Modern gaming brings a change in attitude with piracy and vintage

Players preach good game service to curb piracy

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By SIDDHARTH TEOTIA

As the price of modern video games has soared in recent years, some gamers are turning to piracy to circumvent the hefty price tag and access games for free.

In the most recent cycle of new releases, video games were noticeably pricier than their previous counterparts. Some new releases, like Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, are being sold at $89.99. Older releases in the series, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild released in 2017, were sold at $79.99. Gamers unable to afford the latest games may resort to other means of accessing them. 

“The prices of games have been inflating to a pretty unreasonable amount,” said BCIT student Derek D’Souza, an avid gamer.

A pirate’s reasons

Ryan Black, a lawyer based in Vancouver who deals with video game law, has had cases about copyright infringements.

Black said the biggest reason for piracy is due to untapped markets. This may be in certain regions where the prices of video games are too high.

Underserved markets were a major concern of Black’s, especially in cases when a particular game isn’t selling well because gamers don’t feel the content justifies the price tag.

“It just shows that there is a market for your game that isn’t being addressed. And if you can’t get there then there seems to be some sense of entitlement from some people like they should be able to play a game if they can’t pay for it,” he said.

D’Souza said gaming companies have taken stances that could be seen as anti-consumer, such as re-releasing older titles at a higher price without many improvements.

He said the original copies of these old games are no longer being sold on their original platforms, forcing gamers to either purchase new devices or turn to game emulation or illegal piracy specifically called ROM-sharing.

“ROM sharing obviously is illegal, but what other choice do you have?” He said.

The internet has made it easier to pirate games than ever before.

“When I was playing games off of cassette tapes and cartridges you had to have a pretty sophisticated operation or know someone to do any real kind of piracy,” said Black, who is also a longtime gamer. “Now it’s pretty easy to share things.”

Gamers saving money going old school

For the more scrupulous gamers, there are alternatives. Some chose to play old favourites they can buy at resell stores. Others buy at discount online.

Sean Stuart, owner of Play N Trade, a video game store in Vancouver that deals in trading and renting games, said the inflation of video game prices has led to an increase in his business. He said his revenue is growing every year, to an extent where he is now looking to expand.

Shahir Khan, a UBC psychology student and video game enthusiast, said the lower price point of older games and their simplicity add to their appeal to a mass audience.

“In my eyes a good game is a good game regardless of when it came out,” Khan said. “If somebody didn’t have much money … I would say stay away from newer games,” he said.

The trustworthy and untrustworthy online marketplaces

Aside from brick-and-mortar stores selling used games, enthusiasts can also turn to online marketplaces.  Discount market sites like G2A are used to buy game keys, codes redeemed to play games. Some gamers like D’Souza say they are untrustworthy.

“People are selling the keys over there and the people are not verified,” he said. “You could be scammed, so it’s pretty unregulated, I’d say.”

What is agreed amongst gamers like D’Souza and those who work in the industry, like Black, is that consumers in mind is key in stopping piracy. Trust and good service go a long way.

D’Souza in particular trusts STEAM, a global PC platform which he says “has the best reputation when it comes to its distribution model. In an attempt to maintain good relations with consumers, many companies are not inclined to punish those who illegally download games.

“People who are downloading pirated copies of games are potential customers of that business, and you know, it’s probably bad optics,” Black said.

1 Comment
  1. Derek D'Souza says

    Great article, my opinions are well-represented.

Comments are closed.

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