Thursday, July 21, 2005

Notes From Yesterday

I received e-mails questioning my conclusion that piracy had reduced PC gaming revenue by thirty percent in two years. That wasn't my conclusion, actually, but after re-reading the post I can understand why it was interpreted that way.

So to clarify: I don't know the true financial impact on PC gaming revenue due to Piracy. I think it's impossible to even make an educated guess. What I intended to say was that part of the decline in PC revenue might be attributable to the perception that the PC is a less secure platform than a console. So in addition to the usual PC-specific development issues, like testing for hundreds of different hardware configurations and system specs, the PC platform now has to deal with the additional wart of being perceived as easier to steal.

Also, I received some e-mails saying that I was being a bit harsh on Rockstar, and that it's entirely possible the graphic sexual content was on the disc because developers leave in unused code all the time. That's entirely true, and if it were anyone but Rockstar, I would agree. However, there are several reasons why I think they're exception:
1. By all appearances, they seem to delight in the seventh-grader, naughty boy image they've acquired.
2. The sex mini-game was one hundred percent complete. Yet Rockstar and Take-Two are familiar with the ESRB standards, and they clearly would have known that including that mini-game would have led to an "AO" rating, which would have meant that crucial retailers like Wal-Mart would have refused to carry the title. That's something they just couldn't afford. So if they knew it couldn't be in the game, why would they have fully developed it, complete with all graphics and voice samples? Well, they wouldn't, unless they intended for it to be found.
3. Rockstar is entirely familiar with the level that modders go to poke around in their code. The only explanation for #2 (fully finishing sex mini-game) is that because of #1 (seventh grader bad boys), they wanted this mini-game to be found, and they knew it would, because of #3 (modders).

I would also be more inclined to believe them if they hadn't lied their ass off from the start about this. As I posted several days ago, their non-denial denial is what initially tipped me off. Nobody spends two paragraphs obfuscating when they could say "that code does not exist on the disc in any form" in one sentence. If it were true, that is.

This whole controversy has been lame. Even the "porn," as the crazy people are calling it, is nothing that hasn't been seen hundreds of times in R-rated movies. Both Omikron and Mafia had Copulation Friendly© cut-scenes that didn't result in AO ratings. Rockstar, though, managed to create a firestorm because of both their stupidity and their dishonesty.

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