PCGA’s Randy Stude: Piracy Helped PC Game Biz Grow

Since it is Valentine’s Day, I will admit that here at GamePolitics we heart Randy Stude (uh, that’s in a manly, want-him-on-our-side-in-team-deathmatch sort of way).

The president of the PC Gaming Alliance invariably talks sense and pulls no punches as an unabashed advocate for the computer gaming crowd. Plus, he’s a great interview, as we found out in December (see: PlayStation 4 Might Live Inside Your PC and Other Wisdom from PCGA’s Randy Stude).

Big Download is the latest beneficiary of Randy’s insights. The site has posted a fascinating interview in which the PCGA head talks about the issue of piracy and PC games.

Most notably, Randy points out that, back in the day, piracy actually helped grow the PC industry: 

I don’t think that [those who protested Spore’s DRM scheme] is anti-DRM as much as they are anti-Spore’s approach to DRM. Their protest has been echoed many times on many gaming forums and the PCGA is listening…


If you ask [Valve and Stardock] about the rate of piracy for their games you may find that one has rampant piracy and the other has almost none. The PC Gaming Industry’s history is littered with examples of startups (including Stardock and Valve) that actually benefitted from wide spread piracy to grow a market for their future titles.


Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating piracy… However, how would Quake, Doom, Starcraft, Counter-Strike, or Half-Life have been able to grow widespread brand recognition without a widespread network of gamers openly sharing these games. These titles (and many more) defined the industry. Personally, my first experience with a first person shooter was with Doom (back in the day) and I did not pay for it. Id Software turned the corner and has a very successful business built on the back of the early free/open source exchange of their games…


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  1. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Thats the trouble now adays worse games, more cost involed more sales but the cost eats the profit leaveing them to either go under or turn out more sht to stay ahead.



    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.


  2. 0
    Kajex says:

    Which, in the end, still results in manufacturers of poor games claiming that the only reason they’re not making money is because of piracy. We had several excellent titles release last year, and all of them were pirated to hell- yet still made a substantial amount of money as it stood.

    Then you had Spore, which, despite the amount of anticipation and high review scores, wasn’t nearly as well-received by gamers in general, which also came with substantial DRM- and yet the game was STILL pirated, and even cracked into.

  3. 0
    Wolvenmoon says:


    Before I had a paycheck >90% of my games I played were pirated.

    After I got one that % flip flopped, and the ONLY games I play that are pirated have securom or safedisc. Fortunately most games that employ these copy protection schemes suck anyway. Most of them avoid launching demos too. It seems that instead of using copy protection to protect a good product, they’re using it to protect a bad product from ‘test driving’ in an attempt to make off with the money before anyone realizes they’ve been had.

    While I disagree STRONGLY with piracy, I also will NOT stand for ANY product installing ANYTHING that I can not turn off when I’m not explicitly using the product.

    I don’t care if there is in-executable DRM, but if it installs a device driver or effects any other programs-including my (funnily enough, purchased so that I could avoid mass CD swapping, at one time I had 4 CD rom drives in my computer so I didn’t have to swap disks, had a RAID controller card too) copy of alcohol 120%, it gets none of my money until the "DRM" is removed.

    Hilariously enough I’ve bought a few of stardocks games recently simply because they don’t use DRM. I haven’t even opened the boxes, I’m not interested in the games, I just want to encourage that kind of behavior.

    I’ve honored in the past the "One copy, one computer" licensing, and have had up to 3 copies of my favorite games so that my brother and a visiting friend could play them. Though for console ports and DRM’s bullcrap, no more.

  4. 0
    PushDustIn says:

    I think piracy does help(Just like demos). It’s free promotion in a sick sort of way. Just by having consumers exposed to a company’s IP they can see if they like it or not. I did have a pirated copy of HL1, but because of that I bought HL2 on the first day (and its sequels). It made me into a total Valve fanboy. If I’m unsure of buying a game I want to atleast try it (Or rent it) first. While companies should fight piracy, they should be humbled if their game is pirated a lot, it means a lot of people are playing it.


  5. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Consumers have 3 choices sheep(maintain the status quo), stigmatized(used) or pirate(by pass the industry’s as a whole).


    The only rights we have is not to buy or ignore it as we bend over.

    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.


  6. 0
    Shahab says:

    Having bought shitty games before that I couldn’t return I have turned to ALWAYS pirating games first. Then, if I like the game, I go out and buy it. If I don’t like it I delete it from my computer. Without a right of return I think it would be stupid to buy a game before playing the full retail release. I know how pissed I get when I drop $50 on a game just to play it once and delete it.

  7. 0
    MrKlorox says:

    " Yeah it kind of sounds like he was just spouting out without really thinking it through. "

    Which seems to be the reason this guy is a "great interview". Dude is a complete jackass.

  8. 0
    Shadow D. Darkman says:

    I remember playing Doom in the previous house we lived in (we moved into this one in October 1997, and I was six), I remember those cheat codes I’d put in, God-Mode, No-Clip(sp?), Invincibility, and pwning ass with the BFG 9000. I also remember playing Wolfenstein 3-D before then.

    *snicker* Hah! And Jack says Mike Carneal trained on Doom to shoot up Paducah High, When two years before, I, a six-year-old, sat with my dad as I pwned the forces of Hell itself with a gun powerful enough to rip an elephant apart? *snort* He definitely makes me laugh.


    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  9. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Hes talking about of free distrobutionary methods influence on gaming that forged cult niche markets that grew into the mainstream FPS market.

    Big content can not spend what they do and try and control every nuance of distribution without imploding under the weight of it all, they need to focus on for profit ventures not unprofitable shearing or fair use stuff..


    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.


  10. 0
    Papa Midnight says:

    I noticed he mentioned DRM. I wonder why he mentioned the fact that most gamers are uninformed of what they’re getting because so far I have seen only a total of 2 games which inform consumers on the back of the box that it is packaged with DRM: Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas, and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas 2. Oh well, atleast I know what I was getting from Ubisoft.

    I liked Blizzard’s methodology. It was simple and effective. Valid CD-Key or no playing online, with a simple disk check using the old SecuROM method for games such as Diablo II. It wasn’t intrusive, and it didn’t say "You must uninstall daemon tools in order for me to work".

    Papa Midnight

  11. 0
    Overcast says:

    Acutally, my first copy of Doom was in fact bought. I did play a pirated copy of Warcraft 1 later, but hated the inability to patch and wanted the music. So I bought it.

    Really haven’t played a game for very long without buying it. I’ve gotten a few illicit copies of games, but if I didn’t buy it, it sucked and I likely wouldn’t have anyway.

    Of course, I’ve bought some games that suck too – buying a game that sucks will keep me from future purchases – pirated games won’t.

  12. 0
    HarmlessBunny says:

    He is right. I don’t like admitting it, but my FIRST copy (I ended up buying two later on.) of Starcraft and Half-Life were burnt CDs from a friend. Yet later on not only would I buy every Blizzard and Valve game…I probably will from here on out :)


  13. 0
    Seiena_Cyrus says:

    I agree there, when I was little all my music and games tended to come from my friends who burned them to disc, copied them to cassette what have you. Would I buy those games now? Absolutely and that’s the thing not all kids back then actually bought a game after playing it at a friend’s house instead they’d go "can I get a copy?" and their buddy 9 times outta 10 would burn it for them…when I was younger that’s just how it worked, you or your friend bought a game, made copies and passed it around to the other friends XD

  14. 0
    locopuyo says:

    Yeah it kind of sounds like he was just spouting out without really thinking it through.  

    Doom was shareware, and I never actually bought the full game, even though I played the shareware. 

    My friend had StarCraft and after playing it at his house a few times I bought it myself. I didn’t pirate it. I bought half-life because it looked like it would be a good game.  Then my friends bought it because they played it at my house.  Counter-Strike was a free mod.

    The only time I’ve ever seen piracy lead to sales is at LAN parties.  Some people will be playing a game at a LAN and distributed copies so other people can play.  Then sometimes the people will buy the game so they can play online.


  15. 0
    Anniko says:

    Quake and Doom were distributed as shareware. CS was a free mod. For the president of the PCGA, he sure doesn’t know a whole lot about PC gaming’s history.


    (For clarification, it sounds like he’s saying Quake, Doom and CS were only made popular because of piracy)

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