Piracy has been a growing concern not just in music and movie industries, but in gaming as well. From the early days of gaming to today it has evolved dramatically and now gaming companies are stepping in and trying to stop it, but are their methods good?
The first big pirating scandals erupted in the days when Doom was initially released. Without any sort of DRM protection you could have easily copied the game on your floppy disk and let your friend borrow it. A lot of companies were displeased with the simple idea of sharing a game and decided to step in to prevent their game sales from falling down. The most famous original method was for games to require the original copy in the PC in order to be able to play it, but alas pirates once again found a way to burn CD images on their PC and completely not needing the physical copy of the game. Nevertheless a lot of companies weren’t willing to back down so easily and with every coming year trying to prevent their games from being pirated by any means necessary.
In today’s gaming world, piracy has become a common trend. Whenever you go on any major torrent site, you will always find newly released games already cracked and put up for everybody to download. A lot of companies in today’s industry simply lack the common sense or even the understanding of the reasons why a lot of their games still get pirated despise all of their efforts to prevent that.
The major and most obvious one been the price. The pricing for games is constantly rising, and in today’s tough economic times, not a lot of people can actually afford to shell out $60+ whenever a new game they want to play comes out. But it’s just not the newly released game’s prices, but also concerning the games which have been out for a quite bit and still carry a hefty $60 price tag. In my own personal opinion publishers have to know when to drop the prices of their games. A good example could be wanting to play Mass Effect 2. Upon its release I couldn’t shell out that amount of money, but couple of months later thankfully to me the price of the game dropped to $40 and combining that with Amazon’s sale I managed to grab it for $30, half the game’s retail price. A simple thing like that can surely boost the game’s sales and prevent the game from getting pirated any further.
The second and surely most controversial reason is the ridiculous DRM (Digital Rights Management) system in majority of today’s newly released games. DRM forces game owners to be connected to the internet while playing (even if it’s single player) or requiring a lengthy registration and verifications processes, which makes buying PC games a huge hassle. Instead of rewarding consumers for their honesty and support, the publishers decide to do the exact opposite, which actually makes the pirated and cracked versions of the same game superior to its legal alternative. DRM has become such a growing problem and a concern that people who actually purchase the real games still prefer to use the cracked versions instead, making it more convenient for them to enjoy their product. The sad truth is that games will always be pirated no matter how hard publishers are going to try to prevent that from happening, but by all means they shouldn’t go as far as to force consumers to suffer for it.
Although there is no simple solution to the growing problem of DRM, there are some ways to help make this better. A terrific example is Valve’s Steam digital gaming store which provides an enormous library of games, which upon purchase stay on your account and can be re-downloaded as many times as you want and provides offline mode support for its single player games. Not only that, but in the case of getting a new computer you can simply log on and through the simple and painless verification process your entire gaming library can be re-downloaded hassle free.
When thinking of piracy and more reasons why people pirate games, people tend overlook a simple yet a common problem. Only a small fraction of today’s games have demos which allow the player not only get a taste of the content, but also see how the game performs on one’s PC. There have been many cases where I simply was wondering about how a game would perform on my PC; I am not just talking about if my rig satisfied the recommended requirements, but what the frame rate per second it would run at and whether or not it would work perfectly with my video card. By providing gamers with simple and free demos it would really benefit the game’s sales in the long run not just on PC, but on the console counterparts as well.
I remember when I first heard of the Civilization franchise making its first debut on the consoles. Been a huge Sid Meier fan I was at first skeptical on how the game would live up to its PC counterpart. After a lot of strategy games never turned out to be quite as enjoyable on consoles as they would be on PCs, but nevertheless I was interested. As soon as the game’s demo came out I was extremely shocked with an enormous amount of content it offered for free. Not only did it allowed the gamer to get a taste of the game’s campaign mode, but it also allowed the gamer to actually beat the game. You heard it right. Actually beat the game. Sure, it was only possible on the game’s lowest difficulty setting and only through a military victory by conquering your opponents, but it was something out of the ordinary when I actually seen the game’s credits roll in a demo. A lot of publishers and developers alike can take a lesson or two from that.
Despise all the problems which piracy has caused it is extremely difficult to say whether it’s actually harming the gaming industry. A lot of people don’t realize that if somebody actually pirates a game doesn’t mean that same person isn’t going to decide to buy an actual copy later on. I personally like to support the companies which reward its consumers and do the exact opposite for those who chose to harm them. The real question is: “Which side are you on?”