A new anti-piracy firm has leaked and distributed copies of Dues Ex Human Revolution, modified it so that it directed gamers to an online questionnaire after the first few levels, asked them what they would pay for the game, and then offered them the game at the average price gamers were willing to pay - and many did
TorrentFreak reports on a new anti-piracy firm, Vigilant Defender, and their experimental, controversial, and perhaps innovative approach to solving the problem of PC game piracy.
Instead of preventing gamers from downloading pirated copies of games, Vigilant Defender actually released and seeded their own modified leaked version of Deus Ex Human Revolution, without the permission of the publishers one might add, and then directed downloaders to an online survey to find out just why they decided to download a pirated copy of the game.
The actual leaked version is more correctly identified as a early leaked beta version of the game, but Vigilant modified the code so that after the first few levels, gamers were directed to a questionnaire that asked gamers questions like "Why do you illegally download?", "Have you bought Deus Ex: Human Revolution?", "How much would you pay for it?", as well as some questions on DRM.
The results from the questionnaire were interesting indeed. As was how the results were used.
According to Vigilant, a majority of people said they would buy the game, but only that the pricing was an issue. When asked what price they wanted to pay for the game (that has a recommended price of €44.99 or USD$49.99), most stated that had the game being offered for half of the price, (€22.49 or $24.99), they would get it. And that's exactly what Vigilant did - offer the downloaders the game at the price most voted for on average, and 8% of downloaders ended up buying the game with combined revenue of €681,000.
In other words, Vigilant used P2P file sharing networks to get people to try games, and then offered them incentives to buy it, which some might say is encouraging piracy, while others would argue that piracy already exists, and that any profit that can be made from it, from 8% of downloaders in this case, can only be seen as a positive.
The only problem for Vigilant is that they didn't actually get permission from the developers Eidos Montreal or publishers Square Enix, to conduct this little experiement. Vigilant now has the tough task of convincing Square Enix that this experiment was the right thing to do.
But amongst the "positives" that Vigilant lists from this experiment, perhaps the most important point is that "Illegal downloaders are potential customers". A finding that game publishers might need to take note of.