In a world where most media forms are available as illegal, free copies before they are even available legally, people are constantly faced with the decision of whether to purchase legal copies of their games. For some people, the fact that pirated games are illegal is a sufficient reason to avoid them. But as one of our newer users, Sandeepan, asked recently, are there other reasons why gamers should purchase legal copies of games rather than pirate them? Answers from several different users made a compelling case that yes, there are.
Our highest reputation user, tzenes, was the first to respond. He acknowledged that it can be a difficult question, especially in cases where people might not have enough money to purchase more than a couple games legally. But he pointed out that the decisions that companies make about what games to create are very strongly driven by how similar games have sold. He points out that his “greatest game ever made” never got a sequel because it didn’t sell well. Whether this was due to piracy of the game or not is irrelevant, the fact is that companies will make more games like those that sell well, and won’t make more games like those that don’t sell. By purchasing a legal copy of a game, you are in a very real way casting a vote for more games like it to be made. And as gamers, isn’t that what we all want, more games like the ones we love?
Another user, Christopher, responded that for him it was a matter of trust. In his own words
How can you trust running software that has been modified by individuals who are willing and able to break through all the complicated layers of security to basically steal someone’s product for you. What are their intentions? What else did they modify while they were adding the no-cd crack
Kragen pulled everything together with a detailed breakdown of both the advantages and disadvantages of pirating games. Obviously pirated games are cheaper. They are also often available sooner than the real thing, and can still be had when the legal version is no longer commercially accessible. And pirated games come without the DRM that might mean that you have to play with the DVD in the drive, or can even cause legally purchased games to become unplayable (if the DRM system becomes unavailable). But in addition to the disadvantages of pirating games mentioned earlier, he also points out that legal games are often easier to find and install, and provide some real benefits in the form of support from their creators. This might include manuals, patches, online matchmaking, and downloadable content.
Elsewhere on the internet, the discussion rages on as well. An interesting perspective comes from Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve (and its Steam distribution network). While clearly extolling the virtues of Steam in the interview, he points out that purchasing games not only casts a “vote” for that game, but also the price point at which that game was purchased. Using Steam data, they were able to document that a 75 percent off sale on a game raised total revenue by an amazing 1470 percent. Numbers like that help to convince game companies that they can do better with a modestly priced product versus an expensive one that is either avoided or pirated, and that’s a win-win for us gamers.
So the next time you are facing the decision of whether to purchase a game, or try to download an illegal copy, take a minute to weigh the options. At the end of the day, we’re all gamers because we enjoy the games we play. But if we aren’t paying for the games we play, then why would companies keep creating them for us?