This month's Computer Gaming World has a letter to the editor giving us kudos for not putting CD copy protection on Galactic Civilizations II. In it, he says that not having copy protection helped make his decision to get the game.
As a gamer, I have a similar point of view. I lose my CDs. I scratch my CDs. My desk is a mess. Nowadays, with games requring 3 or 4 CDs (I wish retailers would universally accept DVDs but that's a different issue), keeping CDs around to play is annoying.
I don't have exact worldwide sales numbers for Galactic Civilizations II, but we do know they're well over 100,000 units sold worldwide in the first 90 or so days. That number is about as high as a game of our distribution level can sell in that time frame (units sold is a function of popularity X outlets available in the same way that a movie's first weekend take is a function of how well received it is X how many theaters it's showing in).
The question about copy protection is straight forward in our view: Does CD copy protection generate more sales due to less piracy than it costs in sales due to people on the fence deciding not to purchase.
CD copy protection to me is a lot like the issue I have with shareware. I don't mind registing shareware. But I know that I'm going to lose that serial # at some point. IF the site has a very very simple way of looking me up and sending me my info that is very apparent, then I'm inclined to buy it. Similarly, not having CD copy protection helps protect my investment -- knowing I'll be able to play the game even if I lose those CDs.
In GalCiv II's case, our upgrade system even has electronic registration. When someone upgrades to one of the new versions, they enter in their serial # that came with the game and it automatically registers them. So even if they lose the CDs AND their hard drive dies, they can re-download the entire game from us (not just updates the ENTIRE GAME) even yeras from now.
For these reasons, we are convinced that game developers/publishers can increase their sales by focusing on SERVING their customers rather than focusing on thwarting pirates. If someone is paying $40 for a game, they should be treated with respect, not with suspicion.