In my opinion, “piracy” is not nearly as bad for game companies as is often said:
First of all, there are just a lot of people who really can’t afford to buy all those games. Mostly this are the younger ones, who just don’t earn that kind of money yet. Those people don’t buy games. Period.
Maybe the same people do “pirate” games but that’s actually of no relevancy because the game developers don’t get any imcome from them anyways. In those cases the argument “It’s not stealing because noone is losing anything” covers the whole thing.
In the end, devs can only benefit from these “pirates” because they not only may advertise the games they didnt pay for to people who might actually buy them but also by playing illegal copies, those people keep interest in computer games and once they have more money, they are very likely to actually buy games themselves.
Of course, then there are also those people who could actually afford to buy games but rather “pirate” them still. Many people argue that those people would instead buy the games they play if this would be the only way to play them.
In my opinion this theory is complete bullshit!
If people are not willing to pay for a thing even if they could, it’s because that thing is just not worth that amount of money to them. Therefore, if they couldn’t get it for free, they would just not get it at all.
The potential persons who think “Even though this game is great and i am willing to pay its price but because i can get it for free, i will rather not pay for it even though i think it is worth paying for.” is just an idea that doesn’t even make sense at all!
If someone realises that a game is worth the money it costs, he is willing to pay that price if he can. It’s just the logical thing to do:
If noone pays for a game, the dev can’t make any more games. Therefore, if you really like a game, you have to pay for it, not because it’s “the right thing to do” but just because it is the only way you can make sure that there will be more games you like. You buy the game for your own benefit.
It really doesn’t take a genius to understand that!
The only situation i can see where “pirating” a game actually makes the devs lose money is when someone buys something and only afterwards realises that it wasn’t worth the money he paid.
In modern times this is very unlikely to happen anymore though because you can get informations about a product so very easily on the internet.
Besides that: If a dev doesn’t get any money from a person that would regret paying that money, in my opinion that is totally fine. That money would be completely undeserved anyways!
Of course i can’t rule out for sure that there aren’t any people who like a game, agree with it’s price and still don’t buy it because they are just bad persons but if they really exist they are very rare exceptions and not worth thinking about too much. Even less they are an appropriate target audience for any game developer!
To summon this up: The main reason why people don’t pay for games is because they are not worth it in their opinion.
The reason why they see it like that can be two things: Either a game is just not good or it is good but also very overprized.
Just take a look at most major game productions today:
Often those games are really well done and they are quite a lot of fun to play for a short while but the prize is just not adequate: I am not willing to pay 60€ (or even more) for something that i have fun with for maybe 2-3 days at best.
If i can get those games for free, great, i will just give them a try and maybe i have fun for a few days but paying 60€ for something that lasts me just a few days would be a big waste of my money!
(Of course i could also just not play those games at all but “pirating” them is slighty better for me and noone is actually hurt by that. If i had the choice, i would probably even be willing to pay a much lower price for those but being realistic, i can’t just tell the devs “Hi, i illegally downloaded your game and while i am not willing to pay the insane price you are asking for it, it is worth [for example 5 bucks] to me, so here you go.” and expect them to just accept that instead of taking my confession that i “pirated” their game to sue me for the whole price…)
Computer games are a hobby and there is just a limited amount of money in my monthly budget (which is quite small anyways) for that.
Instead of buying one game, i could also pay the member’s fee for 1-3 months in most sports clubs!
Or i could go to a concert of an internationally famous act which might only be a one-time experience for a few hours but one that i will likely remember for the rest of my life. Playing a video game is not such a remarkable memory, not usually anyways. (I remember exactly one single game that had such a big impact on me which was Deus Ex and that was really an outstanding game, not the common video game entertainment i am talking about here.)
In my opinion that is the major problem with the entertainment industry nowadays:
They just don’t care about whether their prices are reasonable anymore. If a game sells badly, chances are that many people still “pirate” it and by suing those people for insane amounts (and even more insanely: winning those cases), they still make a bit profit. Actually, the more unrealisticely high a product’s price is, the higher the profit because suing people is just more profitable than just selling stuff…
And then there are some small indy developer’s like Greenheartgames or that guy who made Minecraft. Those people sell their products for reasonable (= much lower) prices and. oh wonder, they actually get a lot of sales.
To be honest: I “pirated” Game Dev Tycoon at first, same goes for Minecraft. I also never got the altered version because i don’t download from bittorrent, you have to be insane to do that in my opinion. So there was really nothing that forced me to pay for those games but still i did after playing them for a while.
The reason why i did that, is because i really had fun and i realised that this is not the “It’s great for the first hours/days but then it starts getting boring even before i finish the game” kind of fun but actually long term fun because those game are worth replaying from time to time. So those games offered really a lot to me and considering the price, i realised that they were just totally worth it and as i could also afford to spend that amount, there was no reason at all not to do it, so i just went ahead and bought those games.
It’s a great deal: I get a game that provides me with a long time of having fun and by paying a very reasonable price for it, i show the dev that i honor the work they put into it. Spending money for something that is worth it and supporting the ones creating it actually makes me feel good. Just buying Game Dev Tycoon was a happy moment for me!
Later, when i read the announcement that there will be an overhauled version even though that wasn’t planned originally, it showed me that it was a good decision to support Greenheartgames.
And that is exactly how things should work:
Someone does his best to create a good product and eventually succeeds.
People happily pay a fair price(!) for said product.
“Piracy” can not do anything to disturb that process because if it works like this, both sides want it to work out.
Happy customers are worth so much more than a bigger short term profit. Unluckily, today the amount of people who just don’t understand that, increases steadily.
And the worst thing about that situation is that even politics help those, who don’t understand this, into forcing people into paying for things they don’t actually want at the cost of everybody’s freedom.
Mentioning that just as a sidenote though as it would distract from the actual topic here.
PS: As you might have noticed, i don’t agree with the term “piracy” for illegally copying stuff. Actual Piracy is a very violent act where people’s property is taken from them by force often involving killing or at least substantially injuring the victims.
On the other hand, “Piracy” in this context is a crime without any actual victims that has been declared a major problem exclusively for the sake of making profit off it.