The lights are on
This morning’s story on the developers over at Greenheart Games and their unusual approach to punishing pirates got us thinking about the practice of pirating games and its prevalence, as well as the changing attitudes towards the practice. We're curious about the experiences of the Game Informer community, and their attitudes towards the practice.
Growing up in the 1980s, I can recall that many friends at the time considered it common and acceptable practice to pass around floppy disks that contained the latest Apple and PC games without a second thought. As a result, many higher-end computer games of the time had aggressive and unusual methods to maintain copy protection, such as looking up lines of text in the instruction manual, or using strange code wheels to answer a question as the game booted up. Looking back, it seems awful that such rampant piracy was so accepted among rank and file gamers. Today, the game piracy questions has remained a major issue – though floppy disks have been replaced by torrent sites and other online sharing tools.
Have you ever engaged in game piracy to get a game without paying for it? Presuming you no longer do it, what made you stop? If you still pirate games, why do you still do it? Do you feel like it’s wrong, or is it not a big deal? While we’re at it, do you include game emulation of older games in the same category as pirating modern-day games, and do you ever use emulators?
Share your thoughts in the comments below, and remember that we’re all here for a discussion, not recriminations about how different people feel or act on this issue.
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.
Nope. I do have a Modded Xbox though...
Only emulators for older games. I'm not proud of it, but it was my only way of getting access to some vintage games with no money in my pockets. Now, I avoid any form of piracy out of respect for the people who put in those long hard hours to get their game on store shelves.
Movies all the time, but never games.
I've just never even considered pirating games. I really couldn't say why, it just never crossed my mind. When I was young, I would have thought it would be too dangerous or too difficult. Now I have much less time to play, more money, and with Steam sales... I get all the games I can possibly play anyway.
Time is the limiting factor nowadays instead of money, unlike when I was younger.
I've never pirated anything I'm proud to say. I almost pirated a psone emulator once because I really wanted to play Symphony of the Night but I refrained.
I have pirated in three circumstances: Games I already own but am unable to play, games that are not available for purchase anymore except for eBay (and therefore the developer gets jack squat from any purchase), and games I wanted to buy but was unsure if they would run on my computer. In the last two cases, I've always made sure to buy the game if they become available and/or are playable.
While I enjoy supporting developers, I have emulated older games (which, legally speaking, is piracy), but my rationale is that I wouldn't benefit the developer anymore by buying the game legitimately, and it's not worth the effort to search for a game (or system), because I have an extremely limited budget. I still feel bad occasionally, though.
I used to. Back when I was younger and much, much poorer, I pirated stuff all the time. It started out innocuously enough with older titles and smaller stuff (a bunch of DOS games I remembered from my first computer. In 2006, that equated to a whole pile of things I couldn't buy anywhere if I wanted to). It got a little bigger when I realized my laptop was beefier than I thought. I got things like Fallout 3, Oblivion, BioShock, and a lot of other stuff besides. I emulated a lot of stuff too, because buying old consoles and especially rarer old games is just impractical.
Now that I have a good amount of disposable income, I stopped. I only pirate stuff I absolutely can't find for sale anywhere but Amazon or eBay (Drakan: The Order of the Flame was my last victim some months ago). I also bought a lot of the games I pirated, because I wanted to play them again and also because I had the money. I own the ones I listed above and a lot more otherwise.
I don't really regret the time I spent pirating because I think I've made up for it by now (250 games on steam, 200 games on my shelves, all of 'em bought and paid for). But there's really no logic for pirating just to do it, whether it's because a game that's five years old isn't worth buying (it is) or if pirates have the mentality that piracy hurts big companies like EA (it hurts the developers more). It's stealing through and through.
To me it honestly depends on the company, most of the time I won't pirate games unless they're really old (5+ years). The couple times I have I feel really guilty. BUT! Some publishers have earned my complete disdain (EA), and if they happen to make a game I want, I feel no qualms about pirating it. Disclaimer: I am an income-less high school student with no source of income.
I can think of one game I pirated, before I really understood what pirating was. Even after I figured it out, I kept the game for another few years before erasing it from my computer. I came to realize how much pirating affected the overall gaming industry. It is better to pay up and keep the developers afloat than to regret getting the game for free when they shut down.
I loved pirating games. I used every emulator my computer could handle and just went to town downloading old school SNES, NES and gameboy games I couldn't find without spending money on the internet. Do I think it's wrong? It all depends. If I were downloading games that were more modern, like say Minecraft, it would hurt that company. But I doubt that Nintendo would go down from me pirating games from the 90's that aren't in development. But the thing is about pirating sometimes for me is that I may only play the games once and delete them, and if I love them I'll only try to raise money to buy it. I've also never pirated an indie game in my life. Pirating the little guys is too risky for their money situation.
I haven't outside of emulators for decades-old titles. I don't buy a ton of games anyway and I like the idea of supporting the companies that make products I enjoy.
Yep, I pirate games. For a few reasons:
1) I've pirated Far Cry 3 and Bioshock Infinite simply because I can't afford them right now. I will be buying them later.
2) Trying a game that doesn't have a demo. I feel like a demo should be a normal part of the development process for a triple AAA game on a major publisher. There's no excuse to not have a demo with that kind of money.
3) I'll pirate the PC version when I already own a console version, especially if it comes with bonus, exclusive content. Dark Souls' DLC comes to mind.
I've pirated several indie games such as Antichamber, Thomas Was Alone, VVVVV, etc. HOWEVER I now own all of these games. I firmly believe in supporting indie developers, but I realize they can't always make a demo. So I try them. If I like it, I buy them. I pirated Swords and Sworcery, but didn't like it after about a half-hour so I deleted it. I see this as no different than playing a demo. I downloaded Monaco today, even. I'm gonna try it and if I like it, I'll absolutely buy it.
As far as the triple-AAA titles go, I've been "had" too many times. No demo and $60 is not a good way to sell your game. I bought Crysis 2 and Dragon Age II after loving the first ones of each, but both of those games were absolutely completely awful. So now I pirate from those developers so that I can try their games first; they've lost my trust. It's that simple. I'm not some amoral thief "sticking it to the man." I spend my money very wisely these days and I believe my actions are justified on a case-by-case basis.
I have pirated games in the past; PC only though. I was a huge fan of demos when I was younger and as gaming became more prevalent in society; demos showed a dramatic decline. Even if they didn't, because of people already pirating games through their own discs; no one could rent or buy a preowned game for PC. Nowadays most games that I enjoy are also on console, but I will say; I bought most of the games I pirated and deleted them off my computer recently. One example is Skyrim. I bought it midnight release for 360 and because of the bugs; my game saves were useless. I pirated the PC version in order to fix my save through console commands and transfer it back to 360. I now own the PC version instead of a pirated one. I no longer pirate games and probably will not in the future, but I don't and will not judge those that do. I'm not a saint, but pirating isn't evil either.