"You identified our secret marketing campaign!" EA CEO John Riccitiello said of the large-scale piracy of a pre-release version of The Sims 3. "That was a very large scale – concentrated on Poland and China – demo program." How could Riccitiello be so cool about piracy? He told IndustryGamers that the incomplete leaked game served as an invitation to buy the full version, so despite the inadvertent leak, the value of the data from this "experiment" may outweigh the losses.

"A huge amount of the gameplay is an overlay for the community," he said, "where you are sampling assets created by other people. So for the pirate consumer, they don't get the second town, they don't get all the extra content, and they don't get the community. It was only concentrated on Poland and China, but I think of it as not being that different than a demo."

This kind of piracy only serves as a test for EA's ongoing move to online content. Riccitiello believes that EA is moving toward selling "services," by which he means longterm online games for which the initial purchase is either nonexistent or a small portion of the total payment for the game. "By the way, if there are any pirates you're writing for," he told IG, "please encourage them to pirate FIFA Online, NBA Street Online, Battleforge, Battlefield Heroes... if they would just pirate lots of it I'd love them. [laughs] Because what's in the middle of the game is an opportunity to buy stuff."

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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