back to article Sims 3 pirated 180,000 times in three days

So much for Electronic Arts' open palm approach to video game piracy. The game maker nixed its draconic digital rights management (DRM) for The Sims 3, and the game's already on track to being pirated more often than Spore — counted as the most pirated game of 2008. The game's official release isn't until June 5 but leaks were …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong measurement...

    Looking at the number of copies downloaded is somewhat immaterial.

    Surely the number of copies sold is far more important.

    Got to wonder how the game has hit the torrents in May if it isn't supposed to be released until January though?

  2. The Mighty Spang
    Thumb Up


    there's plenty of saddos who want to spend the rest of their lives making a digital avatar run around cooking dinner and cleaning the house whilst they sit in their pants eating turkey twizzlers surrounded by crap. if its ready why delay its release until january?

    i had a friend who put everybody she knew into sims and tried to get the couples together etc. now thats just fucking creepy.

  3. DT

    any excuse will do

    Can’t have it both ways….if DRM is being claimed to lead honest people into piracy; it can’t simultaneously be claimed that piracy doesn’t cost sales.

    DRM is a convenient psychological justification for not making a purchase, but if you’re really standing on “principals” (LOL); why not have nothing to do with the product, full stop, legitimate or otherwise? It’s the classic transference of responsibility. “They made me do it”. No, you chose to, because your principals don’t extend to a total boycott of DRM product, but a rather convenient middle situation where you get the product in a form you would purchase, but at zero cost.

    So what if it’s screwing EA instead of the taxpayer? EA pays employees who pay tax, has shareholders who pay tax, and itself pays corporation tax, not forgetting the VAT on every sale. So this notion that the act of ripping off a corporation is somehow contained within a moral bubble where only “fat cats” suffer the consequences; it’s demonstrable drivel. The self-deluding excuses are those which any amoral double-thinking self-serving politician would be proud of. Having your house and not paying for it, having your cake and eating it.

  4. Tom
    Thumb Down

    Crap ^2

    "if you chop it down to a per week basis for a better comparison."

    I expect that most of the downloads happened the first week, warz kiddies being like they are...

    I also expect the numbers quoted are 80% fudge.

    Not much use trying to compare the two games download numbers without using the same methodology to measure both.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Honest folks... any left?

    Strong DRM does NOT necessarily lead honest folks to "piracy".

    What it does lead them to is anti-DCMA activity, such as finding no-CD/DVD cracks for software.

    In my experience (quick, hit anonymous checkbox!) the stupidly annoying things are systems like EA's only-three-installs limit on Spore. Really, what were they thinking? Does anyone at EA actually own a PC, and know how often you sometimes need to reinstall things? Even the three-reinstalls limit is not that bad to be honest, as long as it is handled in a fair manner. Oddly, Microsoft can manage this, I've reinstalled XP-Vista countless times and a quick phonecall is often all that is required to reset your install limits. Contrary to popular (and rabid) belief, MS don't ask for any details, no record your phone number, nor send around the NSA/CIA/Illuminati. They ask why: "I'm reinstalling" always gets a "that's fine" response.

    I had to reinstall Spore a couple of times, as it's 64-bit support is somewhat broken - EA didn't RTFM about the registry differences between 32 & 64 bit Windows. After the third reinstall on the same machine - no more installs. For some bizzare reason phone calls to EA are charged at about $5 per 20 seconds, and their email support was very slow, and frequently in some other language than English. It looked at lot like English, but wasn't. So I downloaded a crack. Simple as that. I unpacked it from RAR on a linux machine - that's being safe, RAR files are chock full of autoinstall crud, usually. The crack executable had nothing nasty in it, so off we go with that, and Spore works like a charm. I even use my EA online codes with it - I have a legit product, after all.

    So thats NOT piracy. I bought the game, they got my money. They just made crappy DRM.

    For a really, REALLY good example of how DRM should work, look at Steam. I pretty much only buy games from Steam nowdays, becuase it is so easy - no DVD to find when I want to play, can re0download games when necessary, and have the games on my laptop for travel. Spore turned up on Steam a few weeks after I got it, annoyingly. The one problem with Steam is the sometimes strange mismatch in prices in different regions, and that sometimes games are not even available in some regions (frequently the one where I live) for no apparent reason except that quite clearly some games publishing companies are absolutely barking mad.

    As for the pirates - come on, they weren't going to buy it anyway.

    I've pre-ordered the Sims 3 for my wife, so EA will get my money. They better not put their stupid DRM back on it. Fools.

  6. nicolas

    billions and billions

    "represents about $9 million in theoretical sales "

    it's not even theoretical, do you know many people who would

    buy a "buggy, pre-final build" with half the world missing." ?

    so no loss here, move along :)

  7. Richard

    Stupid pirates

    This is what is so hypocritical of the pirates. They complain about the DRM in Spore and they won't buy EA games until they play fair.

    EA actually listen and remove the DRM from The Sims 3 and they rip it off anyway!

    Any people wonder why companies are suing file sharers!

  8. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  9. Anonymous Coward


    There will always be people who'll download from a free site. Nothing will change that, so companies will have to build this into their business models. As you quite rightly stress, one download doesn't have to equal one lost sale - it could just as well work in a company's favour, resulting in more sales if people like what they see. No-one knows. It isn't quantifiable.

    What we do know is that DRM irritates paying customers, every time.

  10. john

    not sure would pirates are the concern

    I'm thinking this new style of DRM (Securom in partiular) with limited activations is aimed alot more at the second hand game market. That includes all the shops that will do a trade in or just buy games. The big publishers have been annoyed with the second hands games market alot longer than they have been with these so called Pirates. There is a good chance that Pirated version of games lead to more sales in games (with a good online feature) than the second hand games market, where you're buying legit games but the publishers sees no money.

    And EA have been seeing that they can just con money out of people with online content. For most online aspects you need a legit serial.

    With the Sims 3 i've heard that a few features have been removed and you will have to purchase this content online. Some of those features are probably the things that entertained the masses on the other Sims, so in a way it's a smart move, but they would still like to make you think it's the Pirates and your fault they have to do it.

  11. Rab S
    Black Helicopters


    Theres a little voice in back of my head that pretty much thinks this is just convenet for EA...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Waiting For The Release

    I live with someone who is waiting for the Sims 3 to be released. Sad, but true. Every day, we wait for the postman to deliver the shiny new disc. Every day, no dice. Or disc.

    So we wait. In the meantime, all these pirates are posting happy videos on YouTube of their enjoyment of the Sims 3. Pirates, it seems, have all the fun.

    The temptation to join the pirates rather than wait is overwhelming. But we wait. We've paid thirty quid for this...

    For what? Why to wait to have our fun, so that the pirates can fully enjoy themselves having paid nothing. Can you see the problem?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    We are waiting for a copy!

    We've not pirated it, but people who have can play now. We are trying to pay for it, but have to wait for weeks longer. Get the game in your players' hands and stop worrying about pirates!

  14. hikaricore


    Anyone who doesn't realize that this was done intentionally in the interest of DRM is retarded.

    EA may not have done it themselves but I guarantee you they were involved somehow.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    DRM forcing legitimate users to pirate...

    Yep. The last EA game I bought simply wouldn't run because of a DRM issue. Support denied that it was anything to do with DRM and was merrily trying to get me to check completely and obviously unrelated things.

    After a week talking to the EA helldesk I downloaded a crack from a well publicised P2P site and it was working within minutes. (the first time I'd done so) I consider myself well within my rights to download a version that actually works if the publisher is incapable of supporting their title.

    Its not worth sticking DRM on a game when it prevents it from working, it just drives ordinary users to piracy and its not like any of the pirates actually buy the game anyway. Add to that the fact that regardless of how restrictive the DRM is the cracked copy is available within days anyway. You might as well take the hit from piracy and keep the legit users paying for the software rather than forcing the legit users to piracy to get something that works.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    People are pirating it because it EA.

    I am never going to buy anything they make, DRM free or not.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Cheers for the headsup.

    That is all

  18. David Webb


    180,000 downloads? Would have been much more but no-one could be bothered to seed!

  19. Anonymous Coward

    compared to spore...'s actually a good game!

    Cost of not purchasing DRM + cost of not having to support DRM = lots of money saved

    Sales lost due to no DRM = not very much = sales gained due to no DRM

    fuzzy logic is fuzzy

  20. Wade Burchette
    Thumb Down

    EA should rot and die!

    I am already boycotting all thing EA. They will never get any of my money ever again. SecuROM is not the reason, but it does add to how much I hate EA. I hate EA because they hate competition. A good game studio comes along and what does EA do? Buy them and destroy the series with crappy sequels. If they cannot buy the studio, they attempt to destroy it in other ways. For sports games, they attempt to buy "exclusive rights" from the league.

    Fast forwarding to the future, if EA was the only game studio left, I would never play a new game again.

  21. Mowds

    Piracy possibly higher because...

    ...Sims 3 is more popular than Spore was? Yes, more people have pirated it, but presumably a lot more people have bought it as well, meaning judging this kind of thing is an even less exact science.

  22. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    EA: "Downloads did not hurt Spore's sales"

    The article mentions up to 500,000 downloads, but also mentions 1,000,000 sales. A later article expected 2,000,000 by the end of the year.

    Looks like a cross between "Try before you buy" and "Viral marketing" to me.

  23. vegister

    can you return a download?

    i wonder what the return rate will be when they find it doesn't work with so many graphics cards?

  24. Ati Rosselet
    Thumb Down

    theoretical? geez...

    "represents about $9 million in theoretical sales " Oh fer gods sake... get it together.

    180,000 downloads? umm .. yeah.. sure.. so thats what - 180000 clicks somehow measured on 'some' p2p network? hmm.. and how many of those are a) actual full downloads, b) not just curious people. c) same person 3 different places.. etc. etc..

    And what about all those people (like me) who has no desire to actually play the game, or buy it.. but is just curious enough to download, install and play for about 5 minutes... sure.. I'll buy it (not a snowball's chance on a videocard heatsink)

    I love "theoretical sales" figures... the basic assumption being that anyone who downloaded both a) would have actually bought it, and b) won't buy it when it actually comes out. pitiful actually - and then they wonder why sane people laugh at them... c'mon.. *sigh*...

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Sims Free

    I can bet you that 50% of the people who download sims 3 are not going to play it for longer than a week and would never had bought it in the first place. How is it that illegal torrent distribution is better and quicker than downloading/buying the game legally, due to DRM and slow distribution lines. Economics is going to have to have a re-think on how to stop piracy and why people seem to turn to piracy and I bet its got something to do with release dates. If the game had come out in the shops first then the results here would be different.

  26. Shane Orahilly

    Same difference

    "The game maker claims in the Bloomberg piece that the pirated version of Sims 3 is a "buggy, pre-final build" with half the world missing. "

    Sounds more like the average release version from EA.

  27. David

    Hard habit to break...

    ...And by that, I don't mean breaching copyright, I mean despising EA and their putrid, over-milked franchises so much that you'd do anything to stop the slime from makign another cent on their games...

    Just another viewpoint. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of crooks.

  28. Fishamatician

    want shineys now

    I nearly pirated just to get a copy faster for my wife, I already have it on pre order at PLAY but will they see it that way when they track my IP address and sue me? No probably not.

    They have the EA store and I cant see why when a game leaks they dont make it available from the store there and then. I imagine they have it locked and loaded in the system and just need to punch the go button.

    A lot of those ebil file sharers are probably just like me, they want it now! and dont want to wait 2 weeks for release when its sat on a warez site now. We live in an age of instant gratification taught to us by large cooperation's who want to sell us stuff now and if we cant buy if now we will get it from some place else.

    At least EA have learnt to do a world wide release unlike some companies who will put 2-3 days between US and UK release dates and then wonder why people have pirated there AAA title.

    II'll get my coat befor they track my IP.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All Hail the DLC

    EA probably dont give a monkeys about 9 million imaginary simoleons not really being lost to pirates who have downloaded exactly what every moron who has paid for it will get in a few days. The main difference is that EA is counting on said morons to be well and truly raped in the wallet for what amounts to Sims 2 content via the EA store. For the prices they're expecting to charge they may as well just give the game away for free.

    Also the half missing world? Well nobody gets the other half till they've registered their copy with EA, or waited a few days post release for the free registration free warez version. Think I'll wait. An cheers EA for the free game,

  30. Ed

    If you don't want to give money to EA...

    Then don't play the game. That's not an excuse for piracy.

  31. This post has been deleted by its author

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems to me

    that this simply proves that the presence or not of DRM is irrelevant to the levels of piracy. Dividing the Spore figure by three probably gives a lower figure than it should, as the main downloading would be front-heavy, so they probably come out at roughly the same levels.

    Given that DRM makes little or no difference to piracy levels, but royally pisses off paying customers, it's probably wise not to use it.

  33. Alex

    Undoubtedly not lost sales

    The key point that seems to be skipped around but missed here is the very fact that these downloads are happening before the game has been released.

    I'd be willing to bet almost anything that at least a sizeable portion of, if not the large majority of, those 180,000 download are by people who've already preordered the game anyway. XWiz above has hit the nail almost on the head, he's preordered it but cant play it as his legit version hasnt arrived yet. Realistically, how many other people are going to do the same? You've preordered a game you've been waiting on for weeks/months/years, your copy's arriving in a week or two, but "oh look, I can get it early via a download!". Knowing the fanaticism that surrounds the anticipation of getting your hands on a game you've been waiting on for ages, not many people would say no to that.

    So, just how much of a "lost sale" is each of the downloads that represents a user who's preordered and bought the game anyway and just wants to play it sooner? Ah yes, its not.

  34. Will

    Means nothing without a ratio to sales

    which obviously doesn't exist yet. Can we have an update after a week or two of release once we know a percentage pirated figure?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish...

    ... I'd tried a "pirated" version of half the games I bought before I parted with my hard earned cash... I seem to have bought a grand selection of lemons over the years!

  36. John Freeman

    Bloc Vote?

    Everyone seems to think Pirates move en masse but it's simply not the case. There are pirates that will download to evaluate, then there are those who could give a rip and make a copy anyway. I'd have to say the majority are probably looking for a decent version of the game to see if it's worth buying, but at today's intro prices of games (59.99), more and more are probably just downloading it. The company should just lower the price (like they do in China) and make up for the revenue in in-game adverts...or just make better games that are worth the money. Not having played it, I'm going out on a limb and saying any game that has a 3,4,5, etc., after it is probably light on the creativity and heavy on the greed, like most movies...except "Aliens", which was better than the first. Plus, "the Sim's 3"?!? C'mon, why waste time on that when you can go down to Best Buy and pick up some classics (I just found "Rise of Nations") for under 10 bucks. Plus, would you really want your beauty soiled by a disk you got off a torrent site? It's all full of trojans and viruses. Anyway, that's just my two cents.

    Smiley, because my system is virginally clean.

  37. Lionel Baden


    well hangon you have bought a legitimate copy Then download and play it then !

    you dont buy the disk you buy the key to play the game.

    The money has already left your account and gone into their coffers therefore you now own the right to play the game !!!


    I insure my car i dont have to wait for the paperwork to turn up. I am insured from the moment my insurance is paid for (or even when i finish the call)

    Did the same with COD4 mate mailed me the key cause i couldnt wait so downloaded it but i have a legit key and i own the right to play the game legally. now i have the disc

    its just a matter of software distribution.

    go RS and have fun

    no AC because i feel rightous !!!

  38. steogede

    Interesting choice of word


    >> That figure represents about $9 million in theoretical sales — emphasis on the theoretical.

    Is that theoretical in the sense the theory or evolution? the theory gravity? or is it theoretical in the sense that Star Trek style teleporters are theoretically possible? Fantasy is probably the word that I would use.

    Perhaps a better measure would be the amount in theoretical fines - I'm not sure what the standard fine is for a single game download - but in the US a single music track can set you back anywhere from $750 to $150,000. That works out at a theoretical fine of between $135 million and $27 billion.

    What I always find odd is that the fines in the US are supposed to reflect the fact that the person didn't only download the file, but they also facilitated othera in downloading the file. Ofcourse on a P2P system such as bit torrent some people will mostly seed, and others will mostly leech - in this system input = output + overheads, so on average (if you ignore the overheads) each person who downloads file is only effectively only sharing it with one other - seeders obviously share more copies of the file and leachers effectively prevent the file from being shared (perhaps that is what the RIAA should do, pay people to leech files).

    >> The game maker claims in the Bloomberg piece that the pirated version of Sims 3 is a "buggy, pre-final build" with half the world missing.

    So pretty much the same as any other release from EA?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Re: not sure would pirates are the concern

    >> The big publishers have been annoyed with the second hands games market alot longer than they have been with these so called Pirates.

    Indeed, it seems to me that resale is on the the things that is restricted by every EULA I have ever seen. Yet it still goes on without legal challenge, presumably because it is an statutory right that the EULA can't take away from you. I do often wonder how a docurment which attemptes to takeaway your legally enshrined rights can be in anyway valid.

    Clearly some rights in the EULA, such as not making unauthorised copies are clear cut as they are statutory rights of the copyright holder. However demands such as only for use with 'Apple brand hardware' might as well say 'the purchaser solemenly declares that they shall not wear blue t-shirts on Sundays in August, on pain of death'.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    A few words from a "freetard"

    Reading this article reminded me of the time I downloaded Sims 2. A few years ago, I downloaded the game through Demonoid and, when setting up my mother's then new computer, gave her a copy - I'd been trying to get her into computer games for years, but she didn't like the shoot-and-kill theme that all the games seemed to be about. But she loved Sims 2. So much so, in fact, that she went out and bought the original ($29.95 AUD) plus all nine expansion packs ($19.95 each) for a total of $209.50. She also got my sister and one of her friends into it, with the result that EA made two more lots of $209.50 worth of sales (a total of $628.50) AS A DIRECT RESULT OF ME PIRATING THE GAME and showing it to my mother. As to myself, well I played Sims 2 for a few months, got bored of it, and moved on. My mother, sister and her friend are now waiting eagerly for Sims 3 to come out.

    That also made me think of the other times my downloading things has resulted in actual sales: I once gave my brother-in-law a downloaded Nightwish album, saying "Listen to this and tell me what you think". He thought a lot of it, actually; he went out and so far has bought 5 Nightwish albums at around $30 each, including the original of the one I copied for him. And back in 2003 I downloaded Age of Empires II and showed it to my niece; she liked it so much my sister bought her the original ($24.95) plus the expansion ($14.95). Then my niece got 3 of her friends at school into the game, with the result that they also persuaded their parents to buy it.

    Let's add this all up, shall we: $628.50 worth of Sims 2 + $150.00 worth of Nightwish + $159.60 worth of AoE II CE = $938.10 worth of sales for the companies concerned. ALL BECAUSE I PIRATED JUST 3 ITEMS. Those people would not have bought those items if I hadn't shown them to them. And that's just the stuff that comes to mind right now. I can only wonder how many more sales have resulted from me downloading things for others.

    So the next time you anti-piracy brigaders (I'm looking at you Ed and Richard) want to get up on your moral high horses and sanctimoniously pronounce on the evils of "freetards", consider that those 180,000 Sims 3 downloads, far from being 180,000 lost sales, just might equate to half a million new customers who otherwise wouldn't have heard of or bought the game. And I ask you: How many sales have YOU made for those companies by sharing things with other people? Think about it.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do they mean full downloads...

    .. cause when i checked the torrent at tht tiem there was a lot lot less seeders/leachers than mentioned, so unless they managed to get some uber speeds they are counting non full downloads in that figure (which would include there own people trying to catch other people!)

  42. regadpellagru
    Thumb Up

    How to analyse DRM effect

    Pls, El Reg, while there has been progress in the analysis, I woud suggest to do a further analysis, in 2 months time in light of the following facts (not "theoretical" sales):

    - volume of sales

    - critics of the game

    - volume of illegal download (well, estimated)

    - DRM status (with, without, or with terrible f***ingly unplayable)

    That would once for all enlighten us on DRM impact on sales, lost sales, etc ...

    I still have some hopes the impact of DRM is negative on sales ...

  43. Keith Mcknight

    Yeah right, DRM? Don't make me laugh!

    "buggy, pre-final build" with half the world missing" - Most companies would call that a complete\final product fit for purpose. This would be released legally to the public based on some of their Quality Assurance! Who's the real criminal? I personally find, it's just not DRM that's an issue (which is easily overcome and doesn't pose a threat at all), but more the broken games released that crash or simply don't work. To add, the after market support I always find abysmal (GTA IV as a classic example). Anyone managed to get GRID working on an i7 core with x-fi soundcard? :-P

  44. Ash

    EA screwed the customer

    Mass Effect, Spore, Crysis, and innumerable other titles from their catalogue were sold with DRM cripplewear which adversely affected their image with the hardcore PC gaming community; Broken software with draconian restrictions on use and activation policies which were beyond unreasonable (I bought Mirror's Edge 3 weeks ago just after I'd moved house for something to play while the internet connection was set up. Considering this game has no online component, I was amazed at the audacity to REQUIRE online activation before you can play it. Last EA game I buy.)

    You make your bed, you lay in it. I hope SIMS 3 doesn't sell a single licensed copy.

  45. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Up

    MAC games support, I'm waiting!

    My missus is waiting for her copy of Sims to arrive. EA have put Windows/MAC split disc, so I want to support more games on Mac, so I have resisted the urge to rip it off for her, so she can support Mac games.

    I used to rip stuff for the sake of it, but moving from PC to console has ensure that I don't anymore. Something nice about ordering from an online store, and then waiting all day at work knowing that your your little tiny piece of joy is waiting in a cardboard box when you get home after a miserable day. Not the same when you can pull a copy down in 90 minutes, then throw it away if you don't like it.

    I find I have learnt to be a lot more careful about what I waste my money on in general now, not just games. I try to get demos where possible or rent the game first, to make sure it's OK. If it's crap, you get nothing from me games companies apart from maybe my £3 rental from Blockbuster!

  46. Shane McCarrick

    I'm going to download it- and if I like it- I'll buy it

    My wife used play a lot of SIMs- I'm going to download the unfinished copy- and if we like- we will be top of the queue to buy it. Its total bullshit that every download equates to a lost sale- I'd wager that a significant number of downloads translate into sales that might not otherwise have occurred...... Personally- I'd not buy it without trying it- my console of choice is the PS3- my wife the Wii.......

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    It's not stealing....

    To me it's just 'sampling'.

    I sample, I decide, I buy retail or I delete...

    Seems fair to me.

    : )

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I smell bullshit

    And this has no reflection on any impact of potential sales.

    The leaked copy would have been DRM free anyway (unless the developers work on builds with DRM already on them (which they don't)).

    The people that are downloading it now are probably doing so simply because it is available. If it was available to buy they probably would have done that first.

    This is EA bullshit, planned to support their DRM driven games dream.

  49. matthew
    Thumb Down

    3 activations

    luckily, the 3 activation limit on Spore has no affect on me as the game was so repetitive, after my last reinstall of windows I've not used the game, wish I had pirated it, what a waste of money

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