Bob Dylan sang that "The times they are a-changin" and never has it been truer. With rampant copyright infringements, downloaders getting sued, pirates being made to walk the plank it's really time for a paradigm shift in the methodology of gaming and game delivery.
Although we see the expansion of subscription-based online gaming, which has been around since the early nineties, there still exists a massive subculture of game copying/downloading in which gaming studio's feel they're getting the blunt end of the stick....up the ass.....in the dark.
Now to My opinion on the matter, and you need to look at the piracy of games to understand more. Lets take Call of Duty: Black Ops as an example, one of the highest grossing games of all time BUT also one of the most pirated games of all time as well. The crux of the matter is that no matter what, the pirates only really ever get to play the single-player portion of the game, since the amazing online play requires the use of a CD-Key. Now to appease pirates, consumers and Game studio's alike, why not just make the single-player portion of games free ? I mean, who really wants to spend $60 on an awesome game just for 6-8 hours of single-player gameplay ? You eliminate the illegality and criminality associated with pirating games, since there really is'nt much reason to pirate a game you get for free anyway. What about 2 versions of the game, One fully featured versions with an "Online Play" CD-Key, and one without that costs 25% of the Multi-Player version (to cover distribution and manufacturing costs) with No CD-Key.
Pirates wont really know what to do, since getting a quality single-player game for $15 in a pretty box with everything is going to be pretty damn attractive. And since you're making the single-player online version of the game free, who cares if said Pirate lets his friend copy the Single player game and make your company look good ?
Times change, so should your distribution model, marketing strategy and ultimately your mindset. Going after Pirates will do nothing more than piss them off more, make them attack your product more and create an upswell amongst fence-sitters on the subject. Change the model of Games: Single-Player Free; Multi-Player Pay.
Why not charge $1.99 a month for the privilege of Multiplayer madness instead of your $60 once off ? Keep your online interesting with DLC and customisability. Think outside the current 1980's mindset that if you copy my game, you go to jail.
SINGLE-PLAYER FREE, MULTI-PLAYER PAY