Ars reports on what seems to be a genuine case of piracy choking off a popular gaming title:
Sports Interactive had made Eastside Hockey Manager 2007 available only via digital distribution in an attempt to give the game a wider reach in Europe and North America. Unfortunately for Sports Interactive, the end result was a hacked version of the game that was quickly distributed via BitTorrent.
“The orders came in a drizzle, rather than a flood,” wrote Jacobson. “We scratched our heads trying to work out what had gone wrong. And then someone pointed out that the game was being pirated, and was available as a torrent from lots of different pirating sites. Then sat there and watched as the claimed amount of downloads on those sites went up and up, as sales stayed static.”
The end result was a popular game that had “more licenses than any other hockey game in history,” according to Jacobson, but was apparently so widely distributed over peer-to-peer networks that the company was not able to make back the development or licensing costs. Although Jacobson left open the possibility that SI may resurrect Eastside Hockey Manager in the future, he said that all development on the game has been halted and the programmers and others that worked on the title have been reassigned to other projects within the company.
In some industries, such as music, I’m sympathetic to the argument that we’d get along just fine without copyright. But as I’ve said before, I think there are other categories of content that would be significantly impoverished without copyright protections. Video games, which are subject to soaring costs appears to be in the latter category.