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Anti-piracy future is in free-to-play games - PCGA

Randy Stude points to success of FIFA Online in piracy rife Asia, says Battlefield Heroes could be next

Randy Stude, president of the PC Gaming Alliance, has advocated the free-to-play business model as an effective way of combating piracy - pointing to Asia as an example.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Stude talked of the viability of the PC gaming platform despite the medium's problem with piracy, which led to Spore being named the most pirated game ever earlier this week.

"There's even a school of thought that looks at what's happening in Asia," Stude explained. "There's the largest market, on average, for piracy and you also see it as the largest market for revenues being generated for online games for PCs by an overwhelming amount."

"Our research, the Horizons research that we published, shows that coming out of Asia there's almost half of all the revenues generated for PC games software. Even though there's piracy there, there are local operators who have figured out a way to market their games and make games that will work in that economy and will not suffer at the hands of piracy."

"A lot of the trend is around free-to-play games, it's a growing trend even in the West now. I think we'll see more of those types of approaches, Battlefield Heroes, of course, probably being the most well known title that's about to launch in the western hemisphere."

Stude continued to talk about the success rate that free-to-play games had in a region rife with piracy.

"I think its more of an issue of dealing with the source of the content or adjust your business model, ala Battlefield Heroes, to accept the fact that everyone's playing online anyway," he said. "Why not just give the client away, forget about trying to monetise the client and monetise other aspects of the game?"

"I think its important to note how well certain companies are doing well with that. In Korea there is no disc based version of FIFA available and instead Electronic Arts partnered up with a local game operator to develop FIFA Online, and according to Electronic Arts that's generating somewhere in the order of a million dollars a month in revenue. In an environment where if they released a disc game it would probably get pirated really badly and it would never come close to making that kind of money. A million dollars a month for a PC service based title is a really, really good success. I think the model can work in the United States as well."

Earlier this year, the ESA warned that piracy exceeded 90 per cent in certain territories and last month, Epic Games CEO, Michael Capps warned that if piracy continued at it's current rate developers could abandon the PC platform.

Randy Stude's full interview with GamesIndustry.biz can be read here.

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