A couple of days ago I posted an editorial discussing videogame piracy and secondary sales. During the discussion I postulated that the primary issue with publishers is the logical leap made between controlling your market and the amount of revenue made from the market. The failure in that assumption is that you ignore the cost, in market size and otherwise, spent to acquire that control and immediately attribute the negative consequences of that to piracy or secondary sales. PC Gamer has weighed in on the topic with an interesting addition: Ubisoft, since the introduction of the DRM method, has not only shrunk piracy but also shrunk sales by 90%.
Jack Blackbeard… the one who all pirates fear. Just kidding, that’s fiction.
In terms of the sense of control, PC Gamer quotes Ubisoft prior to Driver’s release:
“It’s difficult to get away from the fact that as a developer, as somebody who puts their blood, sweat and tears into this thing… And from the publisher’s point of view, which invests tens and tens and tens of millions into a product – by the time you’ve got marketing, a hundred million – that piracy on the PC is utterly unbelievable.”
So Ubisoft’s PC gaming sales are down 90% without a corresponding lift in console sales. If only they gave up some control for some revenue, right? A smaller number of pirates might make you sleep better at night, but with an empty stomach and no roof over your head. As always, the solution is to lure customers to your content; do not condone piracy, but pretty-much do not enforce it. I realize that you may feel violated by your non-paying customers but as a company you should be concerned about revenue, not bad feelings; the two paths occasionally diverge. The customer is always right.