Humbly a pirate

Now let’s face it. We’re all college students. For the most, we’re all broke. So what do we do when we want to play a new video game? We pirate it. We all, especially at an engineering school, go to the ThePirateBay or some similar website, search for a game, and then click download. It doesn’t matter whether the game costs $5 or $50. However, there are some cases where you shouldn’t pirate a game: for example, the Humble Bundle.

Now, I define the Humble Bundle as a good value. You get hours of gameplay in terrific indie games (and sometimes even AAA) for about 5 dollars. Yet, people still pirate these games. According to a study, 25% of Humble Bundle downloads come from pirated sources. Now, while this is still lower than the PC game average of 35%, it is still astonishing. The humble bundles typically cost at least 10 times less than the retail price of the games. Why do people still illegally download these games – especially at these low costs?

Piracy of something like the Humble Bundle is never OK. In addition to the game to be at a heavily reduced price, you can choose to give all the money you pay for the games to charity. It’s guaranteed to be going to a good cause. On the other hand, downloading full-priced software illegally is a bit more OK. The Adobe Creative Suite is not worth anything close to the full price for a hobbyist. In addition, without demos, you wouldn’t realize that SimCity was horrible without paying the full price of the game.

In essence, the argument in favor of piracy boils down into two factors: trials and cost. Demos allow people to try a game before they purchase it, giving them a taste of the developer’s work and the game’s overall quality without committing to the full price. As demos of video games are no longer offered, people cannot legitimately download games and “test them out”. They cannot assess for themselves whether a game is worth the $50 – or maybe even $5. This runs into the issue of value.

Some (or most) companies focus on rushing their games to the market without caring too much about the quality. They just rely on the fact that “it’s the new Call of Duty game” or “it’s the new Blizzard game” to sell their product. I get it, you are awarded for brand recognition, but don’t slack. Some people look at the brand, but others look at the quality. They assign a value to a game based on the quality. Some games aren’t worth anywhere close to the full price due to it being full of bugs, having a short story, having bad mechanics, or anything in between. In this case, piracy is more acceptable – but there is also the practice of waiting. All games will go on sale eventually. Just wait for it to go on sale at YOUR valued price. It’s going to come down, wait, don’t pirate immediately.

The issue of piracy isn’t really a technology question, but more of an economics question. Companies always want to try maximize their profits – and I don’t blame them for that. They have to satisfy their shareholders. However, they still need to keep their consumer in mind – placing too high of a value on their product will scare away consumers, and some of them will turn to piracy in response. It’s a careful balance, but in the end, companies should produce high quality and polished games. They will able to charge more, win awards, grows their company and maximize profits. Higher quality games are always better.

Also, if you value a game at $50 and still won’t pay the $50, stop. You’re a scum. And to the video game companies, putting invasive DRM only hurts the legitimate user and is still going to get cracked. Don’t do it.

About the Author

Mark Krupinski
Freshman Computational Science who explores the issues of integrating technology within society in "Technically Speaking" Current Outreach Chair