I'm going to start out by linking my source for this article. Yves Guillemot is the CEO of Ubisoft and in a recent interview talking about Ubisoft's increased amount of free-to-play games, he throws out that statistic: 93-95% of all PC games are pirated. Without a source or anything, just states it as a fact. If they're pirated, it wouldn't be as if that number is being reported by their servers or by those pirating the software to begin with. I'd love to know how he came up with the number. I think that he probably looked at an expected sales for one of Ubisoft's games on the PC, like say, Assassin's Creed Revelations, and say that they only made 5-7% of what they expected. "Huh, where did those sales go? They must be pirating!" he says to himself. "I guess we better make our DRM even tougher to crack.
Now, of course, I don't know if he said anything like this. I don't have his office bugged or anything, but this kind of attitude is why PC games are pirated. Let's take the next big Ubisoft game to come out: Assassin's Creed 3. I am really looking forward to playing it, but I won't be buying it on PC and I highly doubt anybody with access to a console will also buy it for the PC. Why? Because it's going to come out a month late and have Ubisoft's draconian DRM. While understand that PC games usually have to have some level of DRM to prevent people from pirating the game, to take a single-player game (albeit with a multiplayer game mode) and force you to connect to a server to play it, is a bit much. Especially when those servers are actually down. The $60 you just paid is now useless because the company won't allow you to play because their servers are down.
Don't think that this is all about Ubisoft, no, I just saw that quote and it lit me up. Take a look at one of the most beloved PC game companies, Blizzard, and their last game Diablo 3. Diablo 2 was an awesome adventure hack-and-slash RPG, it actually spawned the genre of "Diablo-clones" like Titan Quest. It was especially awesome if you could play with your buddies online, up to 8 of you could be tearing things up. Then the sequel came out: Diablo 3. New classes, new adventure, oh, and 4 less players and an always-online singleplayer mode. While there are some perks to this mode, allowing your friends to freely jump in on your game, there was no LAN mode, and there was no offline mode. Can't get online? Internet down? On a 4 hour plane trip? No Diablo 3.
I know that PC games get pirated, just like movies, TV shows, and other PC software. But I doubt that it's 93-95% and I really doubt it would be as high as it is if PC gamers weren't treated like second-rate citizens. Late releases, restrictive DRM, and lazy porting (seriously, having to use the arrow keys to navigate a menu?) just show that some of the game industry don't have any respect for PC gamers. You know what game I expect to have great sales on the PC? Borderlands 2. Why? Because they saw and heard about the clunkiness of the PC version, menus being navigated by arrow keys, lack of customization that it is inherent for the PC. Seriously, they wrote a love letter to PC gamers. One thing not mentioned in the love letter is that it will become to Steamworks, meaning it installs onto Steam, which means I can play it on any of my computers that I log into and I can even play it offline!
Thank you, Gearbox, for respecting PC gamers. As for Ubisoft, I'll be picking up Assassin's Creed 3 for my PS3.