Video games and pirates go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly. Unless you're like me and don't like jelly, but at least I know I'm an outlier right? The arguments for and against piracy in the video game industry are much more divided than those that don't like jelly on their peanut butter sandwiches, and that won't be changing any time soon.
It's not dividing in the sense that you'd immediately think either. This isn't a developer versus player issue. Of course developers need the public to pay for their games to continue making games. Not only that, they need their games to be paid for to put food on their own tables. No one can work for free in this day and age. Video game development might seem like “fun work,” but it is still in fact work. The only way the developers get paid is if people buy their games. However, it isn't just developers that hate pirates. There are plenty of fellow gamers that don't like them either.
Here's a really basic example: digital rights management. You're sure to have heard of it, but probably by its acronym, DRM. This is of course a system that is supposed to deter piracy. For those that have nothing to do with illegal downloading though, it's often seen as a nuisance. It's extra junk downloaded with your games, and no one likes that. There's also the fact that pirates almost always find a way around the DRM systems included in games.
In the news recently was the anti-tamper tech giant Denuvo. The most recent version of their technology was used on 2Dark, NieR: Automata, Dead Rising 4, and Mass Effect: Andromeda. Hackers already made their way through the system in Mass Effect: Andromeda mere weeks after its release. We joked that hackers would have to try again with Andromeda's newest patch, since it fixed the janky animations of the launch version. Denuvo was in the news again a few days ago, as hackers once again broke into their system on the game 2Dark. In light of the event, developer Bigben Interactive has released the game Denuovo-free. Their thinking is that by releasing it DRM-free, it will deter those who would bother to pirate it.
Whether or not hackers/pirates can crack anti-tamper technology is sort of a moot point. It has been done over and over again, and will continue to in the future. Whatever new technologies companies come up with, there will be those that make it their goal to crack it. The industry has always been in turmoil about this. Do you just say, “Screw it!” and let the pirates have their way? Or do you continue to push back, continue to advance anti-tamper technology in an attempt to find something that finally works (or at the least holds them of a little longer)?
There's really no easy answer to this. The fight is tiring for many of those involved. The gaming industry struggles with it continually, because they want to keep their jobs and keep making games. They want the industry to continue as it has from its inception. Developers make games, publishers publish them, and consumers buy them. Then the cycle continues. Gamers want new games, so buying them is the best way to continue getting new ones. But they also want them to be affordable and are driven to attempt to pirate when they can't. There's also very obviously the companies that make the DRM systems. They're kept in business by this fight. They're essentially capitalizing on the misfortune of the video gaming industry's piracy problems. Those employed by those companies want pirates to continue doing their thing so they can keep their jobs.
No matter where you fall on the issue, you know just as well as the guy next to you that it's a problem. This struggle continues just under the surface of the video game industry. All of those directly involved just heave a heavy sigh whenever they have to think about it. It's one of those things that you just hope resolves itself without you having to deal with it, like taxes. Nobody likes doing their taxes am I right? They should just magically figure themselves out.
How do you feel about video game piracy? Is there a perspective I didn't mention that you'd like to have voiced? I'd love to hear about it.