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PC Gaming Piracy On the Decline, Says Industry Head

Posted by: , 14:11 AEDT, Sun February 20, 2011

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PC gaming piracy may actually be on the decline, says the new president of the PC Gaming Alliance. And it's not due to DRM!

PC gaming piracy has been said to be one of the worst when it comes to online piracy, but it seems there's light at the end of the tunnel. PC Gaming Alliance president Matt Ployhar believes that PC piracy is actually on the decline, and it's all thanks to new game designs, rather than DRM.

Ployhar says that massive multiplayer online (MMO) games, and online services such as Steam are actively reducing piracy. He also says that games that offer bonus content only available to legitimate customers, usually online based features, are key to combating piracy online.

"So what's happening is game design is shifting and as a result of shifting game design, piracy, at least on the PC side, is actually declining as a result," Ployhar says. "There are stats that do corroborate that ... Now what you're seeing to combat that or reduce the chances of piracy are developers implementing achievements, in-game pets, all of these things that are tracked and stored in the cloud. So even if you pirate the game you're still not getting the bragging rights."

Value-adding has long been seen as a possible solution to piracy. As for DRM, Ployhar doesn't really want to offer an opinion on the future of something that he admits gaming fans are very vocal about (in a negative way). He does acknowledge that many who buy games are still using cracks that otherwise would be used for piracy, in order to make the gaming experience more flexible (such as being able to play the game without having to insert the original disc, or play the game on multiple computers).

One thing that Ployhar does not elaborate too much on is pricing, and the new pricing model that digital distributors like Steam have been using. Frequent sales and massive (75% of more) discounts have been driving lots of sales recently, according to Steam's own research, and not only does it encourage people to go legitimate (perhaps to "legitimize" a copy of a game that wasn't so before), it also promote the Steam environment, the community and the social aspect of gaming, which helps to ensure users will at least consider a legitimate copy the next time they want a game.

Do you think value-adding features to PC games, and also pricing discounts, help to reduce piracy, or do you think DRM is a better solution? Post your opinion in our comments section, or in this forum thread:


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