Is EA Figuring Things Out? Says 'Please Pirate Our Games' And Has A Business Model For It

from the could-it-be? dept

Could it be that EA is actually figuring this stuff out? It's been one of the most maligned video game companies when it came to mistreating fans with things like draconian DRM -- but perhaps that's changing. Earlier this month we quoted EA's CEO, John Riccitiello, putting a positive spin on the fact that people had downloaded and shared unauthorized copies of The Sims 3, finally recognizing that it was like a demo version of the game. Reader Jim alerts us to the news that Riccitiello was apparently so happy with the response to The Sims 3 sharing, he's now going even further, telling people to "please pirate our games":
"By the way, if there are any pirates you're writing for, please encourage them to pirate FIFA Online, NBA Street Online, Battleforge, Battlefield Heroes... if they would just pirate lots of it I'd love them."
It's not clear Riccitiello is totally comfortable saying these things. As with the quotes earlier this month, you sorta get the feeling that there's a lot of nervous laughter around the quotes -- but at least he's trying. And part of it is because EA is, in fact, putting in place smarter business models, such that unauthorized downloads can actually lead to more sales:
"Because what's in the middle of the game is an opportunity to buy stuff. I increasingly believe that's the way the market's going because that's how the consumer wants to consume. And by the way, [regarding] my competitor, do you think Blizzard gets upset when someone pirates a disc of one of their online games? While we don't want to see people pirate Warhammer Online, if they're going to give us a year's subscription it's not exactly a total loss."
Indeed. He's getting there. If the real opportunities to make money are from buying stuff within the game, then you want the game itself to be as widely spread as possible...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 12:54pm

    ...and when nobody buys stuff, they will discover that they have ruined their market for games and made less money.

    Congrats! You have almost won the Masnick Award!

     

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  2.  
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    Keven Sutton, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 1:05pm

    Re:

    you really are dense, aren't you? There are several examples of ways to make unauthorized copies create revenue for the company.

     

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  3.  
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    william, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 1:14pm

    some people are making money

    Haven't you notice how many Korean play-for-free and buy addition item games has come into the scene in the last few year?

    Obviously someone is making money out of those else why all these other game companies are saying "Me too!". I think other country besides Korea is slowly catching on...

     

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  4.  
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    Grady, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 1:14pm

    Here's the rub

    I like the idea of them finally getting a grasp of pirating, and how it won't be stopped anytime soon, or at all. But, there are a LOT of unhappy people with this new "model." As I'm sure you have covered, Sims 3 launched with a good amount of products to "buy in game." I believe, though I'm uncertain, that some of these items were available before launch. I'm not sure the amount of money these items amount to, because the list them in SimPoints and I don't see any "conversion."

    They have a taken a good business model and turned it sour. There are games out there that take this business model and use it well. NavyField, free-to-play, but gives you a bonus for subscribing and give you the option to buy in game items, for a large some of around USD$3 a item. Some Nexon games are free-to-play, but again give bonuses to subscribers. Nexon's Shattered Galaxy has been this way since, well as long as I've played it, and it launched in 2001.

    EA is still screwing their customers out of their money for what THEY think is value, not what we do.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 1:21pm

    Re: some people are making money

    Notice all of those games have one thing in common: If you aren't connected to their server (with your account active) the games aren't very good.

    EA is takinga huge risk giving up as much revenue as they will in order to hope to make money on a non-required upsell in the middle of the game. The upsell doesn't even sound to be specific to keeping playing.

    If anything, this sounds like "give it away and pray" marketing.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 1:30pm

    Re: Re: some people are making money

    There really are a lot of games like this out there - Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, too many Korean rpgs to name, etc.

    The upsell in many of these games may not be specific to keeping playing, but it is required in order to unlock better parts of the games (other areas, access to more advanced items, vehicles, quests, etc).

    I wouldn't characterize it as give it away and pray - more like here's the first 3 tracks...pay for the rest - and that's not quite the best characterization either...

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 1:39pm

    "By the way, if there are any pirates you're writing for, please encourage them to pirate FIFA Online, NBA Street Online, Battleforge, Battlefield Heroes... if they would just pirate lots of it I'd love them."

    Everyone of those games is free to play, something you can't really pirate or worth pirating.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 1:43pm

    Re:

    First, I have NEVER even once played with the sims, it's a thing my sister and mom have been into (btw, mom's like 60) I nearly bought the sims 3 package with the USB key emerald because I thought IT was cool.

    With this announcement, I fully intend to run right over to the store and drop the $$ on it.
    I may or may not ever play with the game, but I will buy it to reward EA for getting it's head on straight (and 'cause physical copies of game "items" are fun to own)

    I may only represent .1% of the buying public but I can assure you it will make a difference to EA.

     

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  9.  
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    Aurimas, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 1:47pm

    Wow such a fast turn around. I always thought companies such as EA would rather go painfully slowly turning around their business model.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 1:48pm

    Free RPGs

    I've played a couple free to play Korean rpgs and they were pretty good. Had my life not gotten really busy I might have paid for the buy up packages they offered. Most of the members of the guild i was in had bought up and touted the advantages. In games like the Sims, the community is constantly cranking out content for users. I don't know about 3 but they could easily create a micro economy in game and take a percentage off the top.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: some people are making money

    The only problem with that concept is for those that Do buy the game vs those that Download the game.

    The ones that buy it get ripped off if EA is also going to support those that didn't buy it.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 1:56pm

    Good to see them finally figuring this out. I downloaded my copy of RB2 but I download lots of DLC, so I think, in the end, they've made a lot more money out of me!

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 2:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: some people are making money

    Which is why it's still a flawed business model.

    Granted, it's a nice step forward, but once it becomes an acceptable attitude en masse that "piracy" is perfectly acceptable that initial purchase won't exist at all, and you won't even have the distinction.

    Of course, like all things that EA has tried to protect its content it's easily circumvented, with the extra content being fileshared the day it's released. It was a nice attempt, anyway, but EA should really stop trying to be a leader in these things.

     

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  14.  
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    MattP, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: some people are making money

    Not if EA is giving the people who bought it a better experience than those who didn't.

     

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  15.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: some people are making money

    "The only problem with that concept is for those that Do buy the game vs those that Download the game"

    What problem? Why do you need to even compare the two together?

    "The ones that buy it get ripped off if EA is also going to support those that didn't buy it."

    Does no one remember the parable of the workers in the vineyard? They all made the money they agreed to make for the various amounts of time they worked, and it worked out that all of them were paid the same amount. When they complained, the vineyard owner asked, "Did I not pay you what we agreed to?"

    If you want to support EA and buy the product for the agreed to sum, and you get the experience that EA promised, what does it matter what experience they give to others?

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: some people are making money

    Thing is, they're not.
    I bought the game and I get nothing that those that download it also get.

    And then they want to charge $$$ for stuff that was normally included with the game (hair, towns, editors, ect)

     

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  17.  
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    Kazi, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 3:06pm

    Games are to be played in free time and for fun. If you view your game time and game purchasing as a "monetary return" of some sort then get a job.

    Again, games are for fun. I can drop 2-5k on a game because I enjoy it and the product is fun. I can drop 5-10 on a game and get the same satisfaction from a game.

    You don't look at games as an investment. Most of the CD's I've bought for games are probably burned. Why? They are unnecessary clutter in the closet and not fun to clean.

    Basically, games are like different hobbies. Some people spend 200-300k on a car and tune it and spend more money and get enjoyment out of it. Others spend 200 on a freshwater aquarium or some other pet and get the same enjoyment out of it.

     

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  18.  
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    william, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Free RPGs

    kind of off topic (I apologize) but could you recommand a few? I haven't played much of those since I stop playing Ragnarok, so something that's like Ragnarok would be nice. Thanks!

     

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  19.  
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    SteveD (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re: some people are making money

    Indeed, games like Battlefield Heroes have been advertised as 'free2play' for some time now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYQP-uBijWg

     

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  20.  
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    Charles, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 3:56pm

    And I think if a someone "pirates" the game and plays and likes it.. they'll tell other people that it's a cool game and possibly that person will buy it... whereas they would never of thought of buying it... I've had that happen before...

     

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  21.  
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    Tom Landry (profile), Jun 24th, 2009 @ 4:51pm

    Re: some people are making money

    Many US publishers do not like the Asian play-for-free model simply because the publishers feel that a "free" game is perceived by westerners as being low quality.

    Maybe this is changing.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 5:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: some people are making money

    "If you want to support EA and buy the product for the agreed to sum, and you get the experience that EA promised, what does it matter what experience they give to others?"

    Simple: If I pay $40 for "experience", and others get it for free, I feel ripped off. By following the rules, I get the same and less? (less because I no longer have the $40 I could have used for beer).

    The only way this works for EA is if they say tomorrow "We no longer sell games,we give them away" and go to a 100% download economy of free games with t-shirt upsells or whatever they come up with.

    Then they can fail outright.

     

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  23.  
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    Shane O'Gorman, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 6:24pm

    Why dont they offer the "demo" as a download then?

    If this is truly a demo and they have no problem with people "pirating" it then why dont they just offer it as a true free demo and share it on their servers? It would get a lot more people to download it and try it (the whole point of a demo) and get any of the nonsensical pirating arguments out of there. From what I have read they say they dont care and say its ok to pirate but they arent really saying its ok since they are not licensing it to be shared in this way nor offering it on their servers. I cant stand this type of game but I am sure someone out there would try it.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 6:29pm

    Re: Why dont they offer the "demo" as a download then?

    Perhaps they are trying to be "cutting edge and cool". Instead of a free demo (that is so 2001), they are "pirate this sh-t!", which is so today.

    If nothing else, it's a really funny commentary on how little most people know about actual piracy.

     

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  25.  
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    Ntlgnce, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 7:03pm

    Re:

    Figure it out. SecondLife, a totally FREE game, has made millions in profits.. That my friend is reality these days...

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 8:46pm

    Re: Here's the rub

    EA hasn't produced a good game in a very long time. Warhammer Online was ruined by early release and is plagued by serious balance issues, engine bugs, and storyline gaps. Its no wonder they are getting around to the new model... they are seriously failing at the current one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 8:51pm

    Re: Re: Why dont they offer the "demo" as a download then?

    "If nothing else, it's a really funny commentary on how little most people know about actual piracy."

    Or about how corporate mindsets operate. There is no way in hell EA is truly interested in changing their gameplan... which is sell as many copies of a poor quality game as possible and then rinse/repeat as soon as sales fall. EA does not produce 'good' games, they produce lots of bad games.

     

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  28.  
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    Rekrul, Jun 24th, 2009 @ 10:17pm

    The new business models for games; Sell half the game in the box, allow the user to download the other half once they've passed the non-pirate online check.

    Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I really dislike this idea. It used to be that you bought a game, installed it and knew exactly what you were getting. Most games had patches and a few had extra bonus content that you could download, but you got the entire base for the purchase price. Now it seems that what's in the box is little more than the program and a basic set of levels. You have to register to download the rest of the stuff that should have come with the game in the first place.

    I've never played any of the Sims games and to be completely honest, I wouldn't even know where to start. There are so many different packages and so much crap available on the net for them, that I would have no idea what I needed and what I didn't in order to get the complete "experience".

     

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  29.  
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    Azrael (profile), Jun 25th, 2009 @ 1:33am

    Re:

    "people pirate Warhammer Online" - see, here there's a clue: ONLINE. It's about a new way of getting revenue, not by selling the game itself but by selling access to the community playing that game. But i suspect that either you're too dumb to get it or just another copyright bitch.

     

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  30.  
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    Rob Weber, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 4:13am

    Innovative Business Model

    It is great to see a company as large as EA innovate around its core business model. Usually in the gaming world, this kind of innovation comes from much smaller platform innovators. Some of the smaller platform companies that have created innovative business models for the game industry include Massive, which created an in-game advertising platform (eventually sold to Microsoft), WildTangent, which uses micropayments very effectively, and W3i, which created an application network for PC core and casual games.

     

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  31.  
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    Kirk, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 6:24am

    Making Money from Pirated Games

    Advertising. In-Game advertising. If 80% of the gaming population can download the game for free, even just to try, they are being subjected to the advertisements in the game. If you wanted to advertise something, just think how much it would cost to have children and adults all over the world seeing your brand name or logo in the games they play - where they are really paying attention. I think this is a brilliant idea. That of course is one example of a way EA can make money from Pirated games, there is also several other ways, including on-line multi player gaming that requires a subscription to the gaming server, and what about hardware for the game? You might want a particular accessory, this can be focused for games forcing users to buy specific joy pads and accessories.

     

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  32.  
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    hegemon13, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 7:52am

    Re:

    "...and when nobody buys stuff, they will discover that they have ruined their market for games and made less money."

    Um, all their games are already pirated. So how, exactly, is this statement going to suddenly make their sales disappear? Pull your head out of your ass. They are giving consumers more for their money, better monetizing the game after the sale, and stopping the practice of punishing paying customers by giving them a copy of the game that is harder to use and more limited than what the pirates have. Plus, they are engendering goodwill in their consumer base. How is all that going to do anything but help them?

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 25th, 2009 @ 6:39pm

    Re: Re:

    It makes sales disappear because you are finally telling the remaining people who were buying it to just steal it instead.

    When you stop making something worth buying, people won't buy it.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 26th, 2009 @ 12:38pm

    how does someone pirate "Battlefield Heroes" , it's free...

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 26th, 2009 @ 5:03pm

    Re:

    If nobody buys the good stuff, they cripple more of the good stuff and then they only leave the junkiest stuff as free.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 26th, 2009 @ 5:04pm

    Re: Re:

    PS: GaiaOnline is doing what I just posted.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    BinaryBrother, Jun 26th, 2009 @ 7:59pm

    Ignorance...

    Can't you all see, these big Executives and Businessmen, are not just going to stand by and allow hard earned work to be pirated with no fight. I'm a Developer, and 99% of my Software is OpenSource, but for that 1%, I will fight to keep those prying hands off of it.

    My point here is NOT that we shouldn't pirate, because that wouldn't be a liable argument here anyway, look at the article for Christ's sake...

    I'm here to try and let you guys know that, to believe EA to give up, just like that... Is pure ignorance...

    This is a WAR, and we the Pirates will continue to fight this war, just as we are doing the best we can to support ThePirateBay at this time of trouble. The fact still remains that EA has pulled a shady move... Tactical none the less... You can not reverse engineer a program, and release it as some of the groups found on Demonoid.com, IPTorrents.com, ThePirateBay.com, do and expect the Developers to be unbelievably blind to the process.

    EA wants you to crack/modify the games they release at this point to gather statistical information, and furthermore find out HOW people are stealing the games. Even if they allow people to play online in pirated copies, for free... This move was made to monitor you... You the Crack-Specialist, or you the Reverse-Engineer, are being watched by EA, not only that... A marketing team is trying to find out how to turn the situation around a little, and they have about found it... But as Server-source on certain applications are being released/stolen as well, it's only a short while later before everyone starts using a pirate server, where all is free... ;)

    +1 EA for being creative...
    +1 To Pirates, because we are the ones passionate about our work...

    Passion Vs. College Degree

    I've seen passion win, more often than not...

    --
    BinaryBrother[AT]SpamFails.com
    [SpamFails.com] = [Gmail.com]

     

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  38.  
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    LZo, Jun 28th, 2009 @ 5:36am

    Pirates YAAARRG!

    I read stuff like this about the music industry and honestly pirating 1 or 2 songs from an artist almost always encourages people to want to buy the entire CD. Plus, if you don't buy that mainstream garbage, you are forced to hunt down and buy the music you have sought after for so long. I don't necessarily know how this would translate to in the gaming industry. But, I do know that getting a generous taste of something you may want to buy later on may indeed make you want to buy it more.

     

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  39.  
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    robb, Jun 28th, 2009 @ 9:43am

    indirect ads

    yes someone has said it long ago,
    pirated games will (relatively) increase sales point bcos after people tried the game, they will eventually buy the original game.
    it somehow serves as ads.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    Sam Cornwell, Jun 28th, 2009 @ 5:09pm

    Just take a look at SecondLife - The perfect model.

    Any online gambling games also (Although slightly different)

    The model is already there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    Diane, Jun 28th, 2009 @ 9:25pm

    I pirated all the extras from the sims 3, because I legitimately payed for the game(the first time I did that in about two years), and was pissed off that they were charging me extra to make the game have a normal level of objects, when I had already payed for the game.
    All of the items in the sims 3 shop total around 200$, and the sims 3 is built around a premise of user created content anyways, it doesn't make sense to sell these things when the user created content is often better.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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