Leave it to Valve to find the sunny side of piracy.
"We take all of our games day-and-date to Russia," Holtman said. "The reason people pirated things in Russia is because Russians are reading magazines and watching television. They say 'Man, I want to play that game so bad,' but the publishers respond 'you can play that game in six months...maybe.' " Valve Says Pirates Are Just Underserved Customers (1UP.com)
It would be interesting to know what additional costs they incurred to sim ship localized product and how it compared with the additional real gains/imaginary losses associated with piracy. Was it more of a schedule slip? Earlier spent loc cost? Just curious...
Well, if they are pirating a game when it comes out, before it's been localized, then they're using the English (or other currently localized) version, no?
So, just ship the English product, and allow a free download to change language whenever it's ready, if for some reason it can't happen simultaneously.