Op-Ed

Op-Ed
Sink The Pirates

Sean Sands | 14 Jul 2008 20:58
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As you're furiously crafting an ireful response with expletives in big capital letters so I can't miss 'em, understand I'm not trying to change you. It's not just that I don't care enough about you to bother, it's that I'd hate to waste my breath.

My experience has not been that people engaging in frequent piracy, or worse advocating for it, are open to arguments that expose their malfeasance for what it is. In fact, I think the most consistent problem in addressing piracy within the industry, within the media and within discussions of the problem is that it includes the pirates in the conversation, as though they had something useful to add. Bad move.

They shouldn't get a say. So, let's work from that angle.

Yes, I think Cevat is inflating his 20 to 1 statistic, but he's probably not nearly as far off as you or I might think. Looking at arguably one of the largest P2P torrent sharing sites on the web (no, I'm not going to link to it), and the number of Games torrents currently available, the evidence is absolutely damning. Despite PCs' relative weakness in the marketplace, clearly in the backseat by orders of magnitude in relation to the next gen and handheld systems, it represents 50% of all torrents. Let me stress that - the number of illegal PC downloads are, at any given moment, equal to or greater than the illegal downloads for every other system combined.

Now, this is where pirates start making statements about the fallacy of equating those downloads into lost sales, and the part where I say again: No one cares what you think. I'm not just saying that to taunt them into frenzy, like rubbing a cat's fur the wrong way. I'm saying it because from the industry point of view, it's just a basic truth.

Write a ten page essay on the positive economic effects of piracy on the games industry, hand it to any industry professional and see how long it takes them to throw it in the garbage. Hint: watch closely when they get to the part where the person says, "Yes I pirate games, but..." In the industry, that's the equivalent of being a racist and starting your sentence with "I'm not a racist, but ..." Seriously, it doesn't matter the justifications, the industry is not going to pay pirates the slightest attention.

Nor should it.

Pirates give up their right to be involved in the debate by shattering the basic contract of commerce, and then add insult to injury by screaming about how they aren't really doing anything wrong. I can only assume that people who hold the assumption that piracy is a positive either have a fundamentally broken concept of ethics, no basic understanding of business or are irretrievably stupid.

Here's the bottom line: Yes, piracy is destroying PC gaming. That is an immutable truth, evidenced by the exodus of PC developers defecting en masse to make games for consoles. End of story. And frankly, I've lost patience with it.

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