It seems any hotly anticipated video game these days is going to end up being pirated weeks before it hits store shelves. That was the case with the heavily DRMed EA game Spore and now it’s the same with The Sims 3 as it appears to already be widely available on torrent sites:
The release notes on the torrent gives pirates instructions, and a stern moral warning: “Be sure to have a firewall prevent the launcher and main game from going online,” it warns. “Support the software developers. If you like this game, BUY IT!”
This is bad news for EA as the game is still two weeks away from release. The game also doesn’t require online activation to play. “The game will have disc-based copy protection—there is a Serial Code just like The Sims 2. To play the game there will not be any online authentication needed,” EA said on the official site. “We feel like this is a good, time-proven solution that makes it easy for you to play the game without DRM methods that feel overly invasive or leave you concerned about authorization server access in the distant future.”
I don’t know if this is really all that much bad news for EA. All of the previous Sims games have been cracked and pirated and yet that hasn’t stopped The Sims from being one of the most financially successful franchises ever. Back in April of 2008 EA announced that they’d sold over 100 million copies of the game and/or its add-ons in the eight years since the first one hit store shelves. The new game is likely to sell just as well as past versions and will probably still earn EA a good chunk of change in the years to come especially given that it will have a built-in store for microtransactions that are all the rage these days.
About the only thing they should probably be worried about is finding out who in their organization is leaking their games early to the pirates. The game will be cracked and available within days of its release regardless of what protection scheme they used, but surely they should be able to keep it under wraps until at least the release date.