Prior to the retail release of The Sims 3, the game leaked onto popular torrent sites. Hundreds of thousands of people then illegally downloaded the game. Which you'd think would make publishers EA really cranky.
But it doesn't. Not really cranky, anyway. EA boss John Riccitiello can see the positives in the piracy, and provide a refreshingly realistic outlook on the effects of piracy on a major game release.
"You identified our secret marketing campaign!" Riccitiello says, jokingly, to IndustryGamers. "That was a very large scale – concentrated on Poland and China – demo program."
"In the game that was pirated there's [only]one city [out of two] ... and Sims 3 has a massive amount of content, and a lot of it is downloaded once you register with EA... and join the online community" he elaborates. "So you get that content in addition to the second city [which is downloadable for people who register] , and that's a major component... A huge amount of the gameplay is an overlay for the community, where you are sampling assets created by other people".
"So for the pirate consumer, they don't get the second town, they don't get all the extra content, and they don't get the community. It was only concentrated on Poland and China, but I think of it as not being that different than a demo."
Man has an excellent point. It's like the old shareware model that companies like id used to specialise in. Give 'em half the game, get 'em hooked, and they're more likely to buy the rest.
Works for publishers in terms of sales, works for publishers in terms of combating piracy.
EA Views Sims 3 Leak as 'Demo Program' [IndustryGamers]