Stardock CEO: Demigod Beats Piracy

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Stardock CEO: Demigod Beats Piracy

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Stardock CEO Brad Wardell says the success of Demigod, despite rampant piracy and a botched launch, is all the proof he needs that heavy-handed copy protection is a waste of time.

Demigod's woes began shortly before the game's scheduled release date of April 14 when GameStop broke the street date and put the game on shelves just prior to the Easter weekend. As a result, Stardock employees were forced to work through the holiday, trying to keep the multiplayer servers configured and running. A few days later the company revealed that piracy levels were so high that the studio's network infrastructure had almost completely collapsed under the weight of handling matchmaking duties for the huge number of people who had copied the game. Of the roughly 120,000 connections made to the server at the time, Wardell said, only about 18,000 were legitimate. The problems resulted in at least one below-average review from a major gaming site: GameSpot lavished praise on Demigod but nonetheless gave it a score of only 6.5 because of "major online connectivity problems."

Despite all that, Wardell recently posted an ever-so-slightly smug forum message entitled "Demigod: So much for piracy." In it, he notes that the game debuted at number three on PC game retail sales chart, a figure that includes a partial week and doesn't count digital sales, which he claims accounts for the majority of Demigod's sales. All of which happened while the DRM-free game was being pirated like mad.

"Piracy pisses me off. If you're playing a pirated copy right now, if you're one of those people on Hamachi or GameRanger playing a pirated copy and have been for more than a few days, then you should either buy it or accept that you're a thief and quit rationalizing it any other way," he wrote.

But he added that as much as he personally dislikes piracy, fighting it isn't what he's here for. "My job, as CEO of Stardock, is not to fight worldwide piracy no matter how much it aggravates me personally. My job is to maximize the sales of my product and service and I do that by focusing on the people who pay my salary - our customers," he continued. He attributed Demigod's performance to its overall quality and Stardock's reputation for standing behind its products, although admitted that there are still "many lessons" to be learned from its launch.

"For example, if I had to do it over again, I would be inclined to require a valid user account to play LAN even if it only has to be validated one time. That way, we could also make it a lot easier for a legal user to have a LAN party with a single license," he wrote. "When the focus of energy is put on customers rather than fighting pirates, you end up with more sales. It seems common sense to me but then again, I'm just an engineer."

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I don't know whether to be happy about this or not.

On the one hand, I think it's brilliant that the game's been successful in the face of piracy; and it's proved that everyone who claims they pirate games in protest of DRM is a massive liar.

Brad Wardell:
If you're playing a pirated copy right now, if you're one of those people on Hamachi or GameRanger playing a pirated copy and have been for more than a few days, then you should either buy it or accept that you're a thief and quit rationalizing it any other way

Couldn't have been put any better.

But, on the other hand, the fact that it was pirated to hell and back is likely only going to convince other developers to continue putting heavy-handed and ineffective DRM in their games.

"All of which happened while the DRM-free game was being pirated like mad."
Very similar to Spore which had every security feature, TWICE.

Gamespot is an anagram of Gamestop. I hate them both. Stardock gets major kudos though,its up there with Valve in my most important companies on the PC list.

Anachronism:
I don't know whether to be happy about this or not.

On the one hand, I think it's brilliant that the game's been successful in the face of piracy; and it's proved that everyone who claims they pirate games in protest of DRM is a massive liar.

Brad Wardell:
If you're playing a pirated copy right now, if you're one of those people on Hamachi or GameRanger playing a pirated copy and have been for more than a few days, then you should either buy it or accept that you're a thief and quit rationalizing it any other way

Couldn't have been put any better.

But, on the other hand, the fact that it was pirated to hell and back is likely only going to convince other developers to continue putting heavy-handed and ineffective DRM in their games.

Good post.
Brad did say it exceptionally well, and I'm glad to see they have been successful in sales. Stardock is a good, customer focused company and I wouldn't want to see them suffer or fail because of the blatant selfishness of others.

Anachronism:
On the one hand, I think it's brilliant that the game's been successful in the face of piracy; and it's proved that everyone who claims they pirate games in protest of DRM is a massive liar.

Good to know there are still some honest gamers out there in the target demographic. Less heartening that a good majority of them still do not believe they should pay people for their effort.

Anachronism:
But, on the other hand, the fact that it was pirated to hell and back is likely only going to convince other developers to continue putting heavy-handed and ineffective DRM in their games.

Or worse yet, start making it exclusive to consoles.

demigod actually looked pretty good and about the piracy meh..

*looks this game up*

You would have thought that they would have had some sort of online authentication system in order to play online! Much like every single other online game i can think of...

Pigeon_Grenade:
*looks this game up*

i think im Going to Check this game Out

Thus, I will never pirate a game from Stardock. They're too nice for me to play their games and not give them money. Same with Valve and GSC (not so much about being nice, but about listening to their players; the snork was the result of a "make-a-baddie" contest, and they had a quest-making contest on their forums for Clear Sky so members could give them quest suggestions).

tk1989:
You would have thought that they would have had some sort of online authentication system in order to play online! Much like every single other online game i can think of...

They did. Problem WAS, someone broke the algorithm. Hence why the servers shat themselves: 160000 people trying to authenticate simultaneously, at a time when they didn't expect anyone to be trying at all. That was Gamestop's mistake. As a result, GameSPOT rated them badly.

I'm really interested in this one, though I'm only passing good at RTS games (I have grand strategies, but never pull them off; I believe I lack practise).

tk1989:
You would have thought that they would have had some sort of online authentication system in order to play online! Much like every single other online game i can think of...

They do. You need an Impulse account to play, and then you need to "Verify" your game.
The problem is: if you're a pirate, you can still "touch" the servers, and too many people touching it can cause the server to be overloaded with connections. Which is exactly what happened, word for word.

Most of the poor reviews about Demigod have been about it's rough start. They say when it's working, it's very polished and fun.

I have to say this: Stardock is full of win. Even after they had such high piracy levels, they're still going strong in sales... And this is a awesome thing of them to do. Blame the pirates, not the consumer!

ah yes, online authentication. the best type of anti piracy measures. too bad they didn't prepare their servers for the massive amount of it to handle.

tk1989:
You would have thought that they would have had some sort of online authentication system in order to play online! Much like every single other online game i can think of...

That was what I was wondering with this. If they had some form of online verification, they could easily expand the game for only the legit people. Offer all upgrades/patches to only the ones with a legit copy who verified their game. This not only encourages customers to buy the game, it also rewards them for being honest.

Baby Tea:

Anachronism:
I don't know whether to be happy about this or not.

On the one hand, I think it's brilliant that the game's been successful in the face of piracy; and it's proved that everyone who claims they pirate games in protest of DRM is a massive liar.

Brad Wardell:
If you're playing a pirated copy right now, if you're one of those people on Hamachi or GameRanger playing a pirated copy and have been for more than a few days, then you should either buy it or accept that you're a thief and quit rationalizing it any other way

Couldn't have been put any better.

But, on the other hand, the fact that it was pirated to hell and back is likely only going to convince other developers to continue putting heavy-handed and ineffective DRM in their games.

Good post.
Brad did say it exceptionally well, and I'm glad to see they have been successful in sales. Stardock is a good, customer focused company and I wouldn't want to see them suffer or fail because of the blatant selfishness of others.

Very this.

I'm not too sure what to think of his attitude, but what he said is bang-on. Good job.

Stardock has always been an awesome company. Sins of a Solar Empire is an amazing game, so I may have to get Demigod.

I knew Stardock was gonna end up back on top, it's nothing they can't handle.

"Demigod Beats Piracy"? Now wait a second.

The piracy of Demigod was incredibly high, and yet the game was an incredible success?

And the headline is "Demigod Beats Piracy"?

Shouldn't the headline be that companies have been blowing the threat of piracy way out of proportion?

Could this case be any more blatant proof of what people have been saying for years now? That the threat of piracy has been overblown and used to support the blatantly selfish opportunism of things like DRM?

Slowly, game companies are beginning to make me feel guilty about my pirating days. Which is quite impressive, maybe once they actually knock down the prices of games I may be able to play something.

Anachronism:
I don't know whether to be happy about this or not.

On the one hand, I think it's brilliant that the game's been successful in the face of piracy; and it's proved that everyone who claims they pirate games in protest of DRM is a massive liar.

Brad Wardell:
If you're playing a pirated copy right now, if you're one of those people on Hamachi or GameRanger playing a pirated copy and have been for more than a few days, then you should either buy it or accept that you're a thief and quit rationalizing it any other way

Couldn't have been put any better.

But, on the other hand, the fact that it was pirated to hell and back is likely only going to convince other developers to continue putting heavy-handed and ineffective DRM in their games.

I have a pirated version of demigod and will buy it as soon is it gets a real release in Australia. Although I have only played it once at a lan, which the CEO seems to think is ok (a friend bought it online), I no doubt would count as one of those pirates. You're welcome to call me hypocritical but the last time I rushed off to buy a game on release it was broken (DoW2) and I couldn't play it for several weeks because of game breaking bugs, demigod still has no servers so I'll sit on my pirated version for lanning only until this is fixed.

If anything this makes the sales even more impressive because the release was so unbearably botched, the servers (in Australia at least) are all but working and yet it is still selling strongly.

he is one of the best ceos ever.

Glad he sees the brighter side of the debacle that was the release of this game. I doubt many publishers will follow along with the non DRM but maybe just maybe one or two might follow this example.

I love seeing intelligent people run companies.

It's not nice to try to point fingers and laugh at the pirate community. Some people would pirate the game just for them saying things like that. Seems like a stupid thing to have put in print.

chronobreak:
It's not nice to try to point fingers and laugh at the pirate community. Some people would pirate the game just for them saying things like that. Seems like a stupid thing to have put in print.

Um... No?

This whole "Demigod Beats Piracy" thing. You'd swear the pirates actually had swords drawn at the Stardock CEO's throat, but he was able cut the yardarm rope and fly up mainsail to engage in a thrilling midair swashbuckle with the pirate captain, winning the duel just in time to grab the sail before his rope snapped, and to slide down it to a safe landing next to Elizabeth Swann. And then they kissed as the sun set behind them.

Is that what you think? Is it? Because it didn't happen. I think.

Ragdrazi:

chronobreak:
It's not nice to try to point fingers and laugh at the pirate community. Some people would pirate the game just for them saying things like that. Seems like a stupid thing to have put in print.

Um... No?

This whole "Demigod Beats Piracy" thing. You'd swear the pirates actually had swords drawn at the Stardock CEO's throat, but he was able cut the yardarm rope and fly up mainsail to engage in a thrilling midair swashbuckle with the pirate captain, winning the duel just in time to grab the sail before his rope snapped, and to slide down it to a safe landing next to Elizabeth Swann. And then they kissed as the sun set behind them.

Is that what you think? Is it? Because it didn't happen. I think.

I don't really know what you're talking about, actually. I just saw some rant about real-life pirates in a discussion about piracy. Feel free to elaborate if you'd like, but for next time if you quote me, please have something of substance to say. I don't like seeing I have an unread message and then find out it's something like this.

Anyways, what I was saying is the overall mindset of the "pirates" is one of apathy, not caring if a game tanks or a developer sells copies or whatever. It's like dealing with a child, and telling them not to run in traffic. Well now, they aren't gonna listen to you, are they? Not saying this is an absolute, or a case with all people who commit piracy, but if you're stealing the game, and this idiot is saying "Hey! We beat you guys!", what do you think is gonna happen?

Ragdrazi:

Shouldn't the headline be that companies have been blowing the threat of piracy way out of proportion?

I'm guessing the point the guy was making is than the game wasn't a failure because of the high levels of pirated copy's being played.
102,000 people stole this game, you don't find that a bit extreem? I mean thats around $400,000 they will now never get.

That said I do agree that DRM is not helpful.

I disagree that Internet should be required to play a LAN game - though using a day0 patch to turn LAN on is perfectly fine. I love the no-DRM policy of Stardock, but I do wish they would be less hostile against piracy. Piracy is here to stay, so embrace it and you'll make even more money.

Mromson:
I disagree that Internet should be required to play a LAN game - though using a day0 patch to turn LAN on is perfectly fine. I love the no-DRM policy of Stardock, but I do wish they would be less hostile against piracy. Piracy is here to stay, so embrace it and you'll make even more money.

How exactly would "embracing" people who decide to play your game without paying you for it help you make money?

That said, I love Stardock's no-DRM policy. It helps the legal consumer, and takes away the "I only pirate 'cause I hate DRM" rationalization that has become so popular among pirates.

Mromson:
I disagree that Internet should be required to play a LAN game - though using a day0 patch to turn LAN on is perfectly fine. I love the no-DRM policy of Stardock, but I do wish they would be less hostile against piracy. Piracy is here to stay, so embrace it and you'll make even more money.

I dont think Companies that make games then those same games are pirate's bait, thus making low profit is something they want to embrace.

No company in its right mind is going to say "Piracy is okay". Cause its not

Anachronism:
I don't know whether to be happy about this or not.

On the one hand, I think it's brilliant that the game's been successful in the face of piracy; and it's proved that everyone who claims they pirate games in protest of DRM is a massive liar.

Brad Wardell:
If you're playing a pirated copy right now, if you're one of those people on Hamachi or GameRanger playing a pirated copy and have been for more than a few days, then you should either buy it or accept that you're a thief and quit rationalizing it any other way

Couldn't have been put any better.

But, on the other hand, the fact that it was pirated to hell and back is likely only going to convince other developers to continue putting heavy-handed and ineffective DRM in their games.

You're wrong. I pirate every single game I buy, because I don't feel like dealing with DRM. Instead, I purchase the games, leave them to sit in this cardboard box next to my bed gathering dust, and play the pirated version. I refuse to download Secucrap onto my computer, but at the same time, support anyone who provides me with entertainment. Don't make sweeping generalizations, please.

It proves everyone who downloaded THAT game is an asshat pirate. Not all.

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