We’re used to games being delayed when the design staff misses milestones. And we’re also used to games being kicked out the door in a condition hardly better than advanced beta. But it’s not every day that a publisher deliberately holds back a finished game.

Mysteries Of Westgate is an upcoming (whenever it arrives) expansion for Neverwinter 2. It could have been out for the Christmas season. But Atari didn’t release it.

Because they’re working on a brand-new copy-protection scheme. Not just for MoW, of course, but all their future games. Provided Atari has a future, since they’re now appealing a delisting ruling by NASDAQ.

You have to wonder about this. Okay, it’s an expansion. And they plan to use this system for other products, so MoW is a sort of testbed. But a three-month delay on a finished product? We’ve already passed the first quarter of the year (yikes!).

And do they really expect this to cut down on pirated copies? I have my doubts, given that there are more pirates than there are people working on this project. It wouldn’t surprise me if the hackers took this as a challenge and worked to break it as fast as possible.

What this will mean to the legitmate buyers is, of course, unknown. Just as well I don’t have any plans to buy MoW; I’m dubious about this general industry attitude of “screw the players; protect the software!” as it is.

Naturally, I am not in favor of piracy. I am also not in favor of stupidity. We know CP doesn’t work, so why spend all that effort on something that will likely be broken soon enough?

You can read Shamus Young’s comments on twenty-sided, which is where I learned about this. And no, it isn’t, sorry to say, an April 1st joke. It is, alas, all too real.

Publisher Priorities on twenty-sided