PCGA on “The Piracy Challenge”

By Jim Rossignol on November 11th, 2008 at 10:54 am.


Ars Technica recently took some time to talk to the PC Gaming Alliance‘s bossman, Randy Stude. Stude, who hails from Intel, was the man who stood up and announced the initiative by Intel, AMD, Nvidia, Dell, Gateway and others at GDC in February.

As well as proclaim his fellow PCGA members “the guardians of pc gaming”, Stude had this to say: “The PCGA will take up the challenge of piracy, not to assume the responsibility that the ESA has taken on… rather the PCGA would like to address the methodology that publishers might be able to take to solve, or to do a better job trying to solve, the piracy challenge for their substantial investments in content.”

Which is perhaps the one way that this initiative can really help: by at least trying to come up with a better solution that the currently meaningless anti-piracy solutions that we complain so bitterly about. As we discussed at the Thinkosium, general standards for PC gaming probably aren’t on the cards, but creative solutions to the big problems should be. There’s plenty more from Stude, so go read. Stude previously discussed these topics over on Gamasutra.

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53 Comments »

  1. MetalCircus says:

    PC Gaming is dying. Kill yourself or get over it.

  2. Ian says:

    “Randy Stude”?

    Surely that’s not a real name?

  3. redrain85 says:

    It took the PCGA forever to do anything meaningful. But lately it seems they’re starting to pipe up, and are perhaps taking action to make them worthy of their name.

    I hope that we continue to hear more from them. Particularly, every time a rep from a publisher or developer opens his/her mouth and whines about piracy or declares PC gaming dead for the umpteenth time.

    I’m so sick of those kinds of statements. It was just in the news AGAIN from EA on C&C RA3. Where we were given a gem of a quote.

    Luckily people haven’t figured out an easy way to pirate on consoles, otherwise you’d be telling me, ‘oh, the console market’s dying!’.

    The cluelessness of this statement astounds me. It is quite easy to pirate on consoles. Almost easier than PCs. Just do a one-time mod your console, and then pop in your burned copy of the game and play. And if you don’t want to do the mod yourself, you can pay a small fee to have your console modded.

    All you have to do is look at the recent flurry of 360 titles that were leaked and pirated early, to know that console piracy is a problem now too. It was inevitable.

  4. Andy Simpson says:

    This is the same PCGA that contains Epic Games, who aren’t going to do a version of the new Gears of War for PC, at all, ever?

    What a pointless organisation.

  5. Meat Circus says:

    I hereby proclaim his fellow PCGA members as “a bunch of irritating, worthless twats who have done more to harm PC gaming than they will ever know, and who should just fuck off. NOW.”

    I think you’ll find that I’m right and he’s wrong.

    Epic games and Microsoft. The saviours of PC Gaming.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
    HAHAHAHA.
    HAHA.
    HA.

    No.

  6. Ben Abraham says:

    The PC Gaming Alliance are the World of Goo Corporation, and RPS is the goo. Stay strong brothers!!

  7. Paul Moloney says:

    Until I see actual concrete proposals, I have to assume this is a mere talking shop. Hardware manufacturers have a lot to lose if PC gaming dies and I can’t see why they are so blasé about it’ I mean, I’ve spent around €2000 in the last year on hardware (desktop and laptop), because I wanted it gaming-capable. If I didn’t, I could probably have gotten away with spending €700.

    P.

  8. Heliocentric says:

    Intel should stick to what they do best and continue the arms race with amd and nvidia. Microsoft has lots of things they could do, real practical things. Like make a decent os which knows its role and doesn’t try and take over. Epic? Epic can go to he-… actually, they can keep running the “make something unreal” contest, thats produced some top mods. Shame the engine is too focused on the pretty rather than the practical lately, but the modders will overcome the difficulties and then we can bask in the pretty.

  9. Bobsy says:

    The PCGA is the gaming equivalent of the UN or the EU. Criticising it usually involves calls for its utter dismantlement, rather than attempts to fix or improve it. It’s clearly broken, but getting rid of it won’t help matters at all.

    Also, that’s one awesome pirate there.

  10. Gap Gen says:

    The PCGA should theoretically be interested in maintaining the PC as a games platform. Sure, Microsoft has divided interests, Epic has Cliff’s comments and Activision are cocks, but the hardware manufacturers outnumber the game publishers on there. If gaming dies on the PC, companies like Dell lose out as no-one spends £1k+ on a PC used primarily to spam Facebook or produce spreadsheets. That said, Intel and Nvidia can and have moved into the console and Apple market, so they have an escape hatch at least.

    It’s interesting that a company like Valve, who have a large amount of vested interest in the PC and have successfully promoted a pretty piracy-proof sales platform to the DRM-skeptical gaming public, are not represented by this sort of advocacy group.

  11. Meat Circus says:

    The hardware manufacturers have no vested interest in trying to stop piracy in the first place.

    It’s another good reason why the PCGA is a load of old cock. Let it die.

  12. Heliocentric says:

    @Bobsy

    I genuinely feel that these people stopping the press releases is better than them continuing the press releases for the good of pc’s as a gaming platform.

    Its like your mum coming into school to get the bully to leave you alone or a press release of pictures of the north korean president to prove he isn’t dead or when a politician holds a press release on a topic and avoids the matters of contraversy by ignoring questions and having people removed from the room.

    Sometimes i’d rather these people did stop.

  13. Jim Rossignol says:

    The hardware manufacturers have no vested interest in trying to stop piracy in the first place.

    Not true. If piracy “kills” high end PC gaming then they will not be able to sell over-priced “gaming” PCs. The gamer market is a huge deal for these companies, and they desperately want the high-end developers to keep pumping out system-bending games. While PC folks spend more than £500 on a new PC, these boys get to pay their endless mortgages. If CryTek throws in the towel and moves to Xbox there will be tears before bedtime in the PC manufacturer boardrooms.

    Gaming absolutely allows them to keep bringing out higher-spec systems. I mean a £100 PC runs everything else outside of heavy sound processing and video-editing just fine. What is there for the ongoing buffness of the PC market other than games?

  14. Tom says:

    My table-top is the only ideal games platform, so all you digital types should just shuff off…

  15. Meat Circus says:

    All of which means that the hardware manufacturers have a vested interest in keeping software developer making games for PC. Not stopping piracy.

    As long as the games are being made, the hardware manufacturers will be neutral-to-happy on piracy.

    Unless, of course, you’re suggesting that PIRACY IS KILLING PC GAMING?

  16. Bobsy says:

    @Heliocentric

    Can’t say I agree – at the very least when silent they don’t cause trouble and when “active” they can raise debate – even if it’s just to have people prove them wrong.

    I’m not saying the PCGA isn’t broken, just that it should be fixed before it’s smashed.

  17. Thirith says:

    Piracy is definitely being used as an excuse by publishers not to focus on PC any more. Whether piracy is damaging PC gaming directly or indirectly doesn’t really matter, does it?

  18. Heliocentric says:

    Bob i’m not saying smash it. I’m saying they should shut up until fixed.

  19. Meat Circus says:

    Of course it matters.

    Why can’t Epic be honest? Why lie to us? Why treat PC gamers like the imbeciles that Clifford Bleszinski so dearly wishes we were?

  20. Bobsy says:

    @Helo

    Okay then! While we wait would you like a muffin?

  21. Heliocentric says:

    @my fluffy bob bunny

    Yes, That would be lovely.

  22. Gaming Guru says:

    First!1

  23. cliffski says:

    I wish they would concentrate on actually making hardware manufacturers write working drivers. And on making Microsoft code an O?S that doesn’t easily get stuffed with bloatware that makes them useless for running decent games.
    Yes piracy is THE big isue for PC gaming, but I don’t expect them to make any difference. Maybe if they started taking down major warez forums and torrent sites it would help, but so far I haven’t seen any major publisher do anything that actually helps even slightly.

  24. subedii says:

    Yeah, I’m going to chip in with the side that says the PCGA isn’t really worth much as an organisation. They haven’t really done anything to date other than loudly proclaim their existence as the “guardians” of PC gaming. I don’t really believe there’s much they can do to be honest, the organisation consists completely of PC hardware manufacturers, and Mark Reign. And the latter’s company isn’t even interested in making PC games anymore.

    The article in question didn’t really do anything to change my opinion in that regard. Despite ostensibly offering a more in-depth look at what they’re trying to achieve, the only thing they talked about was piracy in the vaguest “something must be done, we’re looking at it!” terms. No mention of standardisation of hardware support, drivers, requirements specifications, or heck, even simple naming conventions to make things easier for the home consumer, and those are ALL in the hands of the hardware manufacturers. No talk about the necessity of ensuring a game works first time (that’s what your new gamer is going to see FIRST isn’t it?), no talk about making it simpler and easier to know what you need to run a product, no talk of guidelines for methods of Digital Distribution.

    As far as I see, the PCGA isn’t about PC gaming. The organisation is a reaction to piracy, and that seems to be their only mandate, or at least the only one they ever talk about. Not to downplay the effects of piracy, but there’s plenty in their hands right now that they can work towards but they are doing Jack all to actually address.

  25. Darth says:

    Its interesting, but also rather confusing and slightly pointless.

    They want to generate numbers to help ‘quantify’ the problem, but all numbers have ever been used for is lobbying goverments for harsher laws or enforcement to help suppress the problem.

    He talks loads about business models and change, but then also says ‘…and if there isn’t something that’s done we risk an entire medium being fundamentally changed.’

    Isn’t that a direct contradiction? It would be naive to think you can solve piracy just by playing with business models. Ultimately it will also change the way games are made.

    But the point Jim was making about long-term thinking is also the point the entire article side-steps around. The tech companies might want to shore up developers to protect themselves in the long term, but in moving titles from PC to Console publishers are only thinking short-term.

    It is INEVITABLE that piracy becomes as big an issue on the Consoles as it has on the PC, particularly due to the higher price-points, and denying PC Game releases is really just going to accelerate the growth of console piracy. The whole argument about PC Gaming ‘cannibalizing’ console sales rests on the assumption that the guy who is tech-savvy enough to pirate something on the PC won’t be able to do the same thing on his XBox. Thats clearly rubbish.

    If people are willing to crack £300 iPhones to avoid huge network contracts, then why wouldn’t they risk cracking a £200 XBox 360 to avoid high game costs?

    People like this should be forward-thinking enough to see where current policies will lead the games business and deal with that directly.

  26. Dizet Sma says:

    “Where there’s piracy, however, there is also potential for profit. ‘The largest market for PC gaming happens to be the emerging market places in the Far East. Over half a billion in software revenue was generated in China, Korea, and Taiwan. All the top markets for piracy are also the top markets for revenue,’ he told Ars. ‘Those who are going to invest in those markets will have to acknowledge that the traditional disc-based media might not be able to survive in those environments.”

    Will PC Game manufacturers give those markets the same treatment the music / film industries do, i.e. offer the same legal product at rock bottom prices to discourage piracy?

    “Warner Bros. and competitor Paramount have both been trying to sell ultra-cheap DVDs in China in an effort to combat piracy. Both studios are selling new DVD movies at unheard-of low prices, between 10 to 12 Yuan (from $1.25 to $1.50 U.S.). That should be cheap enough to cut into illegitimate markets that sell DVDs from 7 to 10 Yuan.”

    http://www.audioholics.com/news/industry-news/dvd-piracy-china-black-market

    This, to me, would seem to be an encouragement to get a 90% pirate market, given that I’ve yet to see a $1.25 / £1.25 new DVD release in my local HMV…

  27. Paul Moloney says:

    I believe that piracy on the DS is already pretty bad:

    http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=181968

    Nintendo DS Gaming Is Dying.

    And I a bad person not to be upset by this? It seems to me that the world can live without the likes of Girlie’s Overpriced Fashion Show Game and Nintendogs.

    Just to note that that recent sales of Fallout 3 are broken down as 55% on XBox 360, 28% on PS3, and 17% on the PC.

    Should we be…

    A – disheartened that our format comes in third

    B – cheered that, despite all the woes about piracy, it still sells 60% as many copies as on Sony’s latest and greatest console?

    P.

  28. Zeh says:

    The problem is not as much about price as it is about getting games out. If instead of simply ‘fighting’ piracy (via more obnoxious DRM or other superfluous protections) they decide to go for part of its root cause – actually making the retail games easier to get – that alone will help tons. This means making games available globally, on release day, without overpricing for certain markets: the obvious digital distribution they’re so afraid to embrace. Preferably, without limits like “buy today, download the next 6 months then you’re out of luck” that EA does.

    TL;DR: just release on Steam and call it a day. Steam makes it easier to get a game than pirating.

  29. Tei says:

    Piracy on the PC has exist forever. Even before than PC, there was piracy on 8 bits or other machines.
    I know, because I was a pirate, back in the 8 bits.

    People smart like John Carmack has built a company even with that, using stuff like Shareware and other stuff.

    The reality is.. .If people don’t really want to pay for you game, don’t need to, and you can’t do.
    IMHO, the CD-check of most games is enough, is a
    anoyance, but is minimal.

    What move people to buy games? I don’t know, and thats the real key to the problem. I have like 4 original copy of Neverwinter Nights (a game that I don’t really like)(yea, I have buy 4 neverwinter nights games, and I don’t like neverwinter night) and my copy of Baldurs Gate 2 is warez.

    I think I buy games as a tool to help studios that produce games I like. I also buy games I plan to play online (like Battlefield 2), and I also buy games that I have finished and love (once Witcher is 10 EUR, I will buy it). I don’t buy games to have games, I already have the usenet, or torrets search engines to have games. You don’t need to buy a game to play it.

  30. Tei says:

    @Zeh: It seems is a problem for USA and australia, that have a limited access to internet. On that country, internet is capped (say 20 GB montly) or expensive, or of very litte quality (on australlia is also horriblity censored). So digital downloads can’t start to take over the world because of the very low quality of internet of that two countrys. Japan and Europe internet is ok-ish, enough for digital downloads.

  31. Tei says:

    And the real problem for PC gamming will be people playing in laptops, anyway.

    Because it blurry the platform with mediocre videocards (and the videocards is the current engine of today 3D games).

  32. Paul Moloney says:

    “And the real problem for PC gamming will be people playing in laptops, anyway.”

    I got a dual-core Dell XPS with 3GM RAM and an GeForce 8600 card for €700 from the Dell outlet store. It’s definitely possibly to game on a laptop for a reasonable price, but you have to know what to look for.

    P.

  33. Pags says:

    Meat Circus: I think you’ve kind of forgotten that whether or not we think piracy is killing PC gaming is irrelevant; if a publisher is unwilling to invest the money because they think piracy will damage their returns, then there’s not much developers can do. Granted it won’t stop games being made on PC, but the number of AAA titles that demand high-end machines coming to PC will trickle out.

    You have to remember, we’re talking about people who use money instead of logic.

  34. Optimaximal says:

    Tei, no offence, but your opinion is circumspect to start with because you just admitted to the old pirate trick of ‘I’ll pirate it then buy if I like it when its cheaper’. When it does get cheaper, the publisher won’t care about sales anymore and you’ve just become part of the piracy statistic that proved their point in the first place!

    Secondly, onboard video is catching up. Apple Macbooks now come with 9-series GeForce Mobile chips and even Intels hated GMA now has full Transform & Lighting and Pixel Shading capabilities if you get the X3100 chipset. People just seem to forget that the focus of laptops is portability and power-saving, not pumping out as much graphical power as is possible.

  35. Paul Moloney says:

    Tei;

    “I think I buy games as a tool to help studios that produce games I like. [...] also buy games that I have finished and love (once Witcher is 10 EUR, I will buy it). “

    Tei, you claim you want to help studios, but you won’t even buy a game full-price that you have finished and claim to love. Do you know what percentage of that €10 that the developers are likely to receive? Do you think that developers could keep going if noone bought their games full-price, but everyone pirated it and waited for the cheap release? Basically, you are scrounging off the backs of others who will pay full price. (A bit like pacifists during a defensive war who know their position is only tenable as they can assume others will fight to defend them.)

    It would be more honest if you openly stated you were a pirate and didn’t care; instead, you’re trying to clutch to some thin rags of self-justification.

    (PS: Why do I get lines formatted as centered here when I use a colon? It’s very annoying.)
    P.

  36. dhex says:

    [quote]It seems is a problem for USA and australia[/quote]

    for what it’s worth, my cable package gives me speeds as high as 2.5mb/s on downloads, but average more like 1.25mb/s via something like steam.

  37. Bremze says:

    I actualy don’t care about AAA titles. All the last games I have bought on the PC are either old or indie games that usualy don’t need a powerful pc and are cheaper and/or longer than most big titles. Why should I buy the latest and greatest console port and a new computer when I can get more from a cheaper game?

  38. KDH says:

    This bit of the Gamasutra interview stands out as interesting:

    “At some point next year, we expect to be able to quantify the potential impact of piracy on the industry,” says Stude.

    Being able to provide hard data on the impact of piracy on the industry is the first step in anti-piracy initiatives, he says.

    “Assuming that every person that pirates a PC game is a lost customer is not a fair assessment… but at the same time, like music and movies, individual piracy has an impact to the bottom line — and if there isn’t something that’s done we risk an entire medium being fundamentally changed.”

    Sort of what John Walker is calling for in this article.

    Some actual hard facts and a more intelligent approach to the subject matter. At least in comparison to the tired (and false?) “Piracy’s killing PC” meme.

    I’m not getting my hopes too high though…

  39. Gap Gen says:

    Actually, maybe academia should get in on the PCGA? My work involves thousands of CPU hours, and it would be impossible if high-end PCs hadn’t been commercially viable. I’ve been to lectures by people who use graphics cards to do gravity calculations. It’s in academia’s (admittedly non-direct) interest to maintain the high-end PC market.

  40. RichPowers says:

    This organization is a joke. We already know how Epic feels about PC gamers; Microsoft’s admitted to holding back PC releases to help out 360 sales. Vista did more harm than good to PC gaming at large.

    Oh, and the best way to sell PC games? Make them good and utilize the platform’s strengths. I’d rather have them discuss why PC games (not console ports) such as The Witcher and Sins of the Solar Empire were well-received and what lessons can be learned from their success.

  41. bobince says:

    -

    God, give PCGA grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
    [Piracy has always been and will always be with us]

    Courage to change the things that should be changed,
    [PC software and hardware standards to allow the Normals to buy games easily, without having to worry about whether the damn thing will even run]

    And the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
    [Wisdom? From that lot? Oh well, never mind.]

  42. MeestaNob! says:

    PCGA members include ‘Epic “viva la PC games! – what? No, not our games, your games” Games’ and Microsoft who are up to about business model 43 or whatever of trying to foist Live(!) upon us, the first 42 being miserable failures.

    This is like the anti council council being funded solely by the tobacco lobby. GTFO of our platform, you’re only hurting it by being here.

  43. Andy Simpson says:

    There are people who buy stupidly expensive computers and then don’t play games on them. You’ve forgotten the category of person who has more money than sense.

    My housemate (who, I would like to point out, is a student…) has bought a £2000 laptop. The most taxing thing he has played so far is Spore.

    If the hardware makers can survive on just this kind of person is debatable, though.

  44. rocketman71 says:

    What?. Microsoft?. Intel?. Epic?.

    Are your sure we are not speaking about the PC Gaming Killing Association?

  45. Erlam says:

    It’s funny, everytime I hear that ‘piracy is killing PC gaming,’ I look over at my friend, who has about a dozen warez’d games on his DS, which he swaps out with other games once he’s played them. His reasoning? “It’s easy, and I can’t afford to buy a 30 dollar game that I’ll beat in three hours.”

    Then you have someone else I know, with a cracked 360/PS3 so he can play games from overseas, stating “Why the hell would I not do this? There’s a whole wealth of games that I’m apparently ‘not allowed’ to play here, with no real reason as to why.’

    So, personally, I think piracy is more noted on the PC because it’s ‘easier,’ and frankly, because PC gamers on average are more demanding, more ‘tech savvy,’ and are less willing to buy mediocre things.

    If Halo had been released on the PC first, how well would it have done?

  46. Ravenger says:

    I always think it’s ironic that Intel are part of the PCGA.

    Nearly every bog-standard PC bought from a high-street retailer these days would be capable of running the latest games – they have enough processor power, ram and HD space – if it weren’t for Intel cornering the market with their poor OEM graphics chips.

    That’s a huge section of the PC gaming market locked out, because the onboard graphics are so crippled they can’t even run 5 year old games.

  47. spd from Russia says:

    If Halo had been released on the PC first, how well would it have done?

    not very well at all. cause Halo is mostly popular among USA kids and PC games dont sell in USA

  48. redrain85 says:

    @Paul Moloney:

    Just to note that that recent sales of Fallout 3 are broken down as 55% on XBox 360, 28% on PS3, and 17% on the PC.

    Those figures are for the UK only, not worldwide. I’m curious to know what the percentages were like in other markets.

  49. Paul Moloney says:

    Those figures are for the UK only, not worldwide. I’m curious to know what the percentages were like in other markets.

    Since console penetration in the UK is higher than average, hopefully the PC percentage there is low compared to elsewhere.

    P.

  50. Gap Gen says:

    It’s like the Muslim Council being half Jewish with most of them having shares in Melton Mobray pies?