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Yar Pirates! Why Sims 3 Is All About Free Downloadable Content
Some people might wonder why the Sims 3 ships with $10 free credit to download items from the store, and why EA hosts a massive database of user modified content which can be downloaded at whim from the Sims site.
Why? Well, this is a game which has been purchased by over 1.4 million people. It is also a game which was pirated before it was even released. Do you smell the sea salt? Do you hear the shanties in the distance? Do you feel the phantom weight of a bulky parrot perched upon your shoulder?
Oh yes. I have one word for you – piracy. You see, EA have figured out that they cannot stop people ripping CD/DVD games to .iso files. (It's something everyone should probably do anyway, given that the CD has to be mounted in order for the game to play, and there's a fairly decent chance that one day you're going to scratch your disk, especially if you play on more than one computer.) Once a game has been transformed into an .iso, there is very little anyone can do to stop it being disseminated throughout the Internet's many p2p networks, such as Demonoid, and before they sold out, The Pirate Bay.
So, what do you do when you know, for certain, that people are going to try to steal your product? Well, you try to protect it, of course. That's what EA did for a long time, and to a certain extent, they still do it. Copy protection etc were all used to dissuade pirates, but let's face it, anyone who knows an .iso from an elbow can get around that stuff without too much trouble.
The solution to the problem is to make the customer dependent upon the purveyor long after the initial purchase. So sure, you can pirate the Sims 3, but you won't get half the value you could get because you won't be able to register it with EA and download the the other half of the game which is available online. The Sims 3 disk ships with one town on it, Sunset Valley. If you want to play in another location, you need to download Riverview from the Sims 3 website.
It's a clever move on EA's part because it saves them from having to chase down pirates who essentially spread free advertising for the game when they spread cracked versions on p2p networks, and it allows them to create long term dependents out of players hooked on the franchise. They're evil geniuses kids, and they'll always win. Which is good, because when the pirates win, the games stop being made.
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