The Average Gamer

Crysis 2: Camarillo Speaks About THAT Leak

Nathan Camarillo of Crytek spoke from the heart yesterday, hitting out at the gaming press over profiting from piracy, talking about the devastating effect that the leak had on team morale and praising the community for their support on the recent leak of a late Crysis 2 build. Thanks to The Guardian’s new series of Gamesblog Live events, me and a hundred other gamers were treated to an incredibly passionate speech.

Destroying Your Experience

In response to a question from the floor on piracy and how it affects the PC as a platform, executive producer Camarillo said:

“Piracy is a real concern. The PS3 has been cracked now as well and people are downloading PS3 games and 360 games are being downloaded so that’s a threat to just the industry in general. For us specifically, it was a very traumatic experience because we’re really excited about the game and the quality that we were able to get into it and what we were able to accomplish… …We’re at the end and we’re really excited about where we’re at and your game gets leaked. And it’s not even that the final version of the game gets leaked, you know?

“People are like ‘It’s 40/45 days before launch, Crysis is leaked’ but that build was already from the middle of January. With 250 people working on a project, thousands of bugs get fixed in a heartbeat. So that version is like a really ugly version that we don’t want anyone to see… …[someone] posted the first 25 minutes of the game and there’s some really important story in there that we wanted people to experience for the first time when they can continue to play the game for another hour or so after that.

“So we were really secretive with the story, not because we don’t wanna tell you. We want you to have the whole experience of the whole final game. The awesome music that we created that’s also on the internet for download now. We had announcements that we were gonna make with the talent that we worked with – we were so excited about that. All the movies; we spent a lot of time really thinking them through. The loading screen movies are actually informative and tell you about the next mission; they’re not fluff. They deliver story elements to you. All this stuff starts going up in pieces and even if someone downloads it and plays it themselves they might make a bad decision based on the fact that there are so many bugs in it. ‘Oh, there are so many bugs in the game I wanted to play. It’s so buggy, I’m not gonna buy it now.’

I love his passion for the integrity of our gaming experience but I think he’s doing gamers a disservice here. We’re intelligent enough to realise that a pre-release leaked version is not representative of the final product. Those who choose to download the leaked version, those who choose to watch a 25-minute video on YouTube are not the people who would have appreciated the first-time “Wow!” factors of your artistic endeavours in the first place. Some people like spoilers. Others work hard to avoid them.

Artistic Integrity

“There are multiple dangers. It’s not just the sheer act of people copying it and stealing it. That’s the financial one but to the quality of the product and the first way someone experiences the game and gets really excited about it like, ‘Wow, that was a really good game! Yeah, I saw that online. Yeah, I saw that online.’

“And we had that problem with the original Crysis in that Crysis 1 was announced and then the date moved a few times, over and over and over again but meanwhile the marketing machine was going about promoting the game. They just kept putting more and more videos up online and content out there. By the time people played it… they said ‘Aw, I saw this all already.’ It’s fun. It looked good. But you’d already experienced it.

“We were really trying to go the opposite way this time – hold as much as possible but still get people excited about it enough that they wanted to buy into it and get into the game world but then experience that all for the first time”

Morals and Profiteering

Camarillo was unimpressed, not only by the people distributing gameplay footage but by the press who helped to publicise it.

“People were downloading it and putting stuff up on YouTube. There’s a real financial concern, there’s a real morality concern… …even some gaming press have posted video links to YouTube for the first 25 minutes. And you know that that’s a business. And you know that when you go read that story, that they’re making money off of the advertising sales that are on that page from readers going to the site to look at content that was from a pirated version of the game.

“So then you start getting into this whole mental dilemma about “Where is it right? Where is it not?” I mean it’s definitely not right to copy it and download it and steal it, but other people then benefiting off someone ELSE’s actions… where does that line stop and get blurry? We tend to talk about it in simple terms – yeah, downloading hurts the industry but how does that hurt the value of IPs? How does that hurt the branding of games? How does that hurt the customer – the first experience of the customer?”

How did it hurt Crytek?

“Oh god, that was terrible. We went through all the phases of loss in the office. Afterwards it was denial. ‘No, this isn’t happening. No, this isn’t true. Oh, this can’t be happening.’ The whole denial phase of it. Then angry. ‘WHO DID THIS? How did this happen?’ People saying like, ‘He’d better not come to the office’ It wasn’t an employee but you know, whoever did this, whoever was Patient Zero. If I ever find this guy…

“This kind of thing, there’s anger and then people just kind of get into acceptance. ‘Oh, it’s out there’ Then people just get horribly depressed. And that went on for two or three days. Our office is generally really upbeat and really communicative. People are really tired because they work hard but we all collaborate and work with each other and get around and talk around problems and everyone was walking around like Charlie Brown – really sad and shuffling their feet. It was really… really tough.

I try not to work seven days a week ’cause it’s just so exhausting and you get into a really bad cycle where.. I work from home and try to stay out of the office for just one day. We try to make sure everyone does that because you get into a cycle where you basically just work 21 days straight without stopping and it fries your brain. So I specifically didn’t go into the office that day after becase I was in such a pissy mood. After that happened I didn’t want to be around anybody because I’m one of the people that help get everyone fired up and come into work every day and… I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go into the office and just be around everyone. It hurt ME so bad to know that people were watching what we tried so hard to perfect and getting it spoiled for them. “

What eventually pulled Crytek out of their slump was the incredible response and support from their community.

“Even people that hate on Crytek for whatever reason said ‘I know I said bad things about them in the past but I just feel terrible about this – I’ll never say anything bad again. This was an awful, awful event that happened to them. Please don’t download it’. So the community self-policed in some regard. It is still out there and it is still being downloaded but a lot of people just said ‘No, I’m not downloading this. I’m boycotting it.’ ‘I wasn’t gonna buy it but this is terrible. I’m gonna go buy it now.’

“…The only thing we can see quite quickly is if people go out and actually pre-order the game. So I’ve asked people, if you wanna support Crytek; we’re an independent developer. The number that we see that says people still want a PC version, that they’re supporting a PC version or a console version is go out and preorder it because I will see those numbers the next week and then I can tell the team ‘Hey, guess what? Our preorders went up by 200% ’cause everybody’s really supporting us.’ And then I’ll see happy faces.

Yup, there’s your take-home. Want to support Crytek? Buy Our Shit. Message of support are nice and all, but games are still a business. Put your money where your mouth is and preorder Crysis 2. So says Camarillo.

Crysis 2 will be available on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 from 25th March 2011.