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Coyote's Howling: Game Piracy is B.S.

Column By Coyote Sharptongue on October 13, 2011

I would like to propose that “Pirate” be downgraded in terms of notoriety when it comes to online gamers.

The scariest and most overused of industry buzzwords, piracy is the boogeyman that supposedly robs developers of billions, destroys lives, and is the reason that invasive root kits are staunchly defended whenever they’re discovered. The term is adored by the media, used to frighten children into eating their vegetables, and if it were a physical creature it would look like a vampire Darth Vader covered in spiders.

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And worst of all, it is pretty much bullsh*t. 

Yes, piracy is a very real thing and it does indeed exist. However, the threat of piracy is vastly overblown and beginning to lose relevance.  With almost every form of entertainment moving online, and validation servers and services like STEAM popping up like virtual daisies, the flow of plundered games and goods have shown signs of slowing to a trickle.

“Well, if almost every form of entertainment is moving online, shouldn’t we be even more worried about piracy?”

No italicized question from an imaginary person that I made up solely for the purpose of emphasis, we should not. You see, even with music, movies, television and gaming stampeding towards a completely online presence, you forget one important, tiny little thing…

…people are f**king morons.

They have no clue on how to pirate something and if they do, they rarely do it well. Ask anyone in a computer or tech related position how savvy and able your average user really is.  When the horror stories are finished along with whatever remaining faith you had in humanity, you’ll start to understand the impossibility of pirates lurking around every download.

Multiplayer games that require constant connection are much harder to illegally copy and maintain online, and are often not even worth the attempt. The biggest targets are usually offline single player games or movies.  And if you really want to watch that crappy bootleg of Iron Man 2 filmed in Parkinson’s-o-vision by some asshat with his shaky cam, who am I to cast judgment?  Just don’t expect me to “ooh and ahh” at your elite pirating skills when you slyly flash me a badly sharpied DVD  because…

…who in the hell is still burning sh*t to DVDs?

Yes, Piracy hurts. But for the most part people are paying for their games, music, and sometimes – even for their movies.  I understand the temptation of not paying for a service or a product and getting it for free, but I also understand that most people are entirely too stupid to do it.

Especially when it is just easier to download things onto an iPod or laptop.

By making everything available easily online, and taking the hassle and “work” out of getting what you desire, the urge to actually search out and pirate things that you might have to configure in order to use starts to ebb.

Paying for your games and music becomes the fastest solution for the majority of users who lack the skill to reliably obtain it by other means. The pirates - the minority who possess both the knowledge and ability to steal a product have always been there, and will always be there.

I mean, do you really think that illegally downloading music for free is a new thing?

In the world of gaming, Pirates are no longer the biggest or even most annoying threat, and don’t deserve the spotlight they’re still cast into.

Goddamn modders do.

Not to be confused with the hardworking but admittedly less-than-clean residents of the town of Canton, modders pose a greater threat than any pirate ever could; they ruin gaming for everyone but themselves. Where a pirate will crack a game and make it readily available in almost a Robinhood sort of way for those who can’t afford it, modders are only in it for themselves and give absolutely nothing back beyond contributing to the startling rise in rage quits.

Please note that by “modders” I don’t mean the people who create sprays, design levels, or hack single player games to add content.  I like this community, and I find nothing wrong with creating campaigns or reskinning models so that your character is now Homer Simpson or a naked chick with a mammoth rack.

…or even a naked Homer Simpson with a mammoth rack.

No, when I say “modder” I mean “Diablo 2”.

For those of you who aren’t writhing on the floor in memory induced agony at the mere mention of Diablo 2 online play, let me explain. No, that’ll take too long, let me sum up:

While Diablo 2 was amazing as a solo player game, venturing online to look for a bit of multiplayer fun was about as enjoyable as prison rape and as I’ve experienced it, twice as brutal. Hacks, mods, cheats and exploits of every flavor were used in such shameless fashion, that unless you too were running these programs, you were dead the moment you left town.

Invincible, fully geared level 99 players would congregate outside of safe havens like patrons at a bakery lining up to buy donuts. Only instead of frosting and pastry goodness, you were killed, looted, skinned and stuffed before you ever knew what hit you. It got so bad that Blizzard pretty much stopped even trying to reign in the slaughter of newbies and the rampant hacking and basically turned a blind eye to it.

Not even password locked games were enough to deter people who wanted to kill you. You’d make a game, quickly log in with your friends, fight your way to the first really tough boss…

…and he’d already be dead.  Wait, was he supposed to look like that? Is he alive?

And then you noticed the horny level 99 Barbarian licking his lips as he slowly turned towards you and your friends. As much as I’m looking forward to the next Diablo game, I can’t help but have flashbacks to Diablo 2 and the countless surprise gankings I was subjected to.

Applications like “Punkbuster” seem to help, but the modding and hacking communities are relentless and often have new downloads available the moment the old ones are detected. Battlefield and Call of Duty are perfect examples of this. The penalties for using these programs are usually nothing more than the occasional time out or slap on the wrist, so there is no real deterrent to keep people from using them.

Developers put these modders far beneath anyone they deem “pirate” on the most wanted list, because while they are indeed griefing other players and causing people to quit in anger…

…everything is already bought and paid for.

In short, developers and gaming companies should worry less about the rare and mythical hacker stealing their game, and worry more about the very real and very common modder destroying it from the inside. I submit that these people should do their time in the public spotlight and the pirates should be pushed down the list into obscurity to the point of not even being thought about.

Because Diablo 3 is coming out soon, and daddy needs a torrent.

Yar.

-Coyote

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MMORPG.com has opened the proverbial Pandora's Box and let Coyote Sharptongue out with the understanding that no topic is sacred. He can discuss it all.
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