Apparently, they developed iteratively and failed to do "premature optimization." Fact is, hosting servers costs money, and developing optimized software costs money and time. The pirated copies are costing them money without giving them anything in return. On top of that, a lot of these people might have paid for the game if they had not been able to get it free.
As a game dev you are going to have an awful lot of things on your mind that are more important than optimizing a system that currently works. This is business reality. Obviously, this could have been an "excuse" to shutter a poorly-constructed game, but I totally believe that the load from copies freely obtained (against the developers' wishes) made their product untenable. All their blood, sweat, and tears, wasted.
I feel deeply about software piracy.
Piracy disrespects the software developers. The developers worked hard to produce something and you tell them that there code is worth $0.00. I'm extremely offended that people pirate code.
The key is that they asked for money and you told them no. It's one thing for someone to offer their software for free, it's another thing for someone to say, "I need money to develop this," and you tell them "No, your software isn't worth that." Maybe you didn't mean that. It's like slapping someone in the face and telling them that you really didn't mean it that way.
I'm absolutely shocked that comments in this thread insist that it's the responsibility of the developers to either throw up an authentication wall (think about the conversion losses!) or just handle thousands of people using their software for free. That's precious development time that they've spent on premature optimization when they could have built better features for paying customers.
I'll wager that 95% of the developers commenting here actually get paid for their code in some way, shape, or fashion. Why wouldn't you want to pay for someone else's code? Why do you have a kneejerk reaction when other people don't want to pay to use others' code?
I go out of my way to support free code if there's a donate button. Nearly every time I see a donate button I click it. I used Readability before their donations fell apart. I have a gittip account. I respect developers and the time it takes to create code, so I pay the price.
I assume the people reading this are like me. You also donate to open source projects and buy the paid version when possible, once you've tried the game. However, the rank and file of people who are pirating software probably do not.
Even though copying code is cheap, piracy takes a toll on the company:
- It often takes away potential sales.
- Pirated copies are often sub-par and can tarnish your brand. Some developers might not realize how important brand is, but just consider how many millions of dollars are spent to build brand for these companies.
- In this case, pirating imposed an unbearable load on servers. They had to shutter the game.
I am all about open source and donate whenever possible. I totally understand that, for example, patents are just ridiculously overplayed in today's world. However, software piracy offends me deeply. I think it ought to offend other developers as well, but you are free to hold whatever opinion you like.
You're just throwing out buzzwords. People who write game servers understand the basics of scaling and memory management, or they don't. Unless you're Notch Persson, you can't release shit multiplayer and expect people to play your game (and Minecraft still had the singleplayer experience during that time).