2D Boy – the team behind World of Goo – has reported that 82% to 90% of the people playing the game are playing pirated copies. (They actually get into the particulars of the numbers here, where they came from and how they arrived at these figures.) We’ve heard figures in this range before and some have cast doubt that it could possibly be that high, but I don’t doubt it now. In this case, it’s coming from two guys who deliberately put out an open game with no DRM. These guys have no reason to inflate the piracy rate. I count them among the good guys, and take them at their word.
That doesn’t make this news any less depressing, though. World of Goo is a fun, innovative game for all ages with no DRM and a low price tag. The people downloading this game aren’t “evaluating” it for purchase. (There is a robust demo available.) They aren’t protesting DRM. (There isn’t any.) They aren’t sticking it to some large publisher. (This was self-published by two guys.) They aren’t protesting “price-gouging”. (The game is $20.) The people pirating World of Goo are simply amoral assholes.
The guys from 2D Boy come to the same conclusion I’ve been fruitlessly evangelizing here for years: Pirates are multitude, but going after them with DRM is a waste of time and money. I think their reasoning is inescapable, and I long for a day when big publishers will grasp these simple concepts and we can go back to conducting commerce and playing games without this DRM business in the way.
I’ve bought the game twice, (once for PC and once for WiiWare) and don’t regret it for a moment. This is a deeply satisfying experience for gamers of all ages and backgrounds. Your mom will enjoy this game. Your kids will enjoy this game. Your Mountain Dew-amped, Halo-playing, tea-bagging, trash-talking college buddies will enjoy this game. (Even if they don’t pay for it.)
Check it out for yourself, if you’re curious.