When Video Game Sales Falter, Blame Piracy

from the more-proof-please? dept

James Parker writes in to let us know that Sports Interactive, a sports simulation video game company (recently purchased by Sega), is blaming "piracy" for the failure of their Eastside Hockey Manager game, on which they've now ceased development. I should say, first of all, that I'm a huge fan of Sports Interactive's games, and have given the company (and some of the companies that it bought) plenty of money in the past -- but am not at all convinced by their argument. Sports Interactive games tend to have very vibrant communities, where there is usually a lot of social pressure to buy the actual game if you want it. They've also done digital downloads for quite some time, and are pretty good at making the process seamless. It seems like the big hockey strike that decimated interest in hockey for a while probably had a lot more to do with the problem. While SI admits that the strike may have dampened interest in hockey, they still think that the issue is unauthorized downloads, as determined by watching various torrent sites offer the software up for free. Yet, just because someone is downloading the game, it doesn't mean they would have bought it otherwise. There may be many reasons why the game failed, and given the tremendous success of Sports Interactive's other games (many of which are vastly more popular and probably have a ton more unauthorized downloads), it seems hard to believe that EHM failed because of "piracy." Instead, it looks like the game just failed, and "piracy" is a convenient scapegoat.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Jason Bateman, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 5:27pm

    I personally have never messed with "torrent sites", but from what I've heard, is that there are plenty of softwares available on them. Why is it that these guys think they are the only ones to be listed? Heck, if there was not many softwares to choose from, I hardly think that "torrent sites" would be as popular as many people say they are.

    Plus, with many softwares being available on these "torrent sites", you would think that the thing SI is crying over, would affect every other company in the same way. Sometimes if you have a good program (or song), sharing is a good way to advertise it.

    Here's to thinking that you are the only one!!!

     

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  2.  
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    Billy Bob Thorton, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 6:02pm

    Line up now for the handouts

    All software developers should unite now and upload their software "illegally" to torrent sites. Why? Because I see the *IAA pestering congress to tack on new fees and charges to media, computers, and internet access to compensate them for piracy. Congress will, since the *IAAs pay them to, and then we'll bully the rest of the world into doing the same. So, let's all unite now and put our software on the torrents so we can claim the bigger piece of the pie.

     

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  3.  
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    Brad, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 6:16pm

    Billy sounds 8

    Billy....or Mr. Thorton, if you please, you don't seem to get it.

    The *IAA (1) has nothing to do with software (2) Collects the money gained from laws, lawsuits, and fees and keeps it internally. It does not redistribute it to the content creators. It keeps it as a "policing fee" for keeping those big bad copyright violators at bay.

    You'd get no larger a piece of the pie, but you WOULD help justify the new laws.

    Just release under GPL and then don't worry about getting money for it.

     

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  4.  
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    Griper, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 7:33pm

    A buddy of mine uses torrents as demos. If he digs 'em he runs out and buys it, if not he just deletes it. Sounds like nobody like this hockey game that much.

     

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  5.  
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    Blitze, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 9:11pm

    Sucky Game

    Well then.. let us start by thinking.

    How easy is it to get the games? Not that hard, once u have the emulator which can be a pain. The pain.. well if you're not that good with computers you aren't going to be setting up an emulator to play cutting edge games, i assure you. So, now it's basicly computer computer people that do it. And if they are geeks.. they usually want the actual game, for the case, for the "good game u deserve credit here is ur money," and lastly SO THEY CAN MAKE US MORE GAMES!

    It makes no sense to steal all the games so companies get discouraged and stop making them. For the people that say that'll never happen, it just did in this article so please don't....

     

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  6.  
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    Joey, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 9:14pm

    I'm a software engineer, and as a software engineer I'm very aware of software piracy and I have been since software became mainstream 20+ years ago. Back then it was simply copying your friends floppy disks and now its jumping on www.torrentspy.com.

    Why does it seem like SI is surprised that their software is pirated? They make it seem like they had no idea that software gets pirated and when their product was failing somebody pointed out a torrent site and they had a revelation - "ahhh, so thats why our software isnt selling..." Thats a ridiculous concept. The software industry has always had to deal with piracy and if your software really is worth buying, people are going to buy it - especially since a lot more people buy software than pirate it. I mean, thousands of other software companies are perfectly successful despite piracy. It isn't an excuse for a failed product. All software developers are aware of it and if they really feel its going to be a problem for a particular product they can implement a nice licensing system that makes it hardly worth the hassle of pirating.

    Maybe its as simple as nobody wants your Eastside Hockey Manager. Maybe its as simple as your software just isn't that good. Maybe its neither and you just didn't do a very good job marketing. Maybe its all of the above - but any way you slice it, blaming software piracy for your product not covering development costs after the fact is like a retail store blaming shoplifters for not covering their bottom line at the end of the year.

    People are cheap. People steal. Nothing new here.

     

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  7.  
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    Ranzaer, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 10:59pm

    Face the facts, and KISS.

    The movie industry cites a low in movie attendance and sales, and says its because of movie piracy.

    Most moviegoers would cite that its because a majority of recent movies simply suck.

    The same could be possibly said about the quality of this video game title...

    If it wasn't going to sell anyway, why would piracy make a dent?

     

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  8.  
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    ScytheNoire, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 11:54pm

    Piracy has stats to prove this false

    interesting thing about Torrents and Torrent sites is that they all have trackers, and they keep track of how many downloads there are. so if you look at the top ten or twenty download sites, see how many downloads there are, i'm guessing you might only find a few hundred for this game. fact is, the game has small market appeal.

    here's a suggestion to all software companies to make their items unattractive to pirates:
    MAKE IT GOOD, OFFER ONLINE CONTENT
    games like World of Warcraft are so successful because of this, because they are good and do offer an online service and updated content. this is why WoW works where other software fails. other software companies just want to be lazy. if you want to be lazy and offer crap, no one will buy it.

     

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  9.  
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    Matthew Ward, Feb 1st, 2007 @ 3:05am

    Demand?

    SI is a British company, and as such is probably the only developer of a hockey game that's aware of the leagues outside of North America - the last ESHM I bought featured the entire rosters of the Elite League and British National League from the 03/04 season, which is half the reason I bought it.

    That being said, the biggest hockey market in the world is North America, and there's a lot of competition for hockey games over there, all of which have far bigger budgets (namely EA). Perhaps it's just a case of the reason noone bought ECHM is because they were buying the other games?

     

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  10.  
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    eeyore, Feb 1st, 2007 @ 4:29am

    Gee, maybe the fact that professional hockey in the U.S. is now bracketed with soccer as a sport we've heard of but never watch has something to do with it. I usually attend a couple of minor league games and a few of my alma mater's games every season but I haven't seen an NHL game since long before the strike. I cannot even name a single NHL player anymore (is Mario Lemieux still playing? Bueller? Bueller?) so I cannot believe that the average game player would even be interested in a hockey-themed game, no matter how good it is. Funny, the Tony Hawk games make tons of money.

     

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  11.  
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    E, Feb 1st, 2007 @ 9:16am

    Re: (eeyore)

    I don't think hockey is quite THAT unpopular. Both EA and Sega make annual hockey games, and though it has definitely been largely relegated to non-broadcast channels and is less popular than it once was, there are still plenty of people all over the world who are interested in hockey. Frankly, I'd say that the biggest mistake SI made was not marketing very well. I'm a huge hockey fan, and I'd never heard of this game until yesterday, when a read a review in a gaming magazine. I've never seen an ad for it, I really had no idea that it existed. Also, I have to say that this is a management game, and is therefore a far cry from the fast-paced action that I think brings most hockey fans to the sport in the first place. Not to say that there's no market for it, but without advertising in the right places (why not take out a banner ad at nhl.com?), it was bound to fail.

     

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  12.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, Feb 1st, 2007 @ 4:43pm

    WinZip

    For an interseting fact about piracy, the creator of Winzip has recieved the payments from well under 10% of all installed copies, yet ha has still made a tidy bit of money on it, and you don't see him complaining, even though, as a small guy, with huge piuracy figures, he has more right to than most.

    For software developers, if the RIAA tries to get damages for your software, sue them for not giving you your money, same with Indie labels. If they say they need it for the purposes of combting piracy, all you have to do is say "It's my money. I never joined the RIAA." THey would not have a leg to stand on.

     

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  13.  
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    richvalla.com, Feb 5th, 2007 @ 9:25am

    They have no other reasons to give out so they just thought of piracy instead..

     

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  14.  
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    Hilarious, Feb 7th, 2007 @ 1:12am

    It's called what?

    I've been playing video games since the Atari 2600 days and I've never heard of this company or their game(s).

    They've never sold a copy of anything to me. I guess that means I'm out stealing? Hell of a leap in logic to go from one to the other.

    I, like many people, haven't bought it because it's a niche product of interest to only a few. If that's not what the company intended, then the answer is to redo their product pipeline, not blame the lack of customers on piracy.

    Plus, wasn't this an UNreleased game? If an unreleased game was being pirated, that speaks to flaws inside the company for losing control of their product.

     

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  15.  
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    Angela Lagomarsino, May 22nd, 2007 @ 10:46am

    video game piracy and falling sales, blame insane

    Maybe this is inane, but while I found video games fun I haven't bought one since the first version of Nintendo. The reason? I never possessed the insane reaction time of gamers. Speed should be like a golf handicap. Anybody think this isn't such a stupid idea?
    Why does it always use cheat codes? Some of us think someone should get real.

     

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