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Guys please don't take me in the wrong sense. I am not advocating for piracy. In fact I want to know about the advantages of playing with original game CDs so that I can attract gamers in my region, in India, to join my server. Please note that this is not a localized issue again, as piracy is a problem everywhere and this community being against piracy, I expect to get some good answers/ideas so as to complete my market analysis regarding this.

My own experience and some ideas
I would tell a few things from my own experience. Piracy is very common here in India. To be honest, when we were in college, we used to play lots of games in multiplayer, all with pirated copies, on our college LANs. And after we passed out, I hardly found any friends who had the enthusiasm to play.

So, I was left alone, and then I tried to join the public dedicated servers (those which appear in the list while playing - in the game's interface) but I got kicked out because I was having a pirated copy. Then I started looking for cracked servers. I found a few but they would be either always empty or too far so high in ping etc.

So, I decided to purchase an original CD but now the problem of high ping frustrated me. You may check my question for further details. I was not aware of the problem of absence of dedicated servers around my region because I had never played with original CD before*** (See my point regarding this fact below).

Then I decided to do something about this. Please check this question for more details. But I am not yet sure if I will be able to attract enough passionate gamers to make my local server a self-sustainable one. So, I want to make sure there are indeed good benefits of spending some money to purchase the original CDs and this would be good enough to attract gamers.

Please note that there are passionate gamers everywhere. There might be lot of gamers around me but they might be having their network of friends and might be playing with pirated copies of the game. But, can I make this more attractive and target these passionate gamers.

I was not aware of the problem of absence of dedicated servers around my region because I had never played with original CD before***

I guess this lack of knowledge was the main reason I purchased the original CD. But how many around me would be unaware of that. In case, many unaware enthusiast gamers have done this, then they can be my target to join my server.

What do you say guys?

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The comments have been cleared because it turned into back-and-forth bickering. Please try to avoid hosting heated arguments in the comments in the future. –  Grace Note Apr 27 '11 at 19:13
    
This question now has an entry on our community blog: gaming.blogoverflow.com/2011/05/17/… –  bwarner May 17 '11 at 21:48
    
@bwarner Thanks. It feels great to have asked such a good question. –  Sandeepan Nath May 25 '11 at 20:48
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4 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

I'm hesitant to post anything that might be misconstrued as being "in favor" of pirating games, but I don't think its really possible to appreciate the disadvantages of pirating games without also looking at the other side of things.

First up, the advantages of piracy:

  • Its cheaper (duh)
  • It can be difficult to find places that still sell older games
  • Many games are not available for online download legally (which is irritating as an impatient "I want to play it now!" sort of person)
  • Many DRM systems have an activation limit which players may legitimately reach if they change or reconfigure their PC often. Obviously pirated games have no such limitations.
  • There have been instances of DRM system failures making games unplayable, sometimes for days. Again pirated copies were not affected.
  • Some DRM systems also required an internet connection in order to play, again pirated copies had no such restrictions.
  • For games that require that the CD be present pirates can use a mounted CD-ROM image instead.
  • Certain invasive DRM systems have even been reported to introduce security vulnerabilities and performance issues (however I'm not aware of any cases where these were actually exploited)

The reasons why you should buy your games:

  • Its a hassle to install priated games
  • Pirated games are often impossible to update
  • Pirated games come from an untrusted source and may contain viruses or other harmful software
  • Certain platforms (e.g. consoles / iPhone) require that the platform be "chipped" or "jailbroken" in order to run pirated games. This can be risky, prevent you from running legally obtained games and will invariably invalidate your warranty.
  • Online multiplayer is often not possible with pirated copies
  • You don't get any manuals or other "merchandise" with the game (also think about games like Guitar Hero)

Price is obviously a compelling factor as to why people pirate games, but many of the other advantages of pirated games are related to invasive and over-zealous DRM systems - Console games generally don't have these problems and I think the situation is improving for PC games (admitedly after a wave of bad press over games like Spore).

Systems like Steam and the AppStore are also doing a lot to incentive the would-be pirate into paying for their games by providing demos, easy online purchasing and download of games, and (in the case of Steam) standardised high-quality DRM systems that are less invasive for the user.

Another big plus in favor of buying your games is online play - Online play is difficult (if not impossible) for most modern pirated games. Also pirated games can be difficult to obtain and install.

The other big plus in favor of paying for your games is that you are supporting the developer. As others have already mentioned gamers benefit in the long run by voting with their wallet - in the past when money has been short I fully admit to having copied games, but I've always made sure that I go back and pay someone some money for the games that I enjoyed.

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wow +1 for your complete analysis. And even I was able to purchase COD series only from Steam. Before that, I did an exhaustive search in lots of malls, CD outlets in the city but everywhere it was out of stock. And I got it from Steam with a 3 in 1 offer for lesser price. –  Sandeepan Nath Apr 27 '11 at 10:42
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Totally the best answer so far. –  Lohoris Apr 27 '11 at 13:18
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Note that you can get the best of both worlds and buy the game, but then install a no-cd patch to avoid needing to find the CD and put it in your computer, or play on a computer which doesn't have a CD/DVD drive. Or you can buy DRM free games! (Eg the humble indie bundles, where you can pay whatever price you like anyway. Why pirate something when you can choose a price which is suitable for your circumstances?) –  Nick Jul 19 '12 at 13:15
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Unlike with movies, where illegal copies provide actually better product, in case of games it's quite the opposite.

  • multi-player (not only availability of the servers, but for example the fact that they are PunkBuster protected);
  • rank & achievement system;
  • automatic updates;
  • Steam integration (if applicable);
  • access to betas and other extras from the publisher;
  • merchandise included in limited editions (t-shirts, cups etc.);
  • peace of mind;

Also, I'd like to have more good games, so I like to pay for good games. If the game I like is a financial success I can count on sequels/expansion packs.

btw. I do look for best bargains, so I don't end up overpaying 200% in local store.

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@Kragen: that's one game publisher, known to be doing DRM overkill always. I don't see how can you generalize that over all of the game industry. And even Ubisoft took lesson and changed: pcgamer.com/2010/12/31/… –  vartec Apr 27 '11 at 9:14
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There have been other cases of game DRM systems gone wrong (Spore in particular caused a lot of controversy) - my point is that games DRM systems (like music DRM systems) don't come with zero penalty. –  Justin Apr 27 '11 at 10:39
    
@Kragen: it's still anecdotal evidence, based on few examples that are no longer valid (in both cases DRM was reduced to fix issues). Yes, DRM does come at a cost, but in most good games it's totally transparent to the user. And unlike movie and music industry, game industry does learn from it's lessons. –  vartec Apr 27 '11 at 12:43
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The linked picture is hilarious :) –  Sadly Not Apr 27 '11 at 21:43
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The one thing that turned me away from using any kind of pirated software (particularly games) is the issue of trust. How can you trust running software that has been modified by individuals who are willing and able to break through all the complicated layers of security to basically steal someone's product for you. What are their intentions? What else did they modify while they were adding the no-cd crack. It's not like I am keeping any state secrets on my computer but I would hate to think that someone is key logging my online activity or stealing precious bandwidth in the background. Even if the cracker has my best interests at heart, how do I know that it is stable and doesn't break something else?

I began to think of purchasing games as an investment: a couple of days work and I can afford to buy a something that gives me months, maybe years worth of enjoyment. Plus I know that the people who committed thousands of hours into creating the product I am enjoying are getting their well deserved pay check and have reason to make more games.

Ultimately, video games are no different to any other goods or service. Anything can be stolen given the right tools. The reason we don't steal everything is because there are consequences to doing so.

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Exactly, you have zero guarantee that what you are getting is safe or of any sort of quality. Sony got sued for putting a root-kit on some CDs and ended up paying out, which will never happen to some "release group" or some other anon third party. You can freely choose to accept those risks, just know them. –  Nick T Apr 26 '11 at 18:36
    
Having some knowledge of how to crack games in the first place will help you see when a crack is doing something weird. Nonetheless, good point. Even if you understand the crack you still don't know what it might do to your machine. –  Sadly Not Apr 27 '11 at 21:46
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My friend has a quote he loves to say after I complain about something: "First world problem."

Many of us in the US or EU quickly forget that the majority of the world isn't as well off as we are. While looking down on Piracy is a common social norm in western countries, once you head out to countries like China, Piracy starts to become the norm. One of the problems companies like Microsoft have is their inability to remove legacy software (like IE 6) because of the wide spread proliferation of piracy (ie. Windows XP). So I think it's worth taking the time to go back over why we like to pay for things.

Obviously there are moral reasons, but when you're making minimum wage (or are a starving college student) it's understandable that your morality is "flexible." However, one of the most compelling reasons I have for paying for video games is actually applicable. I call it: Voting with your Wallet.

I understand the principal is fairly capitalistic, but I've believed in it since I was very young. I buy the games I like and in turn the companies who made those games get more money to produce more games. Games I don't think I'll like, I don't purchase, I soon return them or I tell my friends not to buy them. The net result is that poor games (in my opinion) receive less cash flow.

Do you think there would be a Modern Warfare 2 if Modern Warfare wasn't a financial success? Companies are designed to thrive on profits and by selectively buying the games I want, I'm encouraging the companies which produce products I like to continue to produce those products (and others to imitate). Companies who's games don't yield profits are unlikely to continue their franchises.

Ever wonder why the greatest game ever made, Sacrifice, never had a sequel? Because no one bought it. It doesn't matter how good a game is on it's own merit, but rather how much money it yields is a far better indicator of the success of the franchise. Sure you can point to games like Starcraft and the wide spread piracy, but you have to remember that game was a huge financial success long before the days of napster and limewire.

So my reason for buying the "original CD"? Voting with my wallet

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Aye for this logic. My own CD purchasing habit is part this, part liking shiny discs with cute pictures on them. –  Grace Note Apr 26 '11 at 12:24
    
@Grace I also do this with DvDs even though 100% of movies I watch these days are Netflix streaming –  tzenes Apr 26 '11 at 15:33
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@tzenes: you're wrongly assuming that prices in India and in EU are the same. For example Portal2 costs in India ₨ 649 (= 9.95€), in EU it's 49€. –  vartec Apr 27 '11 at 8:42
    
@Vartec I must be missing your point, because how is that relevant? If Valve makes a significant profit off sales in India then Portal 3 is release in India. If everyone there pirates then the Indian version of Portal 3 gets cut, and people there are forced to try to import versions which maybe region locked or in languages they're not familiar with. –  tzenes Apr 27 '11 at 15:01
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@tzenes: I'm referring to argument is "Many of us in the US or EU quickly forget that the majority of the world isn't as well off as we are." -- not really that significant when prices are region adjusted. I do agree with the rest of your answer. –  vartec Apr 27 '11 at 18:05
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