Chris' movie post got me into thinking about piracy again. But movie and even music pirating isn't as big a deal as video game pirating. Movies are probably watched by people more in the theaters than on illegal websites. I've also read that music artists make more money on concerts than CD sales or legit downloads, so they can still makes tons of money. When people download hacked PC games or buy used copies of PS3 games, the makers get NOTHING.

Before I get into my main point I would like to answer the rhetorical questions: Is pirating a sin? Is it okay to pirate?

Answer is yes and yes, because we are human. We like to get things free, even it would have only cost us a dollar.

Just like in natural selection, the relationship between seller and buyer is a struggle. Whoever comes out with better tactics and strategies wins, until the other side retaliates. I will not get into morals, only law and enforcement. We know the world is a place where not everyone follows the rules for the sake of it. I admit that I avoid my phone in the car only out of fear of a ticket. On the other hand, I keep my car at 70 because I derive my excitement on turns, and I like to save gas. If I was more crazy, I'd probably drive at 85-90 and tell the law to suck it. My point being is that we follow some laws out of natural inclement, and others because of fear of punishment. That's as far as I'll speak about morals. The only thing that matters is what video game makers and players can do.

Here's my own life memory of video game protection:

1995ish I remember after you installed Doom it was able to run off your hard drive.

1997ish I remember playing a flight simulator game that required you to run the CD in the tray, even though all data files are installed.

The gamer solution: make CD copies and pass them out to friends

The maker solution: CD encryption

2000ish Sim City required the real CD, it would know if you were running a fake.

the gamer solution: hacked EXE files of the program no longer required the CD aka "no-CD cracks"

the maker solution: STEAM digital distribution

2003 or 2004 is when Steam came out. At first I thought it was just for CS to convert online CD-keys into accounts. Boy was I wrong. Steam allows makers to release games that had to be activated by Steam. Once a new CD key was locked into an account, that's it, it's useless. This made even single player games unsellable.

Even with all this anti-piracy action, most gamers are playing pirated single player games. Hackers found ways to bypass Steam logins.

the maker solution: force the game itself to work only after connecting to the company's servers.
Starcraft 2 can't be played on LAN, and apparently Diablo 3 single player won't load unless you connect to the internet.

The piracy issue was pretty isolated to PC games but it's being targeted in console games now.

Gamestop makes billions of dollars off used games alone. The video game industry wants a slice of the pie but Gamestop pretty much gives them a middle finger. How ironic, I thought game makers and Gamestop were best friends when I was a kid. Games make nearly all their money in the first few months, then people buy the used versions. Apparently this is a reason that games cost so much now.

It all comes down to whether you think buying a PS3 disc entitles you to property or a license. The gamers say it's their property and that they can sell it. Makers say that it's a license, but they have no power to enforce that. The only thing they can do is to force registration.

BF3 was the first console game that made you enter a CD-key and lock it into one account. If you buy a used BF3 at Gamestop, you will need to buy a $10 license fee to play online. I think most online games will do this from now on, pretty much ensuring that I will never buy a Call of Duty game again. And there are discussions about making the next Xbox or PS4 game discs just data, and having to pay full price for licensing.

Alot of gamers got pissed at this but I thought it was pretty smart. I support what people do for their own interests in business. If hackers can get around it, good for them. Makers want to make money, and the people want to be lazy and steal without punishment. Of course the most moral people won't steal software, but like I said, we all have different morality standards for different things. This is where force comes into play. We are all thieves of opportunity, it depends on how easy it is.

At least I admit when I pirate. There are those who claim to be liberating files from capitalist overlords. Or those who claim they do it out of necessity. Stealing a piece of bread is a necessity for Aladdin, playing video games is not. They are not heroes of society. They are not the only ones trying to get by. Gaming programmers have grueling schedules and it pisses them off that they are only getting a fraction of their earned money.

It's good to see both sides because although I like free stuff, I know companies won't survive if they make no money.

So here's the conclusion:
It makes sense to pirate things if you're not sure if they're good or not (while knowing it's "bad" no matter what). But if you like a game or movie or band, go buy a new version or watch in the theaters or buy a CD. If you're not supporting things you like, then its your fault if they die out.

Note to self, try to watch some episodes on TV instead of using hulu all the time...

1 comment:

J.Frosty said...

I sense a nuke inbound.

don't tv shows make money from hulu?