Ubisoft Boss Declares F2P Is Because Of 95% Piracy Rates

By John Walker on August 22nd, 2012 at 1:00 pm.


Rock, Paper, Shotgun is read by over 92% of the Earth’s population, and our most frequent readers are in the top 15% most attractive people on Earth! Yes, we all love statistics we don’t provide any evidence for. There’s so much fun to be had. Ubisoft have also been revelling in that fun, by telling GI.biz that they experience “93-95% piracy” rates. Which is odd, what with all their boasting that their always-awful DRM has been so darned effective at combating piracy. How incredibly confusing! Anyway, this, says bossman Yves Guillemot, is why they’re heading down the path of F2P games.

Here’s the logic: Only 5-7% of people ever fork out cash for the F2P models that are out there. And that just happens to match the piracy rates seemingly plucked out of the air. You may immediately say, “Er, if it’s the same, why bother doing something different?” But Guillemot explains that with the F2P model, that 5-7% who pay will keep on paying, over and over, making more money for the F2Ping company in the long run. Thus making the F2P model more financially effective.

But the problem is deeper than just believing that piracy rates are 95%. (Because of course you just can’t measure that. You can count torrents and compare it to sales, etc, but it’s still a guess.) Let’s just say that piracy rates are 95%, because I’ve no more evidence to say they aren’t than they likely have to say they are. The issue is determining what it’s 95% of.

There is no hard evidence to show that piracy affects sales. If Ubisoft has some, then they should share it. There is evidence to show that pirated copies almost never translate to lost sales (and as much anecdotal evidence to show that piracy encourages sales as there is to show it discourages them), and we absolutely cannot take the music and film industry’s laughable route of declaring every pirated copy as lost revenue. That’s plain deceitful, and of no help to anyone. So instead you could, if you were actually interested in business and not in scaremongering, say “We sold X hundred thousand copies of game Y”. Or indeed Z hundred copies. And then you could stop saying anything else, since that’s the only useful data you actually have.

Because really what matters is how many you sell, or – in F2P land – how much money you persuade people to give you.

The 95% figure is based on two numbers (one of them guesswork) happening to match up: F2P rates, and alleged piracy rates. It’s a comparison that is completely meaningless, as the two have little in common. When I buy a game, as much as the vile EULAs and licenses we are required to agree to may say otherwise, I do on some vague level have (if not own) a copy. When I play an online game, I am only ever visiting that game’s house, and the moment they switch it off (and they will) all my investment is gone forever. And one of them IS FREE. It says so right in the business model. I’m allowed to play it for free. And in doing so, by Ubisoft’s logic, means I am being compared with a pirate. That is so damned distasteful.

Conflating F2P numbers with piracy “numbers” is a handy way to excuse going down the path of the far cheaper development for F2P gaming, where sticking it in a browser, or cutting it down for a downloadable client, means players have their expectations severely cut down. A path that can, if you strike lucky, find your product catching a very large audience of people willing to constantly fork out small increments in order to be able to keep playing. Most don’t succeed, but one big hit can be enough. They’re cheaper to develop, they also have the potential of having players just keep on paying, and people don’t expect them to be nearly as good as full price boxed games – and hey, they’re free, right? So why would anyone complain?

Of course it’s absolutely fine for Ubi to head off in the F2P direction. It makes business sense for people to leap and grab cash before the fad is over, and the next new thing comes along. You may not like the business model, you may even think the way pay-to-play’s insidious increments work is distasteful. But if you’re a publisher, it’s a revenue stream you’ll want to tap into. But Ubi, please don’t make ridiculous excuses. Honestly, I find it bewildering that the entirety of Ubi’s board of directors hasn’t decreed that Guillemot is never allowed to say the word “piracy” again as long as he lives. Their reputation amongst PC gamers is so utterly terrible right now, despite releasing a ton of great games on the machine. It would just be amazing to see the company, for once, celebrating their PC customers, rather than berating them. Because they have customers. Paying customers. Maybe instead of pointing out that whatever their imagined piracy rates are, they could acknowledge they also have people who pay a huge chunk of cash for their games, and just maybe act like they’re grateful. Just maybe.

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282 Comments »

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  1. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    The other 5% is due to shit games.

    EDIT: Yeah that statement doesn’t really make any sense. But it would be interesting to compare that 95% statistic to a satisfaction poll. Or hell, even a meta-metacritic score that averages all scores for Ubisoft games (does such a thing exist?)

    Also, nothing about this makes any sense. What they should do is compare money they *have* made from each model and present those as the “facts”.

    • KikiJiki says:

      The only conclusion I can draw from this article is that Ubisoft take the following approach to the games industry:

    • Howard says:

      http://www.metacritic.com/company/ubisoft

      Since you ask. Odd that the score is so high tbh…

    • zachjordan997 says:

      When it comes to dating a sugar daddy, many people will think of the word ” gold digger”. In fact, most women will admit that they want a financially secured man. If you are financially secured and successful in career, why not date a young beautil sugar baby on c_o_u_g_a_r_l_o_v_i_n_g_c_o_m You deserve a quality woman!

      • alundra says:

        Just for a moment I thought this was actually related to UBI.

      • Meusli says:

        I am going to tell my wife tonight that a man on the internet said I “deserve a quality woman!” I always thought I did.

      • lijenstina says:

        95 % sure it got viruses :P

    • Premium User Badge

      SpakAttack says:

      I stopped giving them money over two years ago. I say good riddance – let a more clued-up publisher occupy that space. The world is a better place for this news.

    • James Kulas says:

      From one direction they berate and demean us with blanket piracy accusations, and from another visit games of unimaginable horror like “Expendables 2: The Videogame” upon humanity. It’s hardly surprising they’re running out of friends.

  2. Hoaxfish says:

    What was the piracy rate on Rayman: Origins?

    You know, the one they had bare minimum DRM on? (Steam or DRM-free disk if I remember correctly).

    I know I bought it, having not touched (or pirated) any of their games for years.

    I’m not even sure if their “count” would register the DRM-free sales… actually I have no idea how they arrive at 90%+ piracy, when the first move piracy does is strip out any form of “official registering”.

    • fiddlesticks says:

      Are you questioning their piracy statistics? Because I can assure you, they have top men working on them right now!

        • fiddlesticks says:

          Top. Men.

          • Mr Bismarck says:

            I bought a shirt from Top Man. But only because I couldn’t pirate it.

          • KikiJiki says:

            Well you wouldn’t download a shirt.

          • Sweedums says:

            goddammit I literally just logged in to try and get in on this reference, but it seems you beat me to it!

            well done fine sir.

          • Premium User Badge

            shaydeeadi says:

            Just wait until 3D printers get better. I’ll be pirating jeans and shirts all day.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Yep, pirating physical objects is here! It’s now and it’s improving.

          • Ninja Foodstuff says:

            I saw some pants I liked, but they required an always-on internet connection. I was worried that when the London Underground stop doing free wi-fi, they’d stop working.

          • pepper says:

            Aha! A new reason to blame imminent pant/gardrobe failure! I love it already!

    • Premium User Badge

      DeVadder says:

      I would love to know the how many copies of the last Anno or Assasins Creed they sold. Then take that number times 20 and we would know 100%, probably meaning how many sold copies they expect to be viable.
      I would not be surprised if that number was ridiculously high. But then again, i assume Ubi expects all their games should be the most succesfull games of all times by a huge margin.

      • paddymaxson says:

        0.87 Million and 0.36 million respectively, I believe that doesn’t include digital sales though (VALVe don’t release steam sales stats)

        So 17.4 million retail boxes of anno and 7.2 million PC retail boxes of AssCreedRev they were expecting.

        Bear in mind that AssCreedRev shipped (not actually sold at retail, only sold to vendors) only 7 million copies across all platforms, he’s talking out of his arse as Consoles are much less commonly pirated on and bigger markets for derivative sequel-a-year crap

        • hatseflats says:

          What’s remarkable is that while sales on XBOX and PS3 were quite similar for Assassin’s creed 1 and 2 (4.41m on PS3 and 5.12m on Xbox, respectively 5.01m on PS3 and 4.81m on Xbox 360) they were down from 0.71m to 0.27m on PC. Which is either due to an increase in digital distribution sales or due to Ubisoft’s now infamously shitty DRM.

          • paddymaxson says:

            Between the DRM and people just gettign a bit fed up of playing the same game as AssCreed II, I think PC owners just bought less of it…Or many more sales were on Steam (steam sales figures grow and grow as retail figures fall), so far as I know, it was’t possible to digital purchase this game for PS3 and 360.

            I bought it on steam during the summer sale.

          • Ragnar says:

            That doesn’t surprise me at all. If I buy a Ubi game, I’m going to buy it via some sort of digital distribution – either Steam or Amazon.

            That’s part of the problem. You can’t look at any realistic PC sales figures because the largest seller of PC games – Steam – doesn’t release them.

            I happen to have AC 1 on PC via D2D, AC 2 on Xbox, AC 2-2 on PC via Amazon, AC 2-3 on PC via Steam, and Rayman Origins on Xbox. I’ve also only ever payed money for a F2P game once: Tribes (I did pay to remove ads from 3 Android games, but I don’t think that counts).

            If Ubisoft want to focus on F2P games to avoid the “95% PC piracy rate” (down from EPIC’s 195% PC piracy rate), then they can look forward to not getting any more of my money.

      • MacGuffin says:

        I haven’t bought a Ubisoft game in years because of their adversarial attitude toward their potential customers. I don’t pirate the games either, but I’m sure Ubi counts my not buying their games as piracy regardless.

        • Mbaya says:

          Your comment mirrors my views exactly, I think their games underperform on PC and rather admit faults with their treatment of potential PC customers, they blame piracy.

          I’m actually interesting in seeing how their transition to Free to Play games works for them, fair enough if they see increased sales and feel validated in their concerns of pirates, but if their games continue to dissapoint what ever internal goals they have, I wonder how they’ll justify things then.

          Although I expect they will simply ignore the issue, just like they have this round, claiming how great their DRM is yet revealing piracy rates that are apparently so high.

          • MasterDex says:

            There’ll only be so long they can ignore their real issues before their shareholders catch on and jump ship. Why keep shares in a business that would rather lie about their problems than seriously attempt to solve them?

    • JD Ogre says:

      “I’’m not even sure if their “count” would register the DRM-free sales… actually I have no idea how they arrive at 90%+ piracy, when the first move piracy does is strip out any form of “official registering”.”

      They probably look at the number of seeds & leechers, then multiply by 1000 and declare that many lost copies and sales, of course – and then use the full retail price if pressed for a dollar value to their losses, which will be far more than their actual losses.

      (though, really, I doubt there’s more than 10,000 torrented copies out there of most games, and if UbiSoft’re selling less than 500 copies of each of their games, they’ve got far more problems than piracy!)

      • lordcooper says:

        Like hell. I’ve seen game torrents with that many seeders before.

        • Grygus says:

          I know this is the Internet and so we must contradict one another, but you do realize that pointing out that there are outliers doesn’t counter a claim about “most” games, right? Saying that most games don’t have 10,000 seeders implicitly says that some games do, in fact, have that many; otherwise, he’d say “all,” not “most.” You have no disagreement with the poster you are replying to.

      • Ninja Foodstuff says:

        Surely there’s also a significant percentage of people who illegally download stuff with no real intention of playing it?

        And whilst we’re at it, what’s the percentage of people who illegally download AND buy it?

        The percentage of people who start illegally downloading something and then cancel it?
        The percentage of people who illegally download the same thing multiple times?
        The percentage of people who literally have no idea what they’re doing?

        It’s as if we’re missing some key information in all these facts!

        • RegisteredUser says:

          Come now, don’t make this about facts or actual evidence when honest people like Ubi are trying to work an angle here.

        • Shuck says:

          Well yes – this. Studies, for example, have shown that there are “pirates” (that is, copiers) who download massive amounts of content – far, far more than they ever could go through, and they skew download statistics.
          So yeah, their “piracy” statistics are nonsense and comparing that made-up number with people who pay for free-to-play is meaningless. However, people who “pirate” (download) a game have made the choice to not pay for the game, and can’t change their mind – as a revenue source they’re completely lost*, whereas free-to-play game players have continuous opportunities to contribute to the game’s revenue at any time during play. (This number is probably more than balanced out by players who would have taken a chance on paying for the game up-front, but having played the free-to-play version don’t find it worth paying for.)

          *Although, of course, they may buy any sequels.

          • Aedrill says:

            Well, that’s bullshit, I’m sorry. Of course you can change your mind after pirating a game/any other piece of software/media. You can buy it and BAM! you’re suddenly a source of revenue.

            You need to remember that when you download something illegally you don’t cause any cost to the developer/publisher, so if you ever feel like changing your mind, you can still give your money to the author and everyone is happy.

  3. destroy.all.monsters says:

    That’s ok those of us with brains will wait until Ubi’s games are at GOG or better yet until after Ubi closes its doors so a less idiotic company can use the IP.

    This won’t end well for either EA or Ubi.

    • Jim Power says:

      What the??

      I understand that EA is not a much liked company around here, but you have to bash them on a totally unrelated article? I can’t even remember if EA ever said something as ridiculous as this.

      • destroy.all.monsters says:

        EA is also going F2P with the former Generals 2 – which has gotten coverage pretty much everywhere – and said they are moving to the gaming as a service model. It isn’t “completely unrelated”.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Yachmenev says:

    Well, it´s nice of him to admit that their DRM doesn´t have any effect on piracy at least.

    • Premium User Badge

      BubuIIC says:

      The piracy numbers would be magnitudes higher without DRM, you know.

      • Optimaximal says:

        Let me guess… 4095%?

        • Ragnar says:

          Yes, DRM is what keeps it down to 95%. If it wasn’t for DRM, Ubi’s games would be pirated so much that they’d actually have to pay people to play them.

          • UmmonTL says:

            Without DRM people would probably pirate their games two, three maybe even five times.

      • randomgamer342 says:

        No, no it wouldn’t.

        Pirates just remove the DRM, DRM doesn’t affect the amount of pirates at all because for them it doesn’t exist.

        In fact, it might just increase it, because there’s going to be just as many people pirating it for free AND there’s going to be people pirating it to play the goddamned game they bought

        What’s with the stockholm syndrome?

      • lijenstina says:

        People would make whole art installations of pirated dvds and hard discs with Ubisoft games. Also beer coasters, putting them under a shorter leg of a table to make it even, frisbees, duct-taping 20 hdds together for weight lifting… Pirates would go nuts.

  5. Jarenth says:

    Well, they do say “do what you want ’cause a pirate lives free“. I guess it makes a certain sense to just translate that to Free-to-Play.

    Wait, what’s that? That doesn’t make any sense at all? Silly inner voice, that’s why you will never be an Ubisoft CEO.

  6. Premium User Badge

    AmateurScience says:

    So they’re suggesting that, for every 1 million in sales, there are 19 million (or more or less the entire population of Australia) pirating the game?

    Twaddle. Lets see some robust stats/evidence.

    Edit: Also I suppose they’ll be removing DRM from all their future releases since it is, based on their own figures, demonstrably and completely ineffective.

    • lordcooper says:

      Australia, please stop pirating all the games. I know they’re ridiculously expensive over there, but you’re just making things worse for the rest of us.

    • Logeres says:

      Are you insane? If they remove their DRM, even the remaining 5% will pirate the game! And not only that, it will also cause their F2P scheme to fail, because the number of F2P customers is demonstrably the same as the number of people buying their games! ITS ALL CONNECTED!

      • noelkd says:

        I’m glad someone else thought that was being suggested as well.

    • vorvek says:

      This could actually be the case, as none of their games sold that well on PC anyway. I mean, 1 million copies? They only get close to those numbers when it comes to Assassin’s Creed on consoles or dancing games.

      http://www.vgchartz.com/yearly/2011/Global/

      So, yeah, I guess they release abortions such as The Expendables 2 that nobody not afflicted with a mental disease would buy, but somebody might pirate just for the sake of it, giving an infinite% piracy rate. INFINITE, MAN!

      • paddymaxson says:

        Bear in mind that VGChartz only lists retail store sales, it doesn’t include steam stats. (which is why it thinks Skyrim only sold 1.7 million on PC).

        edit: sorry, 2.2 million including further sales made this year.

    • briktal says:

      Maybe instead of announcing sales numbers in terms of number of copies sold, people should instead use the 95% piracy rate and announce piracy numbers. So rather than report that Modern Warfare 2 sold 4.7 million copies in its first 24 hours, report that it was pirated over 89 million times in its first 24 hours.

    • ClockworkTiger says:

      No, no, no… You’re all misunderstanding the statistics. A pirated game usually has its DRM stripped out. Clearly the DRM is 5% of the final code of the game, so a pirate gets 95% of the game code. They’re not taking 5% of the game, so it’s a 95% piracy rate. ;)

    • jikavak says:

      Nah,i think it means piracy is responsible for 95% of their lost sales.Other five being DRM.

      • Baines says:

        No, DRM is the result of piracy. Maybe DRM is responsible for 95% of their lost sales.

        • jikavak says:

          No,I was saying what Ubi meant.What the actual truth is,well I guess DRM is the cause of some piracy.Way less than 95% ,howver,that’d be madness.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Mr Pink says:

    I haven’t bought (or pirated) an Ubisoft game since they announced their disgusting DRM. Where do I fit into their stats?

    • Premium User Badge

      Kreeth says:

      You are not alone.
      I am here with you.
      Dum de dum de dum,
      Deedle deedle dooooo.

    • Emeraude says:

      Same with Steam(works).

      I’ll never get why one is reviled while the other is tolerated.

      “The advantage of F2P is that we can get revenue from countries where we couldn’t previously – places where our products were played but not bought.”

      I’d love to have a look at their data. really.

      • Premium User Badge

        Mr Pink says:

        UbiDRM kicks people out of games.
        Steam has an offline mode (as admittedly wonky as it is). This is a hugely important distinction.
        People trust Valve.

        • InternetBatman says:

          An Offline mode that they’re working to make better at that. The last Steam update supposedly fixed the offline mode doesn’t work when your computer shuts down suddenly bug.

          • mondomau says:

            Ironically, my last attempt to log in off-line was foiled by the presence of that very update.

          • randomgamer342 says:

            @mon

            But how? If you were needing offline mode it wouldn’t know about the patch in the first place, and it’s really as simple as installing the patch and doing “Go offline”

            Steam is tolerated because it still works if valve’s servers are offline

          • mondomau says:

            Apparently not. If steam detects an update is due but doesn’t implement it before you shut down, it seems it won’t start in offline mode. That’s the only explanation I can think of as to why offline mode suddenly decided not to work again yesterday. I used to be a big fan of Steam’s offline mode, but recently it’s either stopped working as well or I’ve been flat out unlucky, because I have not once got it to run successfully without logging in first.

          • dazman76 says:

            Yep, this has been a problem for a while sadly. If Steam downloads an update but doesn’t apply it, then you attempt to launch offline mode – you’ll never get in, and Steam refuses to apply the already downloaded update. The only way to escape this vicious circle of doom, is to go back online.

            I hate Steam for these “little” problems, but I have to give Valve some slim credit for fixing other things. Such as their utterly woeful way of handling multiple downloads on a crap bandwidth connection. I can open 15 tabs in Firefox and attempt to load pages on each – while the loading takes forever, Firefox itself is perfectly responsive. When Steam did this, it went up it’s own arse – “not responding” as soon as you clicked anything in the window, and stayed like it until at least one update was complete. Great, when it’s 4GB that takes some time on my connection :) This does seem to have been fixed, although I suspect a shitty and really obvious “fudge” such as ensuring all startup tasks are complete before updates start. I believe they also call this common sense.

        • Emeraude says:

          I really can’t help but think Ubisoft took one for the team on that whole DRM thing: their solution was so drastic it made things that used to be unacceptable suddenly tolerated (among which online activation).

          • atticus says:

            You are totally right.

            I had to install EA’s Origin to play Mass Effect 3, and I hated it. Then I bought M&M Heroes VI on the Steam Summer Sale had to install UPlay to play that one… Needless to say, neither M&M Heroes VI or UPlay exists on my PC anymore.

            While Origin is like having a hair in your soup, UPlay is like having a dead cat in your soup. I vow not buy, play, watch or pirate a Ubisoft-game as long as UPlay exists.

            Why don’t you calculate that percentage, Guillemot? The percentage that won’t buy anything from your company because they hate your guts and shun you like the plague.

          • zontax says:

            Congratulations atticus, you are the winner of the Analogy Of The Day Award.(internet connection required to redeem award)

          • atticus says:

            An award? For me? Why thank you, I love awards! I will cherish it forever! :) :) :)

            Edit: Well, after trying to log in to the award-server for 20mins, I got an error message telling me the server had been taken down for maintenance. Thanks for nothing zontax!! I HATE YOU!!!!!!111111

        • KenTWOu says:

          UbiDRM offline mode works better than Steam offline mode, but people trust Valve.

          • Ateius says:

            Because instead of running about screaming how 95% of PC gamers are pirates, Valve smiles and announces the existence of a fancy new hat.

            It’s all about PR, and Valve is winning that war massively just by having a friendly face.

          • Geen says:

            Valve are nice people. Hell, their HQ is within 2-3 hours of my house! Ubisoft, not so much. Just greedy CEOs, unoriginal game designers, and shitty PR.

      • RavenGlenn says:

        This is an easy one. Uplay, Live for Windows, Origin, etc are pieces of crap that bog down your system or just flat out refuse to work. Frequently, you end up not even able to play the game you want to play because these wonderful DRM systems simply won’t let you.

        Meanwhile, Steam works flawlessly. I’ve got over 200 games in my Steam library, and have comfortable and easy access to all of them.

        So, years of experience with Steam that led to ease of use, versus years of experience with those other wonderful DRMs that led to massive headaches, makes it an easy decision as far as I’m concerned. Steam all the way.

        • Kaira- says:

          >Steam works flawlessy

          Eeeeeeh, no?

          • Cooper says:

            Flawlessly: No.

            But like all good but not perfect software the benifits Steam provides me with in its functions and usefullness outwiegh it’s broken bits and wonky edges.

            Origin, UPlay, GfWL provide no meaningiful usefulness for me as a user that outweigh how fundamentally shoddy they or, or pointless they are.

            Origin about breaks even; it is a totally useless piece of software for me, but it offer almost no annoyance.

            UPlay and GfWL are actively shit pieces of software.

      • ScubaMonster says:

        Except I can actually play single player games without being connected 100% to their servers. I don’t get kicked out of my game and I can save games locally. Don’t be an apologist for Ubisoft.

        • mmalove says:

          To be fair, most Ubisoft games the same now applies.

        • KenTWOu says:

          Except I can actually play single player games without being connected 100% to their servers. I don’t get kicked out of my game and I can save games locally.

          You’ve got to be kidding me? UbiDRM offers you the same experience.

          • Azradesh says:

            You still need to be online for every launch, and some game like HOMM5 and the newest Anno are very striped down offline.

    • Drazyr says:

      Last game I bought from Ubisoft was the first Assassin’s Creed, now I just pirate the odd one here and there that looks like it has an interesting mechanic. Is this moral? Who cares? Why should I care? Why should I make a moral stand when nobody is paying attention, for an issue that has an incredibly low chance of being resolved?

      On the other hand, I’ve bought every piece of DRM that Paradox has released for their strategy games, even the song packs. Wonder why that is?

      • lordcooper says:

        I’m waiting until at least a 50% sale before I purchase the UPlay DRM for CK2.

        • Premium User Badge

          Morlock says:

          Same here – for me their DRM means that the game is worth less than other games, so I buy them for a smaller price. Which also means that I am far behind Ubi’s release shedule.

          Btw, Splinter Cell: Conviction is terrible on many levels.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Well, you didn’t *buy* the game, so obviously you must have pirated it. It’s the only possible alternative.

    • rocketman71 says:

      Same here. The last PoP (without DRM) was the last game from them I bought.

      Since then, zero. No games bought, no games pirated. And I made sure no friends or family bought from them either.

      In the last Steam Sale, I would gladly have bought 4 or 5 or the games, if it wasn’t for their DRM.

      Their loss, since they prefer to call me thief and sell me an unplayable product rather than make both of us happy and keep my money.

  8. Dowson says:

    Well 95% rates make sense if they’re counting downloading a crack as piracy.

    Because I can imagine it only being constantly usable and stable for 5% of the population.

  9. frightlever says:

    95% of Ubisoft’s board of directors are assholes*.

    Science!

    *5% margin of error.

  10. Nemon says:

    He’s just pulling numbers out of his ass. And it doesn’t smell like waffles.

  11. InternetBatman says:

    What I’d like to see is a comparison between Ubisofts console sales and PC sales of some major titles and those of other publishers. I have a suspicion that whatever members of the company say barely affect PC sales.

  12. Zeewolf says:

    Here’s an interesting thought, though. If 93-95% pirate a game, and only 5-10% of the pirates would have bought it if they couldn’t pirate it, the game’s sales numbers would still double if piracy was impossible. Imagine what that would mean for sales numbers and profitability. Also, Diablo 3.

    • Thunderbeak says:

      “If 93-95% pirate a game, and only 5-10% of the pirates would have bought it if they” couldn’t didn’t need to “pirate it, the game’s sales numbers would still double” if piracy was impossible

      I fixed your assumption. You’re welcome. It’s still nothing more than a hypothesis though, sorry.

    • Premium User Badge

      Kreeth says:

      Given that the 93-95% figure is pretty much pulled directly from Ubi’s bean counters’ diseased hindbrains, the rest of your thought experiment is also pointless.

      • Zeewolf says:

        Except, of course, that a piracy rate of approx. 90% is something we’ve heard from many devs, including smaller ones like Amanita and 2D Boy (who have no reasons to misrepresent facts like Ubisoft might have). People want to be blind as it suits their established viewpoint, so they will always attempt to ignore or discredit these observations, but the fact is that with the enormous piracy rates we’ve got in the PC market, if even a tiny percentage of the pirates had to buy the games instead of pirating them, we’d actually be looking at a significant increase in sales.

        • Premium User Badge

          Kreeth says:

          And no-one’s ever backed up those 90%+ piracy figures with anything either. They need to show their methods, and show their methods are actually _sound_ before anyone should believe them.

          • bbm says:

            @Keeth, 2D Boy’s figures came from when each copy of the game is first loaded, it silently uploads your IP address to their server. They took number of distinct IPs and number of sales and bam, hey presto, 90% (Which was then revised down a bit by a few notches to account for dynamic IPs and such).

            Read more here: http://2dboy.com/2008/11/13/90/

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            In stalled WoG on three machines initially. Two of them have been reformatted and WoG reinstalled. So I “pirated?” four copies of the game that I bought DRM free?
            They search for numbers and believe what they want to believe, but there are so many variables and factors they are either wrong, or they are actually accusing legitimate costumers of being pirates.

  13. Matt-R says:

    Sounds unbelieveable, though having said that due to their DRM choice it wouldn’t suprise me that much if they were only selling like 200-400k units on PC in which case saying ~ 4 million people played but only ~ 200k bought isn’t that far-fetched.

    Still without any evidence it seems like hes talking out of his arse.

  14. The Infamous Woodchuck says:

    The title of this article alone made me giggle. seriously, couldn’t they keep things like this to their self or something? cause every bit of news about ubisoft i find from this site (or from the internet in that matter) made this company more satanic than it needed to be..

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Satanic?! Why not just call them Jewish? How come it’s acceptable to insult one religion but not another?

      • CrookedLittleVein says:

        sa·tan·ic (s-tnk, s-) or sa·tan·i·cal (–kl)
        adj.
        1. Relating to or suggestive of Satan or evil.
        2. Profoundly cruel or evil; fiendish.

        I’m too tired to tell whether you’re joking or just being a silly person, so my apologies if it’s the former.

      • Faxmachinen says:

        I’m sorry, but your joke is not very funny at all. At least it’s not sexist though.

  15. mr.ioes says:

    Wasn’t it with minecraft that ~every fourth registered user owned a legitimate copy? So, 80% piracy rate. 82% for World of Goo for all we know.

    • roryok says:

      isn’t that 75%?

    • Premium User Badge

      AmateurScience says:

      But if you do the maths, that works out as 100 million minecraft downloads. That’s insane. I know minecraft is good, but a lot of that 80% has to made up of people trying it out or one individual attempting multiple dodgy sessions.

      Fact is there’s no way of knowing what those pirate sessions actually are, so it’s only meaningful to focus on how man y people actually bought the game. And that is a spectacularly large number of people.

      • RedWurm says:

        And I played a pirate copy before I bought it. Do the figures cancel out pirate copies that then led to sales?

        • PodX140 says:

          Funnily enough, I’d be listed as a pirate 10 times over for minecraft due to several downloads of various versions before realizing the game is brilliant and buying it. Then buying it again. Then convincing a buddy to buy it. Then introducing all my friends to it and now we all play occasionally.

          So, yeah. Piracy != lost sale. Piracy = potential earned sale(s).

    • Premium User Badge

      RaveTurned says:

      Registering on the Minecraft site but not buying the game != piracy. IIRC registering meant you could play the in-browser “Classic” version of the game with less features. Now it means you can download the demo, which lets you play in a world for a limited time.

      Therefore that 75% are the people who tried the game but didn’t like it enough to pay for it. It’s pretty hard to use that figure to extrapolate a piracy rate, since we don’t know how many decided to seek out a cracked version versus how many just decided the game wasn’t for them and moved on. Also we don’t know how many pirates went straight for a cracked version without bothering to register in the first place.

  16. BlueSalvo says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the piracy numbers are true for Ubisoft at least, and if they aren’t they will be just out of spite.

  17. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    Could care less about Ubi’s games… except… except…. I really want Rayman Origins 2… and NOT free to play.

    Also, I have downloaded the cracks for every Ubi game I’ve owned, minus Rayman Origins. I wonder if Ubi would consider that piracy. Cracking is fixing.

  18. Premium User Badge

    theodacourt says:

    5% of the world’s population bought AssCreed: Revelations, therefore 95% of the world pirated it maybe?

  19. diamondmx says:

    Ubisoft, your games aren’t even worth stealing.

  20. BobbyDylan says:

    Piracy can be easily combated by ease of use. Most Pc gamers I know are not so price sensitive to not afford a £30 game once a month. However, it seems that pirating an Ubisoft game is easier than being a paying customer, so not only are people looking for cracks for their purchased game (inflates piracy preception) they take the 5 finger discount while they at it.

    Steam works as a great DRM, it’s cheap, its easy to use, it’s conveniant. HL2 sold 12 million copies, and I bet the piracy rate was relativly low due to it being easy to play legally. That… and it’s a classic.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      That’s the whole problem.
      You pirate Ubisoft game == you play
      You buy Ubisoft game == 1. you struggle for 3 hours, 2. then lay down cross for 24 hours praying for stable internet connection, 3. play for 30 minutes, 4. return back to point 1.

      Sorry, but there’s no reason to buy legit UbiSoft games. Take an example from CD Project – people buy their games in blind! Cause even if they won’t enjoy game for too long – surely they’ll get DLCs, nice boxed edition full of surprises and presents as well as long term patch support.
      Getting a CD Project game is like unpacking Xmas present.
      Getting Ubisfot game is like eating a rotten apple.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        You’re kind of right, Cinek, except that you can buy a Ubi game, get the Crack (not the pirated game, just the cracked exe) and you aren’t pirating, you are a legitimate costumer who has basically modified the game to play it. This is the only way to play Ubi’s games (minus Rayman)

        • Prokroustis says:

          By doing that on the other hand you are supporting their anti-consumer practices. Which is not a really good thing..

          • diamondmx says:

            They are also unable to distinguish these from genuine purchases, and 1) will use you to support their theories about DRM, and 2) Would probably try to sue you if they could.

      • Prokroustis says:

        I approve the analogy.

  21. Premium User Badge

    blind_boy_grunt says:

    so they go (sales on xbox) / (total xboxs) and (sales on pc) / (total amount of pcs) and the difference is the piracy? makes sense.
    edit: man my math is weak. what i meant: percentage of buyers on xbox * (pcs worldwide) is what they should sell on pc. That compared to their actual sales is how i think they could get to 95%. Which is of course dumb but if you want to believe it hard enough… who knows

    • Premium User Badge

      AmateurScience says:

      Good point do they take into account installation across multiple devices? Or downloading a no-cd/no call home crack so that you can play on a machine without an internet connection or a laptop where you don’t want to carry your discs around?

      • Gothnak says:

        i assume he is using the ‘we sold X copies in week 1′, the game was being shared on torrent sites at that time by Y people.

        Therefore in week 1, X/X+Y people paid. If they had sold 50,000 copies and 950,000 people were torrenting it then, 5% of people who were playing the game had paid for it.

        I’ve seen numbers around 15-20% for PC games i have worked on in the past, it is really quite depressing as a developer and does make you think ‘why do we bother’.

        I know that you bother for the people that do pay for your game, and hopefully that makes you a profit overall, but you see all the pirates and try and think of ways to stop them enjoying all of your hard work for free.

  22. Bats says:

    I don’t get this guy or Ubisoft at all. Why do they still allow him to speak? I wish there was an effective way of communicating with Ubisoft because they need to know it’s shit like this that makes me not want to buy their games. I like a lot of the stuff that Ubisoft publishes, but as long as they keep having this attitude, and using retarded DRM, they’ll not have me as a customer.

  23. level12boss says:

    How massively successful does Valve have to be with Steam and Apple have to be with the App Store and iTunes Stores before other players in the entertainment and software industries understand digital distribution? Even EA has recently admitted that they’ve been so slow to the party that indy developers are collectively eating into their market share and profitability. It is seriously an embarrassment whenever Ubi management publicly comment about the business of gaming, or belatedly try and set-up their own store like UPlay, when the rest of the world passed them by 4 or 5 years ago.

    • gunny1993 says:

      You have to remember that the music industry basically had to be totally broken before it changed it’s pricing model (and now it has the only decreasing piracy rate)

      Next to change will be movie industry as internet speeds get faster and dvds get less convinint (and fuck shity online renting services, i want to own my movies)

  24. scorcher24 says:

    Hey Ubisoft, I stopped buying your games when you introduced UPlay and your alway online DRM. I am not even buying them on sale.
    But I never pirated them. But of course it is convinient to blame piracy.

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      Buying a game != Pirating a game

      therefore

      Not buying a game = Pirating a game

      See? So easy.

  25. sinister agent says:

    Hey Ubisoft! I had to pirate one of your games last week after I’d bought it, because your version didn’t fucking work, but the pirated one, inevitably, did. Now reassemble the pieces of your exploded heads and stop breaking your own games, you dolts.

    Oh, and while you’re at it, stop making your startup logo bit unskippable. It’s 2012. Unskippable logo crap has been backwards and infuriating since the 90s. All it does is make people associate frustration and irritation with your company. STOP IT.

  26. LeBonPainFrancais says:

    “But the problem is deeper than just believing that piracy rates are 95%. (Because of course you just can’t measure that. You can count torrents and compare it to sales, etc, but it’s still a guess.) Let’s just say that piracy rates are 95%, because I’ve no more evidence to say they aren’t than they likely have to say they are. The issue is determining what it’s 95% of.”

    In fact, you can completely measure this, my Dear John. With new generation games, you have achievements and several other tools for tracking players behavior (even in solo games). And theses tools are still in the pirated version (And the pirate have access to Internet, despise their claims about full-onlibne DRM restriction.)

    AC2 numbers were pretty strong about the 95%, but i though it was mainly due to the new full-online DRM and PC shitstorm associated.

    But remember that CDProjekt – a highly loved studio claiming that they hate DRM- stated at least 85% piracy on TW2.

    But that was just about number, the other part of the article is pretty cool enough to keep this 92% of RPS readers happy.

    • The Infamous Woodchuck says:

      I think the problem is not in the fact that Ubi make its nasty DRM’s to stop piracy, its in the fact that they bothered at all, piracy is a natural progression of gaming and devs and publishers alike cant stop that. most of them accepts that but some cant and even take their actions to the extremes, using (probably) forged statistic as a smokescreen for their denials. they need to stop, they can’t stop piracy, they can’t stop progress. its dumb and its hurting their customers.

    • Milky1985 says:

      “In fact, you can completely measure this, my Dear John. With new generation games, you have achievements and several other tools for tracking players behavior (even in solo games). And theses tools are still in the pirated version (And the pirate have access to Internet, despise their claims about full-onlibne DRM restriction.)”

      bzzzt *Wrong* (in part)

      Pirated versions would not trigger achivements on hte whole, as that would be linking the game to a trackable account (a really really stupid idea) for most of the achivement systems.

      Most of them run in offline modes, some of them even say you need to block access using a firewall, so no you cannot track the numbers properly using those ideas.

      yes pirates do have access to the internet, but a connection with a fast download and a connection with a consistant connection are not always one and the same, you can have a fast connection that dorps every 30 minutes. Also some pirates might play on other devices.

      You cannot say “they can track”, they might be able to track the bad pirates tho.

      • LeBonPainFrancais says:

        I assure you : you could be very surprised with tracking data possibilities and pirates “negligence”.

        See World of Goo as a perfect example.

    • Mattressi says:

      So, the thing I took away from your post is that being a well-loved games company with no DRM on your games will get you an 85% piracy rate, while being an industry-hated company with excessively horrible DRM on you games will get you a 95% piracy rate.

      Piracy might be an issue (if you assume that piracy = lost sales), but clearly being a douche of a company doesn’t help.

      Also, I’m calling it now: their F2P is going to be Pay to Win, where each gun costs $20+. The problem with F2P is that your game needs to be good in order to make money. Regular games, morons will just buy, play them, realise they’re crap (like most Ubi games these days) and have no way to ungive their money to Ubi. With F2P, people can play, realise, once again, that it’s another horrible Ubi game, see the ridiculous prices on everything and leave forever. I hope this happens.

      • mondomau says:

        Really? Because all I took away from that was that developers and publishers, well-liked or otherwise, lie about piracy rates when it suits their purposes.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      lol pirated versions are not uploading any statistics or anything. They are cracked and firewalled. Perhaps some pirates don’t firewall, but usually the crack blocks this anyway.

      • spedcor666 says:

        Not all pirated versions need to be cracked and firewalled. The DRM free World of Goo for example.

  27. Megazell says:

    Fox News Logic.

  28. Kinth says:

    most DRM has absolutely no affect on Piracy. The only DRM that works is stuff like Diablo 3 or games where they store a lot of the data required to play on a server. Oh and their statistics are pure bullshit there is no way for them to effectively track piracy numbers.

    Ubi’s DRM just does a check that can be faked. The only non always online game that has not been cracked is Hawx 2, but this is believed to be because the cracking teams didn’t think it was worth the effort. These games are often cracked within hours with some of the more difficult ones taking a few days.

    The pirates often get the best experience, they can play the games with no worries or disruption. While the paying customer is treated like a thief.

    It’s like those piracy warnings they stick on DVD’s that only the paying customer see and is inconvenienced by. Pirates jump straight to the film.

    Effective ways to combat piracy.
    Free to play (ok)
    True always online (dick move)
    Reduce the price of your game (good)
    Offer a decent trial of your game (not just a 5 minute demo of a bit that represents nothing of the rest of the game) maybe let people play the full thing for 2 hours (good)

    There will always be piracy, but I also know that a lot of people pirate because spending £40 on a game based on trailers the developer has used to hype the game, that often are not representative of the game is too much. Plus with all the games that are released regularly very few people can afford to buy them all at £40 a piece.

    • Milky1985 says:

      Diablo 3 DRm also doesn’t work because there are emulated servers out there.

      DRM can work at stopping pirates on day 1 in the most part, but not after the first month after which it should be removed from the games (as a lot of companies SAID they would do, but never actualyl followed through)

      • malkav11 says:

        Bullshit. There are Diablo 3 server emulators, yes. Working and 100% compatible, with functioning updates every time Blizzard patches, no. It’s kind of like claiming you can emulate WoW servers. Well, sure, kind of. If you’re okay with a version of the game that’s like three years old and still half broken because most of the scripting (i.e. the interesting part) doesn’t work.

      • Kinth says:

        Have you tried an emulated server for D3? you can’t even get past act 1, you can run around in the starting area and kill zombies that don’t attack properly. Very few quests, no bosses, no shops, no npc’s, slow and crashes often. You are looking at years before you can even play the game all the way through on normal and that’s not with all the updates they have done since release to make the game better. Even then you will be playing a shoddy knock off version since all the mobs will have to be programmed by the crackers, with numbers being purely estimated. Most of Diablo 3’s information is stored on the servers which is what makes it different to the UBI always on DRM which just checks to see if it’s connected.

        Even the WoW server emulators are still years behind live and still buggy as hell.

        Just because someone says there is an emulator does not mean it is fully functional or anywhere near it. Please read up on things like emulators before claiming they work.

        So yes, The DIablo 3 DRM method does work. The downside is the backlash.

      • Milky1985 says:

        Still shows that the DRM doesn’t work if people can make programs to get around it.

        The point was that the Diablo 3 method works as drm, my point is that it does not because software exists to get around, it will always be behind offical patchs but people put the time in to get around it, and people have a lot of spare tiem.

        Its not “bullshit” as you are claiming, yes its not 100% and has other issues but people are still playing the game.

        Hence the DRM is not working, people can play the game (admittidly not to same standard as the offical game but they are still playing the game)

        “Just because someone says there is an emulator does not mean it is fully functional or anywhere near it. Please read up on things like emulators before claiming they work.”

        I never claimed they worked 100% , I said that the diablo drm did not work. This is because peopel who have not paid can still piss about in game. Someone else needs to do some reading :p

        I sense I have offended some people with my factual comment on the drm not working, so i shall say that i don’t really care and the place for your complaints would be in the nearest skip. If you would throw yourself in there afterwards that would be great as well and would be donig the world a favour, fans need to accept that not everything your favorite thing does is gold plated, sometimes its just a turd, not a gold plated one.

        • Silarn says:

          No, I think people are taking offense to the idea that a supposedly ‘cracked’ game which, while perhaps ‘playable,’ still lacks the ability to play the full game as released by Blizzard at launch day and in fact is still very far from doing so, is not really a cracked game is it?

          Cracked games typically work 95-100% and let you play the vast majority of the game as it was released. Emulated servers do not do this to any significant extent. They are merely a playground and testbed for the server’s owners to come up with their own version of the game using the official art assets.

          Ed: Not to say that I agree with this form of DRM, but saying it didn’t work is silly. “Cracking” Diablo 3 constitutes reprogramming the Blizzard servers almost from scratch, servers which are, at this point, still being constantly updated and tweaked leaving the potential crackers no solid state at which to base their server code on.

        • Kinth says:

          Your comment was not factual though and you are honestly an absolute moron if you think those emulated servers equal a cracked game.

          What you play on those emulated servers is not D3. It is a character that can hit some zombies. Nothing else. No levelling, no co op, no npc, no quests, no items, only one monster that doesn’t attack properly, no shops, no progress, only one area to move about in, most of the spells don’t work, it constantly crashes. You can play more of DIablo 3 for free with the starter edition that lets you get to level 13. The emulator is less than what blizzard give away for free. So they haven’t “cracked” shit. They can’t even get the bit that blizzard offers for free to work. They offer less much much less than even the demo.

          Anyone who really want’s to play Diablo 3 is not going to run that emulator and think they got the whole experience or even 1% of the whole experience. So they either buy the game or they don’t get the Diablo 3 experience either way they never got to play the full version of Diablo 3 for free.

          So yes Diablo 3’s DRM does work. Anyone who wants to “piss” around in Diablo 3 will get more out of the free starter edition than they will out of that emulator.

          Your version is like saying Darksiders 2 is cracked if all you could do is hit one monster in the first area with one ability. No one is going to pirate that and then be satisfied. Blizzards DRM has stopped people accessing a working full version of Diablo 3 for free. That is a success for a DRM.

          So yeah go do your reading.

      • fish99 says:

        Judged as a whole Diablo 3 DRM did work. Emulated servers coming online after 6 million people already bought and finished the game are pretty much an irrelevance. You have to understand most game sales are in the first week (heck probably 50% are day 1), so anything that stops people pirating the game even for a week or two is going to cut into piracy rates significantly, especially for a hyped up game.

        Even if you’re not looking at early sales, people don’t want the lesser experience of playing on emulated servers. Just look at WoW, what percentage of the player base is on emulated servers? I dunno but I’d guess it’s less than 0.5%.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      “most DRM has absolutely no affect on Piracy.”

      That is completely false. DRM has dramatic effect on piracy, in a couple of ways.
      When DRM is hard to crack it takes up to a week for the pirated version to be available. Sales are made to potential pirates in this time. Ubi’s games have been notoriously difficult to crack, some of them being the longest until a cracked version appears.

      DRM also effects piracy because many people would rather pirate a game if it has DRM.

      • malkav11 says:

        Your former statement is often supposed to be true, but never backed with actual fact. And the proposition that people exist that would prefer to pirate a game and pay zero, but will pay $50-60 just to avoid waiting a week or two is, well…conceivable, but those people would almost necessarily have some sort of brain damage.

  29. gunny1993 says:

    Hey i remember those numbers comming from the Portal 2 fact sphere

  30. Duke of Chutney says:

    i wonder how similar it is working at UBI to the CIA or KGB a few years back. The news that comes out of that company appears to be heavily paranoia fueled.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Ubisoft seems to have Reality Aversion Disorder (it’s totally RAD dude), much like the CIA and the KGB. Or like any corporate-structured organization for that matter.

  31. Gothnak says:

    Yay, i get to copy/paste my comment from the EA C&C threads as it predicted this only yesterday:

    1. Most PC games are pirated. (This can be changed for ‘Most Console games are traded in’)
    2. Piracy, to publishers is equivalent to a lost sale (This may be true or not)
    3. Publishers need to sell the maximum number of copies to make investment in a game worthwhile.
    4. Online only games are very difficult to pirate.

    Therefore:
    Publishers now only want to make online only games.

    Also:
    1. Publishers don’t want to invest large amounts of money up front into franchises as it is too risky in the current recession.
    2. Free to play models are quick to get up and running and start making money early, allowing updates to increase the content.

    Therefore:
    Publishers now only want to make free to play games

    However….
    1. A large % of Joe Public doesn’t want to play multiplayer.
    2. A large % of Joe Public gets annoyed when they have to play a single player game online and they see it as DRM.
    3. A large % of Joe Public doesn’t like the way most companies have implemented Free To Play (League of legends for example isn’t too bad)

    Therefore:
    Joe Public won’t buy/play these games and they will fail.

    What’s the solution?

    I don’t know.

    I do think that console’s will start having players download full games to consoles (rather than in store) and then only that console can play the game, second hand sales will die and then big single player experiences will re-emerge. No idea how it gets sorted on PC though.

    • sinister agent says:

      The solution is to find the king of the pirates and fill his house with unexpected bees.

      If you can’t find him, just do it to all your customers and hope that the bees eventually filter through to him somehow. That’ll sort it right out.

    • Emeraude says:

      I do think that console’s will start having players download full games to consoles (rather than in store) and then only that console can play the game, second hand sales will die and then big single player experiences will re-emerge. No idea how it gets sorted on PC though.

      I think we can thank Microsoft’s Red Ring of death for a huge resistance to console going full digital…

      I don’t see big single player games re-emerging under those conditions: second-hand sales fuel new game sales. With that income lost, that yet another sub-market lost.

      The problem I believe, is that, even though the market is expanding, it’s, for various reasons, bleeding customers left and right. The way things are, I can totally see the video game market going the way of the American comic book market.

      • Gothnak says:

        Sorry, i disagree with the 2nd hand sales funding new sales.

        We make £5-10 off a new console copy of a game, if that game gets re-sold 4-5 times, then the shop makes £25-30 of that game instead of their own £5-10.

        If instead that £25-30 going into the purchase of 1 new game, then we again get £5-10.

        The fact those 4-5 people now don’t get to play an extra game is irrelevant to the developer, the same money gets spent but instead of to the shop it goes to the people that make the game.

        i know what i need to do, i need to use numbers to explain this succinctly in a quick post, then i can roll it out when need be. In short… Less games sales gives more money to developers.

        • sinister agent says:

          Aside from the fact that more people playing your games is a Good Thing, there’s the more significant point that once someone’s bought something, it’s theirs. It doesn’t matter how much you want more money. You [as a hypothetical “you are the developer in this situation, because I’m too lazy to structure this properly, and might also have started early today”] have no right to it. Frankly, I don’t care if second hand sales fund new sales or not. They’re none of the developer’s business anyway. If you can’t keep afloat without robbing your customers, tough shit.

          • Gothnak says:

            The problem isn’t the customers, it’s the shops. I can’t go into HMV and get pushed a 2nd hand DVD or CD over a new one because the long established industries would cut HMV out completely from new stock.

            The relatively new games industry has no power and cow-tows to the retail outlets meaning we are getting screwed left right and centre to them. Do i mind if people sell their games on ebay? nope. Do i mind if they sell them to a friend? nope. Do i even mind if they take them down Cex? nope.

            Do i mind if someone goes into the primary store to buy a NEW game and then gets directed at a 2nd hand version so the store can make an extra £5? of course i do.

            The thing is, i do it to, of course i trade in and buy second hand, as a consumer it’s clearly the right thing to do. However, the industry will instead react and it’ll mean you can only download games, you won’t buy a disk and be able to sell it on, because the industry can’t solve the problem.

            In a perfect world, downloaded games would cost half of what they do now and you can’t trade them in, therefore the new buyer still pays £20 for their full game, and the shop gets nothing.

            Have a guess why Downloads cost more than retail in shops? It’s because the retail chains would refuse to stock the game if they are cheaper online even though publishers want to reduce prices. I have been in meetings where that conversation has taken place. So, in short, retail are the ones keeping teh price of games artificially high, and then undercutting us with trade ins. Woot.

          • sinister agent says:

            Thank you for that. I appreciate the detail. I agree with your elaboration a bit further down, too – less over the top prices would solve the problem for devs and customers alike.

        • Emeraude says:

          “If instead that £25-30 going into the purchase of 1 new game, then we again get £5-10.”

          As always in those debates: you’re assuming the money from second-hand sales would get to new if there was no second hand – while it could go elsewhere altogether.

          Also, that 25-30£ is on 4 sales – thats is four buyers – that cash once divided will often fall on budgets insufficient to foster a new game buy.

          From my experience with retail, there’s many profiles of second hand users – but few of those would, or even could, transpose their habits to new game buy if second hand disappeared: the people who *need* second-hand to have enough cash to buy new – generally young, have a lot of free time, will finish the game as fast as possible the better to re-sell it while its value is high enough – the people who buy nothing but *cheap* second hand games, the people for whom second hand is only a way to dig old, no more shelved games…

        • Emeraude says:

          Got so caught up on thinking on that second hand point I forgot my main answer: what I meant it that, by suppressing second-hand sales, publishers would throw out yet another sub-segment of customers out the market: those who can’t buy games without.

          They’ve been doing that for so long, there’s so many such unimportant by themselves but primordial when all put together sub-markets left on the way side, that I don’t even know if they can fix it anymore.

          • Gothnak says:

            As i just mentioned in my new uber post above, i’d rather the price of games dropped from £40 to £20 with no trade ins, then everyone can get games for the price at which they should sell at. The number of people buying them stays high but the money goes into making better new games and not making better new shops. Surely as a consumer you’d rather the money went to the devs than the shops and i agree games cost too much at the moment.

            Then again, free to play is a solution, the shops get nothing, and even if you pay only a small amount in game, that’s not far off a boxed copy.

            For example. Let’s say the next Mass Effect is Free To Play. You play it, enjoy it, and maybe spend £10 total in new content (such as quests, stories etc). That £10 you spent is the same amount of money the developer gets from you buying a £40 boxed copy. No money goes to Retailers, distributors or manufacturers, it’s a win for everyone. It’s just a pity so many free to play models are so bloody awful at the moment.

    • fish99 says:

      You would be right if 6 million of Joe Public hadn’t just bought Diablo 3.

    • diamondmx says:

      I think companies will find consumer resistance, and expect later government resistance, to the removal of the right of first sale.

      See: Recent EU ruling on licences.

      Even if companies do (And they will) attempt to sidestep this by rewording/redesigning contracts, I suspect it’s a game of cat and mouse they will lose unless significant public sentiment changes.

  32. Emeraude says:

    The thing about Ubisoft I find maddening is that they’ve been so bitter at the idea of people playing their games for free that they basically lost the people willing to pay for said games, just in the hope to spite the freebooters.

  33. One Million Monkeys says:

    Wow.

    According to his figures then 200 million people have pirated for example Diablo III.

  34. povu says:

    If the 95% statistic were true then they might as well remove that annoying DRM they use, it obviously isn’t working.

  35. Deadly Habit says:

    Gee could it be because of shitty DRM and piss poor customer service like I’m currently dealing with?
    http://i.imgur.com/Vv6TZ.png (screen capture of my fun exchange I’ve had with their support whom seems to lack reading comprehension)

  36. Hardmood says:

    95%…loool
    rps should start a poll.
    since steam used to offer sales on regularly base i permanently BUY games. y should i even think about
    wasting time and nerves searching and installing crappy crackware (and crappy drm ware).

    unfortunately, for the big companies, i more and more buy games from indies, because most of the socalled triple A stuff is just boring crap, not worth drowning money (when i can have at least 5-10 pretty solid to good games and fun for 50-60 bucks).

    those managers just dont have any clue whats goin on inside gamer brains. theyre outdated, dinosaurs talking marketingspeech to each others, they just fail to listen while talking with themselfes).

    95%…cmon *biglaugh

  37. Stevostin says:

    While I do agree the “one warez downloaded is one lost sale” is a senseless argument, I disagree entirely that piracy = no lost sales. I’ve got an effective way to establish this : as a teenager, I (well, my dad) bought some games and I “stole” some other, hand to hand. I was lucky enough to have a single dad with a liking for video games, so he bought me quite a lot of stuff (thank you daddy). Also as a developper, he preferred to buy. But he let me exchange floppies with other too and I did that. And TBH, there has been a few games in those pirated ones that I would have bought if I could. So yup, piracy costed a few sales from me, and I know it did for other too.

  38. PostieDoc says:

    Arrrrrrr!

  39. magnus says:

    Piracy rates haven’t gone up, their sales are so low now on PC as a percentage, it’s artificialy boosted the ratio of Piracy to legitimately bought copies.

  40. Premium User Badge

    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Pshaw. Understating the case. I have it on reliable evidence that 400% of all PC games are pirated.

    • The Infamous Woodchuck says:

      So then about -300% plays F2P games! it all makes sense now, those fellows at ubisoft sure know their stuff!

  41. Freemon says:

    My reply to that Mr guy who apparently owns Ubisoft:

    http://youtu.be/ztVMib1T4T4

    But I know he just pirated ubisoft… my statistics prove it.

  42. Worcanna says:

    What confuses me more is that considering the very few PC only titles that they have. They also don’t treat them with respect either. It’s very token of them it seems and it feels a lot like they just want to not bother with PC anymore in general. From the vast amount of Heroes fans (HoM&M) that generally feel unhappy, to the general feeling that we are being used as a scapegoat by Ubi. I wonder if they would get better press just out right leaving the PC market to people who want to do it right and stick with consoles.

    Sometimes, its better to leave the horse alone then beat it to death to see if it moves.

    • Demiath says:

      I’m not entirely sure why Ubisoft would have to make PC-only games in order to show their computer-based customers some respect. Apart from the recent debacle with Ghost Recon: Future Soldier they have a pretty decent PC lineup consisting of PC-oriented franchises (HOMM, Settlers and Anno etc.) as well as many competent ports such as the AssCreed, Prince of Persia and Splinter Cell series. Horrible DRM or not, Ubisoft have for a long time been a fairly active PC publisher by modern standards.

      • Worcanna says:

        Its hard to call them PC friendly just because of games they bring out. Remember too that they only recently brought so much to the PC, using UPlay too. Right now, most of the games before have been not the greatest PC ports and while i love Heroes 5 with all my heart, it was the only time they really manged to do online gaming well and yet still yell at PC gamers for not supporting them enough because they wanted unrealistic sales. It isn’t that they need to make PC only games to show some love, its that they need to do the work that deserves it in the first place. :/

      • ferdy says:

        Nothing about what they done to the Settlers series is decent.

  43. ohminus says:

    So they’re hopping on the bandwagon, too. Yet more marketing that reduces itself to “me, too”. Instead of shaping the industry, as a company like Ubisoft could be expected to, they’re running left and right like a flock of chicken clucking about complaining about piracy.

    So let’s see: The business model they want to jump to now is providing a whole game world for free, but convincing people that adding tiny bits to it is actually worth money. I’m not sure what they are thinking, but they evidently are not thinking “If we give away games for free, we are reinforcing people’s expectations that games SHOULD, in fact, be free”. They’re giving away a huge batch of value that no one will doubt to represent a certain value for free and then move to ask people to spend money on something providing a tiny fraction of the value they gave them for free.

    Seriously? They deserve to go down. As sad as it is for the great franchises they had. But moaning about piracy while TRAINING your customer base that what you give them isn’t worth any money doesn’t deserve anything else.

  44. Premium User Badge

    bglamb says:

    I don’t know what all the quibbling is about. 95% piracy presumably means that they have 19 people willing to play a game if they can get it for free (for every one who buys it).

    Whilst these obviously aren’t lost sales (and I don’t think Ubi are claiming that here), they are obviously potential players. They are just players that want to play for free. So how do you entice this audience? Well, free to play, of course.

    You talk about how hard it is to find stats to usefully compare, but by tracking torrents they can start to deduce one fairly useful stat, and that is ‘How many people would play this game if it were free?’. This is entirely relevant to the question, and is why they are equating these two figures.

    I appreciate what you’re trying to say here John, but I think you’re reading too much into their quote, and arguing against a point which isn’t entirely relevant. It seems fine to equate piracy numbers with the F2P model, since they are so inherently similar. There is massive piracy, so why not make the ‘free-to-play’ pirates legitimate customers, who can then be talked into paying if they like the game?

    • mondomau says:

      The problem is that Ubisoft are using an outrageous and clearly fabricated figure to justify their business change, which is disingenuous and also perpetuates the myth that pirates are to blame for bad sales of shitty games.

      If he’d just said ‘we think that high piracy rates indicate there is a larger potential audience out there that we’d like to reach’ then fair play, but he didn’t and he’s an idiot.

      • Premium User Badge

        bglamb says:

        I’ve seen similar figures come from many different reports. This is not a particularly hard statistic to capture either. I don’t know why you think it’s particularly outrageous or why you think it’s not genuine.

        The only reason people usually quibble with this figure is when it is equated to lost sales, but Ubisoft are not doing that here.

  45. Valvarexart says:

    I tried buying their games from the new store, but it just told me to wait and they never came back to me.

  46. Demiath says:

    The 95% might be an exaggeration, for sure, but given that it’s an embarrassingly high number for this particular DRM-friendly publisher to admit I see no reason to suppose that it’s a complete fabrication or something mr Ubisuit made up on the spot.

    What’s really sad is how PC pirates have reinterpreted “vote with your wallet” as “stealing property from companies you don’t like”. Sure, legitimate paying customers who couldn’t for the love of Odin get the UbiDRM to work and thus felt forced to apply cracks is one thing (and in all likelihood not the largest group of people which make up those supposed 95%). Apart from that segment, however, I think it’s rather important to keep in mind that voting with your wallet means buying another company’s product instead and is as such completely unrelated to the piracy issue. As is demonstrated by so many comments on this news item (although perhaps less so on RPS than on more “mainstream” gaming sites), there’s a very thin line between using the DRM issue to explain away piracy and using DRM to justify outright theft.

  47. mattratcliffe says:

    I think uncle Gaben needs to have a friendly chat with this guy.

    • Jenks says:

      The same uncle Gaben that is making f2p games now?

      • iniudan says:

        I am pretty sure CS: GO is not F2P, at least until they transform it into an helmet and cagoule simulator. =p

      • Premium User Badge

        Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        Yeah, the one who had a lucrative business selling non-f2p games to PC gamers, who did some experiments with radical price-cutting, and who is releasing ungimped non-f2p quality games under the f2p payment model without offering any pay-to-win.

        That’s exactly like someone who screams “PIRACY” like he has Tourettes, curses at PC gamers three times before getting out of bed, inserts crippling DRM into otherwise good games, treats his PC customers like thieves, then decides to hop on the f2p bandwagon by producing cut-down free versions of once-beloved franchises.

  48. Mollusc Infestation says:

    What’s that sound? Is that the death rattle of the conventional publishing model i hear? No? Well, i’m around all week, so i can wait.

  49. FreshwaterAU says:

    Ubisoft sure is a weird company, with constantly hammering on PC titles and then releasing Uplay? They really should exit the PC all together, I know they have some good titles but I’m so put off by the company and have so many other games I can play that I really dont see me buying another ubisoft title in the future.

  50. mrmalodor says:

    This just once again proves my suspicion that copyright maximalists will keep whinging and lying and making up statistics even as they get their way. It’s all about power, control and driving up the price, not about fighting piracy. They would find a new pseudo-problem to harp on even if there was almost no piracy.

    I, for one, am reluctant to even pirate Ubisoft’s awful games, let alone PAY for them. The problem is not piracy, the problem is quality, demand and service.