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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What's the deal with: Piracy

"Piracy? Plundering on the high seas, stealing and looting? Why is a video game guy commenting on this?" is what people who live in the 1800's would (probably) say. Piracy is a big deal in the gaming community or media to give it a wider range. Basically what piracy means is that I've taken something without paying for it but it's technically not stealing because it's like software. What's software? Well software is pretty much air... kinda. Software is that game or application you installed on your computer or electronic device, it can be there one moment but is easily deleted with little trace. Hardware is the actual device you use. Think of it like a glass of water. When I put water in there, it's almost filled. When I fill it, there's no more room so I have to make more room. Pouring it out then gets rid of that, sometimes leaving behind traces for those who want to find it can look around for it with a fine toothed comb (per say).

All piracy is software, pretty much. You see, stealing means that there is less of that in an occupied space. Software isn't really all that limited. When I pay for a game online there is no limit of times to how many times I can download it (or at least should be... freaking Spore). That game, even though I bought it, does not belong to me. Sure I paid for the software but in the end, the developers are the only ones who have the right to distribute and sell it out to whomever they see fit to do so. An example is I bought two games on Xbox LIVE: Jade Empire and Stubbs the Zombie. These games both take up a decent amount of space on my limited hard drive so I deleted them to make room. I came back sometime later to find they were... gone. Just gone. I never received any refund, they were gone without an explanation and I never got my money back. This is a great reason and argument for the good in piracy. You see, no one can now do this to me. I have the game and that's it. The problem for me comes when they start distributing it, for money or otherwise. Yes I was a pirate. I know some sites to go to that are legitimate to get my fixin's of 'free' stuff. I don't do it now because I have a job and disposable income. Games are an art form as is all other media. It never belonged to anyone until it was distributed to the populace now it's the peoples. That's how I feel.

There is a lot of bad going on with piracy but the one thing I want to focus on is what is being done to combat it... nothing. You probably heard of DRM at one point or another. It's an acronym for Digital Rights Management. What it means for gaming is that horrible practices are put through that limit the player playing or having any type of fun with the game without annoyances. Remember I mentioned up above about Spore? Well if you bought a physical copy of the game, there was a little (by that I mean really long) code you had to enter to install the game. Previously this was implemented in The Sims 2, but that code was infinite or as infinite as I remember. With Spore, the code only lasts up to three times. After that, it's worthless and you have to buy a new game... seriously. This does nothing to pirates, absolutely nothing. There is something called a keygen or a key generator out there which does what it says. Noted it doesn't work all the time as I tried it to replay my Spore game but it exists. Another way they do this is with a code like the same before but this code allows you to go online and it only works once. This isn't the worst idea but it is implemented poorly again. I recently tried to play Battlefield 3 again on my Xbox. Turns out, that code is not applied to my account and I have to enter it again. I haven't played my Xbox since because I'm pissed off. And the game was the Premium edition so it cost even more to begin with. What these things do is make me angry and not want to play games anymore. I have been basically exclusively playing Steam and Swtor because that's a bunch of bs. While I get it from the stand point of making money, you're doing a piss poor job of it. Steam does this perfectly fine: I buy a game or DLC for a game and it's there and that's it. Origin does this decent as well but I have to give the props to Steam for doing it first and I haven't actually bought any DLC on Origin. For both of them, all of the games I purchased are there to download immediately whenever I have an internet connection. That's a good idea and a smart idea. While I don't know how Steam or Origin combat pirating save from the occasional "you need this code to play online" for Steam which is annoying but it's easy to find again.

I admitted I was a pirate and I'm not ashamed of it. My iPod is filled with pirated music. Why? Because I can't find the CDs anywhere but online (which I didn't have a credit card to begin with and that's risky in itself to give vital information over the internet). A while ago Lamb of God came out with a new album. I listened to a song of it and immediately loved it, went down to Best Buy to get it. Um.... where is it? It literally wasn't there. I asked and no one knew where it was. It said online it was in store so... where the hell is it? That's another good thing about pirating: availability. "But you could buy the CD on iTunes." Have you tried using iTunes? It's a chore. Or how about trying to create an account on it? By far the longest experience of my life even though it only took 20 minutes (really, not even joking). 20 minutes? My God, that's like ten short songs that just finished. The best thing to do is to streamline these experiences. Make it so it's easy to do things so I can buy them. I do not have the new Lamb of God sound track even though I want it and that sickens me because I was totally ready to buy it but it was nowhere in sight. In fact, the people who sell these products are those who make piracy a good and sane option. Why would I pay a lot of money for this thing when I can get it here for free, whenever I want it, put it wherever I want it and no one can take that away from me... except the government I suppose. Blame the people who distribute it, not the people who are willing to pay for it. Amazon is a decent site but they don't always have everything. Take a page from Valve or, hell, even Origin for that matter.

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