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Crysis’ Crisis: Game Piracy

I’ve often heard the argument that people pirate games not for the game itself, but as a demo, to help determine if they want to shell out their hard-earned cash or hard-begged allowance on a new title. PC developer Crytek doesn’t care why people do it, they’re just not going to put up with it anymore. Though in Crysis’ case, this pirate reasoning makes perfect sense: who would want to purchase a game that they will likely not be able to run on their system, even if it has mostly top-of-the-line components?

The specs for Crysis were unrealistic at the time, and pretty much slapped the majority of homemade rigs in the faceplate. Players that pirated the game likely wouldn’t have bought it anyway, without knowing it would actually run as intended on their system. Of course, that sort of argument doesn’t really stand with a game like Call of Duty 4, which managed less-than-stellar sales last year, largely due to piracy, and could practically be played on a cardboard box.

And PC games are by no means alone in being looted by pirates. It seems anyone who’s even heard of an R4 or M3 owns one, and the DS is the highest selling ‘console’ of this generation. Excuses for stealing games which never top $40? There’s so much crap on Nintendo’s systems these days, I want to know what I’m getting. Or, even if I downloaded a legit demo, I’d have to keep my DS open to prevent losing it. The PC just happens to be the gateway to all other piracy. It’s where you download games to your R4, or emulators and ROMs of all the retro titles you never had as a child. It doesn’t have the protective wall of the Wii or 360, which bans modified systems from playing on Xbox Live.

It seems easy to shrug off and say no one’s getting hurt, new games are still being produced and everyone’s happy. That the $3 billion in annual loss doesn’t really affect the $18 billion a year gaming industry. But obviously, if everyone pirated, the industry would die. The question is, are Crysis and COD4’s experiences indicative of a dismal gaming future?

It may be fun to sing You are a Pirate while dancing on the myriad copies of free games in your treasure trove, but it seems we are walking the plank of lowered development budgets, fewer games produced, and non-exclusive titles in the long run.