Several European distributors and publishers, including major firms like Koch Media and Codemasters, are allegedly demanding cash settlements for hundreds of euros from suspected game pirates.
The news comes a week after Polish developer CD Projekt RED suspended its own legal attacks against people it believed to have pirated copies of The Witcher 2, as it feared the policy would squander the good faith of its fanbase, and that it might mistakenly harm a loyal customer.
Opponents of the practice argue that the basis for these accusations and demands, which often rely on recorded IP addresses for pirated game downloads, are weak evidence. They argue that companies are intimidating their targets to pay, whether the accused are guilty or not.
Filesharing news blog TorrentFreak claims dozens of publishers and distributors for both popular and lesser-known releases have demanded cash settlements from Europeans. It said local distributors Koch Media, dtp entertainment AG, and Kalypso Media GmbH were the worst offenders.
The site alleges that Atari has sent settlement demands for several hundred euros for titles like Alone in the Dark, Test Drive Unlimited, and Test Drive Unlimited 2. It says Codemasters is demanding €800 ($1019) from suspected DiRT3 and Operation Flashpoint Red River pirates.
Distributor Koch Media is also said to have pressured suspected pirates of Square Enix's Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dungeon Siege III, and Final Fantasy games to pay €800 each. Koch has also supposedly sent settlement letters for Dead Island, Prison Break: The Conspiracy, and others.
"We discovered that not only are new games being targeted but older ones too, possibly to bring in extra cash from games well past their sell-by date when it comes to generating profit from more conventional sources," says TorrentFreak reporter Enigmax.
Calling the companies' IP address-based anti-piracy evidence "flimsy," the writer adds, "It would be great if the companies listed above followed CD Projekt's example and reconsidered their support for these horrible settlement letters."