How often do you pirate?

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Matt Barton
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I don't know about you, but if it weren't for the ability to illegally copy and distribute games, I wouldn't have played 1% of them that I have over the years. I'm sure most of us have memories (or artifacts!) of those days; huge boxes of disks with scrawled labels on them. We probably looked with pity on our console cousins, those poor kids who literally had to buy or rent every game they played. We, meanwhile, had hundreds of games that only cost as much as a blank box of disks or cassette tapes.

Arguably, back then most of us were kids with no income, so it was either pirate or do without. Nowadays, though, most of us have jobs or some form of income, and it seems less justifiable. Nevertheless, many of us feel very comfortable downloading "abandonware," even when it is available for purchase somewhere, and many feel no pangs about jumping on Pirate Bay and downloading the latest PC games. Indeed, now the fun has finally reached our console cousins, who have ways (thanks to inexpensive mod chips) to bring pirated games to their systems. So, it would seem that we're living in a truly golden age of piracy.

What do you think about piracy? The knee jerk reaction seems to be "It's okay ONLY if the game in question isn't still sold commercially" seems hypocritical to me. It seems like you could argue that it's still not okay; you should buy a used copy (with the requisite used hardware) and play it what way or not at all. Still others insist that it's okay as long as you plan to buy it; the pirated copy ends up being an evaluation. We all know that this is complete and utter bullshit.

My view is that piracy is like masturbating. Everybody does it (at least sometimes), but few really feel proud about it and fewer are willing to be candid about it. On the other hand (pun intended), it really doesn't hurt you to do it, and (again like masturbation) is very unlikely to get you into trouble unless you're too brazen or public about it. On the other hand, if you really love a game, you want to do more than just play it. You feel the desire to support the people who made it and, well, share some of your cash with them. Thus, buying a game instead of pirating it is like "buying the cow." It's when you love a game so much you want to show that love.

What is the last game you pirated? Have you modded or own any modded systems? Do you feel good, bad, or apathetic about piracy these days?

Sound off!!!

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Catatonic
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I don't think it matters how

I don't think it matters how much money is lost to piracy, the thing is you are breaking a social contract, you took something of value and didn't reciprocate. We need artists & entertainers to get paid so our society can have things of cultural value.

Matt Barton
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It could just be that the

It could just be that the internet has doomed copyright. Maybe it's just a matter of time before piracy gets so ridiculously easy that literally "everyone and their grandma" is doing it. I don't think we're there yet by a long shot. But I've already seen the industry have to give in several times, first to iTunes, then to Netflix, etc. Obviously, none of them wanted to offer digital downloads or streams. They wanted to keep selling CDs and DVDs because that's where the money was and that's what they understood. Now people are only willing to pay small subscription fees to have access. Take that way, and they really would lose a lot to pirating.

The only thing the industry has left is to try to make acquiring a legit copy as easy (or easier) than pirating, and try to keep the cost low enough that people aren't tempted to bypass it. That's what happened in music, that's what happened in movies, but now the games industry, who SHOULD be ahead of everyone else, is lagging behind. They still want to sell you a $60 disc or, worse, a $60 digital download. LOL!

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Bill Loguidice
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Pirates = Drug Addicts

I don't know if I agree with your logic, Matt. If something is desirable enough for people to pirate then that means they want it. True enough. But then that also means if they weren't able to simply download a PDF by doing a simple Google search, they've be forced to buy an actual copy of the book because it was something they desired. So how exactly does that not directly result in lost sales? So thousands of copies of our books have been pirated, which again, could certainly have resulted in at least a few hundred more sales across the board. Perhaps after pirating the book these guys loved it so much they ordered it, but I bet that percentage was considerably lower than if they didnt' have free and simple access to it in the first place and needed to use money to purchase it legitimately.

Anyway, this is a circular argument at this point. Obviously while piracy at one time had significant benefits for the end user (most of us were exposed to many more games as kids--there were no demos, rentals, Internet reviews/videos, trails, etc., back then), frankly, times have changed where pirating is less a necessity for access and more just a way to illegally score free stuff. Sadly while there's access to more legitimate stuff and to easily know if you like something more than ever (even most books have a "Look Inside" feature), it's also far easier than ever before to pirate. It's clearly part of human nature, and a really destructive part.

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clok1966
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It is something to think

It is something to think about, how many sales are actually lost? I sitll think there is no doubt its lost sales, but again, how many? When I first started pirateng at all it was in collage (84) my friend in collage had an uncle in Japan, we had a AppleII. Pirate games where $1 a disc. We would send him $40-50 (yes that seemed like an ammount back then as struggling collage kids) and get $50 games back. After I graduated I dug out my c-64 from high school and was on some online services (some of the first, Compuserve, Genie, Q-Link) and got into cracking games. I was in a group that each of us would buy a game and crack it and swap the cracked copies around. I moved ot an AMIGA 500 about 88ish and learend ot crck games on it (actually easier than the c-64..Mayb just becuase I had improved, not sure) and joined a "warez" group and such.

I justified my cracking with a few reasons. ONE we had one store in my town that sold AMIGA software and it was pretty sparse, 10 games in stock and 1-2 apps... Mail order and internet was just not a real option back then (mail was , but it was a huge pain). I did buy games, but ny selection was crap. Nobody wants a old game that sites on a store shelf becuse nobody wants it.. and its catch 22, the store wont get more untill they sell some of the old stuff. Also, quite honestly I made shit back then. a game a month $40 was a struggle.

So does that make it right, even being broke? NO. We can get into the whole digital ais not eth same as "solid" goods.. I dont live in that world and wont get into that, we all believe what we beleive. I think an item somebody made and owns copywrite had VALUE even if i can reproduce it for free.

The only real argument I can somewhat side with on the pirate side is: I had craploads of games i simply would not have bought as they didnt hold any interest for me. but Letting a PC download it while I slept so I caould take a peak.. no problem. So they never lost a sale from me there. BUT, several of those games proved to be better then I expected and I played them. Those.. was money lost? I would never have bought it. But since I pirated it and played it, it really gets down to who we are as a person. I should have bought it once I found it was a good game, but i didnt. And If i hadnt pirated I would have never bought it either. In the long run I know I did the wrong thing. So no matter what i say (or anybody else) I did the wrong thing. But much like smokeing it s hard to quit, its so easy, its almost impossible to get caught, so it feels like a non crime. But I know it is. I have done my best to quit, and am almost cold turkey.

I have a simple question: Is pirateing a game a crime? Answer that for yourslef, not me or anybody else.

Matt Barton
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I just don't see the logic in

I just don't see the logic in assuming that not being able to pirate a copy of our book will result in a sale, or that a pirated copy "hurts" our sales somehow. It's just pure speculation. Chances are, the only way that you *wouldn't* be able to find a pirated copy would be if it sucked so badly that nobody wanted it. As we see with Black Ops, the better the game sells, the more pirates will be after it. In other words, if our book was being pirated by thousands of people, that would mean the demand was very high, and we'd also be selling that many more legit copies to compensate for it. It's proportional.

Again, the only way there won't be pirated copies circulating about is if the demand is so low that nobody cares to do it. That would be a helluva lot worse for us than a few pirate torrents.

That said, I imagine there's a threshold where it gets to be so easy, convenient, and safe to pirate that people would take that option out of pure laziness. I don't think we're nearly there, though. As we've said above, it takes quite a bit of knowledge and effort to pirate a game on a PC, much less a console. You're talking about hackers, basically--people who enjoy the tech and like tinkering with that stuff. A big thrill for them is getting it to work, the pleasure of thinking you got something for nothing, etc. That's a helluva lot different than the typical Joe gamer, who just wants to play games and couldn't care less about the tech.

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Bill Loguidice
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I think the socio-economic

I think the socio-economic and psychological issues are different from the idea of whether it does or doesn't hurt the publishers. I think it's pretty clear that aside from any justification or not, it definitely hurts the publishers (and distributors, developers, etc.) in the most important way for a commercial entity, financially. I think that's the key and the point I always try to make. There may or may not be a justification for the piracy, but don't tell me the creators are not victims. I've used our own books as examples, which are widely pirated. If only a few hundred of the countless thousands of people who stole a digital copy of our books actually bought our books instead of getting to enjoy them for free, that could have made a genuine difference in our ability to create additional works of a similar nature. So I think it has a real effect regardless of the size of the project. It just hurts the little guys more, because the Call of Duty Black Ops guys even though their loss was significantly greater, they were able to offset it with legitimate sales. Not so for the little guys where every sale counts.

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Matt Barton
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I'd be curious to know how

I'd be curious to know how many people are pirates because they're poor, and how many are pirates just because they think it's fun. I've heard shoplifters fall into the same camps. Bill has a point in that nobody will ever really sympathize with someone who claims a videogame (or any popular media form) is a necessity, so the choice is really whether it's better to do without or break the law. I see a slippery slope there, though, that quickly leads to absurdity. What do you really "need," and what is most important? I'm sure if we all looked at our lives, we'd find that we don't technically need 99% of our possessions. In fact, it's been shown time and time again that poor people spend even more money on luxuries (fashionable clothes, diamond-studded "grillz," big cars, etc.) than wealthy people (many of whom prefer to save or invest their money).

Does a rich man and a poor man "need" the latest videogame to the same degree? I might argue that the poor man needs it more, since his desire is probably also amplified by his desire to be like the rich man and enjoy, to some pathetic degree, his lifestyle. Pirating can put even the poorest gamer on par with the richest (at least in terms of how many games he can play). Of course, the downside is that the pirating hurts the rich man, since it's depriving him of the privilege of being the only one to play the latest games (there's a prestige factor there). It also affects him because anything that hurts the publishers and developers ultimately hurts him. Still, I think it's ultimately better from a utilitarian perspective for the poor man to get to enjoy that sliver of luxury than for the rich man to enjoy exclusive access. Obviously, the publishers and developers aren't hurting that bad, or we wouldn't have so many millions to spend on triple-A games. So, while it's undesirable for various reasons, the good outweighs the bad.

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Bill Loguidice
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OK, if you comically assume

OK, if you comically assume that only 1 million of the 5 million+ downloaders were actually able to play it and then only 100,000 of those would have been forced to buy the game if there was no other way, then you're still talking a minimum loss of $5 million. Still not trivial any way you slice it. That's a significant loss.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Matt has a real point. As a

Matt has a real point. As a almost "clean" ex pirate i can say there are so many hoops to jump throuhg nowdays its pretty much not worth it. And if you do jump through um all, half the time it dont work past level 2 or stuff like that. Then you gotta find the right patch as many cracks are different and this and that patch wont work. If you have ever read a torrent comment section, 90% of the comments are "this dont work" or even (sad but true) how do I open a .rar file.... Normally the .nfo has the correct info but it can be sorta greek to most people.

BUT im 100% sure it hurts sales. I wont even estimate how much it would have been different for me. I know I would have had alot less games, but the amount i purchased would be much higher (back several yers ago, not today). I would think Im the average gamer (my age).. and if you took me time a million.. then times the games I would have bought... its a pretty large number.

Of course there is some "small" consolation, I learned about alot of games I would have never looked at, and purchased sequals and sometime the originals. I DO buy great games no matter waht (at least the ones I precive as great). I have a box copy of all the Id games, all the Westwood C&C games, pretty much every RPG i ever played. I recently threw out about 300 game boxes and manuals for PC games. sitting on top of my 2nd machine right now is about 40 PC games i have picked up at GoGamer sales (several for $1.99 and such) Settlers 7 , Damnation, Call of Juaraz, Pirates of the burning Sea, Warrior Kings, Age of Conan Collectors edition (conan was my hero as a little kid), etcc.. I have made up for alot of my past... well as much as I can..

Matt Barton
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First off, I doubt there were

First off, I doubt there were really 5 million pirated copies. If you're just looking at the number of times a torrent was downloaded, that could mean a lot of things--lots of spider type sets download the torrents (not the files, mind you, just the torrents) and post them on their own sites. It could also be people stopping and resuming, or partially downloading the files and stopping, and who knows what kind of bots are out there trying to harvest this stuff. In short, just saying "5 million downloads of a torrent" doesn't really equate to 5 million pirates enjoying the game. Just think of how many kids there must have been who ended up with an iso file they didn't know what to do with.

But even assuming there was 1 million people who successfully downloaded the torrent and files. They also successfully unpacked it, used Daemontools to install it, and then actually read the torrent instructions (I kid you not) about replacing the executable and a few other files with special cracked versions on the iso. That entails granting Windows permission to access your C folders; many might be scared off by that alone. Forget about patches, updates, and the like, too, since any of them will replace the cracked executable and make it unplayable. Finally, after all that, there's still no multiplayer or achievements. At least, you'd have to be a true idiot to try to get on a commercial server with a pirated copy and expect to somehow evade detection.

So, after all that trouble, you end up with a partial game that will probably be buggy as hell (assuming the pirates aren't regularly updating with patched cracked executables; more bother). Is it worth all that to save $40-$60?

For people who are reasonably tech savvy and just want to play the single-player campaign once, it seems like a great option (ethics aside). For folks with less tech savvy, not so much, and of course any multiplayer fans will be very disappointed.

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