Piracy of Doom

August 4, 2004

With the release of Doom 3 this week I have seen an increase of discussions of piracy in the gaming industry. The figures I ran across seem to imply that id and Activision will lose approximately $20 Million to piracy of this single game and I believe it. Much of that can probably be directly attributed to the thousands of people downloading the leaked version the weekend before the release of the game. I am an avid reader of HardOCP and this week they directed my attention to an article on the website 3DGPU addressing the very issue of piracy in our industry. While the author made it clear he didn’t support piracy, he approached the issue with a sort of sympathy for people that pirate because they can’t afford games. That may or may not have been his intention, but it ignited a spark inside that is caused me to address the issue so here we go.

I don’t believe that anyone can present a valid argument for stating that piracy is ok. Can people justify it to themselves? Sure, but there is no denying that it is a scourge to our industry. As I peruse the headlines over on Gamespot, companies like Atari, Konami, Vivendi, and THQ are reporting lower than expected sales and a decline of income while others like Acclaim are facing a delisting on the Nasdaq for their stock price being too low. While I know that it is not all due to piracy and in fact much of it can be attributed to companies putting out terrible games just as fast as they can, I do know that piracy hurts the industry we claim to love.

Video games are one of my fondest pastimes and to see things start to decline makes me sick. The worst part is that we as a whole are only aiding the decline. The 3DGPU article touched on the fact that games are too expensive and generally I would agree. I don’t like paying $50 for a brand new game or even $55 for some newer ones, but that is the price that the market bears. He also touched on the fact that many people that pirate often times can’t afford the games that are coming out. To that I say so what? Because you cannot afford something doesn’t mean you should be able to obtain it though other methods. I realize this is a stretch because electronic data can be reproduced without cost, but you can draw a parallel to any other retail good. I can’t afford to purchase a brand new Corvette, but that doesn’t give me the right to go take one. Unlike a Corvette, the games probably do have higher prices to compensate for the cost of piracy. I know that the cost for many pieces of software have a huge markup so that the company breaks even. So next time you whine about the price, why don’t you think twice before pirating that next great game. The bottom line is that there are a whole lot of people who put thousands of hours into developing these games and it just plain isn’t right to steal them because you can’t afford them.

There was also mention that many people like to try the games out before buying them and they like to tell themselves that they will buy the game after they decide. Yeah right. Why pay for something after you already have it for free. It doesn’t make sense. My take on this is pretty simple. Most pc games have a demo released that allows you to try the game out. If the demo is good, you buy the game and don’t enjoy it then maybe you need to be a little more reserved and less compulsive with your purchases. You are not able to return opened PC games because a select few people abused the system and took advantage of it. Face it; it isn’t the developer’s fault that you didn’t enjoy the game. They gave you a perfect chance to try it out free of charge. Even better, why not go to a local gaming cafA