Destineer President Peter Tamte tells me that the difference I’ve described between sell-through and update downloads is more common than not. He said that when his company shipped its squad-based first-person shooter First to Fight last year, it found within a few weeks that more people were trying to log on to multiplayer servers with a single banned serial number than the total number of copies Destineer had sold combined.
Aspyr Media Director of Development Glenda Adams didn’t have much better news. She sees the industry inevitably heading towards more copy protection systems like Steam, a scheme created by Valve Software, makers of Half-Life 2. Steam requires players to have an online connection to validate their software each time they want to play.
Feral Interactive’s Edwin Smith said that on any given day, dozens of copies of its games can be found being downloaded from pirate sites that use BitTorrent.