I Can Make Up Numbers Too, WotC

Posted on April 14, 2009


I thought I was done with the WotC PDF situation, but someone provided me with a link to the text of the actual interview with Greg Leeds over at ENworld. The entire interview is still available for reading if you haven’t already checked it out.

My main concern is with the first two points, because that’s where the interview contains a dangerous fabrication that nobody else seems to be catching.

1. Please tell us the reasons for the new policy on PDF sales. Is this a strategic business decision, a response to piracy, or a combination of the two?

(Leeds) The decision was made for both reasons. The piracy of our products was increasing at an alarming rate, and we felt that it could have a negative impact not only to Wizards of the Coast, but to the hobby industry as a whole.

2. Is online piracy a continuing annoyance for Wizards, a substantial concern, or something between the two? Are there estimates of lost sales figures that you can share?

(Leeds) The piracy became a substantial concern when we saw thousands of copies of our recently released Player’s Handbook 2 being downloaded illegally within hours of its release. We cannot share sales figures, but I can tell you that we conservatively estimate the ratio of illicit downloads to legally purchased copies was 10:1.

That last bit is the relevant part. “Conservatively estimate”? How were these figures obtained? How can this be fact-checked? There is no proof offered for this supposed ratio. We’re just supposed to trust Leeds, who has obvious interest in making us believe that this is an antiterrorism antipiracy measure according to the corporate line. Folks, this is dangerous. No, it won’t end the world, but we’re being presented with a bald-faced statistical fabrication and nobody seems to notice it. It’s an unverifiable, unfalsifiable number pulled out of the ether as part of a massive PR spin campaign.

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