Lead Fable III combat designer Mike West thinks the used games market is much worse for developers than having your game pirated. Or so he tells Eurogamer in a short back and forth on the subject. West makes the comparison because Fable III is available on the PC this week.
Fortunately, says West, the studio has managed to cover cost with first-hand Xbox 360 games sales, which he claims are in "the millions." West also acknowledges that piracy will affect Fable III on the PC, and there's "not much you can do about it."
"Piracy these days on PC is probably less problematic than second-hand sales on the Xbox," he told Eurogamer. "I've been working on PC games for many years and piracy is always a problem. There are a lot of honest people out there as well, and if they like your game they'll buy it. The pirates, whatever you do on whatever system, they will crack it. It might take no time... I think the longest it's taken to happen is two days. Someone will crack it somewhere and there's not much you can do about it."
"It's just a depressing situation we're in that people don't think it's worth spending money on computer games," he adds. "What they're doing is making sure there are fewer games coming out in the future and more people out of work, which is a terrible thing. Unless you sit down and meet a pirate face to face and have a conversation about what it does, I don't think anything will stop them."
Still, West says that any sales made on Fable II are a bonus.
"For us it's probably a no-lose even with piracy as it is," shrugged West. "But, as I say, second-hand sales cost us more in the long-run than piracy these days."
Developers and publishers don't like second-hand sales for the most obvious of reasons: none of that money goes to them. And chances are if money did go to anyone, it would never find its way back into the pockets of developers because publishers would get it. Of course, developers would do well to create content for used games that would earn them money only they could get or ditch retail altogether; you can't buy a digital download used, after all.
Whining about it won't make it go away and picking on consumers who probably can't afford a fresh new copy of the game isn't a wise idea either.