Interesting mention of Diablo III in this short article about Steam founder Gabe Newell’s remarks to the The Cambridge Student Online. Quoting the write up on GamePro:

    “We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy,” Newell said. “Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24/7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the U.S. release and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable. Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customer’s use or by creating uncertainty.”

    This is particularly apparent with a number of Ubisoft’s titles, where a strict requirement to remain online while playing titles like Assassin’s Creed II has frustrated many gamers with patchy Internet connections. Worse, the strategy seems to be spreading, with Blizzard announcing that Diablo III would be taking a similar approach upon its release — and many other companies following suit. Even customers happy to pay for a game consider making use of cracks to remove DRM when it’s this obtrusive.

    “Our goal is to create greater service value than pirates,” continued Newell, “and this has been successful enough for us that piracy is basically a non-issue for our company. For example, prior to entering the Russian market, we were told that Russia was a waste of time because everyone would pirate our products. Russia is now about to become our largest market in Europe.”

    Blizzard is working to keep their DRM obstacles in Diablo 3 from encouraging piracy by making the game entirely unplayable without an authorized Battle.net connection. Which might well work, and clearly they think that losing sales to to people with bad internet connections will be more than offset by cutting piracy and forcing/encouraging more RMAH use.

    The online-only thing has been quite controversial, but (to my surprise) in our vote on the issue showed that most of you guys were supportive, or at least didn’t dislike/hate the system. Lots of cable modem and ISDN users out there, I guess.

    At any rate, the reasons Newell cites for Steam’s success vs. piracy don’t really apply to D3 (aside from the online-only issue). D3 will get a near-simultaneous world wide release, it’ll work on PC or Mac, it can be bought online from the Blizzard store 24/7, etc. By that description then, it shouldn’t be pirated at all. Good news! Stick back in the single player mode, boys!

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