I guess they’re crying… for their tech. YEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAH!
If you’ve been anywhere on the internets looking for games, you’d probably know by now that Crysis 2, the sequel to that overblown techdemo Crysis, made by Crytek (who just copied the general storyline from Far Cry, but we won’t go there), has been leaked onto the internet. Strangely enough it’s had a somewhat polarising effect on the Internet gaming community at large. Let’s take a look.
Don’t know. All that most of us know for certain is that a build of Crysis 2 has been leaked to the Internet. That build contains a massive chunk of content for the single and multiplayer games and is somewhat playable. It’s incredibly buggy and unless you can figure out the config file you can’t change many options, but you can see a few things are actually playable. The editor was also bundled with the leak, which some people say is a lot worse, but I don’t think so. Unless it was the engine’s source code, at which point yes, that’s pretty bad news. The worst part is that the DRM master keys were included in the leak, which is really, really bad news this close to release. The beta has leaked onto torrent networks, and once it’s there, it’s not going away.
“Piracy is bad.” The end. Rumours abound that the build was leaked by someone inside the company. I’m not sure I buy that one, I’d say rogue hackers is probably more likely. The reason for the leak in any case is unclear. Some suggest that it’s due to the DRM included in the game. That might sound somewhat plausible, given that the master keys were leaked with the game, but why do it before release when it’d be easy to fix the problem? I’d say it’s more likely that a developer shared the build with a friend, who then shared it with another friend, and so on until it was leaked. Otherwise it’s not impossible to believe that a rogue hacker has gone looking for it and leaked it.
The “Good” Community’s Outrage:
Of course there’d be a cross section of the community who would defend Crytek to the hilt. Their ranting pretty much matches what you’d expect; this is going to kill Crytek, this will cause them to abandon PC gaming, this is a terrible day for them, and so on. There’s zero doubt that this is definitely damaging to Crytek, and if you’re accessing the beta, legally you’re out of line. The leaking of the DRM system is probably the worst aspect. However past that the moral outrage from the community is probably misplaced in some respects. Other companies have suffered leaks and gone on to release successful products (as we’ll see later) despite widespread accessing of the leaks. Crytek were clearly shifting their focus to consoles when Crysis 2’s development started, because after all they represent a significant user base, and it’s FINALLY forced Crytek to do something other than make a bunch of shaders and huge textures and expect everybody to upgrade (that’s not advancement, that’s just being a pain in the arse). Also I’m willing to bet that most people who download it are probably just curious about the game, and aren’t stupid enough to judge it. It’s barely playable in most respects; it’s unstable, it’s incomplete, and it’s difficult to get working properly. The editor was leaked with the game, but if you’ve used the editor in Crysis, you’d know that it’s not really such a big deal in the long run. There’s no doubt that it hurts Crysis but I think the fanboys are overstating the damage done.
The “Pirate” Community’s Response:
In general, most of the “pirate” community (if such a thing really exists) is fairly interested in the game. Plenty of people are talking about performance being fairly decent with a high graphical fidelity, which is interesting given how early the game’s current state is. There’s a lot of people playing with the config files to get it running, and plenty of people checking out how work has progressed. Of course, 90% of those who donwloaded it are just curious about what the game is like and aren’t judging it, but then there are those 10% who don’t understand what an “unfinished build” is and are judging it. These people are idiots, and nobody with a shred of rational thought will pay attention to them. There’s nothing inherently malicious about what the majority of downloaders are doing, even if it’s still legally wrong. There’s no question that the master key leak is bad, but most people probably don’t really know much about it and don’t really care, so condemning everybody is going a bit too far.
Remember back in 2002 when Doom 3 was leaked? An E3 technology demonstration was leaked after E3, and ATI were the suspects. The leak was incredibly basic; it pretty much showed off a tiny amount of gameplay (there was AI but it was fairly basic), some of the physics, and the lighting engine. There were about 3 or so levels, all of which ran very poorly on hardware at the time. You could also see the start of the fancy GUIs. Plenty of people called it an “alpha”, but that’s probably not entirely accurate. It was more of a technology demonstration than a full alpha, but I suppose the engine would have still been in fairly early stages at the time. Doom 3 went on to be a commercial and critical success, even if users were turned off by it afterwards.
Half Life 2 is probably the most famous leak of all time, and was far more damaging than Doom 3’s leak. This happened back in 2003, and involved somebody (who was later caught thanks to a bit of community detective work) who successfully breached Valve’s defences and stole a massive portion of the game’s development material. Most people only ever saw the leaked binaries and content, and didn’t see the massive amounts of reference material and source code (amongst other stuff) that was stolen. It happened at a crucial point in the game’s troubled development history, being about a year out from release, showing that the game was still very much unfinished and was transitioning from its old dark, gritty atmosphere to the somewhat brighter world that you see in HL2 today. It goes without saying that HL2 has been a phenomenal success, and the leak pretty much didn’t matter in the long run. In general, people just wanted to see where the game was at, and pretty much everybody bought it in the end.
STALKER was also leaked prior to release. It was a really, really bad build which was barely playable, but it was still out there, and some of the code was as well. I didn’t check out the STALKER leak because frankly the game didn’t interest me, and when it was released, we got pretty much what we expected out of it (a dated, buggy but passable game). Did it stop it from being a commercial success? Nope.
I think it’s important to point out that the majority of “leaks” these days are bits of information or the release to manufacturing/final build of a game. The RTM builds are the final, end product that people will get in their hands, except released before the street release date. These leaks (and the Crysis 2 leak) are entirely different in that they’re alpha/beta builds (or otherwise unfinalised builds) which aren’t ready for release (or anywhere near it). While a leak of the RTM means somebody gets the full end product, these leaks are usually just disconnected elements of content, without much in the way of fully playable content. It’s also important to point out that Crysis 2 is much closer to release, so there’s a lot more content here, but this is hardly a final build.
Presumably Crytek will flip out and EA will start trolling torrents. It’s too late of course, the game is everywhere, but they have to do something. Haters gonna hate (and for TF2, hatters gonna hat), but pretty much nothing can be done to stop the flood now.
What Should You Do?
I don’t know. If you’re asking me whether you should download it, I won’t give you an answer. But I will point out that it isn’t legal. So do what you will, because we all know that’s what you’ll do anyway!