189: Pirates Anonymous

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Pirates Anonymous

Can you be addicted to piracy? Darren Sandbach was, and he's got the scars to prove it. Follow him on a journey from his first taste to hitting rock-bottom by getting banned from Xbox live.

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Meh, it was alright. I've pirated enough titles to understand where this article is coming from, but I've never hit this level of rock bottom that you speak of. Also, getting banned from XBL is hardly the bottom of the barrel.

And BTB, FIRST

And then a mysterious disc entered my life. I loaded it into my PC and up came an animated menu with a list of recent games.

The twilight cd... yes, these were a real crime indeed, never knew where to get them tho, someone else gave them to me.

I pirate games now and then, but I'm also a proud owner of entire boxes of original games, and I play them for my enjoyment, Microsoft's DRM is indeed a thorn in the eye, and the latest kind stimulates piracy, rather than eliminating it, it's a real shame IMO.

yea i understand where u were coming from I didnt do it to the extent u did but dabbled in it and now I appreciate more just owning the games and stuff that I want then building a collection I dont play

Greatest article yet! I really enjoyed the article, and it makes me think back to when I was on warez forums and downloading like there was no tomorrow (and there might not be, for I would have been arrested or something).

I wouldn't say that he's anonymous, I'd say that's Henry Rollins.

I'm onto you, Rollins....

Fantastic piece of writing right there.

Entharion:

And then a mysterious disc entered my life. I loaded it into my PC and up came an animated menu with a list of recent games.

The twilight cd... yes, these were a real crime indeed, never knew where to get them tho, someone else gave them to me.

I pirate games now and then, but I'm also a proud owner of entire boxes of original games, and I play them for my enjoyment, Microsoft's DRM is indeed a thorn in the eye, and the latest kind stimulates piracy, rather than eliminating it, it's a real shame IMO.

I've gotten several of similar discs from my older brother back when I was younger. Can anyone remember the name of them? If anything, send me a PM. I'm just interested in the name.

Good article, too. Is that a picture of you by any chance?

That's very nice, but you live in civilized country.

I live in Ukraine and some titles are being delayed *soo loong* due to publisher laziness/localization/whatever -- it's impossible to wait. For example, Far Cry 2 (PC) is not published yet, Condemned: Criminal Origins (PC) haven't been published at all. The list is very long. I'd buy those games if they will appear in stores but for now... I guess it not my only fault.

same can be said with emulators on a pc in my opinion

I'll download then for two simple reasons. I'm not sure if it's good enough for me to buy them and the other is 'cause when the game is imported it cost me 4x more then the american version. (developers are eager... to sell, publishers are too greed)

Think I went through a similar stage myself when I first discovered piracy, or 'backups' as the moniker went. Collected anything and everything, just glutted on the possibilities. Didn't end up playing much at all, however. Ended up as a giant waste of time. I did, however, get a good look at the wide array of derivative crap that sifts beneath the hyper-visible AAA titles.

And occasionally I would find something that was more fun than it had a right to be (according to the reviews, at least). Piracy made me a better tastemaker, because I got to taste everything. Now I don't have the time nor the inclination, so I'm back to only playing Big Name Games. Kind of a pity, really.

This sounds like a plot for an episode of a bad 80s sitcom. I'm waiting for the protagonist to sit down with the naughty child and ask them what they've learned today, then for someone to say something amusing and everyone starts laughing - cue credits.

"This sounds like a plot for an episode of a bad 80s sitcom. I'm waiting for the protagonist to sit down with the naughty child and ask them what they've learned today, then for someone to say something amusing and everyone starts laughing - cue credits."
Yeah, newly converted evangelist on a rampant? It will pass... soon.

This sounds more like it was an addiction than anything, and just about anything CAN be an addiction depending on the person. Many pirate for different reasons, or say they do anyway.. the one I hear more and more is that they want to take down EA, but if they can't how bad is piracy to begin with?

Im with Nurb.

It was a pretty isolated experience in comparison to most people and the author (no offence) sounds like he could have been just as easily hooked on Transformer models or Comics.

For me.. Piracy is a tool I use to level the playing field in gaming. I am 42 y/o I had a VIC20 and would sit and type code from magazines into it, to hopefully get a game at the end of the epic debugging process that inevitably resulted from my crappy typing (it hasnt improved). So Im not new to this....

So what do I mean by level the playing field....

Well if a game developer can enter the market and make a raft of fradulent claims about their lame and buggy product that I am about to pay $100(AUD) for. Claims that easily rival the level of dishonesty involved in pirating and probably cost more $ from gamers than gamers take from copying.

Then I claim equal rights to download a copy of their garbage and decide for myself the truth of their claims. This is my personal rationale and I dont expect anyone to agree with it.

So yes... I will play pirate version of anything...

BUT!

If I like the game and I feel the developers have done enough to earn my cash I will ALWAYS go buy the retail copy, ALWAYS. My shelves brim with retail boxes. My hard drives swell with both retail, downloaded retail, and pirate games. The good ones are on the shelves, the garbage is in the recycle bin.

I further suppliment my habit by selling my used games on Ebay and getting back around 50-75% of the original purchase price, this helps to keep it all affordable.

As for developers crying poor.... gimme a break... If their game rox, they have nothing to worry about. If their game sux, then they only have themselves to blame for going broke.

Look at the GTA series... probably one of the most overall pirated titles in PC gaming. I dont see Rockstar going out of business any time soon.

Industries are losing billions to pirates like you. You've stolen, shared and profited from thousands and thousands of dollars worth of games. Time to pay for the lost sales... Or at least that's how anti-piracy groups see it.

I won like hundreds of games, I have the box and everything to prove it. But no one is immune to piracy in this day and age, its so easy I learned to do it by 13. You know I can't afford every game out their, since our economic downfall in America. But I try to buy the games once I get money, the games I really like for instance. This whole chip thing is a complete violation of my privacy, downloading games is not really hurting the industry that bad, unless its and indie game, never pirate indie games. But I don't see a problem with sticking it to the capitalist fat cats once in a while, just don't make it a huge habit out of it.

I definitely agree.

I've pirated games, and I find when you have a pirated game, you so much more likely not to play it, or to play it very little, than you would had you bought it.

When you spend your cash on a game, you almost feel like you need to play it, to make the loss of those funds worthwhile - you're more willing to swallow a bad game, persevere with a tough one, and play it till the end no matter what.

When you pirate, you have so many games you barely play any, but you keep getting them 'just in case' you feel like it, even though you know you won't. It definitely becomes just a collecting factor.

Pirating has become a social movement. The CP owners the CP farms have to much power and influence on society. As they seek to gain absolute control over distribution they ensure that the CP creator/Artist is forced to become a pack animal they can make money from.

Because the industry is insipid and pervasive I support civil disobedience, this is akin to the civil rights movement were a segment of the population is disrespected and walked on the common artist and consumer is fodder for CP/Corporate fascism.

IMO they need to change business models to a profit focus (meaning free non profit shearing is legal)if its making money they have absolute right to a piece of that pie but the industry will have to give up its authoritative and top heavy nature and focus on gaining a portion of "data" sales via streamlined revenue streams IE they can produce something for 30-99$ as a special release then let licensees sell it burned to disk or drive or in a retail box for 1-30$ let the market and sellers drive prices and the media industry gain a steady 50% or so of the final sale. All of this will keep prices fluid and keep volume high and everyone from the retailer to the CP owner is making money and sustaining the industry instead of a stagnant and self damaging industry..

If they did this infinite CP or "profit rights" would not effect the common man nor stagnate the industry in a vile and insipid way as it dose with the distribution focused model..
/incoherent intellectual

I agree with this syndrome of "Downloading everything, playing nothing". Since i have a decent enough income i play through almost every game i buy (except racing games), and thats a lot more time spent then on the pirated games back then i spend maybe 2 or 3 hours on.

And thanks to the fact that i have enough friends to trade with, along with the fact that game prices nowadays fall pretty quickly after a year or so, i don't feel the need to get more than the odd, rare PC Game once in a while through "not very legal" channels.

..I guess what i am saying is to get some friends and browse the bargain bins ^^.

i consider myself more of a Try-rate. meaning, i'll pirate something, but if i enjoy the experience (the game or the music usually) i will buy it to support the author. i basically use pirating as an audition. why shouldn't i know what i'm buying before actually buying it?

While I won't deny that the author was addicted to piracy, let's make it clear that this is not what piracy is about. Not all pirates (or probably even most pirates) collect merely for the sake of collecting.

Myself, it's a combination of factors. For one, video games are expensive. It's hard to justify a $60 purchase, especially when you don't even know if the game is worth it. Which leads to the second reason: most games suck. I have paid for several games (mainly MMOs) that I gave up on within days of playing because they weren't enjoyable. Thirdly, there aren't many games that I play regularly. When I hear about something new, I want to try it out, but I'm certainly not willing to pay to try something and see if I like it -- that's what shareware used to be about. Without trials and the like, how can a consumer make an informed decision? You can't even trust what video game reviews say, because half of them are bought and the other half score everything between 9 and 10. Add to this the fact that no store will allow you to return a game once the shrinkwrap is broken and you're playing Russian Roulette every time you purchase something.

In the end, I treat piracy as a bargaining chip. I'm interesting in your game (movie, song, whatever), but I don't know if it's worth buying, so I'm going to try it out first. No, they don't agree to this, but as a consumer that doesn't concern me. I'm not going to buy their dicey material for a significant cost without a sample no matter how hard they try to make me. If they don't provide a trial, and make it sufficiently difficult to pirate, I'll just pass on it entirely.

If I do like a game, I pay for it. Partially because pirated copies are usually inferior (but new DRM methods are swinging this the other way) and partially because I do want to support companies that are producing good products.

As a side note, I'd like to correct the terminology that the author used. At the beginning, he refers to "copyright theft". Well, as much as I'd like to steal a copyright from somebody (so that I could disclaim it and place the work in the public domain), that's not what I do at all. I do "reproduce without consent", or "infringe on copyrights", but I certainly don't steal anything from anybody.

Actually, there is another major reason that I "pirate" things, and it involves replacement. I have many consoles, cartridges, and discs that don't work anymore or have been lost. While the industry would love me to buy these again and again (it works for Disney), they are also quick to remind me that I haven't paid for "the game", but rather a license to play said game. In that vein, I should be allowed to play any copy I can get my hands on. (Unfortunately, they do add rules elsewhere that make copying illegal too, so you're legally fucked no matter what). So I download copies, use emulators, and everything else, to be able to play the games that I own a license to play, without having to spend hundreds of dollars (if you can even find a copy) to get an original copy.

Entharion:

And then a mysterious disc entered my life. I loaded it into my PC and up came an animated menu with a list of recent games.

The twilight cd... yes, these were a real crime indeed, never knew where to get them tho, someone else gave them to me.

I pirate games now and then, but I'm also a proud owner of entire boxes of original games, and I play them for my enjoyment, Microsoft's DRM is indeed a thorn in the eye, and the latest kind stimulates piracy, rather than eliminating it, it's a real shame IMO.

Its a damn shame that I thought "Edward" when I read your first sentence. DAMN FADS.

Nerdfury:
This sounds like a plot for an episode of a bad 80s sitcom. I'm waiting for the protagonist to sit down with the naughty child and ask them what they've learned today, then for someone to say something amusing and everyone starts laughing - cue credits.

Don't copy that floppy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=DE&hl=de&v=-Xfqkdh5Js4

@Article:

This break allowed me to gain some perspective on my addiction. I hadn't been saving money; I was spending it on blank discs, consoles I didn't need and PC upgrades to run games I never intended to play in any depth.

That was the moment I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Considering prices of games, how can a disc ever-ever be as expensive as a full-priced game?

Rather than giving me a true, wide-ranging appreciation of the medium, I'd simply been skimming the surface, digesting little. I'd begun to look at games as mere commodities, undermining their value with every disc I copied and shared.

Here's the fitting quote for you: "90% of everything is crud"
As a pirate, you could actually experience the full amount of juvenile SHIT that gets shoved out the distribution channels each month... of course - as a "normal" buyer - you neither have the time or money to do so... so you can only experience the tip of the iceberg. As an addict you overcame the financial burden to realize what games really are, but still didn't solve the not-to-be-solved problem of their time-soaking efficiency.

More to the point: This is the very moment where I began to think of "Darren Sandbach" as Gaming Industry's Mock-Up Spokesperson. Really. What is the meaning of his text above? Read it again! Carefully! And you will come up with something along these lines:
That games are beautiful art, full of life-enhancing lore and experiences - even better than real-life friendships, social events, beer and sex combined, BUT evil-doers like PIRATES turn those beautiful artsy-pearls into mere COMMODITIES!
Background choir goes: OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH!! *shocking*!!!
Yeah... every game is a piece of art and girls' farts smell like cinnamon...

What's next, Darren (if that is your name)?
Back to your fantasy world, virtual Darren, back to your fantasy world...

@Real author:
Don't forget to cash in your pay-check on your way out.
At least that one oughta be real... shouldn't it?

SamLowry:

Nerdfury:
This sounds like a plot for an episode of a bad 80s sitcom. I'm waiting for the protagonist to sit down with the naughty child and ask them what they've learned today, then for someone to say something amusing and everyone starts laughing - cue credits.

Don't copy that floppy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=DE&hl=de&v=-Xfqkdh5Js4

WELCOME TO THE END OF THE COMPUTING AGE!

Also, WOMEN programmers!? What will they think of next!

Also, I had no idea that Neverwinter Nights as we know it now was an update of an older one. Wow.

I used to pirate games using torrents and such, but then my system was infected with so many viruses I could not even boot my system. Reformatting broke my addiction of warez and torrents.

martyrdrebel27:
i consider myself more of a Try-rate. meaning, i'll pirate something, but if i enjoy the experience (the game or the music usually) i will buy it to support the author. i basically use pirating as an audition. why shouldn't i know what i'm buying before actually buying it?

This is roughly the equivelant to you ducking out of a meal at a restaurant if you didn't like it. It's not the same because they didn't have to pay to make the meal, but it's similar. I don't use torrents, I use rapidshare. Pay 5 a month and get 2.6GB of high speed bandwidth a day. You get the best of every world because I don't download excessively and I play every game I DL unless it's a piece of crap (TRunderworld, you suck). So it's possible to find equilibrium. Multiplayer games I buy though (UT3 and Valve games)

coldcorpse:
That's very nice, but you live in civilized country.

I live in Ukraine and some titles are being delayed *soo loong* due to publisher laziness/localization/whatever -- it's impossible to wait. For example, Far Cry 2 (PC) is not published yet, Condemned: Criminal Origins (PC) haven't been published at all. The list is very long. I'd buy those games if they will appear in stores but for now... I guess it not my only fault.

But, if I'm not mistaken, you've already got Cryostasis. Lucky bastards.

SamLowry:
@Article:

This break allowed me to gain some perspective on my addiction. I hadn't been saving money; I was spending it on blank discs, consoles I didn't need and PC upgrades to run games I never intended to play in any depth.

That was the moment I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Considering prices of games, how can a disc ever-ever be as expensive as a full-priced game?

"A" disc cannot. You can, however, spend the equivalent of several games on blank discs in not that much time if you "gotta catch 'em all" from the Torrents. This could easily exceed what one was paying per month while actually buying games and being selective enough to only get the ones that looked worthwhile.

-- Steve

You are right, Steve.

But then, again "Darren" was not addicted to pirating games (and playing them), but to collecting (any) garbage, he could pick up on the street (internet)...

Any thinking pirate should quickly realize how bad at least 90% of the games really are and leave them be. Maybe before trying them, maybe after.

About COMMODITIES:

The few major labels left are parts of giant media conglomerations - owned by huge parent companies for whom artists and albums are just numbers on a piece of paper. It's why record companies shove disposable pop crap down your throat instead of nurturing career artists: because they have CEOs and shareholders to answer to, and those people don't give a shit if a really great band has the potential to get really successful, if given the right support over the next decade. They see that Gwen Stefani's latest musical turd sold millions, because parents of twelve year old girls still buy music for their kids, and the parent company demands more easy-money pop garbage that will be forgotten about next month. The only thing that matters to these corporations is profit - period. Music isn't thought of as an art form, as it was in the earlier days of the industry where labels were started by music-lovers - it's a product, pure and simple. And many of these corporations also own the manufacturing plants that create the CDs, so they make money on all sides - and lose money even from legal MP3s.

...taken from http://www.demonbaby.com/blog/2007/10/when-pigs-fly-death-of-oink-birth-of.html
Yes, I know, it's about the music industry and not the games industry. But:
Are the major distribution companies, which own everything really that different?

Razorback0z:
Look at the GTA series... probably one of the most overall pirated titles in PC gaming. I dont see Rockstar going out of business any time soon.

It's true that Grand Theft Auto is heavily pirated (which probably was a contributing factor toward the "Hot Coffee" discovery but that's another discussion), but the vast majority of Rockstar's sales are from console sales. They could concurrently develop the PC versions of their games as the console versions, but they don't, and I'm willing to bet this is the reason. I'll yield that there's some conversion hiccups, especially with the inexplicably resource-hogging PC version of GTAIV, but it's a marketing strategy, and it works.

I disagree that piracy is justified by the poor quality of titles that are out--that's just the nature of the beast. It happens in all segments of the industry. The difference used to be that PC games were once returnable to the point of sale when opened, and demos abounded. Now even the "patching allows us to rush games out the door" business model is coming to consoles as their online customer saturation rates increase. The playing field is already being levelled, and I suspect that you will either soon have to make the same decisions you do with your console games or, failing that sort of adaptation, the PC market will die out entirely.

To avoid the latter scenario, I've long maintained an easily workable solution to the PC piracy problem--proprietary disc drives. That's how the consoles avoid the problem, for the most part. There will always be some piracy involved even with such hardware, but this solution would take a big chunk out of it.

It couldn't be a half-assed approach, and it would require collaboration amongst hardware (drive and disc media) manufacturers, the developers, and Microsoft. Just like consoles, burnable versions of these drives wouldn't be readily available, and Microsoft would cooperate in developing a secure data system for Windows to avoid allowing alternate media versions of games to be used. Obviously, this is essential, as the Dreamcast, for example, had rampant piracy since its GD-ROM format was too similar to burnable CD-ROMs.

Also, since the drives would be read-only and the media would be based on existing tech, they should be inexpensive for the consumer as well (video game hardware has long been low or zero margin at retail). Since the drives would be standardized, this eliminates the need for draconian DRM measures that risk at least alienating the consumer, exacerbating the piracy problem.

I'd like to see the PC market thrive again, and I really hope they adopt a similar measure. In my opinion, the only thing keeping the PC market afloat is games requiring online verification, i.e. MMOs, online shooters, and the like.

seitori:
PC games aren't worth it anymore.

4 words for you:
Sins.
Of.
Solar.
Empires.

Treat the people you want to sell your product to with respect and you get respected.
Treat them as triple-time convicted chaingang murderer-rapists and you get... [fill this one yourselves...]

i Pirate the stuff that's worth it and i buy the stuff that's worth it

it just depends

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