quantus wrote:This is obviously also driving the shrinkage of the Halo Effect. Without an uber-cool game that is really suffering from lack of frame-rate or something, people just won't shell out extra cash for better hardware to have a better in-game experience. There has to be some sort of in-game advantage that makes it worth it to shell out that cash.
Oblivion. I wouldn't be surprised if 50% of the high-end video card purchases in Q2&3 of last year were to play that game. Mine was (at least partially). I seem to recall BF2 being the big driver before that, but I wasn't interested, so I didn't follow it that closely.
An interesting point in that Oblivion was released without content protection. Today, a year after release, it still commands full price (well, $40) in stores. People are still buying it, even though it's been pirateable since day one.
I have a theory that piracy-to-sales ratios are proportional to a game's hype-to-quality ratio. When someone chooses to acquire a game, legally or otherwise, they make a decision based on their anticipated enjoyment vs the cost. Anticipated enjoyment is based on direct experience with the game, experience with similar game (or by the same developers), comments from trustworthy sources (friends' experiences), and comments from less trustworthy sources (publishers, review sites that get ad revenue from the publishers), weighted in approximately that order.
On release day, only similar experience and untrustworthy comments are available. The latter is overwhelmingly positive, but it's limited by the reach of the publisher's marketing department. So, purchases and piracy on day one are largely proportional to the quality of marketing and are completely independent of quality of gameplay. Big name games from big publishers sell better one release day. No revelation there.
As time goes on, the forms of information that are actually related to the gameplay become available. Perceived enjoyment will gradually approach realized enjoyment, and the sales will change accordingly. Hence, sleeper hits and bombs where the initial perceived enjoyment is radically different from later perceived enjoyment.
Now, that's what happens on the legal side, where there is a significant cost to acquisition. On the pirate side, there is almost no cost to acquire (aside from the time to find a copy). Thus, perceived quality isn't likely to fall below the cost, even when it is well below the initial perception. So, piracy rates don't drop much when a game turns out to suck.
Let's pick on Doom 3. Highly anticipated. Lots of piracy (because it's anticipated). Game sucks, so it doesn't sell. Publisher observes high piracy and low sales and hypothesizes a correlation that doesn't exist.
Conversely, Oblivion. Highly anticipated. Lots of piracy. Game is adequate (bordering on good). Sales rate is good enough that publisher doesn't bother to look for a scapegoat.
I feel like I just beat a kitten to death... with a bag of puppies.