An anti-piracy company went and found themselves a pirated beta demo of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, added a crack and a few tweaks, and then released it into the wild of torrent sites. But it turns out that they weren't doing anything illegal, honest, it was all just a big "experiment."
When illegal downloaders illegally downloaded an illegal copy of the illegal Deus Ex: Human Revolution beta, they illegally enjoyed themselves for the first few illegal levels before the game was all like, "lol j/k" and kicked them out to a Web-based form that started asking them all kinds of probing questions about their illegal activities, courtesy of a startup anti-piracy firm called Anti-Piracy Strategies.
The strangest part, though, was that 90% of the victims actually went and filled out the questionnaire rather than ripping their ethernet cords out of the wall, encasing their hard drives in blocks of concrete, and dumping them into the nearest major body of water like I would have done. Questions spanned everything from illegal downloading to digital rights management, and for the first time, the entire sample group consisted of actual, real-life software pirates.
Some highlights from the results:
- 24% of people who download the beta had already pre-ordered the full game, and an additional 25% said they were planning on buying it later.
- Almost 50% of illegal downloaders said that they just wanted to try the game out to see if it was worth the cost.
- When asked how much they would willingly pay for the game, the average answer was between $30 and $40, which is approximately half of the $60 the game asked for at launch.
- DRM does not effectively force people who would otherwise pirate games to buy games.
Anti-Piracy Strategies says that these data show that they're a market opportunity here, and that people who pirate software are actually happy to pay money for that software, as long as it's good stuff and isn't outrageously expensive. So, I guess all that has to happen is for game companies to release free demos (which they already do) and then cut the price of their games by 50% (which they'll never do), and we'll never have to worry about piracy or DRM ever again.