the holidays, my normal 3 day weekends (I work 4 10s), and what not I wind up with almost the whole month off.  So I usually go grab a cool game and sit down and play it.  And I've found that the 'average' title amuses me for about... 4 days.  Tops.  Some even less.  Last November, I went through 11 games.  After taxes, strategy guides, collectors editions, etc... I paid more in gaming that month than I would have for a luxury car payment.  And of those 11 games, none of them are still installed.  Finished them, no replay value, and I'm not into player versus player.

So I leave you with this: piracy, for me, isn't about not paying for games.  It's about games being worth paying for.