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Pirates!
Posted on Wednesday, May 7 2008 @ 17:57:13 PST

As consoles pump out higher fidelity graphics and offer cohesive online communities, plenty of folks see it as a funeral precession for PC gaming. Regardless of the vast opportunities and advantages found in PC gaming, the shortcomings are wont to weigh on the minds of gamers from every corner.

Is the mouse and keyboard control setup really advantageous enough to snuff the likes of Halo and over rule the success of ports like COD4? Is player regulated online play enough to match the structure and comparable simplicity of Xbox Live? Will piracy bleed what creative blood is left in PC gaming out?

You may already be thinking it, but those are some pretty weak arguments. PC gamers are PC gamers for those reasons, not despite them. But that leaves one of those issues to cast a shadow over the rest: piracy. Recently, the Cavat Yerli of CryTek (the makers of Crysis) has been pointing his fingers wildly at internet pirates for what he feels is the lack of success of Crysis. Despite the game selling over a million copies world wide, many publications have seen fit to lend credence to Yerli's call to arms against pirates. Though his claims regarding the popularity of Crysis on torrent sites across the internet may hold some water, is it enough to explain his game drowning?

While I may not be an expert, I've always thought a million copies was something to be applauded in game sales. For a game that cost as much as Crysis to produce, that may not be as true as folks like me think. I see this as a self fulfilling prophecy, though. The biggest PC games of all time have been The Sims and World of Warcraft. Neither of those games require high end PCs to run by any modern measure. Crysis requires a pretty nice PC, maybe even a bit nicer than mine, to even run decently. I've heard numerous rebuttals of, "Well, if you turn the settings down to Medium, practically anyone can run it and its still incredibly beautiful!" This isn't entirely false. The game is quite beautiful on Medium, that is, for the first 10 feet in front of you. After that, geography and geometry will deform, change shape and pop in to view at will. This doesn't make the game playable, but it stomps all over its major selling point: the looks.

Cubans who try to sail to the free shores of America in a '55 Chevy pickup will face a lot of problems. This is to be expected, though. It's not like Chevy was trying to rival Carnival Cruises when they designed the truck. Likewise, putting all of your eggs in one beautiful diamond encrusted platinum basket, then throwing it off a cliff at a time when folks are busy digging through other baskets and the only folks ready and willing to catch your basket are the ones who were going to steal it anyway is probably a foolish idea.

Just because some PCs can render stunning graphics and a company can spend millions creating those graphics doesn't mean consumers want to, or even can, experience them. There are countless ways to competently and effectively combat piracy. There are also plenty of paths that don't even consider piracy an issue, as they can lead to profit despite it.

Find an audience, then make a game for them. Don't assume that your idea's shortcomings should be blamed on the audience. After all, the ones that aren't stealing from you are paying your bills.
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