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I Am Alive likely to skip PCs due to piracy concerns

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It appears digital piracy is to blame for I Am Alive's all-but-confirmed PC snub. Reflecting on the future of Ubisoft Shanghai's urban disaster game, creative director Stanislas Mettra told IncGamers the upcoming title will likely appear for download on XBLA and PSN, but skip a PC version altogether for fear of losing money on illegal downloads...

"It’s hard because there’s so much piracy and so few people are paying for PC games that we have to precisely weigh it up against the cost of making it,” said Mettra, explaining. “Perhaps it will only take 12 guys three months to port the game to PC, it’s not a massive cost but it’s still a cost. If only 50,000 people buy the game then it’s not worth it."

Ubisoft's reluctance to confirm I Am Alive for the non-console crowd has caused legitimate PC gamers to cry foul. Mettra added that despite the studio's reservations, those cries are being taking into consideration, explaining, "We’ve heard loud and clear that PC gamers are bitching about there being no version for them... but are these people just making noise just because there’s no version or because it’s a game they actually want to play? Would they buy it if we made it?"

In a follow-up email to Kotaku, Mettra attempted to soften his initial statement, explaining: "I would really love to see a PC build of the game and I don't think I meant to say, 'the game won't happen on PC...It's probably an English language miscommunication. What I meant is that the PC version did not happen yet. But we are still working to see the feasibility of it, which is not necessarily simple. I gave some examples to illustrate the problematic, but obviously it is not in my hands and not my part to talk about this."

Attempts to quell a PC uprising aside, Mettra's initial concerns are valid--especially considering it's rare for a high profile PC game to not fall victim to piracy. How long will it be until other developers follow suit? Rather, should they just learn to accept digital piracy as a reality of doing business?

In  follow-up email to Kotaku, Mettra attempted to soften his initial statement, explaining: "I would really love to see a PC build of the game and I don't think I meant to say, 'the game won't happen on PC...It's probably an English language miscommunication. What I meant is that the PC version did not happen yet. But we are still working to see the feasibility of it, which is not necessarily simple. I gave some examples to illustrate the problematic, but obviously it is not in my hands and not my part to talk about this."

I Am Alive is currently being built from scratch by Ubisoft Shanghai, after acquiring the pitch and some early work from its previous developers at Darkworks. It is on track for release on PSN and XBLA this winter. See what Ubisoft has in store for the end of the world in our preview.

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25 comments

  • RedOutlive10 - November 28, 2011 1:55 p.m.

    > Devs ignore pc > Gaben gets my money
  • BordersOfInsanity - November 25, 2011 9:45 p.m.

    as long as it's not ONLY on a console that costs anywhere from $1500-$3000 (maybe more, don't know, don't care). I'm perfectly fine with their decision (only because I don't have a good PC).
  • EHyundai - November 25, 2011 8:03 p.m.

    I dont follow that logic at all. They'd lose way more sales by skipping the pc than they ever would to piracy.
  • ThatFanInThePeacoat - November 27, 2011 11:54 a.m.

    I thought the same thing. Maybe they believe that investing the money into coding and developing for the PC would be more than they would get back in sales (due to pirating). I disagree with that logic, but I'm just hypothesizing as to what is going on in Ubisoft's head.
  • thinkBrigger - November 25, 2011 5:16 a.m.

    Damn shame, as a gamer who's moved almost entirely to PC gaming (save for some co-op on console) I hate that I may miss this title. I've been keeping up on news for it because it sounded so interesting. Not to mention the art style is highly appealing to me. I don't own a PS3 or subscribe to LIVE and was hoping this would be my fill in for not having the opportunity to play the Uncharted. Apparently not. Piracy is rampant and existing, but making games less accessible (and for high prices, though probably not for this title specifically) isn't going to help that statistic. If games were cheaper and easier to acquire, PC gaming piracy would not be so prevalent. Newell proved this by opening Steam to Russia and receiving a tremendous amount of success. I wish developers wouldn't snuff the platform because piracy is easier on it (though I can certainly sympathize with indie developers for this issue). Anyone who truly wants a game, or anything for that matter, without paying for it will not be stopped by a mere console limited release. People who want to and do pirate, in my experience, do so more because they can and less because they want to. I, rather unfortunately, know a lot of game pirates with more than enough cash lining their pockets for legitimate purchases of high and low end titles, but steal them because they're angry at the industry for making things less accessible. Which is a shame, because indie developers get so screwed over shit like that. I have well over two hundred titles legally acquired through Steam. If Ubisoft would ever like to add a release for this on PC, as long as it's affordable, I would pre-order I Am Alive in a heartbeat. Not because I have to, because I want to. And I just hope they'll appreciate people like me, even if it's a year or more down the road from initial release.
  • larkan - November 25, 2011 2:38 a.m.

    So basically, Ubisoft is claiming defeat on the PC platform, seeing as how their DRM failed HARD. So which is it Ubisoft, did your DRM fail or is it because of pirates you puss out on PC? It's one or the other, not both. Just understand that making comments like these public will cause more people to pirate, burn copies of your crappy games and put them in their local Wal-Mart with a "free" sign attached to them, cause that's about what they are worth.
  • AuthorityFigure - November 25, 2011 2:17 a.m.

    I was in line the other day at a restaurant, and a PC gamer was boasting as to how he obtained SKYRIM for free - he even mentioned that he doesn't even like RPGs. If this is what an indifferent PC gamer does, what would an interested one do? If you are a PC gamer who has pirated, this article is just the begininng of your future.
  • thinkBrigger - November 25, 2011 5:26 a.m.

    I agree. I am a largely PC oriented gamer and have never once attempted to illegally acquire a game. And while I always argue against it, I still have many friends who do. Many do less because they can't afford a release and more because they can or the resent the system for some reason. I can certainly agree many games are unfairly priced, but I'm hardly swimming in cash and still own over two hundred titles on Steam alone. I love PC gaming to death, it reinvented how I feel about games, but I definitely feel we'll sometimes be the death of our own "console industry." Many people are still good about not pirating, but too many exist for me to still feel comfortable about it. I can't feel happy about anyone pirating, as it's wrong regardless, but I'd especially like to see indie games stop suffering for this.
  • EnragedTortoise1 - November 24, 2011 4:37 p.m.

    Bullshit. Release it on Steam for ten bucks, then we'll talk. What's hilarious is that one of the devs called out us PC gamers for, and I quote, "bitching about it" later. Fuggin dicks.
  • MasterBP - November 24, 2011 4:24 p.m.

    This game is still being made? huh. OT: Those who treat their customers like crap should not complain when said customers don't want to buy their product anymore
  • festafreak - November 24, 2011 3:04 p.m.

    That's fine. Never heard of it. Just another console developed PC port that I don't have to rant about down the line.
  • DeeEss - November 24, 2011 2:06 p.m.

    Fine... FINE! Keep your stupid game for jerks. I didn't want it anyway.
  • HeavyTank - November 24, 2011 1:50 p.m.

    Oh sod off Ubisoft. Plenty of single player PC games make assloads of money, and if they really think that piracy is to blame if they don't sell enough copies then they're just stupid. What many people fail to realize is that most pirates would never buy the game in the first place if it wasn't available for free (it's the case with many of my friends, online and not), and that they also talk about how good the game is (in case it is good, of course) to their friends that might go and buy it because of that. Obviously I won't go as far as to say that piracy helps sales, that's ridiculous, but it's no reason to completely skip the PC when releasing a game. If you don't sell enough copies, chances are that your game either sucks or simply isn't interesting enough for the general public.
  • UberNoob - November 24, 2011 11:33 a.m.

    Hmm...Isn't this the game I heard about over a year or two ago? Maybe more?
  • Rhaen - November 24, 2011 11:32 a.m.

    Based on his numbers, 50,000 sales is not worth the investment of 12 guys time for 3 months. If you even make $3 off each sale that's still $150,000. I'm clearly in the wrong career if these guys are making over $4,000 a month. Surely there would be some profit in the endeavour ergo it is a worthwhile business decision. As it may not make bucketloads of cash but it would at least increase Ubisoft's position in the PC market which surely would improve their share prices? Who knows. They also might sell an awful lot more than 50,000 copies if the game is worthwhile. Maybe the PC games buying public is too discerning? What about the retail stores that sell second hand titles? I know its a big business for console gamers and publishers don't see a penny of that. How many console players wait for second hand titles and effectively take part in piracy (but people actually profit from it)? Essentially it's just an excuse for why they can't be bothered.
  • Mezolitik - November 24, 2011 11:12 a.m.

    I love my PC. Sometimes I hug it. Back on topic; Gabe the Steam Guy said that piracy is a matter of accessibility, rather than a lack of money or a mad desire to pirate all the things (!). In other words, loading your games with DRM (or worse - Origin) makes games inaccessible to gamers, and contributes in lower sales. However, it does sound like Mettra is simply trying to justify his own reasons for shunning the PC.
  • ggbrad - November 24, 2011 10:54 a.m.

    Saying that a certain group of potential customers is "Bitching" at you isn't good. Requiring a constant internet connection is bad. There are always those people who retort that there's no way someone would not be regularly connected. I lose my internet connection every day. I've switched providers and routers. Ubisoft just doesn't understand. I preordered From Dust because Ubisoft said that it wouldn't have their DRM. Well, look what happened with that. Ubisoft looks down upon PC gamers as dirty beggars who cheat and swindle developers. Well, fuck them. I downloaded a preview build of Deus Ex: Human Revolution months before it was released. I liked the preview build. So I shelled out 60 dollars for the game. Why? Hell if I know, Ubisoft! It was a good game.
  • HamsterGutz - November 24, 2011 10:04 a.m.

    Meh, no loss for me, never even heard of it.
  • Myko - November 24, 2011 9:42 a.m.

    DGAF, I decided to boycott Ubi when they decided to publish Call of Juarez the Cartel, I have never played it but read some really bad reviews and watched an episode of extra credits on penny-arcade.com to make me realize that I am not going to be buying from Ubi for awhile since it publishes garbage, oh and they also ruined the Heroes of Might and Magic series. Now after reading this article it has put the nail on the coffin for Ubisoft, good riddance and I hope for plenty of failures, since they have already started a trend for many game developers to use them as a good example as bad game developing.
  • Fiirestorm21 - November 24, 2011 8:43 a.m.

    And inevitably some PC gamer will say this has something to do with Ubi's anti PC stance and their draconian DRM schemes, but they're missing the point. I'm a PC gamer myself, so I hate to say it, but the audience we have of paying customers, at least for hardcore games outside of the mainstream (which is definitely where I Am Alive falls), is damned small. I mean, look at PC-exclusive The Witcher 2. Can you find me a more "PC gamer friendly" game with less DRM? Yet it sold a whopping 250,000. That's pathetic, especially for a AAA game. Ubisoft can probably take lower sales like that a little better considering I Am Alive won't be PC-exclusive like The Witcher 2, but still. People get butt-hurt, and we can argue about whether or not piracy results in actual "lost sales" or not, but at the end of the day the reality is that it's just business and that sometimes, regardless of the specific reasons, we aren't a large enough audience to be profitable.

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