Square Enix, Eidos & Other Game Giants All Demand Cash From Pirates

After it was revealed that games developer CD Projekt had been sending cash settlement letters to Internet users based on flimsy IP address-based anti-piracy evidence, this week the company decided to end their campaign. Today TorrentFreak reveals the names of many other famous games companies conducting almost identical operations - "Send us cash settlements," they tell their targets, "...or else..."

The news this week that CD Projekt, the company behind The Witcher games, would cease their pay-up-or-else file-sharing settlement scheme against Internet account holders was welcome.

As highlighted dozens of times before, companies making these accusations rely on weak IP address-only evidence and use their legal teams to intimidate their targets into paying up – guilty or not.

CD Projekt wisely moved to protect their hard-earned image and relationships with both the gaming press and their customer base, but quite rightly noted a few weeks ago that they were not the only companies sending out these letters demanding cash.

So, addressing concerns that CD Projekt might have been unfairly singled out, TorrentFreak decided to dig deep into the archives of various resources including legal firms, campaign groups and the account holders themselves, to find out which other games companies – either directly or through local distributors – have been generating revenue from cash settlement schemes in recent years.

We discovered that not only are new games being targeted but older ones too, possibly to bring in extra cash from games well past their sell-by date when it comes to generating profit from more conventional sources.

ransom

Atari, the distributor of the original The Witcher, pulled out of chasing alleged file-sharers in the UK several years ago, but like many of their competitors simply transferred their settlement businesses to Germany. Atari has been sending settlement demands of several hundred euros for several of its titles including Alone in the Dark, Test Drive Unlimited and 2011′s Test Drive Unlimited 2.

Survival horror fans might be interested to know that distributor Koch Media has been sucking the blood from alleged sharers of the Techland game Dead Island. Tales of Monkey Island distributor DAEDALIC Entertainment are doing the same for publisher Lucas Arts.

Those who prefer a good stealthy RPG might be surprised to know that alleged sharers of Eidos/Square Enix’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution are being crept up on and told to pay-up-or-else to the tune of 800 euros by local distributor Koch Media, as are those accused of obtaining Dungeon Siege III (800 euros on this baby) and Final Fantasy games for free.

Codemasters, another company that first tried the UK and then took their settlement work elsewhere, originally pursued alleged file-sharers over their Colin McRae Dirt game.

But having gotten bored with sending out letters for F1 2010, they are currently sending cash demands of 800 euros over their latest off-road installment, DiRT 3.

Ending the racing theme, RaceOn (BitComposer) and Nail’d (Techland) complete the grid.

Holy settlement letter Batman! The Eidos/Square Enix/Warner title Batman: Arkham Asylum has been the subject of an unknown number of cash settlement letters sent out in Germany.

If you like your adventures a little more open, Eidos/Square are back again, asking for several hundred euros from ISP account holders connected to Just Cause 2 downloads. The duo come in again on the 3rd person settlement front with Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, closely followed by the Prison Break: The Conspiracy action/adventure from Koch Media (yet again).

Tactical shooter fans might be concerned by the scattergun approach taken by (and here they are again) Codemasters when they ask for 800 euros in connection with their game Operation Flashpoint Red River. The same goes for Ubisoft when they send out letters to claimed Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six:Vegas downloaders.

First person shooters are always enjoyable, but being put in the crosshairs for allegedly sharing Painkiller addons Painkiller:Resurrection and Painkiller:Redemption can’t be much fun, especially when there’s a 300 euro headshot at the end of it destined for local distributor Koch Media.

Finally, if simulators are more your thing, stand by for a realism overload. Airline Tycoon 2 and Tropico 3 and 4 (Kalypso Media), Cities XL 2012 (dtp entertainment), City Bus Simulator/Simulator Gold (Aerosoft), Airbus X (Aerosoft), and Agrar Simulator 2011 (Koch Media), are all keeping it super-real with multi-hundred euro settlement demands.

The bad news is that the above sample is just the tip of the iceberg – dozens of devs and distributors of lesser known games are sending out these letters demanding anything from 300 to more than 1000 euros to make cases go away. But despite there being many games companies at the end of these settlement chains, three local names – Koch Media, dtp entertainment AG and Kalypso Media GmbH – appear more than any other.

It would be great if the companies listed above followed CD Projekt’s example and reconsidered their support for these horrible settlement letters. If any gaming publications would like to see the full list of games companies engaged in these schemes, feel free to contact us and we’ll happily send them over.

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