Friday, 21 January 2011

ARTICLE: Is Piracy Killing Gaming?

UKIE Suggest Piracy Is Taking It's Toll On The Gaming Industry. What Do You Think?

The UKIE (Association of UK Interactive Entertainment) today released a statement saying that the illegal gaming industry has cost at least £1.45 billion in lost sales. They are saying this is costing people their jobs and have stated that it ‘takes away jobs from young developers and graphic designers’ – obviously trying to make pirate gamers, who are usually regarded as young, feel guilty that they are somehow screwing themselves over.

There’s a lot wrong with this and it’s all a bunch of scaremongering. Firstly, they are basing this on the assumption that if people download a game, they are not buying it. However, some people will download the game and never would have thought of buying it anyway and if it’s good, they will tell their mates. Am I wrong?

Even though there is a vast worldwide community of hacked consoles and illegal games floating about, it’s not so common in the UK. Microsoft for example banned between 600,000 to a million Xbox Live users in a ‘wave’ at the end of 2009 that had modded consoles (remembering it costs £39.99 a year to be on Xbox Live). Of course, I understand this would be just Xbox (the most modded console available at the moment) and that they would have to be online, but still the figures are quite huge and I have no idea where they got them from. It’s also worldwide, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s not exactly huge and definitely not a threat. In April 2010 Microsoft reported it had sold over 40 million units and that third quarter profits were up 35% to $4.01 billion – that’s pure profit, $14.5 billion in revenue to be exact. That’s Microsoft’s figures. That’s just in the third quarter of one year. However, UKIE state that UK gaming took in £1.53 billion in 2010. Is it seriously suggesting that piracy has lost almost as much as has been made? That the totals would have doubled had piracy not been an issue? What do you think? I can’t believe these numbers make sense.

A lot of pirates believe the bans aren’t to stop piracy, but to make those pirates go out and buy new consoles because they can’t use their old ones online, as well as getting new Xbox Live subscriptions. Remember Microsoft have about a thousand different versions of Xbox now (well, not quite) and the pirates also argue that after you’ve bought a product you should be free to modify it how you wish and use ‘homebrew’ software, which is a fair argument but the majority of people probably do it to play pirated games, but that’s just an assumption.

People forget that the original Playstation was easily modified and was the best selling games console ever, they were rather lax on piracy because they knew people would go out and buy the consoles and, like music or film, if they were really bothered they’d make sure they go out and buy it before waiting for release. Everyone knows gamers are impatient.

It’s also worth noting that the highest selling game of 2010 was Call Of Duty: Black Ops raking in well over a billion pounds and still going but it was also the most pirated game of 2010. See a correlation? If piracy had such an effect, it certainly didn’t show here.

PS3 have recently taken hackers to court for hacking the PS3, but again they argue they should be able to do with it what they want. Other devices like the DS, PSP and Wii can all be modified but they still have no problems selling (well PSP might do), so it could be argued then that it’s the games.

However, like films, by having pirates get and play the games, it means it streamlines the shit. Word of mouth, especially with games, is key and so if games are scared no-one is going to buy them but pirate them instead then they should make better quality games instead of asking people to shell out £45 for something that’s crap. One insider was quoted as saying you get 20-50 hours out of these games and it’s value for money. I definitely wouldn’t say I have got 20-50 hours out of each game I’ve got.

People forget that the gaming industry is bigger than Hollywood and gamers are a lot more dedicated. Also pirates won’t just download any old game, well I imagine some do, but remember a game is a good 7-8GB and you have to dedicate a lot of time to it once you start playing. Also charging £5 a disc, (a compatible dual layer disc to record on costs £1-£2 each anyway) isn’t exactly making lots of money and the reason why you don’t see people selling them on the streets like DVD’s, is because it’s an expensive and lengthy process – definitely not a get-rich-quick scheme, neither are all consoles modded, so if you’re a criminal there are definitely more profitable crimes out there.

Also the idea that money from this is going to terrorists and other ridiculous bollocks like this to stop piracy is constantly promoted, makes it seem like a joke. There is definitely a small community of people who download games for free, but it’s all about give and take. People forget that, like people recording onto tape off the radio, it’s not going to destroy the industry and with the gaming industry being so successful, it definitely won’t hamper it. If people are playing and people are getting paid, that’s all that matters. If Bill Gates can’t afford an extra swimming pool he’s just going to have to deal with it. Don’t listen to the lies about it affecting the jobs of young developers because it’s stupid – games make money. A lot of money. Pirates will never be able to stop that – and they are definitely not costing the industry £1.45 billion.

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