“We are all charity cases now”, says Jeff Vogel in this IGN post.
The only disagreement I have with him is the word “now”. We’ve been charity cases pretty much since the industry started.
Everyone’s oohing and aahing over Demigod‘s phenomenal piracy rate. Long story short: Gamestop broke Demigod’s street date, releasing the game around April 11 when the game wasn’t supposed to be out until April 14. Since Stardock is famous for not using any DRM on their games, torrents for the game were immediately available.
Demigod is a lot like Left4Dead, in that there is a single-player component, but it’s really just there to get you ready to play multiplayer. Thus, a whole lot of pirates were logging into Stardock’s servers…three days before Stardock was ready for the game to go live. The official tally that Brad Wardell gave was that on day one, out of 120,000 concurrent connections to the servers, only 18,000 were from legitimate users. Now, this doesn’t mean that those who pirated the game got to play it; Stardock’s servers were capable of detecting and booting pirated copies. But legitimate users simply could not play the multiplayer game because the servers were so busy dealing with pirated copies.
Brad and his IT guys finally had to set up another server and tell any legitimate user who logged in, “Um…log in to this server instead.” That finally got the legitimate users up and running, but a lot of damage had been done.
Most notably, Gamespot’s review. Gamespot reviewed the game on day one during the pirate crush and finally ended up giving the game a 6.5, with the two most noted problems being connections and a dearth of single-player content. It’s entirely possible that without the pirate crush that score could have been much higher – and now that the pirate crush is over players are scoring the game much higher.
So in the end, this was a very different way that piracy harmed a game. Piracy in this case wasn’t about sales. It wasn’t about pirates getting to play a game they didn’t pay for – they didn’t. It was about pirates ruining the online experience for everyone else and hurting Demigod’s review scores. It’s possible Brad would have been better served putting up an message after Gamestop’s betrayal telling users who logged in, “The street date on this game is April 14. You’ll be able to play it then.”
I agree that they should have not allowed people to play until the street date. I hope Gamestop gets some backlash over releasing the game early.
I hope that this works out in the end for Stardock and will be buying the game as soon as as I get some money.
Multiplayer issues aside, I think there has been a disturbing trend of developers releasing budget games with full game price tags lately, Demigod being one of them. The reason I won’t pick up Demigod is the same reason I haven’t touched my copy of Left4Dead in months: Lack of content.
Shadowrun had the same problem, and I got burned on that one as well. I’m tired of shelling out big money only to find that I’ve burned through everything the game has to offer in a week or two.
Interesting, Handshakes… I think my experience with L4D has been precisely the opposite of yours. I’ve found it to be extremely replayable, due to its well-crafted cooperative play… and doesn’t it have about 20 maps? That never struck me as too small.
If you call L4D a budget title, you probably haven’t played many budget titles recently. =)
Well I guess by budget title I don’t mean Swamp Buggy Racing 2 (with apologies to the Swamp Buggy Racing developer), but I mean budget the way TF2 on it’s own only costs $20.
I’ve had loads of playtime out of TF2 (in fact, I still play it nearly daily). If L4D was $20 as well I wouldn’t be complaining, I’d say that it is a really fun little game well worth the money. But at 50 bucks I’d say it is the best game that I can’t recommend to anybody who cares about value.
And no, I haven’t found L4D to be particularly replayable. It could just be L4D’s structure as a coop game, in which case it just doesn’t suit my tastes; for everyone out there who is still getting play time out of the thing, good on you. I very rarely play through an entire single player game before getting bored with it, and if I do manage to get a full playthrough in I never ever feel an urge to replay the thing. L4D feels a bit like that, I suppose. The addition of really good coop only squeezed one or two more playthroughs out of me. Versus is just, well, Versus. It feels more than a little tacked on imo.
So then Valve releases a content update to L4D, just to spite me I’m sure.