Publisher: “Selling Unfinished Games Will Defeat Piracy”


The CEO of Codemasters has been caught saying that he thinks selling “unfinished” games to customers is a much more effective strategy than investing in DRM.

Codemasters CEO Rod Cousens sees the answer to piracy not as enacting draconian copy protection but as nickel-and-diming consumers by selling them an incomplete game and then having them buy the rest as downloadable content:

I’m not necessarily a fan of DRM measures. I think sometimes they’re almost counter-productive. I can still be persuaded on them, and I completely understand why they exist.

But my initial thought is that DRM is not the answer to the piracy issue.

The video games industry has to learn to operate in a different way. My answer is for us as publishers is to actually sell unfinished games – and to offer the consumer multiple micro-payments to buy elements of the full experience.

That would create an offering that is affordable at retail – but over a period of time may also generate more revenue for the publishers to reinvest in our games.

If these games are pirated, those who get their hands on them won’t be able to complete the experience. There will be technology, coding aspects, that will come to bear that will unlock some aspects. Some people will want them and some won’t.

When it comes to piracy, I think you have to make the experience the answer to the issue – rather than respond the other way round and risk damaging that experience for the user. But I may be a lone voice in that.


Piracy has been there forever. Whether we care to admit it or not and whether we say it’s right or wrong, it’s a factor. It’s never going to go to zero.

Lyndon B Johnson once said ‘you want to be on the inside pissing out rather than the outside pissing in’ – and I wholeheartedly agree. Look at the partial demise of the record industry – they never embraced technology, they fought technology and I think that created a huge downturn vacuum for them.

Consumers may find themselves needing an umbrella in short order.

    Post Comment »
    Sort by: Date | Score
    Avatar of FuktLogik
    Comment by FuktLogik
    04:18 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Is it just me, or would this guy make a perfect live action Cable..?

    Avatar of PrinceHeir
    Comment by PrinceHeir
    04:22 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    wow just wow. hopefully companies don't follow these kind of methods but then again i wouldn't be surprise if they did.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:26 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Or they could just release good games.
    I heard the Wii's the easiest console to pirate yet mario galaxy sold like big macs.

    Or is his idea like giving people part of the game so they can buy the rest if they like it?
    That already exist, they're called demos and few games do them because shit games wouldn't sell if people knew they were shit.

    Seems like Kotick is getting more supporters for his army of doom, soon they'll bring the apocalypse upon everyone.

    Avatar of Imyou
    Comment by Imyou
    03:59 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Talk about disconnected. That approach would make me want to ignore the game completely for a while, and then grab a torrent with all the add-ons already included rather than weigh the option of purchasing each piece of DLC for a game that's not finished (but probably costs a full retail game's price.)

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:36 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'll buy the game for a premium if it gets overwhelmingly positive reviews or I'm intrigued by the concept, as long as it is offered as a whole (from start to finish), on a long-lasting data carrier (game cartridge, cd, dvd, etc.) and I can play it today or in 20 years (as long as I own a suitable working platform), without having to resort to data hunting for long-lost chunks of a game, the world has forgotten ever existed. I believe other avid gamers/collectors feel the same way.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:47 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    well he is right

    however it only works as long consumers keep being ignorant fools... which is forever

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:36 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    so basicly what he said was:

    I'm not a fan of DRM. My idea is to instead publish unfinished games that have DRM that prevent pirated copies from being able to play the dowloaded parts to finish the game

    THE FUCK!?

    though if this makes the game you buy retail cheaper i'm not necessarily against it

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:19 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    The answer is simply NO DRM PERIOD and a FAIR PRICE! Unfortunately, most of these companies like to try to hold you over a barrel.... doesn't work with me, doesn't work with my friends, doesn't work with anyone else that I know.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:31 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    yeah that way they can fool artists and programmers by saying work for me on future royalties then decide not to continue and keep getting all to themselves, like they always do.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:34 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    also they should consider lowering their prices, i think if they were cheaper a lot of people would buy them, but to be honest almost all are rather hight priced, if not ridiculously high, and most game are a big dissapointment.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:37 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    And then pirates will just have to be patient, wait till the completed game is fully posted, crack that, and distribute.

    Of course, that would mean the company has already made its money off of it, so maybe this is a win-win solution after all.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:41 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    This is exactly like how EA games try to suck in as much revenue for SIMS 3. They will keep offering downloadable content for a certain fee and you have to keep buying new upgrades. Pretty soon, game publishers will take advantage of this fact and consumers end up paying small little fees for small essentials that accumulate over time. The end result is paying a lot more than the value of the game.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:46 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Ya that'll work, because we all know that DLC can't be pirated... It's not like everything that has been released as PC DLC has been pirated within a week... O wait, it has, Fallout 3 DLC, Sims DLC, ect.

    I am actually disappointed with how DLC has come along in the past few years. When the current generation of games systems came out and offered DLC I thought, cool softwere updates to fix bugs and some expansion to content like new levels and characters.

    While we did get all that what we also got was a way to milk a cash cow for shitloads of money. Take Little Big Planet, you pay $60 for the game and if you buy every piece of DLC for it you will likely pay another $120+. Super Street Fighter IV is only $40 but they got over $20 worth of DLC costumes that make no difference to gameplay.

    So even tho DLC is good in theory its implementation has been crap so far, and I highly doubt that the kinda business model this guy is pitching could do anything other than fail in a massive shitstorm.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:47 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    it prevents piracy just to a minumun, and it allows the industry to make even more money. It is the same as if you would buy an addon. but alltogether it will be more expensive for the customer

    Avatar of msoltyspl
    Comment by msoltyspl
    01:31 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's crazy how disconnected from reality can managment people be. And that moron is a CEO ...

    Avatar of moebius22
    Comment by moebius22
    01:29 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Game developers are already following his line of thought. Ever since consoles were able to download content games have been becoming more like PC games in terms of bugs and the need for patches.

    EA and Activision have already made it mandatory to pay a fee to use online content with used games.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:15 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    And if you dont have internet? or if you lose your hard drive? and if a lot of things more... i think this man its just a little bit stupid

    Avatar of Sukunai
    Comment by Sukunai
    01:18 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Fronzel said:
    You're talking about Paradox, aren't you?

    Those guys are so cute.

    Paradox, every title I have ever downloaded from them so I could at least say I knew what the game looked like before talking about it has failed to remain on my computer by the end of the day. Their games are so fucking crummy that even free is not adequate.

    Comment by pacino man
    01:47 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't care as long as it's fun.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:17 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    you know how to fight piracy? make a game so damn good that consumer won't mind paying for it, and i mean so damn good that pirate will tell themself "SHIT, this game is so good, i feel bad pirating it" or just publish it in unhackable system

    yeah, i know my english suck

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:44 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "That would create an offering that is affordable at retail..."

    So, ultimately, players spend less on games at retail and only buy what they actually want on top of that. It's somewhere in between the traditional retail model and the uncommon but fair episodic model, and it has the potential to prevent piracy without call for intrusive and inconvenient DRM measures.

    Oh em gee controversial!

    You know those things we use to communicate with - they're called "words" - yeah, it's helpful if you actually take them on board before you complain about them.

    I fucking hate gamers.

    Avatar of Master Evil The Return!
    01:57 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    All this does is pissed off the people who are buying the game, sheesh and what about DSL users or does with small bandwidth, games now a days, don't go under 4 Gigs and you expect everyone to have fast internet ? All i see this measure does is make the pirates more likely to crack,hack and redistribute it.

    Avatar of Nono
    Comment by Nono
    01:59 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Buying unfinished games?
    You wanna see the last chapters of the game? Download them. You can't? Too bad for you.

    And it won't stop piracy. It's too late to stop it now.

    Avatar of Dia
    Comment by Dia
    02:39 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It seems that he was talking about more than DLC because he said and you wouldn't be able to complete the game. One game that had this happen was Arkham Asylum, which had a patch that added physX and some other important shit after release (for legit buyers too). Of course this did diddly because the patch was cracked.

    To me it seems doubtful that they could make an uncrackable patch.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:04 19/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well then couldn't you just pirate the DLC? It's like instead of stealing someone's stack of pancakes, you're stealing it one pancake at a time.

    Or am I missing something?

    Avatar of erochichi
    Comment by erochichi
    05:58 19/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Those game parts will be collected to a downloadable pack, and torrents to dl it will be plentiful.

    Avatar of knuclear200x
    Comment by knuclear200x
    05:41 19/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    So all games will now cost like...$20 and the $50 on average extra content will be optional?

    sounds kinda good.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:16 19/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Damn, I need to pirate me an umbrella ASAP. Only into golden shower if it involves cute girls~

    02:52 19/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Actually he never said it'll defeat piracy and simply consented it'll never be zero.
    Though this plan could be bad for the customer.
    If you pay $10 several times you'll end up paying more then you would have for a full game.

    Avatar of erochichi
    Comment by erochichi
    22:29 19/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    That`s the whole idea with this.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:45 19/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    "I’m not necessarily a fan of DRM measures. I think sometimes they’re almost counter-productive."

    What about the games the have flopped simply because they were released 'unfinished'?

    Also means they will have to implement some way of backing up & running the game WITHOUT an Internet connection (or any kind of link to their server), a thing at which Steam fails miserably (& they get constant complaints about).

    And if any company using any sort of online system in their games goes out of business they should provide a patch or some sort of system where the game will still be playable. I have a large number of DOS games that I still play, will you still be able to play today's games 10-20 years in the future?

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:20 19/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It will defeat piracy but it will also defeat gaming.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:35 08/08/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Oh, really?

    How about I give him another idea:
    If they are SO set up that piracy is the same as stealing a physical car from a store, and want to treat software as physical items, then let's do it.

    They will have law protection against pirates until they earn the set profit margin (let's say 20%) of the cost they had to pay, or until a period of e.g. two years expires.

    I don't seem to remember Ford making a *single* car and earning money off of it for the next 80 years. They have to make that car model over and over again, using their funds to buy materials, pay people for constant work - but publishers think they can "ride" on a single game/program till the end of their lives - since they're still selling old classics - "Oh, hey guys, let's take this game from 1997, merge it with emulator for XP and sell as a new game"... GOD, those people piss me off.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:46 08/09/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    There are a surprising amount of people who actually don't have internet or don't want to connect their consoles online. So these people are just getting the shaft then?

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:21 21/03/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Pirating DLCs is not much of a problem.
    If you can pirate the game- you can pirate DLCs as well.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:40 23/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Who is he kidding? They've been selling unfinished games since 0-day patches became standard.

    But what he's described in this article is called trialware or shareware. Standard marketting technique for three decades, at least. Get a "demo" or cheap limited version with a code or coupon for getting a cheap "full" version.

    The real way to fight piracy is the way Stardock does it--- give the game its own key, have NO DRM, and make fun games. People that like the game will buy the game. People that don't will play the game and pass it along to other people--- free advertising. Stardock releases bonus FREE material for their games after they've been out a while, to reward customers who bought the game. Works well for them.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:07 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well that's a pretty clever idea, as long as I can buy half of the game in DVD and the other half on internet for the same price that I am currently paying for full-version dvd games. The problem with this is that, Publishers may get a little bit cocky and may start telling you "if you want to know the final chapter, you can buy it for 29.99, but first you have to buy 3 more expansions before reaching the final chapter for just 49,95"... And that's gonna f*uck up all the entire industry....

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:32 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Jesus Christ look at that smug fucking face.

    Avatar of KittyFields
    Comment by KittyFields
    07:54 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I have an idea! Why not actually lower the price of the ENTIRE game?

    Avatar of Ghostchase
    Comment by Ghostchase
    17:34 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    This guy looks like a huge douche.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:59 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    see what you can do about prices, then try to sell us programs without hardware...

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:07 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Or you could just release all your games on Steam.


    Avatar of Densetsuko
    Comment by Densetsuko
    14:45 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't think this will entirely stop piracy.
    However, I do respect his dissatisfaction with DRM.

    Proves he's trying to find some nice middle ground.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:17 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yup! This is it! Selling a manga, anime or game by installment that any consumer can buy them, piece by piece, will solve this issue! But I wonder if it will be available for everybody, even the people outside US or Japan....

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:39 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I think they got their thoughts wrong, selling unfinished games will INCREASE piracy..nobody is going to pay money for an unfinish game.. then again this is codemasters so what really great things have they done lately besides uh webgames?

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:12 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yes, because people seem to like buying games for 80$ and then have to buy more shit, because they just sold an unfinished product.

    Avatar of Syobon
    Comment by Syobon
    01:12 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    I heard this before "let's bundle this spyware in our games so no way a pirated copy will be able to be activated muhuhauha"

    the result will be good&old FAIL.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:34 17/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    selling unfinished game?
    thats like buying demo and trial software.
    or mmo games buying add-ons and patches.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:37 17/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    Or you can just publish your game for the PS3.

    Avatar of takai
    Comment by takai
    21:42 17/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    as long i remember

    i am.t code master game fan, so

    get lost u code master

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:34 17/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    behold, the wise words of a greedy bastich who shuns a mirror
    i will never buy a small plastic disk that costs more than ~10eur without having tried the whole thing out in advance
    no amount of reviews can guarantee me that the game will be good, not even a demo can
    piracy is not right, but when i hear a greedy asshole defend his rights to sell these things, the contents of which are reproduced at close to no cost, for 30+eur and later to charge more, right before he sits his ass in his car which cost more than many peoples home... ugh
    as long as the industry is run by punks like this i will feel no shame for pirating all i can and buying the good stuff when it costs 15eur and less
    recently i bought evangelion 1.11, available for 20usd on amazon, at my local newsagent for 2eur
    actually, over here theres been a surge of old and almost fresh blockbuster titles sold legally for 4eur and less
    thats cheaper than i ever hoped for
    so cheap i almost want to go ask the distributors to raise the prices cos they makee great titles look like dirt
    so it is possible, the greedy warts just wont do it unless piracy makes them

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:47 18/07/2010 # ! Neutral (0)

    It seems as if someone is a cheap bastard. Now, I don't agree with what this guy is saying but I at least understand why games are expensive.

    Post Comment »


Recent News

Recent Galleries

Recent Comments