And you thought *political* discussions were heated.

From what I can see of the video game community, this from Penny Arcade looks about right:

It is not a mischaracterization to say that conversations with the hardcore PC community about software theft follow these tenets:

– There is no piracy.
– To the extent that piracy exists, which it doesn’t, it’s your fault.
– If you try to protect your game, we’ll steal it as a matter of principle.

It’s like, who wouldn’t want to bend over backward in their service? You need to know it, because nobody else is going to tell you: you guys sound like Goddamned subway vagrants. Of course when you speak exclusively to each other, it all sounds so reasonable. It’ll be reasonable when you all board the bus, and the songs you sing en route to excoriate your enemies will be forceful, but within reason; and when you douse yourself with gasoline and immolate yourself in front of the offices of Infinity Ward, one assumes this will be reasonable also.

We will now pause while the very people who should be reading this and taking it to heart instead write heated comments for semi-automatic spamming; with only the best (read: most unhinged) passed around for delicious private mockery. And, heck, maybe we’ll get a couple of people defending pirating games, too.

Moe Lane


  • Skip says:

    Eh, as someone who writes software for a living I’ll always buy software, given the opportunity to do so. But beyond a certain level it’s counter-productive. As long as the protection doesn’t get in the way of the reasonable things I’d want to do (uninstall/reinstall several times, do fresh installs after a system crash, give/sell the software away when I’m done with it). Of the digital download options Steam is currently the best, giving me basically everything I want except for the right to sell/give away the game when I’m done with it. But because of that, you won’t see me paying full price for something at Steam, I’ll wait til the price drops.

    But if a publisher chooses to disallow or make difficult the stuff I’m mentioning, well, I choose not to do business with them. I won’t pirate the game, I just won’t play it. I’m long past the age where I feel like I need to play all the top games, or have the time to do so, so my limited playtime will go towards folks that don’t think of me as a barely restrained criminal.

  • oLD gUY says:

    I followed the link and didn’t understand anything in the article. I agree with your excerpt, but that was the only thing in English there. I guess there is something called Steam, or maybe Steamworks, that is putting out a new game and using servers (for multiplayer?) I’m guessing this is bad and is going to trigger the coming revolution when we can all really stick it to The Man. I always thought games where for fun. If you don’t like it, go play something else.

  • Josh says:

    As someone who’s been following the whole Modern Warfare 2 debacle, allow me to shine a little light on the issue.

    Currently, the way mainstream first-person shooter type PC video games work when it comes to online multiplayer is this: You start your game, click “play online”, and then a list of dedicated servers pop up. You then choose which one to connect to and you play with other gamers connected to that server.

    If that confuses you, then I’ll use a word picture: It’s like if you wanted to go out and play pool. Fortunately, there is a street in your town that is lined with pool halls. Each pool hall has it’s own rules and community, and, although owned by a group usually, no one has an unfair advantage. After browsing around you can find the pool hall, or halls, that you like to frequent.

    Dedicated servers work like that. Each one takes place on a neutral server that is owned by a clan or community that sets the rules and polices it. The servers usually have a sense of community, since you’ll find yourself playing with or against the same people often. It’s a cool thing to be a part of.

    The recent uproar over Modern Warfare 2 is that they are removing dedicated server support, a staple of PC gaming, in exchange for what is apparently a peer-to-peer system (think Xbox Live). The difference is now that instead of connecting to a neutral server, we now have to connect to somebody else’s computer (because in P2P systems, one of the gamers has to be the host)and play with whoever else happens to get thrown in with us. To top it off, because the host has the less lag…they are the ones who can pull the trigger faster in a standoff, giving them an unfair advantage.

    Return of the word picture: This means that pool hall street got bombed, and now instead of people going to a neutral pool hall location, they either have to get in line and then get assigned to play pool at some random persons house, or they can be that random person and open up their house to whoever wants to play with them.

    This destroys any chance of a community forming, and since the new system allows less in the ways of game control …total jerks can join the game and mouth off and no one can get rid of them. I’m not going to even start about the lack of support for mods, clan competitions, and the total heck international players are going to have now.

    So yes, there has been some whacked out people trying to explain away or defend piracy…but they are the minority. The majority of the outrage is directed towards the removal of a pillar of online PC gaming.

  • Neil Stevens says:

    While it’s true that the industry spokesweasels tend to sound stupid, and they do treat their customers like criminals, it’s also stupid to claim that there isn’t mass infringement of these games going on.

    Here, I’ll go to The Pirate Bay right now. Oh, look. They have a whole section for video games.

    Just on the front page of a search for “PC” in that section there are over 5000 copies of games being downloaded. If I jump ahead to page 24, it’s another 200. Back to page 12, 400. I think it’s safe to say that any given moment there are at least 10,000 downloads of Windows video games going on at this one site, none of them authorized.

    How many hundreds of thousands of downloads are completed a day? Millions a month?

    If that’s not “piracy” run rampant, I’m a ninja.

  • Skip says:

    Oh, Neal, I have no doubt there’s rampant piracy – I would dispute that the piracy is resulting in very many lost sales, though. Those kids (and it is mostly kids) who download dozens of games a month simply wouldn’t have the budget to buy them all. I’m not saying that the kids copying them is right, it just is what it is.

    I doubt that, if there were some magic solution that prevented piracy 100%, sales would go up by even double digits, I bet it would be low single digits tops. And if that solution gets in the way of me doing the things that I should legitimately be able to do, then the lost sales from folks like me will completely offset that.

  • DaveP. says:

    That doesn’t justify theft, Skip, and it’s a poor sophistry to claim that theft is acceptable when the thief couldn’t enjoy the product of his theft any other way.

  • oLD gUY says:

    Well thanks to Josh for trying to explain it. I could see where the latency advantage would be annoying. I still don’t see how piracy fits into it, but I’m sure that’s just me not keeping up like I used to. I still say that if the setup bugs you, go play something else. Why give your dollars to someone who doesn’t give you what you want? We’re not talking bread or medicine here.

  • Josh says:

    People are mad because, well…Modern Warfare 2 is going to be an awesome game. If they were able to patch in dedicated server support, people would be playing it for years to come. The first one was and is an absolute blast to play, and the second one has every chance of being the top selling game of all time.

    Piracy comes in because a part of the reason they removed DS support and moved to their own system is so they can cut down on the amount of people who try to pirate the game and play it online. In the course of the debate over DS, some people have tried defending piracy…thus the Penny Arcade blog post.

  • Skip says:

    Oh, I’m not justifying theft in any way shape or form. As I said, I write software for a living, so I don’t use software I don’t have the right to.

    However, that doesn’t stop me from observing, from a strict cost-benefit analysis that the really draconian forms of protection lose money, because they lose more folks like me than they gain in extra sales from folks that weren’t able to pirate it. The guys who hold the rights have every right to do whatever they want with it, and I have the right to not buy it as a result.

    It’s not like I’m asking for much – I just want the ability to play the game that I paid for, at any point from now on as long as I have hardware capable of running it, until I sell or give away my copy. And I want to be able to sell or give away my copy. If you’re able to promise and deliver that, then you’ll get no complaints from me.

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