Video Game Piracy: A Brief Outlook

For as long as there has been disc media gaming consoles there have been pirates. Pioneers in the gaming industry have been trying to stop the piracy of video games for years, with no real success. So what can really been done about it? Well at the moment, not much. Let’s take a look at how bad piracy really is, and in what kind of ways can it affect people.

Piracy comes with the territory. When you have people who don’t want to pay for something, and that something happens to come on a type of media disc, it’s getting pirated. It started with music, and it seems that particular industry has mostly given up. With the internet making such content so easily accessible, and faster internet connections being put into homes, piracy probably seems like common sense to some. After all, why drive to your local video game store to pay sixty dollars for something you can get for free?

Developers have tried many different types of encryption, and anti-piracy software to fend of pirates, but nothing seems to work. The best that has come of it is not allowing pirated games to be played online, with the normal money paying consumers. This seems like a hollow victory when you’re losing millions of dollars a year. I can’t really think of anything that could possibly be done to stop pirates, besides lowering video games prices, and we all know that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

The most pirated game of 2009 was the widely popular Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, in which over four million copies were pirated, if we multiply that by the sixty dollar retail cost that’s a astronomical two hundred and forty million dollars. If someone takes five dollars from me I get angry, yet it seems two hundred million plus isn’t so important to Infinity Ward. Then again they did sell eleven million on opening night alone.

Some developers have been reportedly said the sooner we go all digital the sooner the piracy stops. To put it in simpler terms, all consoles would be like the PSP Go. However, considering the PSP Go itself isn’t exactly popular, I can’t see big name console companies going that route. Even if this was the route taken, once one pirate obtained the game wouldn’t he be able to distribute it anyway? Unless something unthinkable is put into place, like being forced to be connected to the internet to play a game. Then verification could be done every time you play.

The most common form of video game piracy comes in the form of emulation. Emulators are essentially computer programs with the ability to run ROMs, which are cartridge games. Is it necessarily bad if we pirate old Super Nintendo, or Neo Geo games that aren’t even sold in stores anymore? According to the government yes, according to mostly everyone else no. The closest thing to piracy I’ve taken part in is downloading ROMs, however I own the original cartridges but the console itself just doesn’t seem to want to work anymore.

I went to the streets (stood outside of Game Stop), as if I was an important news anchor, and spoke to people about video game piracy. Many more people than I thought admitted they’ve pirated games in their lifetime. One gentleman who requested to be unnamed went as far as to say, “well, it’s not like I pirate newer games, but I pirate PlayStation 2 games, and original Xbox games”. Another man only known as Jeremy told me, “I’m thankful piracy exists, I actually run a console modding service off of craigslist. It supplements my income to a point it almost pays more than my actual job. I only keep the job for tax reasons”. Possibly the most surprising confession was from a young female who stated, “I usually pirate single player Xbox 360 games for my J-Tagged Xbox 360, for a popular multiplayer game I buy it.” Most of the other people who admitted to piracy said they only download old cartridge games.

Not being familiar with the term, I googled “J-tagged”. It’s a modification that allows you to play pirated Xbox 360 games from discs or directly from the internal hard drive. J-tagged 360’s usually get banned from Xbox Live on the spot upon connecting. Next I went to craigslist, and sure enough I found an ad about modding Xbox 360s, but to my surprise there were actually several! If piracy is so out in the open, is there really anything to fear by taking part in it?

Well to sum it all up, piracy is looked down upon by the government and obviously developers, but average joes are thriving off of it to a point where it’s a profitable business to help others pirate. I personally won’t take part in piracy, because the countless faceless programmers, designers, and story writer put their blood, sweat, and tears into making these games for us. I feel that not having the decency to go out and purchase the game is blatant disrespect. So now I put the question to you readers, would you ever pirate a video game? Have you ever pirated any one? Please leave a comment below.