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Published on April 29, 2009 By Frogboy In Demigod Journals

If I wrote a post saying that Demigod sales were far below what we had hoped for and I said that the reason was due to piracy and that the answer was that we should have put some nasty copy protection on those DVDs to have prevented early piracy what do you think people would say?

I know what my answer to that would be.  I would say that Stardock couldn’t blame poor sales on piracy but rather the fact that the game’s built-in multiplayer match-making was totally broken for the first day of release due to its underestimation of network resources that a mainstream game would take and even when that got addressed, the multiplayer match-making for two weeks and counting has been incredibly flakey which affected reviews and word of mouth.  That’s what I would say.

And yet…

http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=23381\

Demigod debuts at #3 for top selling PC games at retail – bearing in mind that that was a partial week and that the majority of units sold were digital sales which weren’t counted.

But…but…what about those hundreds of thousands of pirates? Yep. Demigod is heavily pirated. And make no mistake, 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.

The reality that most PC game publishers ignore is that there are people who buy games and people who don’t buy games. The focus of a business is to increase its sales.  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.

As Ars Technica quoted over a year ago:

"The reason why we don't put copy protection on our games isn't because we're nice guys. We do it because the people who actually buy games don't like to mess with it. Our customers make the rules, not the pirates. Pirates don't count," Wardell argues. "When Sins popped up as the #1 best selling game at retail a couple weeks ago, a game that has no copy protect whatsoever, that should tell you that piracy is not the primary issue."

Even Demigod, a game that shipped with no copy protection on the DVD, was massively pirated, and has had, to put it mildly severe launch issues with its multiplayer match-making which has had a negative impact on its Metacritic score has still managed to debut at the top of retail sales charts  (not counting our digital sales).

Why is that?  At that point I can only speculate but the first reason is pretty straight forward: Demigod is an awesome game. Second, while the multiplayer matchmaking that comes with the game currently sucks, our customers know it will get fixed. Part of that is the demographic of Stardock customers. They’re more experienced, they know that some of the issues with the MP matchmaking aren’t due to rushing the game out or negligence but rather the fact that complicated systems sometimes don’t scale well and there is no substitute for time when it comes to fix them.

I think there are many lessons to be learned from Demigod.  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. Anyone who has played Demigod on Game Ranger probably knows what and why I'm bringing that up.

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.


Comments (Page 1)
on Apr 29, 2009

I did notice that there where no sales numbers in that post.

 

"#3 at retail in the united states in one week" - What does that mean?

"majority of units sold were digital sales" - How many copies are we talking about here?

I would love to know how many copies a game like Demigod sells in Digital Destribution compared to retail.

 

 

 

 

 

on Apr 29, 2009

Good to see you emerged from these difficulties relatively unscathed. Yet another blow against the "We need DRM to keep profitable" argument

on Apr 29, 2009

Great news! Not just because its awesome for you guys but like ToJKa said, it proves that DRM is just a costly way of screwing with your customer.

 

I know this may be the wrong thread for it but any new info on the planned "betapatch/patch" for today?

on Apr 29, 2009

If there's one thing I learned in highschool, the people who pirate invariably won't purchase the game.  If they can't get it for free, they'll find something else to pirate.  Even if you do stop them (that'll take a miracle in the age of the torrent), they'll just go off and play something else.  DRM is a waste of your time and effort, and I'm glad to see there's at least one rational publisher in the industry!

I remember reading just a few weeks ago about a Neverwinter Nights expansion pack that got delayed for two years because they had to re-engineer the DRM to work properly on it.  Even forgetting time value of money, can you imagine how many sales they lost because people have moved on or forgotten NWN?  It's just crazy, and the thing will be on torrents within a few days anyways!

on Apr 29, 2009

Right on!  We need more developers/producers like you and your company (/associated companies)

on Apr 29, 2009



"The reason why we don't put copy protection on our games isn't because we're nice guys.

 

But you are nice guys (and girls) as well

on Apr 29, 2009

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.

Way to lay down the law frogboy

p.s. I say send a cylon army to deal with the pirates

on Apr 29, 2009

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.

I totally agree with you. The one thing I hate most about pirates is the way they constantly try to justify their actions -- trying to lay the blame on anyone but themselves. "Oh, I pirated it due to the DRM" or "I pirated it due to there being no demo" or "I pirated it because it's too expensive" or "I pirated it because it's crap!" and so on.

We all already know the first claim is false, look at games like World of Goo --  an indie game with no DRM and the pirates are still all over it. In cases where there is no demo, why can't they simply wait for one? (And note to developers, that don't put out demos; start putting them out.)

If it's too expensive, then either save up or buy it when the price goes down. The price of the game is never a valid reason to steal it -- and don't start on the "it's not theft, it's copyright infringement" argument. By not paying for the game and playing it, you're stealing income the developers should have gotten from you. That's theft. And in the final case, if it's too poor in quality to pay for it, then simply don't play it.

Why do pirates always assume that they simply MUST play every game even if they can't afford to buy it or are not willing to buy it? That's what I hate about *those* people. And please, don't try to use your geographical location as a way of justifying piracy either. Don't try the, "it's not sold where I live, so I had no choice" argument; *I* live in a country where PC games are not sold domestically, yet I manage perfectly well to purchase games. Thank you very much.

So yeah, I agree. These thieves need to stop trying to explain how they couldn't possibly be thieves and accept the simply fact that they are.

I also don't think, on the publisher's side, that DRM is a valid solution. Legitimate customers should be rewarded for their purchase, not treated like they can't be trusted. I really hope that with Demigod, we will see some additional content which is simply never going to be accessible to the thieves. But I'm not an idiot, I expect they will still find a way to steal the additional content too . I really hate pirates. They ruin it for the rest of us.

 

on Apr 29, 2009


I’m just an engineer.

Pirates Sappin my Game!

 

Still i believe that piracy does effect sales in some manner, which made me have a fear Stardock will go DRM at some point due to this amount of pirates

Yesterday i were trying to help a french guy on IRC, tho he were talking about hamachi so i thought, hmm pirate? since why didnt he just use the online option. But after a small talk he openly admitted he did not buy the game.

This is not the first time ive seen pirates on IRC, they seem to gather there to find friends for there hamachi setup and have no worries what so ever.

 

Its nice to hear Demigod made it into the top10 even when its had a rough start Congrats SD/GPG

on Apr 29, 2009

I agree to most of it but I have to disagree (and Im sure im not alone) that the game has been rushed out a little bit.

As a beta tester I didnt have much problem with the netcode but I seen others having. And we were still doing some networking test days before release that were not that successfull for some... and not to mention that the core basic of the game skill utilisation is having problem(mostly at single target skill) ex: With beast, use spit on a dmigod and try using foul grasp immediatly after without insuing a move command; your character will not move and the skill (even if we are in range) wont work at all.

This skill bug is a major character utilisation bug ;its easy to reproduce with many character and I think it shouldnt have been at release since I consider it major / evident bug and not to mention it as been reported several times. They are easy to reproduce with QoT (shielding other demigod),beast (foul grasp), Sedna (healing other demigod)Erebus (bite) etc.

I would say the problem we encounter at the first day of demigod release was hard to predict so I dont blame stardock or gpg on this one but the fack that the netcode is flacky at release yes they are to blame imo. I think the proxy should have been in place before release because even in beta doing a 4vs4 or 5vs5 was imposible and we were only a few beta testers.

So for me (and I shoud say i'm not alone thinking this). The game could have been more polished before release. so yes rushed a little bit.

BUT. since gpg / stardock have some kind of agreement for long supporting the game with patchs and expansion, I think its not a big problem that the game may have been rushed a bit because in the end mostly everything should get fixed.

So im not angry at them since they are commited to support the game after release and not let it die so its good thing in the end.

Oh and also. Nice job for making in the top 10 sales

 

P.S I may sound I talk a bit negative about the game but I wish to let know at Frogboy I do really like the game ( In fact one of my most favorite game since the last few years)and hope he can understand my point of view ;. Im only expressing my personal opinion here and I could be wrong on some point.

on Apr 29, 2009

My estimated guess for WoW:Lich King weekly sales are 20k.   This is the number WoW:Burning crusader sold weekly 2 years ago.

So Demigod sold less than 20k, my guess is 15k.   Some article once said Digital distribution is the same amount as retail, and Frogboy said that's where the majority of the sales are.  So I'm guess 25k in Digital.  Which brings it total of 40k first week sales as my guess.   I could be way off...

This guess number is similar to first 3 week sales of Sins of a solar empire publish by Stardock last year.

 

on Apr 29, 2009

p.s. I say send a cylon army to deal with the pirates

This I can get behind.

on Apr 29, 2009

These sales charts never say actual numbers it sucks. Hopefully demi can keep up the #3 spot for awhile though.

on Apr 29, 2009

Imagine if the game was 10$ less like it should have been...

on Apr 29, 2009

Hi Frogboy!

First time poster, long-time lurker.

1. Love the game! I'm a happ-ish customer (will be happier as the multiplayer issues become less and less frequent). I'm a huge stardock fan, ever since Stardock released the original Galactic Civilizations on OS/2. Please consider releasing Linux/Mac stuff, too, perhaps in conjunction with Wine, Codweavers, or Transgaming!

 

2. I have to admit, I do pirate some games, from some of those "other" companies. The main reason being that I don't like having to spend $60 on a game that might, frankly, suck. I don't keep pirated copies for more than a week; either I buy the game, or delete it. The being said, I bought GalCiv 2, Sins of a Solar Empire, and Demigod, without having played either demos or pirated copies.I haven't even really had enough time to get into SoSE, but purchased it because gosh-darnit, you guys deserve to have your high quality games purchased! All three were priced reasonably, all three were good games, none of which came with DRM, and all of which came with the excellent community support that you guys (Stardock) put out. To the "other" companies: put out a demo, or something! At least on the 360/PS3 I can go rent a game to figure out that its crap. Perhaps that's your sales strategy.

 

3. Any chance we might get a LANish type add-on client? If you recall, with Starcraft, and I think some of the original Warcraft games, you could install a "LAN-version only" that would only work properly if the "main copy" was running on your home lan. You could join multiplayer games, but only X copies of the LAN version would work. I am a big gamer, but my fiance isn't one so much (she'll play the occasional game). Also, I have friends over sometimes to game, but its very rare. It's unlikely that I would buy 4 copies of Demigod, 4 copies of SoSE, and 4 copies of the upcoming elemental (just too much money for me, and yes, I own my own home, and don't live in my parents basement). What I would do, however, is by 1 copy of Demigod (which I've already bought), and then buy 3 add-on LAN only "client" copies for some reduced price, perhaps $10-$15 each, for the sole purpose of additional people in my household playing multiplayer on an infrequent basis?

 

Any chance Stardock might consider something like that? I think it would really blow-open the gaming business model. I know that I would be inclined to spend $70-90 dollars on a Demigod "site-license" that would let me have 4 Demigod stations running at once in my home, but only at my home.

 

Once again, Demigod rocks, and I'm a happy customer!

 

wwwolf123

 

Three cheers, nothing but love from me!

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