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  1. #1

    Is piracy biased? If so what implications can that have?

    I know some people are loathe to discuss piracy as it's a topic that's been done to death, but I haven't seen this particular aspect of it discussed very much so I think it might be worth bringing up.

    Usually when we talk about game/software piracy we speak of it as if it were more or less neutral to what is being pirated, but I would be surprised if that was actually the case.
    People tend to have preferences and follow trends when it comes to their buying habits and so many other things, and I see no reason why the same wouldn't be true when it comes to piracy.

    It's very likely that there are some types of games that people are more willing to pirate rather than buy than others, even if we don't really know which types of games those are. That could possibly give some types of games or genres an advantage over others that they wouldn't have otherwise.
    Do games that, for whatever reason, are pirated less have an advantage? How significant can that advantage be?

    I suppose that also brings up the question of how you'd even study such a thing. Anecdotes are very unreliable. Collecting data on piracy is already hard enough as it is, let alone something this specific.

    Perhaps someone has already attempted to gather data on this, if so please mention.
    Last edited by Professor Paul1290; 22-07-2014 at 05:00 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Professor Paul1290 View Post
    I know some people are loathe to discuss piracy as it's a topic that's been done to death, but I haven't seen this particular aspect of it discussed very much so I think it might be worth bringing up.

    Usually when we talk about game/software piracy we speak of it as if it were more or less neutral to what is being pirated, but I would be surprised if that was actually the case.
    People tend to have preferences and follow trends when it comes to their buying habits and so many other things, and I see no reason why the same wouldn't be true when it comes to piracy.

    It's very likely that there are some types of games that people are more willing to pirate rather than buy than others, even if we don't really know which types of games those are. That could possibly give some types of games or genres and advantage over others that wouldn't exist otherwise.
    Do games that, for whatever reason, are pirated less have an advantage? How significant can that advantage be?

    I suppose that also brings up the question of how you'd even study such a thing. Anecdotes are very unreliable. Collecting data on piracy is already hard enough as it is, let alone something this specific.

    Perhaps someone has already attempted to gather data on this, if so please mention.
    I've seen the creators of Crysis discuss this before. In that Crysis was very much sold as the game that would push your hardware to the very limit. That it was (literally) the new benchmark for PC graphics. And it so happened that the type of enthusiast who spent large amounts of money and time on creating overclocked, liquid cooled PC rigs to play games on, was the type of enthusiast who knew exactly where to find pirate games, and how to run them safely. Whereas the type of person who played Spiderweb Software RPGs was less so.

    Coupled with the secondary effect of people pirating Crysis to see if it would even run at something approaching playable on their PC. And even if they did intend to buy it later if it did run... well that's a much harder conversion to make.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    I would actually assume quick puzzle like games are pirated the most. The developers of World of Goo said there game had an 80% pirate rate or whatever and i could see a similar thing with other puzzle games like Bejeweled and other Pop Cap games. People think they will only play for 5 mins every so often so don't see the point to pay for it.

    I think a more interesting thing would see if piracy has gone down since Steam sales, I mean I used to pirate a lot and now I get it cheap on Steam and find myself very addicted to getting cheap steam deals instead of pirating the games I want.

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    I used to pirate a lot as well (pretty much exclusively, in fact), but Steam really is ridiculously convenient and since you have your games in one places and available for download and then there are sales, of course. But I would say that singleplayer AAA titles are pirated the most ,since they tend to be very high-profile and expensive, not to mention that a lot of people will probably pirate games to find out how they run like deano said. I did that with Metro LL, planning to buy it if it ran well. Aaaaand... it didn't run well enough for my taste :D

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    I remember from reading the data that people pirate the stuff that is more popular, and the stuff that is more popular is the one with more marketing budget. So seems people pirate stuff based on the marketing budget.

    It would not take much, probably, and see what is the top 20 seeded files... and end on a similar conclusion to mine.

    Basically, people pirate shit. People don't pirate cool games, gems, they pirate the videogame equivalent of fast food. Is weird, but in a culture of gratis, people is not driven by quality, but the propaganda machine.

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    The last game I aquired was Watch dogs. This was too see how it would perform on my pc and the fact that some people liked it, some didn't. I played an hour and that was good enough for me, I didn't like it at all so I uninstalled and deleted. I am not buying a 30 game that has no demo and with reports that it didn't run well on some systems.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Tei View Post
    I remember from reading the data that people pirate the stuff that is more popular, and the stuff that is more popular is the one with more marketing budget. So seems people pirate stuff based on the marketing budget.

    It would not take much, probably, and see what is the top 20 seeded files... and end on a similar conclusion to mine.
    This takes us in the right direction, but not quite to where we want to be.

    On it's own all that really tells us is that more popular games have more pirates, which makes sense because pirates can be thought of as a percentage of overall players and a larger player base means more pirates.

    What we're looking for is whether players are is more liable to pirate instead of buy certain types/genres games in cases where they are already going to get the game either way, and for that we would need some way to control for the number of overall players.

    For that we would need a rough estimate of the total number of pirates (seeding could possibly give us something like that) as well as sales figures as well, so we could see the ratio of pirates to buyers and get averages for different genres.

    With that this actually starts to seem a bit more feasible than it initially seemed...

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    The developers of World of Goo also released the game, then embargoed it because they signed an exclusivity deal on the Wii/with Nintendo. They always forget to mention that bit when talking about piracy... So yes, both us the consumers and them the developers are very bias in the discussions and causes. ;)

    It's hard to consider really, what's a game with 100% piracy like? If people also buy it? Take media and movies for example. Movies can take in 100 or 200 billion and still be the highest pirated movies. Are those loosing out and being "stolen" from with piracy?

    It's still wrong to take something without permission. But if we put up artificial barriers, when does it swap from "your stealing" to "I'm depriving you, tricking you, then bait and switching to make it count as theft"? I mean, I could tell someone a story, sing them a song and send them a postcard (with picture), then after claim I have an NDA/copyright/patent on it all and force them to sit on their hands?

    So we need balance. Which is really hard when we get extreme actions from a few on both sides, tipping the boat and messing things up for those of us in the middle trying to work together with buying/making content...
    It is a technical difference, but's there none the less.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus rockman29's Avatar
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    I used to pirate some PC games too. It was mainly high profile ones. I remember the first one I pirated was actually one I got one disc from a friend, which was the three CD Mafia actually. Oddly enough... turned out to be one of my favourite PC game ever, and still is. Was not the last game I pirated though. Maybe in total I pirated 50 to 100 PC games over the years? I haven't done so in many years now.

    I'm not sure exactly when that changed. It wasn't exactly when I started using Steam (2010), but Steam was a factor for me definitely. With the sales I was comfortable buying at those prices, and over time that really helped. GOG has also been a factor. And a big factor was I was just tired dealing with pirating games. I didn't want to play every famous game under the sun anymore, can't be arsed to download questionable files anymore to get them to work, and I enjoy getting a legitimate copy. Before sometimes it was just hard for me to get a legitimate copy honestly for many reasons.

    Now that it's easy to do, I don't have a problem paying or waiting for a price drop. And many of the games I did pirate in the past I ended up buying, almost all of them actually. Crysis, Devil May Cry 4, DOOM 3, Flight Simulator X, Flaming Cliffs 2, Raven Shield, Halo 1 PC (recently bought a new boxed version, very reasonable price and easy to get here), Half Life 2 series of games... bought them all now. Mafia I haven't been able to buy though, it's been taken off Steam unfortunately, and I don't think GOG has it available.

    I think the larger audience that pirates games is a younger one that is basically just discovering they can in fact pirate games, and are abusing it like I did in the past, and aren't able to afford the games they want so immediately, and they got the time to play them after they pirate them too, though I'm just guessing. I'm sure someone has some reliable data on this topic.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiphat View Post
    I am not buying a 30 game that has no demo and with reports that it didn't run well on some systems.
    An excellent decision, I agree completely. Where in that is piracy justified again?
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus rockman29's Avatar
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    I agree it's not justified even still.

    But it's kind of silly for me to even talk, because I did it for so long, so I basically got all the benefit of pirating. Mainly was a "no financial independence" sort of thing for me, but today now I won't tell anyone it's a good idea at all.

    I feel like I am able to enjoy games much more now anyhow, I don't have to worry about will it work at all, does the online work, etc. Never pirated on consoles, which was an incredibly easy option especially during PS2 days, and I think it was a better choice. Kind of fun now to go back and find and buy the games I missed from back then too.

  12. #12
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    Piracy generally follows the same popularity curve as sales - the more a game sells, the more it is pirated.

    You have to understand tho - a lot of pirates are just magpies, they want to see and play and "own" everything. Back in the days of computer clubs and floppy copying, I worked with a guy who spent hours and hours every week copying and making games work (and no time playing the games because he wasn't really THAT interested)

    Some people just like to "get shit for free" - this is why any attempt at putting a 'cost' on piracy is laughable.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Oh, I'd never suggest that pirates are draining the money from developers unless they are downloading multiple gig patches from the developer site.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
    http://playingitwrong.wordpress.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiphat View Post
    The last game I aquired was Watch dogs. This was too see how it would perform on my pc and the fact that some people liked it, some didn't. I played an hour and that was good enough for me, I didn't like it at all so I uninstalled and deleted. I am not buying a 30 game that has no demo and with reports that it didn't run well on some systems.
    But honestly, with no grandstanding (and no judgment as I've done the same thing) if you had liked it, would you really have bought it there and then? Or just kept on playing the pirate copy, and maybe picked it up in a sale down the road to assuage your conscience a bit (and get it listed in Steam)?

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus rockman29's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    Some people just like to "get shit for free" - this is why any attempt at putting a 'cost' on piracy is laughable.
    Almost like hoarders :P

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus DaftPunk's Avatar
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    Well honestly if you could steal bear,you would do it right.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    if you had liked it, would you really have bought it there and then?
    I remember buying the Dawn Of War games after I pirated the first because I liked it so much. Despite our assumptions people can be honest. You just got to breed the right culture.

    An apocryphal story. A open source convention not knowing what to do about drinks buying because individual paying is to slow. So they decided to do a tip basket after the night was through. Every year they have done this and every year they get more money then they spend on beer.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaftPunk View Post
    Well honestly if you could steal bear,you would do it right.
    I dunno... I know I would create a perfect free copy of a car.
    I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
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  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus rockman29's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaftPunk View Post
    Well honestly if you could steal bear,you would do it right.
    I dunno man those bears get pretty big, I don't know if I could keep one in my house.
    Quote Originally Posted by Xercies View Post
    I remember buying the Dawn Of War games after I pirated the first because I liked it so much. Despite our assumptions people can be honest. You just got to breed the right culture.

    An apocryphal story. A open source convention not knowing what to do about drinks buying because individual paying is to slow. So they decided to do a tip basket after the night was through. Every year they have done this and every year they get more money then they spend on beer.
    Those damn do-gooders, making us all look bad. Pshhh.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus somini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    I dunno... I know I would create a perfect free copy of a car.
    I'd turn my replicator 24/7 and just gave a car to every passerby. Eat this, large automobile conglomerates!
    Steam(shots), Imgur, Flickr, Bak'laag, why do you forsake me?

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