Arma 2 developer Bohemia has shared an eye-opening statistic about piracy levels on PC.
"Our statistics from multiplayer show that for every three legitimate buyers playing their game in multiplayer, there are 100 (failed) attempts to play with a pirated version," Bohemia's CEO Marek Španěl told PC Gamer.
"This indicates that piracy is an extremely widespread problem on PC, and it's also really worrying for us as a mid-sized, independent, PC-oriented developer.
"We do not have any such data for single-player, but I'm afraid there the ratio of pirates to legitimate gamers is undoubtedly much worse."
Bohemia can't do much to protect the offline, single-player experience from pirates. Online, however, Bohemia can use Degrade.
"The philosophy is not to try to prevent counterfeit and pirated games from running, but instead (or in addition) to degrade the end user experience of such copies," explained the developer.
"In the Arma series, players with pirated copies have lower accuracy with automatic weapons in both single player and multiplayer, and occasionally turn into a bird ...."
Marek Španěl, CEO, Bohemia Interactive
"The motto is: Pirated games are not worth playing, original games do not degrade.
"Some of the symptoms are funny, usually annoying. In the Arma series, players with pirated copies have lower accuracy with automatic weapons in both single-player and multiplayer, and occasionally turn into a bird with the words, 'Good birds do not fly away from this game, you have only yourself to blame.'
"While we know we will never stop piracy, we use this as a way to make our stand that piracy is not right, that it has a serious negative impact on PC games developers."
Degrade is a supplement to the more traditional, although perhaps as controversial, DRM anti-piracy approach.
"It's very difficult. Companies and teams invest a lot into game development, and with such widespread piracy, it's extremely tough to get the investment back," Bohemia said, highlighting how it tries to remove DRM "not too long" after a game's launch. This, it hopes, will stop the "vicious cycle" of "annoying" DRM that "hurts" legitimate game owners.
Arma 2 was deployed in 2009, and Bohemia's now at work on a third (PC exclusive) game, due summer 2012.