PC Play has an interview with Cevat Yerli, president of the German studio Crytek, the studio that bought the first person shooter Crysis. In this interview, Yerli states that piracy is a big problem for Crytek, and I think I know why.
PC Play: How do you estimate the current state of the PC gaming industry? Some say that it's only a matter of time when it's going to finally die-off, the others say that "the big one" is only getting its comeback pace. Considering Crysis is a PC-exclusive title, what do you think of its market reception and its future? Skeptics would say that it's pretty risky going PC-exclusive with such a high-profile title.
Cevat Yerli: It is certainly. We are suffering currently from the huge piracy that is encompassing Crysis. We seem to lead the charts in piracy by a large margin, a chart leading that is not desirable. I believe that’s the core problem of PC Gaming, piracy. To the degree PC Gamers that pirate games inherently destroy the platform. Similar games on consoles sell factors of 4-5 more. It was a big lesson for us and I believe we wont [sic] have PC exclusives as we did with Crysis in future. We are going to support PC, but not exclusive anymore.
Let me begin by saying that I'm a huge fan of the game Crysis. I've bought more than half a dozen copies of the game and we've spent many pleasant hours in the lab fragging one another. But there's a problem with Crysis, and that it that it quickly became known as a game that a computer won't play well, no matter how powerful or expensive it is.
Take this personal example - my quad core QX9650 with twin 3870 X2's can deliver something like an average of 25 frames per second at 1650 x 1050 in high quality, but even with all this hardware behind it, it still prefers to run at medium quality. Want to take the graphics quality to very high? Unless you've got an nVIDIA 9800 GX2 card fitted into the system, you can forget about it. Sure, the game looks truly stunning when played at very high, but the price that you have to pay to achieve that is also stunning. I've been using Crysis as a benchmark extensively and it literally chews up and spits out even the highest-end system. It's a monster of a game.
Those sorts of performance requirements aren't good for sales, and the reputation that Crysis earned as a resource hog (a well-deserved reputation) put a large proportion of gamers off spending their hard-earned cash. I think that the reason Crysis leads the charts when it comes to piracy is because the performance issues put an artificial cap on sales.
Bottom line, Crytek fragged itself by pushing the performance boundaries too much which made the game niche rather than mass-market.