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Video Game Piracy

July 14th 2005


Editors Note:  With the focus on the RIAA's annual Commercial Piracy Report and assault on music trafficking, we would like to bring you this commentary on video game piracy. 

PASADENA, CA Ė I am now officially sick of the tactics the video game industry uses to try and slow down video game piracy.  In fact, Iím at the point that I may start to download illegal, hacked copies of the games, something I never would have done before.  What has led me to this point?

Even though itís been pointed out a billion times before, the video game industry still doesnít understand that their anti-piracy tactics hurt the person who buys the game more than it hurts the pirates.  Maybe this is their true intention, though; it would seem to be the case.

Thereís nothing I like more than taking my newly purchased game and installing it.  Oh, wait, now I got to put in a 40 character serial number so the game knows itís authentic.  Now it should play, right?  Nope, now Iíve got to ďactivateĒ the game so that it can check with the mother ship to see if itís ok for me to play the game.  And after all of these hurtles, do you think I could play this game without the cd?  NOT A CHANCE IN HELL!  Youíd think that after the serial numberís been authenticated and Iíve activated it by contacting their headquarters, that I should be able to play the game anytime I choose to with or without the cd, but thatís almost NEVER the case.  If I go out of town on business and I want to play a game or two while Iím decompressing at the hotel, I CANíT unless Iíve brought the games with me.  I love having to tote my games around so I can play them, just to keep the folks at Activision happy.  Of course, I could download a program to hack the games so that I donít need the cds anymore, or a program to make a virtual cd, copy protection and all, so that the game believes that I have the cd with me, but why should I have to go through the trouble to play a game that I purchased?  Would you buy a car if the only way you could drive it was when the salesman was in the front seat?


The anti-copy protection they have on the discs is another poke in the eye directed at the casual user.  Why is this directed at the general public and not the pirate?  Because the pirates KNOW how to copy the copy-protected discs, while the general public doesnít know.  So who does this screw?  Me.  Well, it DID, because now that Iím completely fed up with the game industry, Iím gonna use the same programs the pirates do. 

Why, you may ask, do I need to make copies of my games?  Because I have THREE boys, all of whom have no concept of taking care of MY discs.  This is as foreign a concept to them as Evolution is to GW.  Just five minutes ago, I ventured out of the sanctuary of my home office and into the chaotic realm of my three sons.  Gee, is that Star Wars Battlefront lying haphazardly on the table?  Whereís its case?  Maybe they ate it?  Itís just lying there, defenseless, good side down.  I guess Iíll pick it up since I know that NO ONE else will.  Hey, whatís that running through the entire disc?  Is that a CRACK?  Has someone used this as a coaster?  Nope, not possible, my kids donít know what coasters are.  It looks like someone put something heavy down on the disc and either didnít look first or didnít care.  Either one would be standard practice here. 

Thankfully, I have a backup of this, donít I?  NOPE.  I got tired of trying to backup my games and making useless Frisbees out of the cds.  Not that they cost much, but it is just a waste of time.  Yeah, theyíre programs out there that probably can copy the disc, but why should I, the IDIOT that paid money that I earned through my job have to go through the trouble of finding a disc copier capable, and I might add, illegal because of the idiotic Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

So now, after having been the ideal customer, whose most illegal acts committed involved letting my kids play a game on two systems at the same time while only owning one copy, am I going to throw caution to the wind and try out some of the pirated versions floating on the internet?  The video game industry has given me the stink-eye long enough.

 Iím really not going to start downloading pirated copies of the games; not only is it against what I believe in, but I donít trust the pirates.  I will stop buying new games for the most part; itís no longer worth the hassle.  Itís bad enough that I have to build a new system every 18 months just to have the minimum basic system for playing the games, but to be treated as a criminal from the moment I unwrap the game from its shrink-wrap cocoon, itís just not worth it to me anymore.  Maybe this is why console games sales are breaking new records every year, because you arenít treated like the Manson clan just for buying the game.

While I wonít be downloading illegal, pirated games anytime in the future, I can understand why some people would.

By John Conrad
Mr. Conrad is a writer based in Southern California


Keywords and misspellings:  RIIA 



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