As a child I was never fond of the outdoors, there was always too much dirt and sunshine for my liking. Virtually all of my free time was spent playing games and, being a kid, I had an abundance of free time and a shortage of money. Furthermore, as a PC gamer as well, expensive upgrades served to suck up even more of my already dwindling capital.
During these days, most of my gaming experience relied upon scouring LAN parties for new pirated releases or handing over a copied game disc in the school hallway. Love me or hate me, I did what I had to in order to survive. Over the years, piracy and the means for avoiding copy protection have become more complicated, but there was a time when the answer to playing a game free of charge simply required clone disc software or the download of the appropriate patches or crack. This was the golden age of piracy in which I grew into the gamer that I am today. Without piracy I would not have played a large portion of the games that formed my gamer education.
It goes without saying that piracy hurts the gaming industry. Millions of dollars and untold man hours are poured into some games whether they are veritable works of art or cookie cutter hack jobs. Sure some are blatant cash cows and others more closely resemble a fatally bludgeoned horse but as my loving mother always says “you get nothing for nothing and very little for sixpence in this world.”
The sad truth of the matter is that quality takes time and time as we know is money. There are some indie developers out there who have taken it upon themselves to craft loving releases for little or no money, but these coding crusaders represent just a fraction of mainstream gaming development.
It may be a sweeping judgment to make but I don’t think I’d be wrong in stating that the majority of gamers, be they hardcore or otherwise, subscribe to the Michael Bay school of game design in which everything explodes and narrative often plays second fiddle. We need look no further than Battlefield, Call of Duty and Halo for evidence of this. I prefer to straddle the line between the two and I’ll literally give any game a try, regardless of platform, genre or level of studio backing.
Producing games does of course require money, often lots of it. This is why big time studio backers such as EA don’t take kindly to having this money swindled from them and take drastic measures to ensure their bottom line stays nice and safe. This had led to the development of nickel and diming DLC deals and the ever dreaded DRM which in turn has made EA look like outrageous fools. These attempts by publishers to protect their interests works as a double edged sword as attempts to squeeze money out of consumers at every turn only serves to drive them further towards pirating their software. Whether or not publishers will eventually find a balance between these two remains to be seen but for the moment EA and their like are walking a fine line between making money and alienating their customer base all together.
For the record I am no longer a game pirate, I believe if a game isn’t worth buying then it isn’t worth playing. If everyone could just agree on this, maybe the games market would be a steadier place for all of us.