THQ CEO Blames Piracy For Close of Titan Quest Developer

software_pirate.gifTHQ CEO Michael Fitch released a rant on the close of developer Iron Lore, claiming that piracy was to blame. As emotional as his post is, it looks at an uncomfortable truth that is effecting the PC gaming industry.

One, there are other costs to piracy than just lost sales. For example, with TQ, the game was pirated and released on the nets before it hit stores. A lot of people are talking about how it crashes right when you come out of the first cave. There was a security check there.

So, before the game even comes out, we’ve got people bad-mouthing it because their pirated copies crash, even though a legitimate copy won’t. How many people decided to pick up the pirated version because it had this reputation and they didn’t want to risk buying something that didn’t work? Talk about your self-fulfilling prophecy.

Let’s dig a little deeper there. So, if 90% of your audience is stealing your game, even if you got a little bit more, say 10% of that audience to change their ways and pony up, what’s the difference in income? Just about double.

If even a tiny fraction of the people who pirated the game had actually spent some god-damn money for their 40+ hours of entertainment, things could have been very different today. Some really good people made a seriously good game, and they might still be in business if piracy weren’t so rampant on the PC. That’s a fact.

Fitch also lambastes hardware vendors for releasing components that are mislabeled or misrepresented and for providing little if any support. He also sites neglect of PC owners to update drivers, clean adware and spyware from their systems, defrag their hard drives as a huge problem. He also points out running programs like IM and peer-to-peer software in the background eats memory.

PC folks want to have the freedom to do whatever the hell they want with their machines, and god help them they will do it; more power to them, really. But god forbid something that they’ve done – or failed to do – creates a problem with your game. There are few better examples of the “it can’t possibly be my fault” culture in the west than gaming forums.

Reviewers aren’t spared either. One reviewer knocked the game because he didn’t read the manual and ingored the tutorial  and so was unaware that he could teleport back to town instead of schelping his junk all the way back. Another turned in a poor review because of a bug in the beta that was corrected in the release version.

The rant is well written and gives a no holds barred account of often painful truths. Check the full entry out on Quarter to Three.

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15 Comments on THQ CEO Blames Piracy For Close of Titan Quest Developer

Jose

On March 3, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Man… is the reason why no one has posted on these new articles because we all know it’s true?

SpiralGray

On March 3, 2008 at 12:44 pm

He makes a great point about people doing whatever they want with their PC. That’s why developing quality PC software (whether it be games or anything else) is so challenging. You have no control over the environment and the interaction of all those bits of hardware and software from a dozen or more vendors makes it impossible to test with every possible combination and permutation. This is one area where consoles have an advantage (from the developer’s perspective anyway), the platform is always the same.

I do take exception to his statement that, “There are few better examples of the “it can’t possibly be my fault” culture in the west than gaming forums.” There are plenty of better examples, because the “it can’t possibly be my fault” culture is rampant in this country.

Thijs

On March 3, 2008 at 12:48 pm

……eum yhea……what else can i say then….HALELUYHAAAA HES RIGHT FOLKS DONT LET PC GAMING DIE !!!!

used cisco

On March 3, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Everything he says is true, yet many games are still successful. That means something is different about his game or his company. THAT’s what he needs to concern himself with.

I found it ironic that he should say something like “it can’t possibly be my fault” while simultaneously blaming everyone else for his games failure.

Now, that being said, I’m really sorry his company went under. There was clearly some talent there and games like Titan Quest showed promise. Unfortunately, its obvious that there are other things that go into making successful PC game, other things, he doesn’t seem to have a grasp on.

Dragon

On March 3, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Truth be told most people pirate games as a means of trying before buying, if they don’t like the game they won’t buy it, some games that come with a CD-key can’t be played online with a generated one and it’s only used to install, if they like the game and want to play he multiplayer aspect they will buy it, of course some still don’t.

brandonjclark

On March 3, 2008 at 2:45 pm

“I found it ironic that he should say something like “it can’t possibly be my fault” while simultaneously blaming everyone else for his games failure.” so true, used cisco…..

I dunno, I think that the idea of pc owners/gamers having a problem getting there game to work is a friggin joke! If 90% is pirated then your audience sure knows how to use a PC… i mean, it’s harder to pirate, mount, install, crack and run than just buy and install…. so stop saying pc gamers are too stupid to handle their computers…. sounds like he was too stupid to handle his company@!

COL James Slate

On March 3, 2008 at 2:54 pm

In a day and age where the trailer for the game is the ONLY thing someone can go on, more and more people are turning to pirating the game, only to try the game out, of course as Dragon said, some still don’t buy the game, but a large number of pirates, more and more everyday with the amount of crackdown on it, buy the game if the enjoy it.

One can not assume that someone that pirated the game, loved it, and would have bought it, most pirates either don’t have the money to get it, but will scrap it together when they get it, others don’t like the game, delete it, and move on.

Reviewers don’t do much to help games, and neither do “demos” that include one map, one faction, or “disabled” elements, that’s almost, but not as bad, as just selling a game on the trailer alone.

We, video gamers, are not Hollywood junkies, we are video gamers, we deserve to be able to play/try before we buy. Hollywood doesn’t think that, and video game companies are staring to think like that.

I own Titan Quest, and I don’t like it that much, it seems to much like Diablo, but that’s just me, considering I played probably well over 500 hours on Diablo.

somewhat

On March 3, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Wow, what a bunch of hypocrisy. Shame on you all. :evil:

Weclock

On March 3, 2008 at 3:33 pm

It’s so freakin’ easy to pirate games like Counter-Strike: Source, Team Fortress 2, Day Of Defeat: Source, Half-Life 2 DM, I mean, they’re only asking to be stolen.

(For those of you not in the know, these games are impossible to steal unless you steal somebody elses account, also, they’re some very popular PC games)

Heru-Ur

On March 3, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Someone give this guy a dollar so he can buy a clue.

Maybe the dev house closed, and the game didnt sell well.. oh i dunno… maybe because its not that great a game? Wow, what a concept.

Casey

On March 3, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Sucks for the good games… but how many games have you bought only to find it mega sucked? I’m glad I beta tested hellgate london because I didn’t find it to be that fun, and I was ready to drop money on the hype alone. What a waste that would have been. However, D2, WOW, UT and UT2, HL/2, Portal, CS:S these are games well well well worth their money. If developers want to stop piracy, I say they need to follow the example of the companies that are doing well in PC gaming by releasing quality, polished, products.

Jeremy

On March 3, 2008 at 5:28 pm

I find it funny that he criticizes gamers for being scared of a game-crashing bug that was intentionally placed. Why they simply didn’t stop the game with a message “This copy of the game is illegitimate.” is beyond me.

If they’d only done that, their security feature designed to reduce piracy (and increase sales) would have a) not scared away potential buyers, and b) played on the guilt most pirates feel at one point or another.

youknowme

On March 3, 2008 at 5:38 pm

The problem is that there are bad games out there that have in the past crashed computers and the copy protection has caused all sorts of problems. If the game developers would get smart and stop looking at the whole world like they are just waiting to steal the game it would be a better experience for all of us. One thing that they could do is provide two copies of the game so we would not all have to go and make a backup for the protection of our investment. Plus if they made a patch that would allow you to play the game, after you have registered, without always having to insert the cd it would stop all the nocd cracks out there. Halflife 2 is a perfect example you could not play the game without being connected to the internet. What a pain to buy the game and not be able to play it because you do not have a good internet connection and not being able to return it because the stores have a not return policy on opened games. It was a nightmare that created a lot of hatred for game developers. And some people decided to get a return on their investment by turning to pirated games. Why buy something that you cannot use and not be able to return it. It seems just easier to pirate, no fuss no lost money and if you do not like it just trash it. I think that there is a better way for game developers to do business with the public. If I can trust you and your game to not crash my computer or that the copy protection won’t blue screen me to death like star force then I will buy your game.

somewhat

On March 3, 2008 at 7:16 pm

^^^^^^^
Yeah, right. And if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you in New York. Call me…

Martin Levac

On November 7, 2009 at 11:30 am

OK. So I’m a game developer and I think up a brilliant idea of engineering traps in the programs I write. In fact, I’m so brilliant that the latest trap I thought up is well hidden, but most importantly it makes the program absolutely non-functional if the trap is triggered. Not only is the program itself made unusable, but the platform on which it is run as well (i.e. BSOD must reboot the machine). In other words, I make damn sure that people will learn their lesson quickly and once and for all.

What do you know, people go out and trigger the trap and the product becomes utterly non-functional and the platform it runs on becomes unusable as well and the word gets around that this thing is dangerous and you shouldn’t do that because it’s going to give you grief and there is no solution but to give me money because everybody knows that when you pay, it’s so much better.

That’s the kind of publicity he built into the program and he blames pirates for his lot? He’s the one who made it a problem, he’s got only himself to blame for the bad publicity.

Remember StarForce? Yeah. Case closed.

Now if on the other hand he had been really brilliant and decided to take advantage of the free publicity, oh yeah that’s right if you didn’t know already piracy is free publicity and it pays big time for the guy who can make it work for him (Doom 3 anyone?), then maybe he wouldn’t be so pissed at people he never met. Maybe he’d have a successful product instead of a useless overpriced brick. I guess his brilliant plan wasn’t so brilliant after all.

People did learn their lesson quickly and once and for all: They didn’t buy the game.

I’m just saying.