I just read a review by Matt Peckham mentioning the lack of free "pirated" versions of the long-anticipated game, StarCraft II, which he sums up as: "PC gaming 1, pirates 0". In his view, "PC gaming" is pitted against players who want to play, but are resistant to being forced to pay $60 or more, in advance, to a secretive corporation, which is part of an even more secretive, corporate, profit-maximizing conglomerate.
Pirates 85, actually. That's the count on thepiratebay.org for Starcraft II. I paid for my copy, as I pay for my WoW usage (I want to play on the official servers, not the private ones that are free) but it's hardly the case that the game(s) can't be pirated.
But I think you've hit the nail on the head. The question then becomes, how do these entertainment employees make money if they can't charge for their product? Fee for service (as in the WoW public servers) shouldn't be a problem, but that's what kept me from playing the game for years. What bothers me is they still charge for the game (and they still charge for 10 year old games on the battlenet site, BTW) even though they will charge you to use their servers as well. That feels like double billing to me.