There were over 900,000 unique visitors to the questionnaire. Over 1 million illegal downloaders of the trial version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Each of them were allowed to play the game until the 2nd level and then directed to www.apsquestion.com.
Results Pg 1: General information
The numbers involved in the Questionnaire (www.apsquestion.com) and general statistics about the illegal downloading population.
Results Pg 2: Illegal Downloading
Eight questions on the illegal downloading habits of those who download PC games. Such what types of media they download, and how much?
Results Pg 3: Digital Rights Management
Seven questions on Digital Rights Management, and how they affect customers, illegal downloaders, and digital pirates? Also asking what, if anything, might deter people from downloading illegally?
Results Pg 4: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
The last eight question are focused on Deus Ex: Human Revolution, what people thought of the game? How much would they buy it for and what is it worth? Also getting an insight into the perception of the companies that produce it?
Some concluding thoughts on current releases and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. How much an illegal downloader would be willing to pay, the quality of the game, and the views on the people involved in making the game.
On the 31st of May 2011, a pre-build release of Deus Ex: Human Revolution was illegally uploaded and downloaded by millions. This game contained the first four levels of the game, and was fairly error free.
Our anti-piracy strategy allows the illegal downloading community to try the game. The illegal downloader gets the choice and it safely exposes a PC game to millions of customers that want to purchase it.
Because the pre-build existed; this gave us an opportunity to take a bold move and run a trial version of the whole Anti-Piracy strategy. This involved taking the game files and altering the crack, which was freely provided by the cracking group ALI123.
The pre-build version was modified to allow the player to experience the first two levels. But upon entering the third level the game would automatically send them to a website to answer a questionnaire.
There were a total of six versions of the game repacked into an ISO image, all under the guise of well known groups both from the scene and the P2P illegal downloading networks. An ISO Image is a virtual DVD that can be played from your hard drive or burnt onto a blank DVD.
The first and official released date of Deus Ex: Human Revolution was set for the 23rd of August 2011. The experiment had an extremely low cost with minimal monitoring. The biggest resource was to make sure everything was set up correctly beforehand.
Official Release: 23rd Aug 2011
The first wave of the experiment was released on the night of 22nd August, and almost immediately p2p users began downloading. Every day, over the next 5 days, more of our torrents were uploaded for the PC version of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
We flooded areas of the torrent network and boosted the downloading speed to encourage greater numbers. The idea was to encourage downloaders; to play, to enjoy, but ultimately make up their mind if they would buy it or not.
Eventually a working crack was released onto the p2p network, a lot later than expected, as it took a day. Noted to be released on the 24th but it was difficult to be sure, as the two earlier releases were reported to be "Nuked". The two groups responsible were 3DS and ALI123, both part of the p2p scene.
The questionnaire closed on the 12th of September, some 3 weeks after the release date. Questions came in three categories illegal downloading, DRMs, and the current game Deus Ex: Human Revolution. There were many other questions, but these had been reduced to ensure that people would be tempted to answer them.
List of Questions asked:
Q1) Why do you illegally download?:
Q2) What is your opinion of illegal downloading and why it has become so popular?:
Q3) What Torrent sites do you use for the downloading of PC Games?:
Q4) What File Hosting sites do you use for the downloading of PC Games?:
Q5) How much do you download?: (Per month!)
Q6) What types of Digital Media do you download?:
Q7) How many PC games do you illegally download?: (Per month!)
Q8) Do you use any Torrent Protection services?:
Digital Rights Management
Q1) Please Rate the following DRM systems?: (SecuROM, SolidShield, Steam, UbiDRM, and EACore)
Q2) Do you think DRM systems work?:
Q3) Do you think PC Game Publishers should use DRMs?:
Q4) Do DRMs encourage you to buy?:
Q5) If DRMs were "uncrackable", would you buy PC games?:
Q6) What would work?:
Q7) Any comments to add on the above?: (Any comments on any DRMs? What would work? What would not? Will you buy?)
Deus Ex : Human Revolution
Q1) How many PC games do you buy?: (Per month!)
Q2) What do you think about the current selection of PC Games?:
Q3) Have you bought Deus Ex: Human Revolution?:
Q4) How much would you pay for it?: (The MSRP on Release date: €44.99 or $49.99)
Q5) What score would you give Deus Ex: Human Revolution?:
Q6) Was there anything you did not like in Deus Ex: Human Revolution?: (Was there any part you did not like... Gameplay, Controls, Playability, Story, Graphics? Let us know!)
Q7) Please rate Eidos as a Developer?:
Q8) Please rate Square Enix as a Publisher?:
The vast majority of answers stated clearly they would purchase the game, but it was too expensive. Because Illegal downloaders were still going to download it illegally either way we offered a reduced price, to truly know if illegal downloaders will pay or not.
The questionnaire calculated a price based on the answers given by the downloader. Then offered a high speed download, backed by a 1Gbps line, if they paid. If they liked what they saw, would they pay to play on? ... and some illegal downloaders did!
We made sure the only demographic was illegal downloaders who were not going to purchase the game through legal means. In the questionnaire, based on their answers, the average price that people stated they would pay was 50% of the MSRP (€22.49 or $24.99).
However when it came to the numbers, the amount was lower, our return of just over 681,000 Euros. This is an illegal downloader conversion to buy rate of just over 8%. A great result for the first beta test of the Anti-Piracy Strategy. This also shows that the p2p network can be used in a beneficial way for PC gaming.
But we also want to provide a positive user experience; we want to encourage the torrent network as this is a fantastic way of distributing product worldwide at an extremely low cost. A low cost that gamers reap some true benefit from.
There were a few drawbacks, which mainly arose from the fact we did not have the source files to modify for ourselves. This caused a few issues, nothing major, but for this experiment and in the time constraints we had to do with what we had.
From this experiment we learnt how to increase exposure to the market and reach more downloaders. There were certain aspects we were unsure of, but the indications and results gained showed better results can be achieved. Perhaps our biggest flaw was that at time we were too cautious.
We have very little negative responses from people answering the questionnaire. A surprising low amount, most people took it seriously, if a little cautiously. Most downloaders wanted to see the end of the questionnaire, but not fill in the answers.
This system proves many positives:
• Keeps Publishers and Developers in control of the software they have worked on.
• Allows a controlled exposure to millions of potential customers; safe even if they do not purchase.
• Low distribution costs with constant high speed access.
• Easy and convenient to the Gamer, as well as the Publisher and Developer.
• Cheaper prices, passed onto the Gamer.
• High ROT for publishers.
• A distribution system that Gamers prefer!
• Finally ... Illegal downloaders are potential customers.