Editorial: Piracy

Hello, my lovelies. This week I am hoping to open a discussion regarding game piracy. Arrr mateys, and all of that jazz.

I should preface this post by stating that I am not here to school anyone in the intricacies of copyright and fair use laws in our respective countries. I am not Lane. I do not eat chili, I am not a filthy gnome-loving Alliance, and none of you read my ramblings with the intention of learning anything. What I think you read this nonsense for, is to bask in the warm fuzzy glow of nostalgia, and perhaps be ranted at from time to time. That is the plan for today.

I will be upfront and honest. I am a pirate (Did you get that damn song stuck in your head? I hope so!. I have in my possession and play games that I have not paid for. I run various emulators on my PC, and have previously owned modified consoles, and played copied domestic and imported games. If that offends you, I am sorry. No, really. This is not me adhering to the Canadian stereotype of apologizing constantly ­ not this time, anyway. I realize that some people may find piracy morally or idealistically objectionable. That is primarily what I want to opine about today. Not the legalities, but the ethics. So, time to dive on into the cesspool.

One of the leading and perhaps most valid anti-piracy talking points is that if we do not pay for games, the publishers and developers do not earn profits. If they do not earn profits, they do not make any more games. Even when pirated games do earn a profit (they almost always do) their sales figures will be lower than they perhaps could be, and this can affect whether a series is continued, or whether other, similar games might be made. The general idea is, people should buy what they like, it rewards the artists behind the work, and encourages them to make more, similar items.

My personal counter to this point is that yes, if you can purchase a game legitimately, you should. Developers and publishers need our financial support in order to continue providing us with games. And as a fan of RPGs, for example, I want the corporate muckity-mucks to know that people want those games and are willing to pay for them. It does not matter how popular a game seems to be, not to them. What matters to them, and rightly so, is whether or not it is a smart business decision to continue developing/producing those games. However Šthere is a line I will cross.

Not all games are currently available for legitimate purchase from the developer, publisher, or any other party who is in a position to share revenue or sales numbers with them. I am talking, of course, about games that are out of production, and only available second hand, often for insane prices. Now, the idealist in me wants to believe that if there is a thriving market for used copies of a game, someone will take notice and reprint the game, or make the game available as a legitimate digital purchase. The realist in me, however, is pretty sure that there are much better ways to let them know what we want in our online stores. Ways that do not involve giving some schlub $200 for a used game. This is why I feel no remorse for emulating or ripping certain games. I would happily give the going rate for a console game to Konami for a copy of Suikoden 2 if they only had one to sell me. Likewise for the others games I pirate. They are all either out of production, or were never released in North America.

Of course there are other arguments for and against piracy. Is it really copyright infringement if you could not or would not pay for the game, and therefore it could be argued that the company really is not suffering any loss of potential revenue? Is it a slippery slope that we go down when we emulate or copy a game here or there? Is piracy comparable to lending your game to a buddy, or selling it for profit on the Amazon marketplace? Is the law the bottom line, regardless of circumstance? I would love to anmswer more of these questions, but I imagine this post is long enough already.



  1. No!

    That would make Lusi too happy.

    …. and all the pics I found looked dumb. >.>

  2. I have no qualms with piracy, try living in Australia with $100-110 new releases. And besides, publishers do everything they can to fuck us in very unpleasant fashion, so while we are being treated as criminals anyway, I say we just pirate games.

    Further, I posit that it is unethical to legitimately purchase Assassin’s Creed 2 for the PC.

  3. Everyone already knows Aussies are all crims anyway.


  4. I basically agree with Ginia and SiliconNooB.

    There’s a lot of games that either I missed when they were out and can no longer find new or at a reasonable price used. There’s also things like really old ROM-based console games and even older and even less accessible arcade games (that Simpsons or X-Men game, anyone?) that I’d rather play on an emulator. I don’t want to log 30 hours into FINAL FANTASY II to turn it on again and find all my savefiles are blank and missing. (Which did happen to me back in the day.)

    On the PC there’s also games that the DRM is completely unacceptable. I haven’t played either AC game, but I wouldn’t even consider buying them on PC (and I don’t have a current gen console).

    Nintendo is sort of making some older games available via the Virtual Console, but I’m not sure how good the service is compared to some emulators. It also looks rather pricy. $5+ for an NES game…really? I think they need to go more like individual songs on iTunes type pricing.

    Sony is also kind of doing the same with PSX titles on PSN.

    With both though I personally kind of want to have a copy I can hold in my hand if I’m paying for a game. I also don’t want it stuck on a particular console (they kind of tend to break eventually) and/or covered in DRM.

    Is there really some reason game companies can’t do some sort of on-demand publishing for their back catalogs? I can understand it being an issue for cartridge-based stuff, but for a fucking CD/DVD/BD? Press a disc, print packaging, ship. You might not even need to directly involve a human being in the process. It’s pretty straightforward.

    Would it piss off Gamestop too much or something?

    Do game publishers just not like money that much?

    I’ve got a ~2 meter long line of games on my shelf to my left. It would be longer if I could find new copies of games I want at reasonable prices.

  5. I resent the accusation that I have ever engaged in gnomophilia. I punt gnomes every time I see them.

    Also, the Horde is getting Goblins, which are like Gnomes but uglier. Meanwhile, we’re getting fucking werewolves. Point: Alliance.