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 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 7)
on Mar 12, 2008
Marx was a complete idiot for a slew of reasons, one being that a system of government that can't actually work *isn't a very good government, now, is it?*. On that note, drop the damn Communism thing.
on Mar 12, 2008
Yes, developers who don't make their games widely scalable aren't helping the problem, but neither is the pig-ignorant moron consumer who thinks his 1.3GHz P3 is going to run anything made in the last three years.
Hear, hear!

Of course, me and Uranium can kinda take the high ground here, since we obviously have better computers than 'the norm'. I agree with the general sentiment that things have gotten 'quite' out of hand these past years, with the gaming industry more or less whipping their consumers into an upgrading frenzy.

But it's been possible to do this thanks to advances, the problem lies in part with the gaming industry, but also in part of the hardware industry. We've been juggling standards quite often now, for the past couple of years - and I can't help getting confuddled over the whole thing. This has made upgrading for the PC a complete mess of compatability issues.

Take my motherboard for example. I wanted to upgrade my gfx-card some time ago. Quite some time ago now, actually, but that's beside the point. Problem was, none of the new cards was actually compatible with my old motherboard, which in itself wasn't that old. So I had to get a new motherboard. Fair enough, but now my old processor wasn't compatible. Oh woes. That meant getting a new processor.

This wasn't much of a problem, because I had money at the time and I didn't mind doing an overall upgrade. Also, I'm not computer-inept, so I knew that issues would arise. But for the average user, this'd be demonic. I even did mess up a bit on my part, because the motherboard supported 512MB memory sticks from A-DATA. I wanted a bit more, so I got myself 4x 1024MB, same brand - A-DATA, thinking that it'd work fine. I mean, after all, why wouldn't it? The motherboard explicitly supported 1024MB memory sticks and could be bought as a package with 512MB A-DATA.

Turns out it doesn't support 1024MB A-DATA even though it supports 512MB A-DATA. I could get 2 of them working initially while installing windows, then add a 3rd afterwards, but as soon as I added the 4th, everything stopped working. I eventually solved this by playing around with clock frequencies and updating my BIOS - even though Windows and DirectX still refuses to acknowledge the existance of 4GB RAM.

But would the normal user be able to solve that himself? SHOULD a normal user even go into the BIOS and do stuff like that? No. An average user shouldn't even think about TRYING to update the BIOS. The scenario of "lol wut? nothing is moving on my screen while updating this crap.. meh, hardware restart *presses restart button*" is the first thing that comes to mind...


Marx was a complete idiot for a slew of reasons, one being that a system of government that can't actually work *isn't a very good government, now, is it?*. On that note, drop the damn Communism thing.
I'm inclined to agree, even though I'd say it's a bit simplistic to say it like that. Marx wasn't an idiot, by any stretch. He was, however, completely and utterly disillusional - or running the errands of others, perhaps unknowingly.

Anyone that makes piracy out to be a purely ideological thing, such as "It's communism!" or "No, it's free capitalism!" or otherwise simplifies it like that should be dragged into the street and shot, for pure ignorance.
on Mar 12, 2008
I agree with many of the posts here on piracy, but I see there is a trend to blame the lack of standards as an issue. Should any developer assume his target users have X amount of hardware? If you look at the polls that Valve has, you have an interesting cross section of hardware. What does a developer code to?

This is a big factor for many developers as they seem to go for the ultra elite customer and assume everyone is willing to spend $X upgrading to get the best experience (example Crysis.) Stardock is no EA (thank the heavens for that..) but they created a wonderful game that scales fairly well. It runs on hardware that is total unsuitable for most popular games and also has NO copy protection! Why don't the big studios create in the same way as Stardock? Why does Crysis require more hardware and then just delivers a meh at best experience? You take the average shooter give it a pretty dress and expect the masses to buy it, just wait until they get it home and realize there computer won't run it well. Not to mention we have that pesky copy protection with Crysis. Why does EA with all its money and so called talent produce such a pretty turd of a game like Crysis – that many can not play experiencing the way the developers want it to be – yet we have little Stardock creating Sins that so many more can play and is also great to look at and doesn't require uberPC to play?

Copy protection is just more stuff to go wrong with your PC. So Mr. Big Developer wants you to upgrade, put up with his pootastic protection scheme, and then crank out another clone of it in a few months and you should gobble it up. No? Well then they cry PIRACY is killing the PC, lets all do consoles! We have a defined platform and we can say the manufacturer has taken care of the copy protection for us. Wow, did they crank out better games? Well did they? What game is better on a console than a PC? Which one? Well Mr. Developer you saved all that money on pirated copies, where is my better experience?

I am on a fixed budget and I upgrade when I can. I upgrade smart, I know what to buy and how to make it work. To buy a a game and then expect Joe Consumer to upgrade their PC to play it, is well a bit much. They want Joe Consumer, they goto the consoles, there it is place the disc in and wait and you have your game. You see the PC is not a car, just become you can drive a car does not mean you can fix one, yet Mr. Developer assumes you can use the PC you better upgrade it to play my new uberleet game or else! Just because there is a new freeway in town does the city expect you to buy a new car to get the best experience?

I constantly show my children and their friends games on my PC and it always blows them away. There is not a console on the market that comes close. Did I spend over $1000 for it, nope much less. Can I upgrade it, yes I can and do. Will a game make me upgrade? That game better be the second coming, else its not getting what it wants from me. Developers learn to program for once in your lives! Know your market, create quality programs, make it fun and for all the tea in China quit putting a pretty face on a toilet torpedo and call it great!

As things continue with this piracy is the most evil in the galaxy and PCs are doomed, well it just shows that we have a massive amount of developers with no talent, skills, or clue on the market. They will move to the consoles, we may loose some games, but just watch there is another Stardock in the wings that will fill the void. I love Stardock for Sins! Hell yes! As a matter of fact as soon as I can I will be purchasing another copy (electronically this time..I want the extras) so I can continue to show this new generation and the older generation what real gaming is about.
on Mar 12, 2008
I dont wanna support piracy or somthing as i hate them personally...
Ever wondered why there is piracy...its there bcoz the games r too costly here in asia..The west might be able to afford it..but games r just too costly here..Me myself can only buy a single game in 2-3 months or so..bcoz of the crazy high pricing...
If the games could be a little bit more cheaper i bet a lot of people would stop buying pirated games..."I did open a thread related to this in the general section..."
No one like piracy arnd here too...but with 50$ being the average cost of games...a single pirated game costs only arnd 2$( I NEVER BUY THEM )
U guyz could try to reduce the price for good custumers like me who cannot afford the game or u could do somthing which might help us pay for the game....
on Mar 12, 2008
This is way off topic, but....
ubrokeme & Uranium - 235 - Fortunately I publically documented the building of the system on the SLI forums. I did this because I wanted to see just how much it would cost to build a God Box . That link goes to the first round of purchases in the thread. The following link goes to the additional elements such as the Monitors

Moreover since then I replaced the mobo & PSU for an additional $1k in costs. I also posted a pict on these forums somewhere a few months ago. By the way as I type this my system is in a repair shop and has been for the three weeks because it simply refuses to boot anymore. I have only gotten maybe 40 days of reliable use out of it over the past year. It appears bleeding equipment does not want to play nice with other bleeding edge stuff and as far as driver support - forget it. Then there is the horror of Vista and its DRM which is a total nightmare. Oddly enough I am also considering upgrading my video cards again if I dont get it back before the new GPUs are released next month as well as going to DDR3 RAM. The new cards will likely be $1800 and the RAM in the $5k range. Now about those apologies...
on Mar 12, 2008
I dont wanna support piracy or somthing as i hate them personally...Ever wondered why there is piracy...its there bcoz the games r too costly here in asia..The west might be able to afford it..but games r just too costly here..Me myself can only buy a single game in 2-3 months or so..bcoz of the crazy high pricing...If the games could be a little bit more cheaper i bet a lot of people would stop buying pirated games..."I did open a thread related to this in the general section..."No one like piracy arnd here too...but with 50$ being the average cost of games...a single pirated game costs only arnd 2$( I NEVER BUY THEM )U guyz could try to reduce the price for good custumers like me who cannot afford the game or u could do somthing which might help us pay for the game....

the game cost is one of the problem leading to piracy in asian countries that why alot of mobster took advantage of this and begins to pirate games and profit from them.

Draginol and kyo just wondering do you guys know $1 dollar in USA is $7 to 8 dollars in China? that mean a $50 dollar game is about $350 dollar to $400 in china
and if you buy it off from pirated store it only cost you $2 to $20 that alot of difference

if you guys can eliminate the high price and increase the area the games is available
you could get get more profits for the games you made. you guys could even drive the mobster out of business lol

if you guys are going to do business in china by lowering the price. I suggest you guys get rid of the fancy boxes and manual printing and make everything in china since it's cheaper to produce there than USA .


Draginol do you guys does any business in japan because there are alot of hard core gamer in japan and it's good profits but I not sure if they use windows from what I heard, lux platform is pretty popular there >.<;;
on Mar 12, 2008
As an example of a game gone wrong, look at the sales of the new MS Flight Simulator FSX. By the time the average person can afford a PC to run it well it will be two versions behind. Now developers have to produce versions that support both FS2004 and FSX in the same box just to sell their titles.

Also with FSX MS have virtually shot the mod community in the foot by making it too hard to make addons. They have not learn't that it is the freeware communities that have kept their game alive over the years.

I must admit that using Flight Simulator is what turned me off activation as a method of protection. When I was up for a reinstall I had to go online to install about a dozen addons, a real pain when you have reactivation problems with about 4 each time.

This is why I will limit my exposure to developers like Stardock who use activation. If you just say used stardock programs that may be ok, but when you have multiple titles that need activation of some sort doing a reinstallation becomes a real pain, and ends up with me just giving up on some addons etc as too much trouble.

Matrix Games is far fairer to their customers with their serial protection. If StarDock used that I would buy more of their titles, so their activation costs them some sales as well. (From me anyway) I also think that their claim of not using copy protection is missleading to new customers.

But I will agree StarDock do support their customers, and that is why I have some of their titles. That and the fact they produce a very fine product.

Anyway enough of a rant from me. Back to the Sins forum for stategy tips.

Cheers MarkL
on Mar 12, 2008
Interesting to hear this said from an actual game developer. It annoys me so much to try to play a game and then it asks for a stupid serial number or something I have misplaced. Well, I understand it for the online portion of games, but frankly, the people who want to pirate games that do not rely on a dedicated online portion ALWAYS find a way to crack them, and I am tired of having to deal with measures meant to curtail them when they find ways around it anyway.

The way Steam works annoys me especially: So, only one person is supposed to play any copy of a given game? I can let people borrow console games all day long. Why should PC games be any different? I have decided on principle not to buy any games that rely on Steam's authentication process because, frankly, I think it is rather ridiculous. Also, I don't see anything on the boxes to those games saying that you need an internet connection to play the damn thing, and yet you do need one to activate their products to play them, which is just insane. True, I don't know who is using a PC these days without an internet connection, but that's really not the point. And again, it's made more stupid by the fact that if I wanted to, I could go to torrent sites and use whatever stupid workarounds to play them anyway.
on Mar 12, 2008
90 % agreeing what the article says , as a gamer myself , Yes i had downloaded game for once in a while FOR crappy games that DOESN'T worth to buying it and its a pain just by playing with it for 5 minutes then deleting it from my computer

but i have a near 250 legal copies of different games in my gamer room , so what does this tell you ? I buy games when they are good and my PC dont need a major overhull in every 6 months just to play the game ,and not because they sounds / looks cool ! or having every magazine exposure

PS: And even some of the good games i own as not the best they can offer in content of any other area , sadly some of these games are bought JUST because i know a mod is going to make it awesome , and not the game itself as its buggy and unpolished ><

you know how sad it is to me when i think of this ? a game being bought not because how good it is , but how good It can turn out after UNOFFICIAL modding.........think about it EA.......

OH and who can doubt the NOT supportive attitude for game developers to actually support the game they made for the modding community ? Even after all these years they still dont get it where modding communities can keep a game alive for decades ......and what most pisses me is , its ok your not giving 100% support as you should , but at LEAST dont make it EXTRA hard to mod the darn game would you ? this can kill game sells if you ask me

And yes , games without copy protection software DOES favor potential buyers or regular gamers , As

1) games like Company of heroes : "opposing front" , you even NEED to connect to the internet for verifying copy protection JUST TO PLAY A GAME OF SINGLE PLAYER SKIRMISH / CHAMPAIGN ! , so having a bad internet goes bad for these games , oh wait was the game MMORPG ? hell no !

you know how pissed off i got when i knew that After i bought the game ? what am i ? being checked if im a thief every time i play when i actually pay the developers there salaries ?

2) Games with bad ass overpowered protection software example : starforce is really a pisser to gamers who actually BUY games , since most of the time these soft wars

a) effects the PC running effectiveness

making a lot of errors launching or actually stopping the game to be launched in PC due to loads of dumb down reasons from the software , deus pissing people who bought the game and just wont play the game and wont buy any product that has that software (although they do get cheated sometimes for not being noted when some games use the softwares ><)

So hear this game companies , pirates are bad all right for sure , but most of your failures comes from your own doing !
on Mar 12, 2008
I totally agree with the post.

tho i in fact downloaded a pirated game of sins of the solar empire.
after i played the first match i was hooked. Now i have the box up in my collection with ALL the games i've played a lot and which i hope to see a an expansion/sequel off!

I love games and ecp good games. Ive always ended up buying games like the never winter night series, baldurs gate series, rainbow six/ghost recon/splinter cell. civ1,2,3 and 4 and the list goes on.

If the game designers really wanted to end piracy. make their games so that u can download them trough steam or other programs alike. or just download from the game website. Let the user try the game for like say 5 hours (the full game) not a demo or anything like that. Then to play more u gotta register the game egither over internett or by phone like microsoft office, win xp and vista!

I mean the ppl that crack game ALWAYS manage to crack the game/program no matter what!

and those of us out there that love games end up paying for them eigther way.

All the games ive ever bought i would have bought no matter if the cost 20USD or 60USD. The money is not the issue. Its more that i want to see "how does this game run on my machine?" "IS it as good as website says it is?"

And btw thx a lot stardock for making an AWSOME game! i really love it! keep up te good work and i really hope that ur sales go trough the roof because u really deserve it!
on Mar 12, 2008
I just bought the game via the digital download method. I'm in Australia and the game is not going to be in store till April or something, this could make people go for a dodgy (pirate) download i guess. On a side note congrats to the dev. on the price actually being the same in the US and Aus, buying via steam in Aus they seem to bump the prices up somewhat with the currency trading high at the moment.
on Mar 12, 2008
Well I am hardcore PC gamer. - Been playing since the times of IBM PC XT. And I been a pirate since then as well (though not knowingly - see I Lived in USSR back then and piracy was the ONLY way to get any software back then, everybody just knew that the way to get software is ask your buddy for a copy) .

Then the USSR fell apart and among all the bad (and a few good things) you realise that software out there actually cost money. And shit load of it - legal game cost $40 , in early 90s that was a monthly salary of my mom (who was working full-time as college professor) . You imagine that aside of a very few rich people (less than 1% of population) no one still could afford software.That does mean no one used software. Pirates were selling CDs full of triple AAA titles for a total of 50c to 1$

Here is your argument number #1 against protection -if people cant afford it they will never buy it. And that issue covers whole countries. In fact this blunt and stupid tactic lost software companies a lot of money in developing markets (china, eastern Europe, India ,etc). Whole generation of people grew up pirating -this is the natural way for them . Had software companies checked and adjusted their prices for local market (even if they would make little profit on it -just a bit on top of what CD cost) they would have more customers today .

For example things are different in Russia today, (and my mom currently makes several thousand dollars a month) - many people theoretically could buy legal software. But absolute majority does not. -They grew up this way and see the software companies as greedy shameless bastards not worth dealing with. No one in right mind would want security checks ,CD checks and all that bull for their money -see pirate products never had any of this crap and when people experienced "legal" software it burned them

Now this is just one side of the coin. Me - I personally moved into US, and I can afford software and games now. I wasn't buying any for a while though. Why?- I found it was much more convenient to download it of p2p networks. And I was able to do that long before online distribution became available . It is more convenient, faster and gives me better product for lower price ( a price of broadband Internet connection and big drives) . Why would I buy retail boxes?

In that period I bought only a dozen titles or so ( the one I felt were worth of support - like games by Russian devs or like). Played many more though. But now I buy more games (relative to what I play). I still download them (nowadays mostly for demo purposes, or if I cant buy it online without copy protection - I swore I will never buy anything with copy protection ,after the title I legally bought (ironically) was ridden with starforce -and that crap cost me a whole system reinstall (something I very rarely do- I kept the same install for 2 years before that) ) .

What changed? Systems like steam appearead (so HL2 was my first game I bought for online distro), many indie companies started distributed their games online (many still dont and are very stupid for that) and even many mainstream titles. I still do not find it perfect ( every online system likes to install their client on your pc -stardock, valve, d2d -all have their own clients, I d prefer do it trough purely browsing interface) I often download torrent and only buy a key (find it more convenient sometimes) .

Give me something which matches the quality of service I get from pirated products, for a reasonable price, and a quality product itself (e.g. good game) -and I will buy it. (if I can afford it - hint devs should take into account local market conditions when setting their price tag)

on Mar 12, 2008
My older brother told me that Window Blinds takes a whole lot of PC power to run. It slows everything down alot...but it looks good.  
on Mar 12, 2008
Very interesting read.
on Mar 12, 2008
In short : is someone who have pirated Civ IV less likely to buy GalCiv 2? If it is the case, then piracy could only be tackled by a industry-wide action, which (as a player/buyer) I am afraid of.

I'd divide into three types of pirates there:

There's the type which just pirates everything, out of the box, despite having resources to buy at least a part of them. These can largely not be converted, though with really really really strict copy protection you could get them to buy the odd game.
However the problem remains that in the process you probably make so many otherwise-paying customers switch to pirated software (because of the copy protections) that you come out at a net loss.
In other words, this type of user is potentially targettable, but not practically.

There's also the type of "gamer" which is by sheer RL-circumstances forced to pirate, relying on games they can download and cheap barely-gaming-grade computers to get by. They simply lack the money to invest into more games or hardware. While one can argue about how smart it is to still play much then, that's not the point here.
The point is, this type of user pirates, and you could make water fly before you get to "convert" them simply because they can't no matter whether they want to.

Then there's the third type of pirate which pirates parts of their games, and any game played extensively is usually bought, for multiplayer purposes and sometimes for sheer "Head's up, this game is good". They "misuse" pirated copies as demos, in a way.
This type of user is relatively easy to convert to buying more games (just bring out games which target their multiplayer at them, "forcing" them to guy the game), but just as fragile - some overdone copy protection and they'll download future releases out of spite even if they'd normally buy them. Or just a few critical bugs can trigger this.

So I'd say to the specific question, Type III might be quite likely to pirate game X but buy a very very similar game Y. Their type of pirating doesn't follow the same "all or nothing" conditions as Type I or Type II.