Epic Games blames piracy for its focus on consoles

By on May 18, 2010, 1:12 PM
We've heard countless times how weak sales as a result of piracy have changed the gaming industry dramatically by eating into developers' profits. While we don't believe the blame can be put exclusively on illegal downloads, piracy is understandably a huge concern for those making games for a living. In the case of Epic Games, it has completely changed their business model and given them a newfound preference towards console development.

The studio's hit title Gears of War reached both PC and Xbox 360 back in 2007, but the sequel never came to the desktop platform. The third game in the series which is due for release in April next year will also be an Xbox 360 exclusive. Speaking in an interview with Edge Magazine, Epic Games CEO Mike Capps explained its reasoning behind the shift, admitting that it boils down to profits and that the money is in the console business -- as simple as that.

He continued his love for the PC platform -- after all, their classic PC franchises are largely responsible for the company's success -- and highlighted how microtransaction-driven gaming could set the PC market for a big rebound sometime soon. His comments are in line with what others in the industry have expressed. Crysis developer Crytek, for example, has also cited piracy as the reason behind its decision to stop developing PC exclusives and move to multi-platform releases.

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Thank you thieves for doing your part in forcing the PC gaming industry to steer towards consoles.

Guest said:

it may not have so much to do with piracy as it does with making easier money. Piracy can be just an excuse to focus exclusively on a platform that has higher profit margins. I could be wrong

Guest said:

screw consoles and give us pc users games worth buying!

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

TomSEA said:

Thank you thieves for doing your part in forcing the PC gaming industry to steer towards consoles.

I'm with Tom. I have no doubt that this is the valid reason for them to shift focus to consoles. I am always amazed at the attitudes of so many that its entirely acceptable to help themselves to the labor and efforts of others by way of theft, and the ability to make preposterous rationalizations as to why its justified to be a thief.

Guest said:

I don't claim to know all the answers here, but the PC industry clearly needs a better model to avert privacy. And I'm not talking ridiculous DRM style protection. But I think all you need to do is ask Valve how much piracy hurts them. They've developed a distribution and buying system that is attractive to buyers and discourages piracy without being the least bit invasive. Hasn't everybody already noticed this?

But on another note, piracy is too hard to quantify to blame this problem squarely on, although from a high-level perspective is certainly does look like piracy makes consoles an attractive alternative.

For what I mean, think about this:

How many people who pirated a game would or could buy the game had they not pirated it? Statistics don't show the whole picture here, just that "####### people pirated our game". (Still an eerily large figure though.)

Some of these pirates are kids with no salaries who otherwise would not purchase the game.

Some want to try the game out before paying hard earned money on something they may not like.

Some have the money and just choose to pirate the game, and these are the ones they truly lose money on.

Don't take the above to mean I look kindly on piracy, it's just one of those things that's very hard to put into proper scope.

Route44 Route44, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

I am always amazed at the attitudes of so many that its entirely acceptable to help themselves to the labor and efforts of others by way of theft, and the ability to make preposterous rationalizations as to why its justified to be a thief.

I've been amazed at this myself. There are those out there that see as their right to do with whatever they please with other people's hard work and expenditure of money because they can. While I loath EA's anti-midas touch of destroying francises one after another and find their and other's use of DRM schemes to be punishing to legit owners, I can -- to a degree -- see companies choosing to focus on consoles if it means more $ and less loss due to theft.

On the other hand how many gaming companies have released bug ridden, glitch filled "final" PC titles that were actually betas at best? Perhaps there wouldn't be so much lost revenue in the process if people didn't keep having to read about games needing several sizable patches in the weeks and months to follow. Quality Control seems to be in name only.

Sloppy coding has a lot to do with it and dependency in some cases upon the community to fix these problems, i.e. can anyone say Gothic 3 and the Temple of Elemental Evil? How about Might & Magic V and its 7 Patches - 7!

But turning to PCs you have three operating systems at this time: XP, Vista, and 7 and all three in either 32-bit or 64-bit along with Service Pack Updates. Then throw in cpus from both AMD and Intel that are single core, dual, tri-, quad, and now 6 core.

How about the myriad of Nvidia and ATI graphic card offerings in DX 9, 10, and 11 in either single, SLi, or Crossfire configuration possibilities.

Yes, piracy can be a reason but I suspect that the myriad of PC configurations would make any programmer cry and wish for the simpler world of the console.

HaMsTeYr HaMsTeYr said:

@Route44: Its not really that much of a hassle developing for the pc as it is for the consoles, as a game dev student myself, though i've mostly only dabbled with Epic's UDK (has great cross platform capabilities) I can say that i don't think thats mainly the issue.

Unless you're writing up the engine itself from scratch, most game companies don't have to worry much about these things.

I'd have to say that the reason people don't buy games as much is because of either DRM or the quality of the game in itself. I for one only buy games that i enjoy thoroughly. I own Bad Company 2, Modern Warfare, Modern Warfare 2 (Though that was more of the love of the first to buy the 2nd), Battlefield 2 and a few other games...

Possibly the recurring trend here is that these games have excellent Multiplayer aspects, so that could be leading to something. It can be easily said maybe that the Gears series didn't have multiplayer that matched up to a lot of other titles, and for some the only justification to buy a game is for the multiplayer aspect.

Not to put singleplayer in bad light however, as there is plenty more than can be offered by single player than can't be in multiplayer. To me, my 2 cents is somewhat in the attitude of the game devs as well. Do you develop the game, with the intent of making it an awesome game that everyone will love, or are you creating a mash up of popular games around, then just sitting back and relax waiting for the income to roll in? Surely in the latter you'd foresee the quality of what you're actually developing no? And then come in complaining about how you don't make money out of it and blaming piracy.

As a final statement, i'd say that when Dead Space 2 gets out, i'm buying it. I loved the first game and the 2nd just looks kick ass to me. In the end, guys, as a dev, i don't really mind as much if a game is pirated, but if you love the game, buy it. It supports plenty of independent devs out there to make better games and motivation for us. :X

HaMsTeYr HaMsTeYr said:

As an added thing, i don't think piracy can ever be averted. If you can build it, you can destroy it. If you can build a wall high enough to block people out, in the end the wall can still be destroyed. Its just the nature of things. Rather DRM would be a deterrent to buy the game itself. I know plenty who loathe steam and steam is actually not THAT bad.

Guest said:

It's not because of piracy, It's because consol games are more profitable. It is easier to design I game for one system than for many different yet similar systems.

Also it's easier to buy a console and play the games. You don't have to know system requirements or spend 800-2000 dollars to play the game.

Guest said:

I agree Steam rocks. Of course it sucks when you want to play a game and it takes a day to download. But I don't have to put in a disk everytime I want to play, I don't have to worry about loosing the disk or it getting scratched, and I don't have to go through the hassle of finding a crack that works for the version of the game that I have so I don't have to worry about the previous worries.

Guest said:

Excuses... excuses...

Guest said:

Consoles? The X-Box360 is home to the most pirated games of all consoles so they aren't any better, as last year alone MW2's Xbox 360 version bled 970K pirated copies a few weeks after release. While the PS3 remains piracy free. M$ had to ban up to 1 million mod from live.

Eddo22 said:

Piracy? How about lack of developer focus and follow through. Let's face it, Epic used to make awesome PC games, lately they have been taking the easy cheap road by porting popular Console games. Epic is going downhill that's all there is to it really. How about making Unreal 3 and taking the time and effort to make the game a success?

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

A bit disingenuous from Epic Games but not completely by blaming it all on piracy. I think everyone knows by now that big money is with consoles, you have the most control, better ability to market DLC, and easier time selling your title. That's not to say you can't make money on PC's though as plenty of studios have demonstrated you can even with piracy. I don't know if I can fault a company for its greed. In any case they may still love the PC, but they did abandoned it.

Route44 Route44, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

@HaMsTeYr - thanks for the clarification on developing aspect. And I agree 100% on game developers attitudes.

As is evident from many responses there are several reasons for PC abandonment but piracy seems to be the catch-all for developers because then they let themselves off the hook without any admittance to their culpubility.

PanicX PanicX, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

Epic boss Mike Capps said:

we already saw the impact of piracy: it killed a lot of great independent developers and completely changed our business model.

This looks like a serious concern. So I did some googling of independent game developers and piracy.

Oddly, every page of returned hits are to quotes by Mike Capps. There's not a single page showing any list of any developer put out of business or "killed" by piracy.

Well to be fair, I only checked the first 3 pages of each of my searches.. maybe somewhere there is actual mention of these poor saps? Who they are and how the piracy murdered them (figuratively speaking).

This looks to me like yet another knee jerk over reaction by a suit that can't understand his numbers.

Emin3nce said:

"Techspot reader Emin3nce blames Global Warming on Epic Games"


OneArmedScissor said:

Gee, I guess UT3 was just soooooo great and it was all in my head that there is less to it than the original UT from almost 10 years earlier, and the delays and everything they hyped up that didn't really end up in the game or amount to anything worthwhile was all in my head.

It didn't sell just because of those damn pirates, yeah, that must have been it!

Jesus McChrist, that excuse got old like five years ago. It just goes to shows how much of a joke and unimaginative they really are that they took years to make a crap sequel to a great series, shift to watered down console franchises, and then way after all of that has already played out, jump on the piracy blame bandwagon. How the mighty have fallen...

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Some how, I believe this is more of an excuse to drop the pc as a gaming platform, piracy is just an excuse to bad sales when really, it wouldn't have been pirated any where near as much if it had been decent, ut3 is a good example. I did buy that game as I owned ut2004 and that was truly outstanding, the multiplayer just simply never gets boring, even today I play on the odd server when I can find one, as ut3 just sucked, it was buggy and glitchy, wasn't fun until they brought out about 1.76gb+ of patches, I can actually see why people would have pirated that game, the reviews even said it was fairly good but it really wasn't.

piracy also exists on the console and I cannot wait until it becomes as easy as downloading iso's of cracked console games to burn to disc. Then the pc might start being taken seriously again.

I do believe piracy hurts developers, but not as much as they claim, as someone above said, if the developers made awesome games for the pc they do see a return in profits even if it Is pirated for example:

world of goo

half-life series

doom 3

battlefield series

fear2 (although I believe 1 got pirated even less)

call of duty series


the list goes on and on with good games that made good profits just because they were good games, yes they all got pirated (except world of goo as it had no drm and could be had for anything about 1p, I got it for 7p) but made an extreme amount of profit.

What I'm saying is, it's now too easy to blame piracy for bad games and bad profits but at the end of the day, devs need to have the same attitude as hamsteyr, make an awesome game that everyone is talkin about and you have a winner, I think the c&c series is evidence of another severly pirated game because the latest installments have been rubbish compared to past installments.

Devs, pull your finger out if you want anymore of my money is the basic rule.

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

When in doubt...blame piracy.

Wanna stop game piracy?..go back to making the cartridges like Atari or Nintendo used to have. Make a cartridge reader for the PC even. This solution could have been done YEARS ago and prevented most of the piracy. The game maker will then argue cost is why they haven't done this but with all the money they have spent hiring lawyers to battle pirates, they could have paid for this easily. Its just sooooo much easier to hire a lawyer and sit back and whine and ***** about how your crappy game got copied and downloaded.

Again...when in doubt, blame someone else.

Guest said:


R.I.P. Epic Games.

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Honestly didn't Gears of War run like a **** on the PC? Seem to remember people downloading it just to check it ran before they risked spending money on it.

I agree with an earlier poster - the 360 isnt free of piracy.

Also what do you do with your 360 if you don't update to the latest games? It just sits there generally. PCs are used for many things and there is no requirement to validate the purchase by jumping on new releases like there is with the 360 which would gather dust without a new game to replace the old overplayed ones. If a games crap PC owners don't usually buy it.

Shame Epic won't be updating Unreal any time soon but then again I haven't played the last 2 versions anyway so I don't give that much of a crap. Decent multiplayer fps games sold via Steam are the way forward for PC gamers imo.

Critias said:

Are they seriously suggesting that piracy hurts them to such a degree that they make more money by forcefully excluding from their games all the people WITHOUT the damn xbox or ps3?

Are PCs some kind of a black hole that by default generates so much piracy as so completely negate all the additional revenue from this platform and in the process also hurt the sales of xbox? Is it yet time to run around yelling "the sky is falling, PC game developers are dying, etc"?

Poor game developers, if you also take into account that recent article about how much hypothetical money they lose from second hand games, sharing and renting, it makes it seem like they should have gone bankrupt a long long time ago. Which seems even more ridiculous given how the record-high sales figures from hit games seem to get broken every year.

Kinda like all the Hollywood movie producers, who also play the world's smallest violin and blame pirates and renters for all their misfortunes. Because , surely, nothing else they are doing is ever wrong , right?

BMfan BMfan said:

I'm sorry but to blame piracy is BS,if they said they would only make games for the PS3

then i would believe them.

The xbox(a console) is one of the worst,i know a few people that play pirated games on their 360's yet the people i know with the PS3 have all original games and i know more people that have original PC games than copy's.

MrAnderson said:

My main thing is that I really only play FPS with Mouse... If the gave me a mouse and a special left/right handed gamepad to WASD and the other function keys... and Oh turn off the darn assisted aiming I would be hmmm okay with it. But I think the console market woud eventaully suffer when the Graphics card companies have to stall because the demand for graphics on the PC for consumers starve. Well of course Valve is there to fill the gap of course! sigh...

Guest said:

All I know is valve did it right. Easy to use platform. Easy to find and discover games. Very reasonable prices with amazing weekend deals (like the all games from xyz company for 50 bucks) the ability to still own ur game in the cloud in the form of being able to redownload any of ur games any where any number of times. I have 58 games on steam cause of this.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

So many dead-on comments above, this entire debacle has so many sides to it that it is sometimes hard to figure out who is right! heh.

I just don't get why they would drop out of the PC side of gaming, and throw all their eggs into a basket that has been reported to show massive potential losses due to reselling. The recent numbers that have come out in stories about piracy and reselling, if you compare them, almost seem to indicate that companies like Gamestop are hurting the console market more than piracy is hurting PC gaming. And, seriously, the profit per unit sold ratio is way lower on console games, since you have big licensing fees required just to have the privilege of releasing a game for each platform.

Just makes me wonder (as many above have) if this isn't just a convenient excuse to buckle down and concentrate on 1 platform, to try to maximize profits.

Guest said:

Have some respect - some people round here actually believe in Christ.

Worship satan in your own time.

Guest said:

True most people are dumb.

True most people find the wii entertaining.

Yet the PC offers so much potential.

If Bioware can provide good releases on all platforms so can Epic.

Perhaps they need a crash course in DX 11 or something ?!?

Guest said:

Wow, so you're telling me a pc developer that releases watered down games to try and appeal to the lowest denominator is suprised when their community they betrayed to do so doesn't buy their games?

Haven't heard this moronic excuse before!

Oh and great job to you morons on here that actually buy into this bullshit.

Cybersciver said:

Bunch of cry-babies. The picture industry has been dealing with this for years. How many movies make real money? Games developers can sell their crap to the console market. The success "trick" works best by making a good (PC) product and building on its reputation. There may not be much in the shape of profit at the start, but brand new one-offs are becoming few and far between. Most real success comes from making a series. Creating a franchise that takes advantage of the fact that unlike movies games don't have to be rebuilt from scratch each time. Code can be modified and re-used. The old whinge about production times doesn't hold water either. Most successful movies have long lead-times, even if they don't take an age to shoot (which some do). It's called pre- and post production. James Cameron worked on Avatar for 5 years and he wasn't alone. And on the subject of computer graphics, Finding Nemo took three years to make. The guys up-top of the games industry should stop whining and face the fact that trying to avoid piracy is like trying to change human nature. The games industry hasn't been singled out for special treatment. Anyone with anything someone else can make money out of is up for grabs. Always has been, always will. Better get used to it.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Well, considering I can't return a buggy POS game like I could any other POS consumer product, I'm not crying for the game companies. Its been proven that they subvert the editorial process on some game review websites forcing them to give crappy games positive reviews, luring consumers into buying an unfinished product.

And since the presupposition already exists that if I try to return a computer program, that my motive is really theft, not simply dissatisfaction with an "broken" product, I can't get my money back.

True, I can't download a new car or a sweater, but at the same time, if the car I bought breaks, I have the ability to return it to the dealership for repairs, and under lemon laws, if the car just cannot be fixed, I can get my money back. Yet software does not seem to fall under this category. If you purchase an unfinished product, the joke's on you.

If we're going to apply the same standard of theft to software as we do to material products, then at the same time we should apply the same standards of consumer protection and manufacturer responsibility to properly test a product and release it when it works. And please stop the same old excuse that there is so much hardware out there you just can't anticipate everything. Most of these games have bugs that are the fault of code, not the hardware. And since there are plenty of games that work as released, oddly a lot of times from smaller developers, I guess someone can do it right.

Once this happens, then I'll side with the developers that look as piracy as theft. But until they start releasing properly tested products, I'll consider downloading games a victimless crime. Nobody feels sorry for Toyota right now, and what they did was no different than what most computer software companies do all the time, the only difference being the magnitude of the problem. Sure, nobody died, but the mentality is the same.

olefarte olefarte, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

Guys, check out this editorial on piracy and pc gaming. Read it to the end, it's very interesting, and I think it has a lot of truth in it.


PanicX PanicX, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

olefarte said:

Guys, check out this editorial on piracy and pc gaming. Read it to the end, it's very interesting, and I think it has a lot of truth in it.


A great link there olefarte. Just finished reading it and I'm relieved to see that there's game developers that don't have their heads up their asses.

If some of these other developers even consider half of what Draginol is saying in that article, there'd be huge improvements in their sales.

Richy2k9 said:

hello ...

plain pretexts!

i agree with a lot of you.

piracy can hurt an industry (mostly indie) but Epic has just some bad excuses.

Today if you want to go against piracy, develop for PS3!

PC gaming rules, the hardware may causes some issue (constant upgrade, etc) but piracy exist most because of availability of copied contents & unavailability of some demanding ones.

I'm not a big PC gamer, mostly on Diablo & some mini games, OK i admit that my wify is a much more hardcore gamer than i am (i work, she doesn't LOL) ... but she's after most of the genre found on Myplaycity & i'm much into retro gaming (just bought a few oldies on various digital distribution sites), so we don't bring a lot to the PC market, but we said no to piracy.

I'm much a console gamer, sorry i'm a PS3 gamer so no piracy!

If Epic would have developed for more platform, but mostly for PC, i'm sure they would be cover up the lost made on Xbox360 games on torrents sites


Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

olefarte said:

Guys, check out this editorial on piracy and pc gaming. Read it to the end, it's very interesting, and I think it has a lot of truth in it.


Read the Link till the end, I agree with that guy, He makes some good points.

otester said:

So they're just like EA...all about the money...and to think I actually bought all their Unreal series games.

How dare they blame piracy, at least be ****ing honest!

Guest said:

It's stupid because you can just as easily pirate a game on console. Search torrent sites and it's not like console games are scarce on there.

I'm not saying I'm for piracy, I am totally against it, but I just hate how game developers are using this same excuse over and over thinking piracy is none existent on consoles, when it isn't.

otester said:

Everyone who is against piracy is greedy, pure and simple.

gingerbill said:

Guest said:

it may not have so much to do with piracy as it does with making easier money. Piracy can be just an excuse to focus exclusively on a platform that has higher profit margins. I could be wrong

your correct . Epic made millions and sold multiple millions on PC , they werent moaning about piracy then . Many PC games sell millions , people will buy good PC games. They are using piracy as an excuse .

Night Hacker Night Hacker said:

Bull..... I don't believe for a moment that piracy is that bad. Years ago when games were smaller and less protected maybe it was, but not these days. I pay for ALL my games, and I buy more than I did in the past.

I ALSO remember when CDs first came out how the game industry stated they would reduce costs of games due to them being cheaper to produce and at the time, they couldn't be copied without forking out over $1000 for a CD writer. Well, I think they realized, hey, they'll be FORCED to pay our prices, so instead of lowering the costs they RAISED them, and that fueled the sales of CD writers. They basically slit their own wrists with their greed. Even so, I am guilty of copying the odd game WAY BACK over 10 years ago, but not these days. All my friends, some of whom copied way too much, all pay for their games now, and we have bought stacks of games, many of which weren't worth what we paid. If sales have dropped it could be due to people getting ripped off. Paying $50 to DOWNLOAD a game that ends up sucking is outrageous and I am curving my buying habits. GoG.com is your friend for cheap old games, I use it much more. Just paid $5.99 for Painkiller. Can't argue with that.

Guest said:

It's already been said you will never stop piracy. Most crackers do it for the sheer fun and competition of cracking a game. And saying that piracy is your main reason to move to console only games is a bold faced lie. It's all about the money. I'm not sure if the devs have spent any time on a torrent site but 360 games are just as easy to come by and in many cases a lot easier to use than pc games(for the average user). But theft is rampant in ANY business that has a product. Any business from grocery stores to i-whatever knows that x amount of their product will be lost due to theft. Granted downloading media is a lot easier and feels more "anonymous" than running down to wal-mart and picking it up off the shelf. But it's something that happens in EVERY business.

Guest said:

I'll stop downloading pc games the day I can rent them. Something to chew on console developers.

Most pc users want to download the game and see if they even like it. Spending 5 bucks on a console game to "try" it is worth it. But shelling out 50 bucks or more to "try" a pc game is a slap in the face. And don't tell me well you can just download the demo, because we all know most demos are nothing like the real games in terms of polish.

Guest said:

Epic and the industry have it wrong as usual, most of my console owning friends play pirated / cracked games which they happily exchange at school not on torrents. There's is too much reliance on comparison of out dated torrent seeds who torrents anyway? too risky! a simple search on clients like Emule will easily give you as many cracked console games as PC ones and the kids know all the hacks and i repeat games are exchanged at schools colleges etc the games industry have no way of measuring that sort of thing. On PC games after losing to drives to DRM after faithfully buying every game i' ve played I now believe in no CD cracks now and as compensation for my drives who knows what I may feel driven too. A little more respect for people who do buy the games is in order. piraters don't count as revenue if they knew the true extent of backyard console piracy epic would quickly move back to the PC where they can at least insist on internet authentication. These guys need to get their figures straight and stop pushing us where neither of us want to go, oh! what about emulators are they really so certain they can really beat the PC that easily!

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