Over on his blog, Brad Wardell of Stardock has a great post on the subject of PC game piracy. It’s the best discussion I’ve seen so far on the matter.

His main point is that games should be designed for the customer base, the people who actually buy the products. There will always be piracy, but that becomes largely irrelevant when the focus is on sales.

The problem, as he sees it, is that many of the A-titles focus on the hardcore gamer, and these also are the ones that get the most publicity. So they are also the ones that are usually popular on the torrents.

Ergo, companies are quick to point at these illegal copies as the reason for poor sales. However, the hardcore market is in something of a decline, mainly because of the escalating hardware requirements. Onerous copy protection, which does nothing but annoy the buyers, doesn’t help, either.

On the other hand, Stardock’s products do very well, and their latest game, Sins Of A Solar Empire, is a big hit. Yet it comes with no copy protection of any kind. Of course, it’s up on the torrents, but for all that, the game is selling.

Which, to me, is the crucial factor. I’ve never believed those big numbers tossed around about “billions of dollars” of sales lost. Those, or most of those, who grab the illegal copies are not going to buy them in the first place. This is as true for games as it is for movies or any other digital product.

So it becomes a matter of increasing sales rather than reducing piracy. We recall from Casual Piracy, that when Reflexive worked on various CP schemes, the increase in sales was minimal at best and not worth the effort.

But then, we always knew that copy protection doesn’t work, and hasn’t since the earliest days of home computing. I think Brad has the right idea: concentrate on making games that will sell, and forget about the pirates. Check out his post and see what you think.

Piracy & PC Gaming on draginol