"100 (failed) attempts" to play a pirated copy of Arma 2 online to every legitimate 3.
This shows an "extremely widespread" piracy problem on PC, especially for a "mid-sized" PC focused studio like Bohemia. The stats are "undoubtedly much worse" for singe player.
The developer believes it's better to "not to try to prevent counterfeit" copies from running at all but instead "degrade the end user experience" - pirated Arma 2 has 'lower accuracy'.
"The motto is: Pirated games are not worth playing, original games do not degrade. Some of the symptoms are funny, usually annoying," Bohemia Interactive CEO Marek Španěl told PC Gamer.
"In the Arma series, players with pirated copies have lower accuracy with automatic weapons in both single player and multiplayer, and occasionally turn into a bird with the words “Good birds do not fly away from this game, you have only yourself to blame." While we know we will never stop piracy, we use this as a way to make our stand that piracy is not right, that it has a serious negative impact on PC games developers.
While the studio hasn't any figures for offline play, they do for online: "...our statistics from multiplayer show that for every three legitimate buyers playing their game in multiplayer, there are 100 (failed) attempts to play with a pirated version."
"This indicates that piracy is an extremely widespread problem on PC, and it’s also really worrying for us as a mid-sized, independent, PC-oriented developer. We do not have any such data for single-player, but I’m afraid there the ratio of pirates to legitimate gamers is undoubtedly much worse."
Bohemia use more traditional DRM methods initially for their titles but remove it after a certain period so their legitimate customers don't feel punished for what pirates might be trying to do.
"Our approach is to remove conventional DRM not too long after the initial game’s release to ensure as smooth an experience as possible for our legitimate users and still appeal to our distribution and publishing channels. We’re trying to cut off this vicious circle where piracy hurts owners of legitimate copies “protected” with annoying copy protection DRM systems, which may lead to more piracy," explained Španěl.
Bohemia recently released helicopter simulator Take On Helicopters where pirated copies would suffer a degradation of visuals overtime the longer it was played. Should more studios adopt these methods to strike back at pirates? Check out thebetween Marek Španěl and PC Gamer.