SI discusses Football Manager piracy

"I'd love to have no DRM on our games."

Football Manager 2011 was the most pirated PC game in the series, Sports Interactive has told Eurogamer.

For every one person that bought Football Manager 2009 there were four who pirated it, studio director Miles Jacobson told us. That was the last time stats were "properly accurate".

Jacobson knows, however, that "the numbers of people downloading torrents from public sites rose massively for both FM10 and FM11".

Because of piracy, Football Manager 2012 requires Steam to play. Jacobson explained that Steam was "effective" at cutting day-zero and pre-launch piracy. Whether Steam will cut piracy post-launch, "time will tell".

"I would love to have no DRM on our games," Jacobson added. "I'd also love to not have to have locks on my home, or a burglar alarm, or locks on my car. How good would a life without keys be?

"I'd also love to have no insurance, either at home, or at the studio. Or a security guard at the office.

"The unfortunate reality is that as long as there are dishonest people in the world, you will need locks, and you'll need insurance. As long as there are people out there who want to pirate, there will be a need for DRM."

"I would love to have no DRM on our games. I'd also love to not have to have locks on my home..."

Miles Jacobson, studio director, Sports Interactive

The full Q&A with Miles Jacobson is posted, in full, below. Eurogamer posted a fuller investigation into PC piracy earlier this month.

Eurogamer: What's your understanding of how bad PC piracy is today? Is it worse now than ever before?

Miles Jacobson: As with any kind of online piracy, faster broadband speeds and penetration has led to an increase in online piracy. Boxed piracy is falling though, albeit not at the same speed that the online piracy is increasing.

Eurogamer: Which of the Football Manager titles suffered most from piracy? And do you know why that was?

Miles Jacobson: The only reasons for differences is speed of cracks becoming available. Therefore FM11, which has little protection on it, is deemed to have been the most pirated from the stats available to us.

The last time we had properly accurate stats was with FM2009, when the game wasn't cracked properly until late March. After that point, whilst we still had stats for those who downloaded the not properly cracked version, the piracy would have increased exponentially to levels we cannot calculate.

Eurogamer: Roughly how many sales are lost to PC piracy with each FM release?

Miles Jacobson: That's a question that is impossible to answer without speaking to every single person who has pirated the game! We know that for every one person who bought FM09 there were at least four pirated copies, not including the fact mentioned above regarding how we couldn't track all of them from April that year and beyond.

We also know that the numbers of people downloading torrents from public sites rose massively for both FM10 and FM11, despite shutting down torrents as quickly as they went up for the first few months of release.

We also know that being cracked ahead of release leads to people to cancel, or not pick up, pre-orders, and lower first weekend sales.

But one pirated copy does not equal a lost sale. Not everyone who pirates games would buy them if they couldn't pirate them - they'd just do without it. But there are a small percentage who would go out and buy it if they couldn't get it for free.

Eurogamer: Sega said that if a quarter of all people that pirated Football Manager bought the game, sales would double. Does that work out that for every four people pirating FM, there is an FM sale? That's alarming.

Miles Jacobson: It is. That figure is just from what we've been able to track, and the reality is that it's higher than that.

Eurogamer: How effective is Steam at cutting out piracy? How many sales are saved?

Miles Jacobson: Again, you can't talk about saved sales. It's an impossible stat to track. Steam is effective at cutting at day-zero, and pre-launch piracy. Time will tell whether in FM12's case, it can stay protected beyond that.

Eurogamer: What do you think about having no DRM?

Miles Jacobson: I would love to have no DRM on our games. I'd also love to not have to have locks on my home, or a burglar alarm, or locks on my car. How good would a life without keys be? I'd also love to have no insurance, either at home, or at the studio. Or a security guard at the office. The unfortunate reality is that as long as there are dishonest people in the world, you will need locks, and you'll need insurance. As long as there are people out there who want to pirate, there will be a need for DRM.

Eurogamer: Is there a future when piracy and DRM becomes obsolete?

Miles Jacobson: If there is, I unfortunately don't think it'll happen in my lifetime. Even with freemium games, people cheat and try and find ways to steal others coins, as per recent court cases. It's very sad, but it's the world we live in.

Football Manager 2012.

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