Piracy, Not Consoles, Killed the PC Exclusive

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Piracy, Not Consoles, Killed the PC Exclusive

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The lead designer of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning says it's piracy, not the dominance of consoles, that makes big-budget PC exclusives impossible today.

Big-budget PC exclusives are pretty much unheard of in this day and age. They do happen but they tend to be either indie affairs, low-budget niche products or Ukrainian. The reason, obviously, is the rise of the console, which drove gaming from the computer desk to the far more consumer-friendly confines of the living room. PCs are expensive and complicated, consoles are cheap and easy - it's not exactly brain surgery.

But according to Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Lead Designer Ian Frazier, nailing the lucrative console market isn't necessarily the biggest impediment to major PC exclusives. "No, probably not. A game this big is very expensive, to be blunt about it," he told IncGamers when asked whether a game like Kingdoms of Amalur could make it on the PC alone. "The PC, with piracy being as rampant as it is, is really hard to make money from. My first game was Titan Quest, a hack 'n' slash RPG, which was PC only, but the amount that it was pirated was the difference between us staying in business and going out of business."

Frazier was a designer on Titan Quest, a Diablo-esque action-RPG created in 2006 by the now-defunct Iron Lore Entertainment. It's an excellent game and still boasts a surprisingly active community, but its launch was marred by pre-release piracy, specifically an undocumented security check that dumped players out of illegal copies of the game. That led to some very negative word-of-mouth about its buggy, unfinished state prior to launch, which turned out to be inaccurate but still hampered sales and contributed to the studio's demise.

It's not impossible to do well by focusing on the PC but the bottom line is that the open nature of the system makes the risk of failure, even with a really good game, much higher. "It's really, really hard to be profitable by concentrating only on PC," he said. "Unless you're an MMO."

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning comes out on February 7 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

Permalink

Cue angry PC gamers calling BS in 5...

Honestly, not getting into that issue, I'm getting sick of hearing people hype this game up more and more. Notice how he talked about 'a game this big.' It might be big, but the way he has it phrased makes it seem like this huge game that costs much more then those other, normal games to produce. It's not just this either, but it seems like I keep hearing the people producing saying how amazing it is. The demo didn't impress me all that much either.

Kapol:
Cue angry PC gamers calling BS in 5...

Honestly, not getting into that issue, I'm getting sick of hearing people hype this game up more and more. Notice how he talked about 'a game this big.' It might be big, but the way he has it phrased makes it seem like this huge game that costs much more then those other, normal games to produce. It's not just this either, but it seems like I keep hearing the people producing saying how amazing it is. The demo didn't impress me all that much either.

Well he does have some experience with it but that is still only his experience. Also I didn't hear anything about Titan Quest when it was coming out. I just own it now from a THQ pack from a Steam Sale. I would try to argue his point but I really don't have any evidence on how much PC exclusives sell. I know some big name RTSs like the Dawn of War series sell fairly well and we have big name games like Shogun Total War 2 and The Witcher 2 if you aren't counting indie titles but I don't really know how many of them sell.

Angry PC gamer here to say that a pirated game is not the equivalent of a lost sale.

Poor Titan Quest...

Thanks PC gaming pirates... thanks for fucking that up.

I also find the last line interesting : "It's really, really hard to be profitable by concentrating only on PC," he said. "Unless you're an MMO."

Wasn't the idea of Kingdoms of Amawhatever supposed to be the intro for their MMO game?

He managed to mess pirates about so in return they made his game look like a buggy piece of crap. I really don't think you can win with pirates, they honestly will find a way to ruin everything, especially if you fight them.

Still, plenty of PC exclusives sell well, they just have to be the right type of game. Total war, for instance...

Hisher:
Angry PC gamer here to say that a pirated game is not the equivalent of a lost sale.

Yeah, it's a product being used that wasn't paid for.

Well, it might or might not be true in his case, but the bottom line he admitted is money. The console market is huge and games go to where the money is. True, piracy is a part of the problem but to completely pin it to that alone is just skirting around the issue.

Sober Thal:

Hisher:
Angry PC gamer here to say that a pirated game is not the equivalent of a lost sale.

Yeah, it's a product being used that wasn't paid for.

True but there is a good chance it wouldn't have been purchased in the first place.

I'd make a list of upcoming PC Exclusives, but someone already did. Enjoy the impossibilities!

80Maxwell08:

Well he does have some experience with it but that is still only his experience. Also I didn't hear anything about Titan Quest when it was coming out. I just own it now from a THQ pack from a Steam Sale. I would try to argue his point but I really don't have any evidence on how much PC exclusives sell. I know some big name RTSs like the Dawn of War series sell fairly well and we have big name games like Shogun Total War 2 and The Witcher 2 if you aren't counting indie titles but I don't really know how many of them sell.

Honestly, RTS games are the only one that I think there's no argument only works very well on PC. Turn-based also plays easier on PC. But since you actually have more time, it's less of an issue for console. MMOs are a bit more iffy. They can work on console, but it depends on what the developer does with it. All other genres work fine on either PC or console and comes down to which you prefer.

Ninedeus:
Well, it might or might not be true in his case, but the bottom line he admitted is money. The console market is huge and games go to where the money is. True, piracy is a part of the problem but to completely pin it to that alone is just skirting around the issue.

I think his last line was more to point out the fact that MMOs really only work well in a PC environment due to easier communication and connection with others. His point is money, but it sounds more like he's saying that it would be financialy wise to develop AAA titles for PC exclusively if it weren't for piracy. As it is, piracy makes the PC a much bigger risk to develop for and therefore not worth the risk to many. We could get into the argument of that each piracy case isn't a lost sale and so on, but the fact is that piracy DOES end up costing the company sales.

Sober Thal:
Poor Titan Quest...

Thanks PC gaming pirates... thanks for fucking that up.

I also find the last line interesting : "It's really, really hard to be profitable by concentrating only on PC," he said. "Unless you're an MMO."

Wasn't the idea of Kingdoms of Amawhatever supposed to be the intro for their MMO game?

another MMO? uggghhh...that kind of puts me off this game..just a bit

Vault101:

Sober Thal:
Poor Titan Quest...

Thanks PC gaming pirates... thanks for fucking that up.

I also find the last line interesting : "It's really, really hard to be profitable by concentrating only on PC," he said. "Unless you're an MMO."

Wasn't the idea of Kingdoms of Amawhatever supposed to be the intro for their MMO game?

another MMO? uggghhh...that kind of puts me off this game..just a bit

I am 90% positive that was/is the initial announced game plan for this IP. I do not have any sources handy to quote tho. Nor am I motivated to research that and get back to you... sorrys ; )

It put me off too, for the record.

You see what happened here? Daniel Kahneman had that shit right. He is making a causal story to go with a random event.

Well, I have my own causal event for you, sir. I had never even heard of that game till my friend pirated it. At which point, I bough the game when I had the money, AND the expansion when that came out. Then I had a few friends to play the game with and we downloaded that mod that made the game insanely hard. But, I digress. It was only through piracy that I had even heard of your game. So my friend pirating it picked you up a sale, and then he bought it too.

Also, your game was competing with a much bigger more anticipated game in the same category that came out a few months before. It was Oblivion... so, yeah. No wonder your game went unnoticed and unbought. I was still playing that game when your game came out thanks to all the great PC mods. Also, I think there are games out there that dispute what you are saying. Though it's really hard to find figures on the soot, lame.

Eh, kinda hard to care what someone from fucking Iron Lore claims. After all they claimed Soul Storm getting pirated to hell was what shut them down. Anyone who played Soul Storm knows that it was Soul Storm being shit that shut them down.

So no. Its just bigger install base of consoles that makes it easier.

Iron Lore makes stupid decision, blames pirates.

Film at 11.

Andy Chalk:
"It's really, really hard to be profitable by concentrating only on PC," he said. "Unless you're an MMO."

Says the relatively unknown person who ignores things like Minecraft. And Super MeatBoy. And that console piracy does exist. And that sometimes games fail because...they fail.

Could it be that Titan Quest, despite being good, was really just Mythical Diablo?

But why bother accepting blame while there's already a wonderful scapegoat brought in for the occasion?

How about, next time, making a game more cheaply? Rather than just blaming people who didn't want to buy your white elephant for the asking price?

Or you can just sell into the overpriced game starved market of the consoles. Until that goes belly up. And then criticize pirates again. Or should we call them "Game Terrorists"?

Caveat: Pirates exist. Piracy is dubious. Piracy is not responsible for everything. Piracy 'can' cause some games to become more popular/profitable. Piracy will make a bad game worse. Worse games have still profited despite Piracy. Think that's covered all bases.

Hahaha oh you.

As if console piracy doesn't exist. Go stick your head in the sand some more.

*looks at Blizzard*

Hmm...they seem to be doing pretty good. It must be because of their console games...oh wait.

Sober Thal:

Vault101:

Sober Thal:
Poor Titan Quest...

Thanks PC gaming pirates... thanks for fucking that up.

I also find the last line interesting : "It's really, really hard to be profitable by concentrating only on PC," he said. "Unless you're an MMO."

Wasn't the idea of Kingdoms of Amawhatever supposed to be the intro for their MMO game?

another MMO? uggghhh...that kind of puts me off this game..just a bit

I am 90% positive that was/is the initial announced game plan for this IP. I do not have any sources handy to quote tho. Nor am I motivated to research that and get back to you... sorrys ; )

It put me off too, for the record.

its also put me of playing KOTOR what with all that crap with Revan...and how aprently KOTOR 2 is kind of "eh"

Sober Thal:

Vault101:

Sober Thal:
Poor Titan Quest...

Thanks PC gaming pirates... thanks for fucking that up.

I also find the last line interesting : "It's really, really hard to be profitable by concentrating only on PC," he said. "Unless you're an MMO."

Wasn't the idea of Kingdoms of Amawhatever supposed to be the intro for their MMO game?

another MMO? uggghhh...that kind of puts me off this game..just a bit

I am 90% positive that was/is the initial announced game plan for this IP. I do not have any sources handy to quote tho. Nor am I motivated to research that and get back to you... sorrys ; )

It put me off too, for the record.

I'm pretty sure you're right there. I believe Curt Schilling talked publicly about the future of the IP in terms of an eventual MMO around when the game was first announced. Hopefully a few years of development has tempered his enthusiasm. Frankly - however this game turns out - I just don't think it's got the chops to carry a MMORPG. It would basically be second-tier RIFT clone.

Jodah:
*looks at Blizzard*

Hmm...they seem to be doing pretty good. It must be because of their console games...oh wait.

its because they own the MMO thats pretty much been the 1# and no one can topple it....I doubt it would be that way if they were still releasing the RTS warcraft games

Vault101:

Jodah:
*looks at Blizzard*

Hmm...they seem to be doing pretty good. It must be because of their console games...oh wait.

its because they own the MMO thats pretty much been the 1# and no one can topple it....I doubt it would be that way if they were still releasing the RTS warcraft games

Let us not forget Diablo, the most successful E-Sport Starcraft, and the fastest selling strategy game in history, Starcraft II. And to discount WoW is like saying the only reason Valve is alive is Portal.

Of course KoA wouldn't do well as a PC exclusive because PC gamers aren't interested in such shitty games.
Also, console games also get pirated and console versions usually hit the torrent sites faster than their PC counterparts. Basically, he's an idiot.

Vault101:

Jodah:
*looks at Blizzard*

Hmm...they seem to be doing pretty good. It must be because of their console games...oh wait.

its because they own the MMO thats pretty much been the 1# and no one can topple it....I doubt it would be that way if they were still releasing the RTS warcraft games

Yeah, too bad SC2 was such a massive flop and too bad Diablo 3 won't sell like crazy the minute it's out. What a shame.

If his game doesn't sell well, he's a bad designer or his publisher didn't market the game properly, but I guess piracy is the hip trendy scapegoat for incompetence nowadays.

(New here, but just had to reply to this)

Huh? I thought that with all the studies showing at the very least that the impact of piracy cannot be measured, that this kind of rhetoric was dead. I have the impression of reading something published 5 years ago.

Anyways similarly to Baresark, I pirated Titan Quest when it came out in the period where I bought one game a year and pirated all the rest, and didn't even play it to the end because it got too repetitive. Yet a while ago I purchased it on Steam, where by now I've purchased about every game that I pirated in the past, having finally some money to do it.

If I had ignored every game that I couldn't purchase back then, I wouldn't have had the slightest interest in purchasing them now... I would've gone directly with Torchlight or a similar game instead.

I think my 380+ games on Steam are a pretty good testimony that pirates often end up the biggest fans/customers. Not to mention that most software devs I know have become fans of games by pirating the shit out of everything they could get their hands on, and that's how they decided they wanted to study software engineering and go into games development. So piracy creates devs with a wide game culture for you as well dude! Stop complaining!

The_root_of_all_evil:

Says the relatively unknown person who ignores things like Minecraft. And Super MeatBoy.[/qoute]

Yes, two games does make a pattern he's clearly ignoring, rather than being standouts.

And that console piracy does exist.

I must have missed the part where he said "there is no piracy on consoles."

[quote] And that sometimes games fail because...they fail.

This, at least, is true.

incidentally, I never heard of this game.

Hard to buy stuff you don't even know about.

"Frazier was a designer on Titan Quest, a Diablo-esque action-RPG created in 2006 by the now-defunct Iron Lore Entertainment. It's an excellent game and still boasts a surprisingly active community, but its launch was marred by pre-release piracy, specifically an undocumented security check that dumped players out of illegal copies of the game. That led to some very negative word-of-mouth about its buggy, unfinished state prior to launch, which turned out to be inaccurate but still hampered sales and contributed to the studio's demise."

What I got out of that was crappy DRM caused poor sales because it made pirates badmouth the game. Not defending the pirates just pointing out that DRM probably did more damage than piracy would have. Especially if any of those pirates were to buy the game after they tried it.

Zachary Amaranth:

The_root_of_all_evil:

Says the relatively unknown person who ignores things like Minecraft. And Super MeatBoy.

Yes, two games does make a pattern he's clearly ignoring, rather than being standouts.

Do I have to name all the games that succeeded on the PC despite Piracy? There's more than a few.

And that console piracy does exist.

I must have missed the part where he said "there is no piracy on consoles."

Implication. If he won't develop on the PC because of rampant piracy, that implies that the consoles he will develop on don't have rampant piracy.

Hisher:

Sober Thal:

Hisher:
Angry PC gamer here to say that a pirated game is not the equivalent of a lost sale.

Yeah, it's a product being used that wasn't paid for.

True but there is a good chance it wouldn't have been purchased in the first place.

Then what the frak are they doing playing the game if they never had any intention of paying for it in the first place? If you're not willing to pay for it, don't use it!

quantumsoul:

What I got out of that was crappy DRM caused poor sales because it made pirates badmouth the game. Not defending the pirates just pointing out that DRM probably did more damage than piracy would have. Especially if any of those pirates were to buy the game after they tried it.

This. (Except that I do defend the pirates, at least some of them, in some circumstances.)

Still to the guy's credit, I must say that I think that the type of piracy that affects sales the most credibly might be the pre-release one. In a publisher's dream world the DRM would have minimal side effects on the game's reputation and technical support problems, and it would hold at least 2 weeks before being cracked. Most sales happen in that period apparently. Then, all the impulsive people who just can't wait to play the game and have money but won't pay for anything unless they're forced to will buy it. It's impossible to know how many of those people there are, however... must depend a lot on the game's target audience, for one thing.

Oh look, a designer still butthurt about releasing an extremely buggy game (I bought Titan Quest with a friend some time in 2010 as it had CoOp and at that point it was still crashing like silly, had several bugs and we only played up through Act3 or so and stopped) that wasn't all that fun and failing at that holding a grudge xD

There's enough "PC Exclusive big-budget" titles, every MMO and Strategy game are basically "PC Exclusive titles", even UbiSoft despite all their whining apparently still deemed it right to make Heroes VI and Anno 2070 not to talk about other titles like STALKER, Witcher 2 etc. and all them Free2Play games like League of Legends making money with an innovative business model they're probably dreaming of :P

How many non wholly-owned First Party Exclusives for the Xbox360 or PlayStation 3 alone have there been? xD
It's a fact of the gaming industry that Multiplatform is the way to go as you get more sales, if it wasn't he wouldn't release it on all available platforms.

Someone working on an EA gaming blaming piracy for for their failings? I'm shocked. Wonder how poor the pre-orders for Reckoning are if they're already launching their "It's all piracy's fault" campaign.

Also, how did Titan Quest get pirated before the game even launched? Sounds like he had some pretty major security issues within the studio if that was allowed to happen. Also sounds to me like the game would have been far more successful if they didn't force in an anti-piracy feature. Maybe if you had just accepted that piracy will happen and you can't stop it, instead of trying to screw with it, you would have gotten positive buzz instead of negative buzz. But this is an EA employee, they don't listen to common sense.

Then there's all Fitch's "passing the blame" behaviors in his article, sounds like he engineered his own downfall, but rather than accept that, he just cried it was everyone else's fault. Did this guy work on Amy also?

"There are few better examples of the "it can't possibly be my fault" culture in the west than gaming forums." - Michael Fitch, THQ Creative Director

Yep, you're a walking, talking example of it, Mr. Fitch, as are your colleagues.

Sober Thal:
Poor Titan Quest...

Thanks PC gaming pirates... thanks for fucking that up.

I also find the last line interesting : "It's really, really hard to be profitable by concentrating only on PC," he said. "Unless you're an MMO."

Wasn't the idea of Kingdoms of Amawhatever supposed to be the intro for their MMO game?

Yeah, darn pirates, they ruin all the PC games, except for all those hugely successful ones.

Oh, hey, crazy thought, but maybe, just maybe, good games sell and bad games don't?

Kapol:
Cue angry PC gamers calling BS in 5...

not angry, but still calling BS. mostly cause EVERYTHING seems to be the fault of pirates anymore, its getting pretty pathetic in all honesty.

Lol, as if I needed another reason to not buy their game. Yeah I agree Starcraft 2 TOTALLY flopped because of all the piracy...Same with Half-Life 2 TOTALLY BOMBED /sarcasm

Does anything else really need to be said, Blizzard and Valve are two of the biggest most successful companies out there, and they are mostly PC developers. These guys are just trying to mask lazy design and try and stop piracy.

But guess what I'm not buying or pirating this game, in fact, shit if your game isn't worth my money, it sure as hell isn't worth my time.

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