Checkpoint: Pirates Can’t Justify Their Treasure

Ahoy there, matey! Now’s the best time of year to walk the plank and discuss piracy on the high seas. Not the Caribbean, mind you, but the high seas of the Internet. Yes, I’m talking about piracy, so let’s take a look at how modern pirates stack up to their unwashed, nefarious counterparts. Arrrgh!

Everyone loves free stuff, except for the developers making the game and the publishers putting that game out there for consumers. Lots of pirates attempt to justify what the U.S. Justice System calls larceny, and there’s really no way to handle this discussion without going through each of the major arguments.

Up first, the argument that no one is hurt by pirating a game. Physically speaking, pirates are correct. There’s a lot less violence and destruction involved in pirating a copy of “Alan Wake” than there is in raiding a treasure ship bound for Spain from the new world. However, pirates are still depriving developers of the money that they earned by making that game. Every copy of the game that gets pirated results in revenue that is lost to the developers and publishers.

Next, the argument that it’s okay if you don’t like the publisher or the developer. Sure, no one likes EA, and Ubisoft is the most deserving of all the publishers, but that’s still no good reason to pirate their games. Even if you don’t think you can like a piece of art while disliking the artist, no company is going to change their policy just because they’re being pirated. After all, Bank of America isn’t going to change their mortgage policy just because a bank gets robbed. A far stronger message would be to resist the urge to buy “The Sims: Next Generation” and start a petition, or email the company telling them why you aren’t going to buy their game. I promise, this is far more effective than pirating their games.

Then pirates make the argument that they wouldn’t have bought the game if they had to pay for it. Okay, so? Paying for the game doesn’t change the quality of the product, except in a few cases where developers implement hilarious anti-piracy measures within the game, like altering the game to make it unplayable. Again, if the product isn’t worth your money, then it’s not worth your time. If money is really an issue, be patient and wait for a sale. If it’s really worth the asking price, the retail price should fall pretty quickly.

Finally, we arrive at the argument that pirates are just testing games out to see if they like them enough to buy. No, stop laughing, we’re having a serious discussion here. Assuming that a pirate would only play the first level or two of a game and then decide to buy it, it doesn’t sound so bad, but that’s never really the case. Even so, it’s a lot of work to pirate a game and then play through if you might decide you hate it. Fortunately, there are dozens of sources that can give you an idea of the game’s quality. Right here in the Life section, we run video game reviews every week. YouTube has hundreds of gaming channels that allow you to watch a game being played. The gaming public has had more information available prior to making a purchase.

Even if all you own in the world is a computer and an Internet connection, there are still tons of great, free games out there. “Team Fortress 2” is free on Steam, dozens of high quality mobile games are free to try and every gaming platform offers some free games as part of special promotions or deals. Piracy is harmful to the entire industry, whether it’s pseudo-activism, a grudge against a publisher or outright cheapness.

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