Recently my attention was brought to an article by Patrick Klug about problems he has had with piracy. The company he works for, Greenheart Games, released a game called Game Dev Tycoon, a business simulation game where the player starts off in the 1980’s and builds up their own game development company. In the blog post Klug explains he actually released the cracked version himself, just to see how many people would pirate his new game.
Klug wrote a piece of code into the cracked version, causing the player to eventually hit a wall in game progress. No matter what the player does, too many people will begin to pirate their games and their company will begin to lose money.
Oh how delicious the irony is.
It proves a point and serves as a well-deserved punishment to the pirates. Piracy allows hard work to go unrewarded and should be punished. As a mommy gamer, piracy upsets me for effects it can have on children. Piracy sets a bad example, makes a more limited job market in the gaming industry and affects the types of games developed in the future.
Parents know the first place children look to see how to act in certain situations, is to their parents. Pirating software may not seem like an obvious bad example to some, but the message a parent sends to their children when pirating is that it is OK to steal.
Piracy is stealing. There is no way around it, justifying it, or arguing it, it’s stealing. When a child sees that Mom and Dad are pirating, they learn that it is OK to pirate software themselves and therefore to steal. You never know where they will end up drawing the line, either. Today it may be software pirating; tomorrow it may be hacking into a major bank and ending up with life in prison. Now I am well aware that is an extreme, however the base point still stands. Don’t teach your kids it is OK to break the law, period.
The present economy in general is not in the best of shape, and the gaming industry is affected by its slow growth. Almost every month there is an article out about major layoffs at one developer or another. Piracy is certainly not the only factor contributing in losses causing companies to downsize, however it does make a definite impact. Unfortunately, this is decreasing the overall job market in the gaming industry.
Our children, who may so desperately wish to work in gaming one day, will have less of a chance of fulfilling that dream because the sad truth is that there is just isn’t as much of a need for people as there once was. Piracy is one huge factor taking money away from the industry and causing companies to shrink instead of grow. If this trend continues then in the future it may be next to impossible for a hopeful child to break into an industry that they have dreamed of being a part of.
Money taken from the industry by piracy is also affecting the types of games that are being released. In an effort to fight back, many developers are pushing towards online games that require either a subscription or real money to buy in game items. So many of these type games, although fun to play, lack the depth and engrossing factor that truly good games have. Ocarina of Time, for example, would never have worked on either of those type platforms.
What is a developer to do, though? It is getting harder and harder to make money creating truly immersing single player games due to piracy, so they are turning to tactics that they know will make them money. Even console games aren’t safe from the “pay for in game items” genre; Happy Wars is a prime example of this. I am not saying that all these games are bad; however I would be truly saddened if every game in the future was like this.
We have all heard the arguments time and time again, and we all know that piracy is wrong and has a negative impact on the gaming industry, however how many of us have really thought about how it affects our children? My hope is that people think about the bad example it sets, the way it affects the future of the job market in the gaming industry, and how it affects the types of games our children will have to play in the future and will find the extra motivation that they need to pay for the games they played. I will leave you with this last thought: if you knew that your child had worked hard for over a year developing a game they truly loved creating, would you want people stealing it from him/her?