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Is gaming piracy finally dead?


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Gabe Newell once made the point that the challenge of digital distribution was about service. If it's easier and cheaper to pirate games then people will.

 

Then he proved his point by becoming successful selling games to markets that were 90% piracy like the former USSR!

 

Back when I was younger the big temptation to pirate for me at least was failure of distribution. I had a few friends sling pirate tapes and discs my way but in the main I saved my money up to buy C64 games, even Amiga games! There were many games I would have loved to have played but the vagaries of physical distribution meant that to find certain titles into the early 2000's I was searching around the city in department stores, specialty shops, pawn brokers, used book and music shops, it was a completely different landscape.

 

For instance I wanted to play Chrono Trigger and Front Mission (SNES). I had to wait well over a decade to get them on the DS. For $60AU each. The first Final Fantasy ever released in our market was Final Fantasy 7.

 

Digital has practically killed piracy for most people I know. Why would you spend hours looking for a pirate copy when a few minutes on your digital service of choice can have the game in your machine for sometimes the price of a cup of coffee! Gamepass is cheaper than the three Amiga magazines I used to buy each month.

 

The main issue now is time and attention.

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I remember having hacked C64 games on tape that loaded really quickly. That was a good reason to pirate. Also, buying games back then was a lottery. You’d often end up with something unplayable and broken that the mags had given 90%.

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20 minutes ago, Kevvy Metal said:

 

How's that Red Dead Redeption 2 looking on PC?

 

Yeah, there's one example (played it on my old PS4 so no real interest in the PC version).  Still not most games and still not often.

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For me, as i get older and lazier, and games are cheap enough and easier to get legitimately, piracy is less attractive. I like having my games available on their respective launchers on PC, or on the consoles being kept up to date automatically.

 

For retro stuff, i don't even see this as piracy as there is no easy way to obtain the games and / or hardware where the money would be going to the developer or publisher.

 

Make the games easy to get and cheap enough and piracy would all but disappear. Steam was a good start with the awesome sales, gamepass is absolutely the right model and if the rumoured Playstation equivalent comes to pass then that should just about do it.

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I am intrigued by how people feel buying digital games from other regions fits into this, if at all.

 

Often is the case that games appear on the online marketplace for areas like Brazil or India at a drastically reduced rate to the UK marketplace. I understand that you can download these with a bit of effort plus a VPN and pre-paid credit for that region.

 

Is this a grey area? Completely fine? Not dissimilar to piracy?

 

Interested to hear opinions.

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In the 8bit->16bit days. I was skint and had plenty of pirated copies of games but I wouldn't pirate anything I really liked, I'd always buy those.

 

Do I care that robdood doesn't contribute anything at all to the pockets of the artists that work incredibly hard to make this industry what it is? Yes a bit.

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56 minutes ago, Richard said:

I am intrigued by how people feel buying digital games from other regions fits into this, if at all.

 

Often is the case that games appear on the online marketplace for areas like Brazil or India at a drastically reduced rate to the UK marketplace. I understand that you can download these with a bit of effort plus a VPN and pre-paid credit for that region.

 

Is this a grey area? Completely fine? Not dissimilar to piracy?

 

Interested to hear opinions.

 

If there's any value added by the regional arms of those publishers, I'd like to know what it is. Does it help justify paying for translation?

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56 minutes ago, Richard said:

I am intrigued by how people feel buying digital games from other regions fits into this, if at all.

 

Often is the case that games appear on the online marketplace for areas like Brazil or India at a drastically reduced rate to the UK marketplace. I understand that you can download these with a bit of effort plus a VPN and pre-paid credit for that region.

 

Is this a grey area? Completely fine? Not dissimilar to piracy?

 

I'd say grey area, you're still fundamentally paying for the game, which is better for supporting the developer than piracy.

 

I've never done it, but I buy most of my games several years later when they've dropped in price to sub £15 because I don't really care about playing at launch, and is that ultimately much different?

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The only piracy I have done recently is for older consoles via Everdrive etc, a fair few of those games I used to own back in the day anyway. I did mod my 3DS to enable me to have everything on there instead of swapping carts out, more for convenience really. I do own all the original physical games as well for 3DS, but still downloaded the Japanese 3D collections for the games that never came out over here.

 

All the other consoles from the 360, One X, PS4, and current generation like Switch, I buy. PC wise I just get them from CD Keys or in Steam sales so cheap anyway.

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Regional markets with lower sale prices exist because they wouldn't be sustainable at higher prices. It's a privileged position to be able to exploit it by using your relative wealth in this country to buy games at a lower price in others. In part it's something I would feel a little uncomfortable about because if abuse of it makes things worse for the people there who have no choice (through higher prices), it'd be a pretty shitty thing. 

 

But that's moot, because as above - I can't be fucked farting about with regional markets.

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Not technically piracy but there's ways to get new Xbox games for a fiver or less.

 

A guy I know has been doing it for years. 

 

Only piracy I have done is via emulation. I have an RG351V with every game from every format all the way  from Atari 2600 up to DC. 

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I used to pirate on PC for years until maybe 7-8 years ago? My pc/steam library is now hitting maybe near 2k games (couple of years of humble choice and years of humble bundles before that), tonnes of free games on Epic, Game Pass. I just feel zero need to pirate on PC. It's so cheap and easy to build a gigantic library that it seems foolish to me to faff about with waiting for cracked DRM, worrying about trojans viruses etc. 

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13 hours ago, robdood said:

I pirate pretty much everything I play. Always have. Still do. (On PC, at least.)

 

Never really done much console piracy except for the Wii {omg that was legendary) and DS flash carts (also amazing) 

 

"you wouldn't steal a car" 

 

I fucking would if it basically meant just cloning it through a VPN. Sorry! 

 

...but everything on the PC is free (or near enough free) anyway.

 

Seems rather pointless to be honest.

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I have loads of stuff for emulation from Atari to Xbox 360* including MAME.

 

If I can no longer buy the game new, then it is fair game.

 

The only current stuff I get is Switch games to run on PC as there are things I can do to help accessibility. 9 times out of 10 I own the game but I do have a couple ready to be played that I don't own but want to try. 

 

I am ok with fucking over a mega corp but I will never pirate an Indie as it feels a lot more personal and taking direct from the Devs. 

 

*Literally just Droplitz as I can't play it any other way as you cannot but it anymore even for the original system and I no longer have access to the account I owned it on.

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Piracy was generally a bit of a faff in older gens, as it relied on physical measures (chips), downloads of large ROMs on slower connections, writing to disks, and (as manufacturers wised up) custom firmware. And if you got it wrong there was the risk of bricking your machine. I wish I still had the time that I needed to flash mod my PSP and regularly update it with new custom firmware.

 

Piracy became mainstream on the PS1 and NDS, which was when I was most likely to do it - the setup was simple and, particularly with the R4 cart. It also meant that I could play games that were not easily available in the UK.

 

Today, games are more affordable, generally available globally on multiple platforms at launch, and the infrastructure is generally very stable. Instead of faffing about with .iso files I can be playing games in minutes.

 

The shift in gaming follows on from Netflix, Spotify and the like for other industries. These days, the only time I would even consider pirating content is if it is unavailable through legitimate means. Even then, I am drowning in content anyway. Where is the motivation to pirate when I can just play/watch/listen to something else of equal quality through one of the many channels available to me?

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Edit: my phone was about to die while I was typing that. tl;dr...prolific pirate now pays for things because it's easier but we're in danger of driving people back to piracy due to greed (I've also had half a bottle of rum in the sun so I also reserve the right to deny all knowledge of this post)

 

I was around 12 or 13 when I got my Spectrum. I was constantly burned by games that were rated 8 or 9/10 in the mags that were more like a 3 or 4 and also having pretty much zero cash apart from my pocket money. Couple of mates also had a Speccy and one had a C64. Saturday became the day we made our pilgrimage to The Barras to buy the latest compilation of games that would cost less than one retail game. Us Speccy users would split the cost and the C64 guy knew someone else who had one so they would alternate who paid. I had a "tape to tape" stereo with high speed dubbing, so it was then all back to mine while we tried out the games then copied what we'd bought.

 

FFWD a few years and we all had Amigas. By this time we're skint students, so it was the same pilgrimage to see the same guys at The Barras and pick up a box of blank floppies while we were there and then again, thanks X-Copy, everyone got their own copy. 

 

By the time we had PC's it was now ingrained. Even more so when CD Burners became widely available. Same pilgrimage, same guys selling the games (now on CD). We couldn't see the point of paying all that (beer) money for the few 9/10 games that actually were 9/10 when you could get 10 games for the same price.

 

Then came the OG Xbox. A stall next to the guys at The Barras would chip it for a few quid. A minor outlay but now you could get any game you wanted for it. The bonus being that you could install a bigger hard drive and a new dashboard that allowed you to store all the games digitally. As well as turning it into a more than capable media centre with XBMC.

 

We all had the internet by this point so we stopped buying the pirated games and just downloaded them ourselves, along with any movies that had leaked. Pre torrent era so it would still take days to download stuff but eDonkey/eMule meant that was no problem and we'd regularly take turns at who downloaded what and make copies for each other.

 

Same story with the PS2 and the 360. Get them chipped and you could download and burn the games yourself. Even the great Halo 3 Banhammer didn't stop us. The console might be banned from online but you could still play offline copies of games on it. And by this point we could afford a 2nd console for online stuff.

 

Now, I can't tell you the last time I pirated something. Well, I can but I'll get to that. 

 

My backlog of games, movies and TV grows longer by the week and all are legitimate. Steam, Epic, Humble, Netflix, Prime (movies & games), Disney to name a few have allowed me access to pretty much all the media I could ask for and it costs less than what I used to spend to enable me to pirate them. And that's before you include GamePass!

 

What I still pirate are things that for some reason they've decided that no we aren't making that available in the UK or we're delaying the release but it's available elsewhere. I do pay for these when they become available but that's what drives piracy these days IMHO.

 

I'll still pirate the occasional PC game but only to see if I like it as you'll rarely get a "demo" version these days. If I do like it, I'll then pay for it. I know refunds are easier these days but it's still a hassle, all be it a minor one.

 

GamePass is perfect for someone like me. I'm lucky enough to own both current gen consoles and a decent gaming PC. My PS5 is for Sony exclusives and my X is for GP. I won't be paying full whack for these exclusives as I'm happy to wait for price drops (except Elden Ring which is only the 2nd game I've ever pre ordered)

 

The big danger to this legitimacy I see is the fragmentation of the streaming services. Everyone wants their own share of the money pie. And rightly so. But how do you then balance that against accessibility? I don't want to have to sub to 10 different services to watch 2 or 3 things on each. But you also can't have a single place to access everything

 

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Yeah after having a chipped Xbox OG and PS2 back when they were current gen, and having a pile of “free” games I’d never touch, I stopped pirating new games, with one exception…

 

I did recently download a repack of FFVII Remake, because fuck paying £60+ on the Epic Store for a lazy port that (potentially) runs like shit.

Turns out it doesn’t run too bad on my machine, and I will buy it when it’s half the price. 

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I am not sure this was ever as much of a problem as they thought. And in places where it was a problem, it continues to be. Those pirating games are now playing last gen games or from two gens ago on modded consoles and they will continue to do that. And if they can’t pirate something they just won’t play it. 

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2 minutes ago, Oz said:

I am not sure this was ever as much of a problem as they thought. And in places where it was a problem, it continues to be. Those pirating games are now playing last gen games or from two gens ago on modded consoles and they will continue to do that. And if they can’t pirate something they just won’t play it. 

Dunno man, I got God of War pc the same day it came out 😬

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5 hours ago, BossSaru said:

Piracy was generally a bit of a faff in older gens, as it relied on physical measures (chips), downloads of large ROMs on slower connections, writing to disks, and (as manufacturers wised up) custom firmware. And if you got it wrong there was the risk of bricking your machine. I wish I still had the time that I needed to flash mod my PSP and regularly update it with new custom firmware.

 

Piracy became mainstream on the PS1 and NDS, which was when I was most likely to do it - the setup was simple and, particularly with the R4 cart. It also meant that I could play games that were not easily available in the UK.

 

Today, games are more affordable, generally available globally on multiple platforms at launch, and the infrastructure is generally very stable. Instead of faffing about with .iso files I can be playing games in minutes.

 

The shift in gaming follows on from Netflix, Spotify and the like for other industries. These days, the only time I would even consider pirating content is if it is unavailable through legitimate means. Even then, I am drowning in content anyway. Where is the motivation to pirate when I can just play/watch/listen to something else of equal quality through one of the many channels available to me?


Piracy was pretty mainstream and faff-free in the micro era.

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