In a bit of an unusual twist, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello said that he looks at the widespread piracy of The Sims 3 as "not that different than a demo."
The Sims 3 was downloaded nearly 200,000 times over a three-day span in May, a rate that outpaced even that of Spore, which became the most pirated game of 2008. Yet instead of freaking out and vowing to inflict much punishment (and DRM), Riccitiello surprisingly chose to look at the bright side of things. "You identified our secret marketing campaign!" he said. "That was a very large scale - concentrated on Poland and China - demo program."
He clarified, for the benefit of people who take such comments too seriously, that EA didn't actually leak the game, although he did point out that the pirated version was incomplete and, in many ways, very much like a demo release. "Sims 3 has a massive amount of content, and a lot of it is downloaded once you register with EA... and join the online community," Riccitiello said. "A huge amount of the gameplay is an overlay for the community, where you are sampling assets created by other people. So for the pirate consumer, they don't get the second town, they don't get all the extra content, and they don't get the community. It was only concentrated on Poland and China, but I think of it as not being that different than a demo."
He also appears to have shifted his views on how to combat piracy, saying the best way to beat it is to "out-service" it. "If you see what we're doing with Madden Online, FIFA Ultimate Team or Sims 3, and Dragon Age is probably a 100-hour game by itself, but what comes post-release [for these games] is bigger still," he explained. "I think that's the answer [to piracy]. And here's the trick: it's not the answer because this foils a pirate, but it's the answer because it makes the service so valuable that in comparison the packaged good is not."