We've seen some interesting, if not wholly distasteful, trends in the industry the last 5 years. We have seen day one DLC (which most agree is silly), on disc DLC (again, locking out content you technically already paid for), DRM (attempting to prevent pirate players from playing), and naturally some always-online talk (which most agree is a silly concept). All of this is done mostly because of one simple factor: People pirate games... and they pirate a lot of them. While it's most rampant on PC's, consoles themselves are not inherently left out of the equation.
Personally, I can't deny that I have never pirated a game. I have, just once, and at the time I felt my reasoning was justified. It was a game lacking a demo, and I felt entitled to "try before I buy". To many pirates, this is a logical excuse we use to reason with our own self morals. Of course, this is but one of the reasons pirates have for stealing games. The problem with every excuse out there becomes the fact that none of them actually truly morally justify stealing a game.
Recently, the makers behind Game Dev Tycoon did an experiment. They released two versions of their game onto a torrent site. One that was cracked and one that was legit. The game itself costs $8, and is a rather interesting game in which you develop and sell games to consumers through various generations of hardware. People who got a pirated version of the game had the entire game per usual, except with one tiny difference. Once you reached a certain generation, all the games you make get pirated. A lot. To the point your company is barely profitable. You can read more about this brilliant anti-piracy measure over at IGN.
What they found out was that of the players playing their game, a startling 93% of them pirated the game. Now it is an indie game, and they released a cracked version themselves, but realistically most games eventually get a cracked version and see a torrent release from somewhere. So, there are still rather large player bases that simply aren’t going to buy the games. Now, as I pointed out earlier, most feel justified, so let’s go through the most common reasons people pirate and why it's really not a good excuse.
Games are Too Expensive
For starters, gaming in general can be expensive, but on the whole the purchasing of software has actually gotten cheaper. Now, you could argue that's not true because free-to-play games and cheaper games tend to have pay-walls or "heavily suggested" purchasing models to remove ads or "get better gear". Still, that's not true about every game out there, and in fact as a console gamer, it tends to be less true than ever before.
Before this recent generation of consoles, every game release was pretty much a $50 game no matter what type of game it was. That was just an accepted industry standard. The game prices jumped to $60 standard at the start of gen 7 and suddenly it was "too expensive". I don't know about you, but I bought Trine 2 this week for $10. A game that just 8 years ago would have been $50. Hmm, seems like I saved some moola.
There are so many options for games that you are no longer "forced" to have to purchase that $60 premium AAA game. In fact, many indie developers are making games as good if not better than what those games offer at times. They almost always sell them for $20 or less.
This also doesn't get into the fact that gaming itself is a luxury. You aren't entitled to own a game, have it day one, or even have the TV to play it on. It's not essential for you to survive. Video games are a luxury for those that can afford it. If you can't afford to play video games, you should simply find a new hobby, or be very selective in the games you do buy. Would that $60 copy of Bioshock Infinite game provide you the same length of fun that say, investing $60 into a Steam sale or buying multiple indie games would? That's a choice you have to make. But if you buy Infinite and can't afford Tomb Raider, that doesn't mean you are entitled to get Tomb Raider for free.
The best part in all of this? I can guarantee there are hundreds of older games you never played that you would enjoy that are so cheap, almost anyone can afford them. You could always give them a try too, instead of doing something completely illegal.
Game Companies Can Afford It
News Flash: No, they can't. Ask THQ (oh wait, you can't), or even Atari (uh...). Studios are not only closing all over the world, the ones that are open are going through constant layoffs. It's a never ending revolving door. Sure, not everyone is doing badly: Activision's CEO got a nice bonus, and it does suck that CEO's get to reap the benefits of their employees. However, that's not really a video game industry thing. Most business work that way. When you don't buy games that people work hard to make and instead pirate it, you are actually costing those people their job. In fact, you might be costing that company its right to exist.
We are at a stage that if we continue this attitude and pirate games freely because of it, we are no longer going to get the games we so love to play. Instead, we're stuck with iPhone games and a slew of material that, while fun in spurts, doesn't provide the type of entertainment we crave.
I Wasn't Going to Buy It Anyways
I have seen this excuse from so many people, but I can't seem to grasp it. Let's say I wasn't planning to buy Tomb Raider. I use this as a justification to run out to a torrent site, find a cracked version, and I play it. Turns out, I really like the game, so I play it to completion. I still don't intend to buy it, but the reasoning is because I already have it. This logic just doesn't fly, especially when you take morality into account.
If you weren't going to purchase something, why then are you going through the effort to find it illegally and play it? The game obviously interested you enough to potentially grab virus ridden files and all that jazz. If you are willing to jump through the hoops to get it illegally, why then would you not want to buy it? Because you don't want to support the corporate machine? As was already explained: Not buying a product you want to play only hurts the people making it and costs good people their jobs. Sure, they "weren't going to get your money anyways so there is no loss", but there is. You wanted to play the game. Clearly. Intent to purchase or not, why do you get access to it freely? Why should you get to enjoy something that hundreds slaved over and worked over time for just because "you want to"?
This is the real world we live in. If you didn't intend to buy a game, you don't deserve to play it. It's pretty simple math.
There is No Demo, so I Want to Try before I Buy
This excuse hits home, because it's the exact reason I pirated a game three years ago. It seemed wholly justified and I felt no remorse. That is, of course, until I realized how silly that excuse was. The real excuse was I wanted something and I didn't have the money for it, but I justified it with the try before buy model telling myself I would buy the game later if I really liked it. As a former pirate, I can safely say that's all this really is. An excuse. Once you have the full game in your possession, the chance of you buying a retail copy drops by 80% (yes, I pulled that statistic out of my ass).
Assuming, however, you are the minority person that does pirate before you buy, it still doesn't make it right. There are so many ways to tell if you are going to like a game before you purchase it, you don't really "need" to play it before you buy. Sure, nothing replaces the play experience firsthand (otherwise, we would just watch playthroughs and never need to buy the game), but you don't need that experience to determine if you will like it. There are reviews. There are video reviews. There are lets plays, video guides... the day a game is released there is so much information about it that to not be educated before you buy is simply a CHOICE.
That's right. If you can't decide if a product is worth buying without pirating, that's because you chose to not do the simple Google search that is required to find out all the information you need to know to figure out if you are going to enjoy a game. I didn't need to try out Aliens: Colonial Marines to know the game is broken, and nothing like what was promised. I have reviews telling me this. I have people I trust telling me this. More importantly, I can watch videos and see it for myself. The game isn't what it was supposed to be. It's not for me. I didn't need to play it to find that out in a purchasing decision. (oh and as a console gamer, you can just get a GameFly subscription and try all the games you want for no additional cost)
In the end, there is no real justification for pirating that can't be met with a logical response as to why that reasoning is bollocks. To be put simply, we all know that people mostly pirate games because they don't want to pay for it. You can give any excuse, or tell yourself whatever you need to in order to sleep at night, but that is the heart of the matter. We aren't entitled to video games folks. If you want to enjoy an experience for entertainment, you need to pay for it. People worked their ass off so you can even have that game to play. Stop putting them out of work because of it.