Modern Warfare 3 Leaked

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One of the most anticipated games this year, Activision’s Modern Warfare 3 joins its predecessors — Black Ops and Modern Warfare 2 — in the pre-release piracy box. Modern Warfare 3 is due out in stores on November 8.

Dean Takahashi reports on Venture Beat that a thief had physically stolen one of the discs from the two-disc set from a distribution warehouse where copies are being stored. According to the story, it’s disc 2 of the set for the PC and apparently it’s started to circulate.

The story also reports that Activision is actively seeking the pirates with one posting on Craigslist on being forced to delete or destroy his copy of the game or face immediate fines. Apparently, Activision has stepped up its game on being able to track who has what if the posting is to be believed.

Gamespot had also commented on the report by pointing out that simply having the second disc isn’t enough to play the game somewhat mitigating fears over a rash of spoiler filled vids raining down from Youtube such as what followed Crysis 2.

Estimates can vary on how much of an impact this might have on sales, yet few doubt that MW3 will be a titanic windfall for Activision’s coffers when it hits. Piracy is still piracy, though it arguably did little to dent the record breaking numbers of copies sold for either Modern Warfare 2 or Black Ops when they were released. However, an estimate on revenue lost due to the piracy of Black Ops reportedly tops $200 million that could have gone to Activision. Certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities who has often been quoted in the gaming press for his forecasts on associated trends, has estimated that MW3 will sell “16 million units by the end of the fourth quarter” and “another 8 million next year”.

Pirates quizzed with Deus Ex

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Here’s an interesting note on piracy. Eurogamer reports that James Grimshaw, founder of Vigilant Defender, leaked a modified version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s preview to torrent sites.

The preview had already been leaked all the way back in May, but James made his version kick players out after a certain point in the game to an online questionnaire asking why they did what they did. In essence, he’s turned the preview into a unofficial demo.

Vigilant Defender, based out of Ireland, purportedly works to offer anti-piracy strategies to publishers and this experiment is but one way that they are trying to prove that pirates can be customers.

It’s an interesting use of torrents which, by themselves, aren’t illegal though the same cannot be said as to what is actually being torrented. Disguising the preview as the work of other piracy groups is also something that skirts several issues, not the least of which is that distributing the preview likely isn’t condoned by Square Enix despite having been leaked awhile back.

That said, it’s an interesting if not very grey method in being able to tap pirates on the shoulder and ask for their opinion. For instance, the article mentions that of the 26,000 that declared their interest to pay for the game in the questionnaire, Grimshaw discovered that the average price that seemed fair to them was around 14.49 euros.

It’s an incredibly low price for what is considered a AAA title, yet it also begs the question of whether low prices would actually move more product to recoup costs versus the present $60 USD model typically used for big console releases. It’s no secret that when Steam launches one of their special seasonal specials, downloaded product flies through the door, so to speak, thanks largely to the temporary fire sale.

Software piracy has been around since the first games had been copied to floppies and despite many efforts to curb it, it’s still an unfortunate reality to publishers and developers. There are many reasons as to why pirates do what they do, but Grimshaw and his company seem determined to shed some light on why – and in the long run, how to better deal with it.

Sims 3 leaked, EA likely very upset

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If you haven’t already heard, EA’s next update to their Sims series, Sims 3, has reportedly appeared on torrent sites two weeks before its official release date. Just as Ars Technica won’t verify whether or not the torrent is actually the real deal for obvious reasons, neither can I, only to say that cruising through the other news sites and forums that are out there, there are quite a few comments that it is actually the real thing. This isn’t the first time that this has happened to a huge release like this as Spore had also been leaked before its official release date, although not as far in advance as this one was.

This is undoubtedly not making EA happy, especially after they had conceded that their DRM methodology has only served to aggravate users moreso than in making them feel like valued customers and had extended an olive branch of sorts to make up for it. Sims 3 was going back to the old, reliable CD code check instead as a result.

EA hasn’t officially replied to these reports as of yet, but it will be interesting to see just how they will approach this. Ars had recently pointed out how the indie developer of Zeno Clash had approached the pirates by commenting on their own torrent stream in explaining their position as indie developers, urging would-be pirates to buy it and asking them to be patient as a demo is on its way, and nothing more without preaching the ills of why they shouldn’t be doing this. It seems to have worked in their case, even if only a few had decided to put in the dollars for the game.