Heavily Pirated Sims 3 Generating Record-Breaking Legit Sales

Does game downloading on P2P networks have a negative impact on sales?

If so, you’d never prove it by looking at the case of The Sims 3. A late May report by Bloomberg indicated that The Sims 3 had been leaked and downloaded 180,000 times between May 18 to May 21. At that rate the not-yet-released PC game was on pace to eclipse Spore’s record as most downloaded.

Despite the piracy, the DRM-less Sims 3 is experiencing the best-selling PC launch in EA’s long history of publishing games. Says who? EA. The publisher issued a press release yesterday trumpeting 1.4 million legit units sold during the game’s first week of availability.

At $50 a pop, that’s $70 million in sales. In a week. And yet industry types like EA’s own Peter Moore still maintain that piracy is killing the PC games market and use that mantra to justify saddling consumers with unwanted DRM or worse, not releasing PC versions of popular games.

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  1. Dexee says:

    At the same time, the game has proven to be more or less a sham, since most of the content you can even have in the first place you have to buy to even get anywhere near where Sims 2 was. Sims 2 was a much better game, especially since it was openly modified IMO.

    Also, has anyone PROVEN solid (that isn’t EA) that the model of SecuROM they are using is JUST A DISC CHECK?

    (edited for clarity)

  2. Jfed says:

    As I see it, those who downloaded prior to release were unpaid beta testers.  They were the ones who discovered a major flaw – story progression on/off toggle doesn’t work – and let the sims community know the realities of gameplay (good and bad) that they did not get from EA.  They exposed the bugs (aging and inventory systems seem to be borked, the game spawns babies all over the place for no discernable reason, sims disappear from the game whether the player cares or not, etc.), revealed that modding the game would be much more difficult than TS2 (and that’s a big one – user made mods/content are a vital aspect of this series), and within a week of the official release the modding community was able to provide fixes and tools that EA can’t seem to be bothered to make available in any kind of prompt fashion, if at all where tools are concerned.

    Downloaders did that work since EA chose not to release any kind of demo nor make use of an official open beta system.  EA relied on hype, a closed feedback circle, and the undeniable fact that a large part of this game’s market will buy anything Sims to put out this flawed release – that they expect people to further fund with the overpriced offerings from the TS3 store.

    I take issue w/the piracy numbers, since I’ve been quite surprised to see how many of those early downloaders then went on to purchase the game (if they’re registered on the official site, they must have legit copies).  I was more surprised to see some buying the Collector’s Edition just for the plumbob USB, ha!

    The morality of leaked downloads doesn’t really come into play when those who obtain them perform a service not provided by the publisher to the potential market, and that is definitely what happened with this game as I saw it unfold.

    Oh, and now that the game is officially out, please know it will NOT run on Grandma’s computer, as Rod Humble said many moons ago.  That was a lie unless Grandma has one sweet gaming rig.  And even that’s not a guarantee.

    The game was certain to sell and sell big.  Early downloaders played a part in that with the *good* things they had to say about the game, whether anyone likes it or not.

  3. Shahab says:

    Exactly. I hope that everyone knows that all this limited install stuff is not so much about piracy as it is about preventing secondary sells.

  4. GrimCW says:

    if i didn’t just outright despise and get bored to hell and back by the sims games i’d buy it for the DRM free reason alone

    till then if i ever get the itch i’ll borrow my GF’s sisters copy and try it.

    but i’ve tried both the last two and felt the same about both being utter trash as games in all, and this one shows little change, even graphically its similar to Sims 2.

  5. AuntySocial says:

    EA toots its own horn all the damn time.   First, they get a man who just doesn’t get the sims to be the head producer.  Yes, Rod Humble.  He is the man who brought us Sim City Societies, that it seems that nobody got.  I posted a comment elsewhere that putting him in charge of making The Sims made as much sense as putting an Amish person in charge of making a GTA (just call it Grand Theft Horse and Buggy). Then they spend all this money on creator camps, when the money would have been better spent on testing the game.  When it is finally released, it is buggy.  I’ve read comments on other sites saying just wait for the patch.  Why is a patch necessary?  If the game had been seriously tested they would have known that the story progression toggle doesn’t work and could have fixed it.  People have complained that when they leave a house and play another, the first house ages weirdly (spouses who were the same age are not, older child becomes the younger, etc.)  Their sims move out of the neighborhood or asexually reproduce.  The sims themselves are uugly.  Big fat cheeks, big deer in headlight eyes with pupils permanently dilated, and chins that would make Jay Leno jealous.  One feature I loved about Sims 2 was the memories.  3 don’t have them.  It was interesting to stroll back through the memories of a long life.  Very little in way of furnishings.  Changing the pattern will not improve a structurally ugly piece of furnature.  The good looking furnature is in the EA Store, to be had for a price that I am not willing to pay.  With the store comes the downloader (and securom big time).  I’ve seen quite a few reviews on Amazon where the reviewer states that they are selling their game.  I haven’t bought it.  Too many things I need more than that. 




    PMBD http://paysites.mustbedestroyed.org/ The truth about T$R http://tsr.mustbedestroyed.org/ EA + T$R = We’re all screwed

  6. Shahab says:

    You’d be surprised just how many people know about bittorrent and are able to use it. I work at a computer repair shop and we get quite a few people in who use bittorrent, if they don’t and they are currently using something like limewire I’ll tell ’em that a better, more torrenty solution is out there.

  7. Vordus says:

     My PARENTS know how to use Bittorrent, and they don’t game, or have any major technical knowhow whatsoever. The reach of both The Sims and Bittorrent is probably a lot larger than you’d think.

  8. thefremen says:

     I cancelled WoW and bought Sims 3. I’ve played games since 1988. WHERE IS YOUR NEAT LITTLE COMPARTMENTALIZED WORLD OF STEREOTYPES NOW?

  9. insanejedi says:

    Because the people playing the sims i bet 90% don’t know what bittorrent or p2p means.

  10. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Prove it otherwise,  until everyone snubs the system(which would be good it would force a change in the power structure) you can not break it via shearing and downloading, thus you can never truly damage it by it because the majority will always consume stuff through revune streams its up to corporate to harness that interest not by laws and bribe government to maintain monopolistic empires.


    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..


  11. Loudspeaker says:

    Economics people…  If you value the product you pay for it.  Simple as that.  If World of Goo was massively pirated and the developer lost their shirt then the simple truth is those who snagged a copy weren’t impressed enough to purchase the product.  If piracy didn’t exist this product would still have failed.

    "Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

  12. GrimCW says:

    its not the piracy IMO but the DRM that proves a little point here.

    my sister even refused to buy Sims 2 after she learned a couple of expansions had the all to famous Securom on it.

    but with no DRM on Sims 3, its an easy steal right off the shelf for many merely as a protest against the DRM infested alternates.

  13. Wormdundee says:

    Guys guys, it doesn’t seem even the least bit disingenuous to you to use the fucking Sims 3 as an example that piracy doesn’t have an effect on sales?

    I can’t think of a situation where they wouldn’t sell millions of copies (barring EA physically touring the world, handing out copies). I’d say Sims sales figures are pretty much immune to piracy.

    If you want to see the harm that piracy causes, check out games like World of Goo and other niche and/or indy titles. The World of Goo guys got seriously boned by piracy.

    I’m not saying that piracy is killing PC gaming or something, but to say that it has no effect is naive. 

  14. Loudspeaker says:

    Wait…  Hold the phone…

    You want to exclude Stardock because it’s "niche"?  Niche like what?  Any of the Warcraft, Red Alert, and other RTS series?

    I refuse to call a company who understands the economics of DRM and pirating better than the rest…  Niche.

    Stardock realizes that a pirated game =/= a lost sale.  Hence, they don’t have people outside their doors with torches and pitchforks because they’re using DRM.

    Let me put it another way…  Spore.  Can you argue that Spore was more successful with the DRM that it has in it or would it have been more successful without?

    "Volume helps to get a point across but sharp teeth are better."

  15. insanejedi says:

    Can everyone PLEASE stop referencing Stardock in DRM arguements. Stardock’s method works because they rely on a small niche of people who care about playing hardcore super extreme, niche, TBS and RTS space stratagy games. The people playing those games will buy the game regardless of anything except to actually support and pay the people working on it. Not everyone has that privilage, look at World of Goo for instance.

  16. Hodgekin says:

    I work on DRM systems for software and I that doesn’t mean to prevent consumers from pirating. Its for making sure that a companies software/documents are in the right hands.

    But DRM is going the way of the Dodo. EA is behind the times, and eventually they will catch on. A prime example is Galactic Civilizations 2. It had no DRM whatsoever and you didn’t have to have the disc in your drive to play it. The way they avoided piracy was their key system. Inorder to get the updates and be able to play on online servers you needed the latest patches and updates which can only be obtained by having a valid key.

    If you bought the game and registered it, this key is always available to you. And if you have the key you can install it again and again and any number of computers and infact you can download the game from any location.

    Galactic Civ 2 was a best selling game and is still going strong.

    You can the hardest of hardcore DRM on a system and unless you have a hardware based key(USB dongle etc.) its going to be broken eventually. All DRM really does is prevent legitimate customers from enjoying their game.

    Steam is a wonderful tool for example. I bought TF2 on steam and even though I have changed computers 3 times since I bought it, I can install it any number of times and play from anywhere. obviously I can’t login from two computers at the same time, but thats because I bought 1 license. and thats the way software works. I think thats a great form of DRM and one that prevents abuse but also doesn’t interfere with legitimate customers. I however don’t want to have 5 different kinds of steam-like software from all the publishers and certainly not from EA considering that they don’t exactly have the greatest reputation. So they really need to standardise a system, maybe working in conjunction with Microsoft that will allow the various publishers to sell their games via digital distribution.

  17. notgood says:

    If I could write an honest letter to the ESA, Mike Gallagher, Peter Moore and all the other video game industry folks who go on and on about piracy it would go a little something like this:

    To Whom It May Concern,

    How about a little faith?  We are not your enemy.  We are the people who love your creations.  We are the people who pay you to make them.  We are the people who can’t wait to get our hands on them.  We are your friends and fans.  We want you to make games.  We want to play the games you make.  We will pay as much as we have available to buy those games and support our hobby and your industry.  We feel that so far, we’ve been doing a pretty good job of keeping you all in business.  We will continue to do a good job of keeping you all in business.  We are also the people who can’t afford everything.  Think of piracy as a little kickback to your loyal customers. 

    When you go on about the billions lost to piracy every year, no one really believes you.  We all know it’s not true.  No one in their right mind assumes every pirated game is a lost sale.  We like you guys but we don’t like some of the people you hang around with.  RIAA people and MPAA people who have you out at all hours raiding houses and shutting down websites and suing people’s grandmothers.  It hurts us to see you doing these things because we expect better of you.  We expect you to know how the internet works.  We expect you to find creative solutions to your problems instead of resorting to violence against your supporters.  Look at those nice companies like Valve and Stardock who’ve come up with less hurtful ways to handle the issue.  Why aren’t you hanging out with them instead?  Can’t you do better than a lawsuit?  Instead of trying to stamp out piracy, which clearly isn’t working and isn’t going to work, why not encourage people to go legit with content updates and the convenience of online downloads and other things that make us prefer to have the legit version.

    When you slapped a DRM on Spore what you effectively did was make the pirated version BETTER than the legit version.  The thing is, we’re going to be buying games.  We’re also probably going to want more games than we can buy.  That’s going to lead some of us to pirate the games we can’t afford.  That’s been going on since the beginning of software, you can’t stop it.  As an industry focused on technology you really should have come to terms with that by now.  What you can do is make it so that the downloaded version is an inferior product. 


  18. Duffy says:

    You meant "might" or "possibly" instead of "never" and "can’t". You should know better then to use absolutes in a known-unknown situation; it’s very misleading.

    If one person pirates instead of buys; soley because it’s cheaper, your argument fails. Prove to the world that amongst all the pirated copies their is not a single lost sale. See the problem in using "never"?

    Now, as to how big an effect pirating actually has 90% of the time; I would not be suprised if it was negligible profit loss. At least within the U.S.

  19. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Non profit based "Piracy" can never hurt legit profits and if it can’t make profits its not because of "Piracy".

    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..


  20. Zero Beat says:

    While 1.4 million in sales might seem like a good amount of sales, you must remember that it was pirated.   This equals eleventy billion lost sales, doing total economic damage of $30 bazillion.


    "That’s not ironic. That’s justice."

  21. DarkSaber says:

    Wait wait wait, so EA just proved their OWN views on piracy and DRM to be complete horseshit?


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  22. JustChris says:

    Actually it’s way less than that because 10% of 14 million is not 140 thousand…maybe you missed the decimal point in 1.4 million?


  23. insanejedi says:

    Let’s put it this way.

    10% of 14 million is 140 000 people. Guess what the numbers of piracy are? About 180 000. Which is close to about 10%, or about 13%.

  24. DarkSaber says:

    Unless you by yourself represent the entire 10% margin he allowed, the sterotypes pretty untouched I’d say.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  25. thefremen says:

     True, Sims 2 Vanilla has a loooooooooot more crap. All those microtransactions are horrible, agreed on that point.

  26. Neo_DrKefka says:

    As a vanilla its okay, don’t get me wrong the mechanics on this game are sound but Sims 2 vanilla had more features and options. But to have everything micro bought and then 10 dollars doesn’t do crap


  27. DarkSaber says:

    That sounds about right for EA. Giving with one hand and hiring a gang to take as much as they can carry with the other.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  28. thefremen says:

     IDK you get 10 bux worth of downloads with it and to me the goals/rewards system was worth it better.

  29. Neo_DrKefka says:

    I didn’t pirate it because they dropped the online activation but I wish I had since they stripped everything from the game and it forces you to micro buy it all online.

    To where the Sims 2 you started with a lot of clothes and hair styles, in Sims 3 you need to buy most online.

  30. thefremen says:

     My co-workers know what bit-torrent is and they don’t even know…much of anything really.

  31. DarkSaber says:

    So the terrorists win AGAIN? God dammit!


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  32. thefremen says:

     People were damn exited to play the sims 3 and wanted to get a crack at it early. Also, there is no demo to try it and see how the new elements play out. I personally bought this game last week because there are enough gameplay changes to make it an actual game rather than a virtual dollhouse (or dollhaus if you’re German enuff).


    If anything, I would think that pirating created more sales as people were wowed at the vast improvements over sims 2.

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