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Why I Believe That Video Game Piracy Is A Good Thing

Please Note:
~ This article is based on the personal opinion, experience and research of the author, and does not claim to be a 'fact' or the definitive opinion to the matter. ~


Piracy has always been a controversial matter. It is generally considered, by those who don't pirate, as a morally corrupt action and it has been mostly hated by game developers, which is, of course, very understandable.

But is piracy really as bad and destructive to the video gaming industry as believed? No. It's actually a good thing for video games. Why do I say so? I'll explain it.


Most individuals who pirate are not going to buy the video game even if piracy did not exist.

This is one of the most important things about pirates and piracy that people often ignore. Most pirates do it because they simply cannot afford a game. Lets face it, video games are not cheap. With the amount of money you can spend on buying video games, you can afford good food and clothes instead. When you are not financially good, no matter how much you love video games, it just does not take the priority over essential needs such as buying clothes, good food, paying your rent and bills, and helping out or supporting your family. If piracy did not exist, many pirates would not play games at all, they would instead spend their money on the other things I mentioned, as they do now.

Most pirates are not rich individuals who like to spoil a game's sale, they are simply people who cannot afford it and decide to pirate the game instead so they could at least play it.  Most of them would still purchase games if they had enough money to spend on them and some even download pirated games, and then if they like it a lot, they end up purchasing the original game, as well as merchandise too, which actually ends up becoming a sale.


Pirates can be devoted fans to a franchise and while they usually do not purchase a game themselves, they advertise the game and boost it's sales by encouraging friends and others to buy the game.

Pirates can be VERY devoted fans and greatly support the video game they become the fan of; such as actually purchasing the original game if they can afford it at some point, and greatly advertising the game, encouraging their friends to buy it and getting the game more fans and boosting it's sales as much as they possibly can, as well as make fan sites and playthroughs of them so they can gather more interest into the video game. I've been encouraged into purchasing a video game by pirate friends MANY times and I was not the only person they got into the game either. Sometimes they pirate one copy and in return cause a 100 originals to be sold, which is a great, free advertisement that only helps the game, not ruin it.


Some individuals pirate the game to simply test if the game is worth it or not and if their PC can run it properly, and eventually buy the game if they are satisfied with it.

Some pirates actually just pirate the game to see if the game is worth it, as advertisements and trailers can be deceiving, and/or if the game runs properly on their PC or not. If they are satisfied with the game and the game runs on their PC properly, they uninstall the game and purchase the original game instead.


Some pirates are actually people who purchased the game, but due to forced DRM or a bad port in general, they are forced to use cracks or fixed repacks so that the game runs fine for them.

This actually happens. Some games force DRM on the player and/or are very bad ports, to the point that pirates actually fixed the game better than the original developer did, and people who actually purchased the game are often forced to use cracks or download pirated versions of the game to be able to run the game properly. A good example of this is the infamous Sim City DRM disaster.


Some individuals purchased the game on a different platform, and pirate it on another.

Some people buy a game on a different platform, and then pirate a copy of it to play on another. For example, a man purchased Max Payne on the PlayStation 2, which supported the game by the purchase, but he also wanted to have it on PC, a purchase he wouldn't make again as he already has the game; so he decides to pirate it on PC instead.


Many games are old or discontinued to the point the developers cannot earn money from it's sales by any means.

Many games are very old now and discontinued/all sold out. All that remains of the game in original copies is what the people now have and sell through eBay and other means. Purchasing the game from people who own it does not support the developers anymore, which means pirating the game does not affect the sales of the game anymore, and even the developer probably does not care about it anymore, unless they re-release it or make an HD remake/remaster of it.


Some individuals pirate because video games are unfairly over-priced in their country and/or they aren't available at all and the only way to do it is to spend a lot of money on ordering online which also brings a lot of tax in.

So they choose to pirate instead because it's not possible for them to play games otherwise besides spending a lot of money which they can use on other essential needs instead.


Piracy actually keeps old games alive that are no longer sold by developers and are discontinued.

As mentioned earlier, some games actually give no money to the original developer anymore as it's discontinued by them, and whether it's pirated or just the sold copies are sold around further, it makes no difference to the developer and no profit or loss.

Piracy actually keeps old games that are discontinued and nowhere to be found(or extremely rare) alive and in the access of anyone who wants to play them around the world, which are otherwise, not available to be played anymore and are lost in history. 


Some developers are actually fine with piracy and do not see it as a bad thing, and embrace it.

This could be hard to believe, but some developers are actually fine with piracy and embrace it, not seeing it as a bad thing at all. Some notable examples are the developers of Super Meat Boy, Hotline Miami, and Anodyne.

Team Meat on Piracy:


Why I Believe Video Game Piracy Is A Good Thing


The team behind Super Meat Boy, which includes one of the developers of The Binding of Isaac, do not believe that piracy is a bad thing. Instead, they believe it's a good thing.

Edmund McMillen, one of the two developers of Super Meat Boy and also a developer of The Binding of Isaac, has stated that piracy is a good thing, saying that:
If the game gets pirated heavily, if it's a good game that people really like, they're going to either buy it eventually or they're going to tell other people about it. Either way it's just going to come back to a sale.

Edmund McMillen also went out to say that:
The dinosaurs of marketing are really upset by piracy. They think it's literally stealing. They're old. That's really the reason. They're old and their ideas are old. They don't understand where we are now. They don't understand the mentality of people who are pirating things. They see them as thieves, the same people who go and shoplift. I don't f*cking shoplift but I have pirated shit-loads of stuff. Like it's just not the same, it's not the same thing at all.

The second developer of the game, Tommy Refenes stated, continuing to Edmund's statements regarding the fact that DRM has been problematic for gamers and hurtful for developers:
They spend so much money trying to prevent it but they are wasting everyone's time. They are damaging their own businesses. Those gamers who got screwed by DRM problems? I guarantee those people are going to think twice before they buy another game from that publisher.

To explain how it causes people to purchase the game eventually after pirating it, Edmund McMillen has stated that he gets a common type of eMail that says the pirate purchased the game due to feeling guilty for pirating it:
The majority of emails that we get that revolve around piracy are people saying, 'I just want to get this off my chest, I stole your game when it came out because I wasn't sure about it and I really, really, really love it and so I bought it because I feel really guilty.' This is a common email.

Tommy Refenes also stated that piracy saves them the effort of releasing a demo of a game, and that piracy is thier 'demo'. Edmund McMillen even went to the point that he said he felt 'depressed' that his game did not reach a higher number of top pirated games on The Pirate Bay, faring only on number '30':
I'll tell you a story that is true. When Meat Boy came out on PC and torrents started going up on Pirate Bay, I would check, I had a friend of mine who said, 'congratulations, I just saw your game in the top 50 on Pirate Bay for games,' and I checked and we were 30th and I was depressed because it wasn't higher, because that's a measure of success.

The creator of Hotline Miami on Piracy:


Why I Believe Video Game Piracy Is A Good Thing


The creator of Hotline Miami and Hotline Miami 2, Jonatan Soderstrom, is perhaps well known for his statement of telling fans in Australia to 'pirate Hotline Miami 2' as the Australian board banned the game; saying "If it ends up not being released in Australia, just pirate it after release." and "No need to send us any money, just enjoy the game!".

But that's not the only time he associated with piracy(and kind of approved it), the other time he did it is...not only strange, but embraces piracy. He actually provided customer support to pirates. Literally.

Jonatan Soderstrom went on a The Pirate Bay thread of his own game's torrent and helped pirates out by offering guides to fix issues with their game(see picture below), under the name 'cactus69', stating:
Hey there! I'm Jonatan Soderstrom, me and my friend Dennis Wedin made this game. We're working on an update that hopefully will take care of any/all bugs, and we'll try to do some extra polish in the next few days. Would be great if you could update the torrent when the patch is out! It'd be great if people get to play it without any bugs popping up. Hope everyone will enjoy the game! For the "Error defining an external function." problem, try restarting your system and play again, it can pop up when your computer has been running for a while. We'll try to figure out if there's more to it than that.

It was also later confirmed that it was indeed Jonatan Soderstrom, not a poser.


Why I Believe Video Game Piracy Is A Good Thing


Later he tweeted that he understands if people pirate his game, as he has been broke and being broke sucks, as well as stating that he wants people to experience the game and it doesn't matter if they pirate it to do that:




One of the developers of Anodyne on Piracy:


Why I Believe Video Game Piracy Is A Good Thing


Shortly after release, the video game Anodyne was pirated and it's torrent was put up on The Pirate Bay. One of the two developers of the game, Sean Hogan, embraced the opportunity and actually advertised his game to help it get Green Lit on Steam, as well as asking for feedback, and saying they'd love it if people bought the game, being the second person to comment on the torrent, saying:
Hi, I'm Sean! I'm one of the two guys who made Anodyne. It's neat that Anodyne's ehre and I'm glad that means more people can play it, though of course we'd love it if you bought the game! We're tryin' to get Greenlit on Steam so we'd really appreciate it if you and your friends gave us an upvote over at http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92921739. Most importantly let us know what you think of the game and if you like it or if it fills you with burning rage! - we're on Twitter at @seagaia2 and @jonathankittaka.

Not only did he say all that, but also gave out free download codes in the same comment for his game to be redeemed on Desura.com and downloaded for playing.

After this happened, it immediately made it to Reddit and in the discussion about it, Sean Hogan jumped in and stated it's better to embrace piracy and it gives a lot of people who normally couldn't afford it the opportunity to play the game, stating:
Yeah, piracy is inevitable so it's better to embrace it – plus, it gives lots of people who couldn't normally afford the game the opportunity to play it – and I think when you're a small group of developers (only my friend Jon and I made Anodyne), it's better to have lots of people able to experience your game.

After all this; the torrent mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Whether it was a promotional stunt in the first place, or the uploader simply decided to remove the game, whether for an unknown reason or because he felt bad for pirating the game, is unknown.


So these are the reasons I believe that video game piracy is a good thing, not a bad one, and it makes me feel glad that even some indie developers understand it now. But I definitely understand those who believe it's a bad thing because the general idea of it and how it looks like from the outside(for someone who is not much familiar with how it works and does not personally know pirates), simply appears as theft.
author

Muhammad Junaid

Muhammad Junaid is the writer of Entertainment Ghost. He writes articles, reviews, previews and entertainment news about gaming, technology, the media and so on. You can follow him on Twitter @Mr_MJunaid and Facebook MJunaid

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Published On Entertainment Ghost At Friday, June 19, 2015