Please release me
by Saint_Proverbius, posted July 8th, 2001
Fairlight and other things
It had to happen eventually, but as most of us know, an Arcanum ISO has been released already by Fairlight. Of course, this version they released is a couple of revisions shy of the final product, but it's still pretty close to the full version which is slated for release in late August.
Now, I think we're all clear on the fact that warez is not a victimless crime, and I'm sure most of the people who do it have all sorts of bullshit excuses. The number one reason publishers, like Sierra Studios, keep contracting the same developers is that their products sell well. The more of a dent in those sales warez bunnies put in the final gross, the less likely it is those developers will be re-contracted for an additional title.
In layman's terms, for those people who think up clever excuses like, "I live in a poor country" but still manage to have a computer, that means you're enjoying a game for free as well as putting the nice people who made it out of business. Well, whatever helps you sleep at night, I guess.
I won't even get in to the basics of economics about how actually buying and selling legitimate products is what keeps a country's economy strong. That's what high school is for and not the point of this editorial.
Two, long months
Well, like I said, Arcanum is two months away, and people have already gone to town on downloading that ISO. I know they have, because you can't pass an hour's time on the IRC channels for the game and not have one of these little, grubby bastards pop in and beg for help. Of course, they have their little excuses for doing it.
Well, the thing about this is, the game's done. It's been done for a while now. The main thing holding it back is that the publisher, Sierra Studios, was hoping to do a World Wide Release. The main reason for this is to limit the non-English speaking countries from pirating the English version rather than waiting. This supposedly boosts sales, which is why the marketing chimps opted for doing this. However, translating millions of lines of dialogue in to multiple languages takes a good deal of time.
Hey, I can't blame them for wanting more sales. More sales is a good thing, as stated up above. However, since a warez version is already out, that plan has backfired in a rather nasty way. Rather than the English warez version being available to the people in Europe and Asia, and no version available for them, you have the entire world grabbing at this unavailable game. It's not available anywhere, except through those seedy little warezers.
In other words, Arcanum has shifted from a World Wide Release to World Wide Warez. A lot of people simply won't wait those two months, and they'll just grab it now. This even includes those people who have pre-ordered the game or actually intend to buy it when it comes out.
Finite Attention Span Syndrome
I'm sure Sierra Studios is counting on these people to actually be honest and levy up to the table and buy the game. After all, it's going to be hard to play multiplayer without that nice WON.net CD Key. Then again, we're talking about something that's two months away.
I'm sure a lot of these people who went in to this figured they'd take the moral high ground when the game hits shelves. However, two months is a long time, and other games will be out then that offer multiplayer as well as a single player experience these people haven't had yet. I can't picture most of these people buying Arcanum after playing it for two months when they can pick up the all new Pool of Radiance 2. It is also due out at the same time. In other words, they'll probably have moved on and want to try something new.
Not too many people play through games more than once anyway. I'm betting the road to that moral high ground is fraut with temptation of new and shiny things that haven't been seen before.
This doesn't mean I'm saying people should warez Arcanum and then buy Pool of Radiance 2 when it comes out. I'm just saying that most of the people who already have warezed it won't be around the shelves that Arcanum is on when it comes out when they've already had it for two, long months.
Basically, it's like this. Sierra is sitting on a finished game to prevent warez originally, but that backfired. It backfired in a major way. Instead of boosting sales, like a World Wide Release is supposed to do, it's costing them sales. The longer they wait, the more people download the game. The longer it takes the game to come out, the more of those people will lose interest in the game, if they even intended to buy it in the first place.
At this point, a waiting for the World Wide Release is doing them more harm than good. The damage is basically done. The best thing they can do at this point is go full master production and let that puppy out. There's no reason they shouldn't, other than the fact they can't come to grips with the reality that they made a good decision that went horribly astray.
By releasing the full version now, with the CD Key, they can turn a bad situation in to a positive one. After all, there is a huge peak of interest in the game, judging by how many people have downloaded it. The fact you need that CD Key to play multiplayer will force a lot of the people who downloaded it to buy the full version before they lose interest or find something else that suits their fancy.
In other words, waiting on the release is a bad thing for everyone involved, Sierra. This includes you, Sierra, since you're the people who get first crack at the profits from the game. The clock is ticking, and the longer you wait on releasing it, the more customers you're losing.
Sure, it's not fair. Sure, it's a bad situation for you, Sierra, but it's one you're stuck with. You can either follow the bad path, which is the one you're going down now, or you can take the good path, and salvage more money off the situation.
The choice seems fairly cut and dry to me. tick.. tick.. tick..