Two weeks ahead of The Sims 3’s official release, the life simulation game has leaked to BitTorrent sites.
Ars Technica, which reported the leak, won’t link to the sites where it found the games and hasn’t downloaded it — doing so would break the law — but searching for "Sims 3 BitTorrent" on Google turns up plenty of results. Commenters at the sites Ars found are reporting that the game is working fine, though I’ve turned up one example of a commenter warning of viruses.
It’s worth noting that the description at one site includes a moral appeal along with instructions for installing the game. Following the steps on cracking the game’s encryption and preventing it from going online, a final suggeston reads: "Support the software developers. If you like this game, BUY IT." (The story of an indie game developer that made this appeal directly to downloaders can be found here.)
Of course, no story on EA’s struggle with software pirates is complete without recalling the Spore fiasco. After shipping the game with particularly oppressive digital rights management, angry customes launched an Amazon Bomb. Meanwhile, the game became one of the most illegally downloaded in history., though it’s not clear how much the legitimate game’s DRM played into that.
For The Sims 3, EA will drop online authentication and rely on simple disc-based encryption instead. However, if the early leak is for real, it only signifies that the company is in a tough spot no matter what method it tries. The Sims and Spore are widely-appealing games. It’s no surprise that they’re popular targets for illegal download even if, as Ars points out, many downloaders say they’re just picking up the game for their girlfriends.