It would seem that ultimately to fix piracy of any kind, you have to either fix morality or fix the encomony. One of the two is an impossible task but these days it's hard to tell which one. What I can say is that if people always had more disposable income than they were used to, more games would be purchased and not "permanently borrowed." Past that though, there is a deeper core reason why it should be imperative for anyone who values video games as anything from a quick past time to a serious hobby to not pirate Indie games. In today's gaming industry, and sadly the economy, stagnant genres are becoming more and more common. Take Activision's Call of Duty franchise for example. The franchise saw it's first release on October 29th, 2003 and completely wow'ed the PC gaming community with it's insanely intense war scenes and lightly scripted events where you were able to feel like you were really part of a squad living out important events in a real war. There was always a light story, which people rarely cared much about, and you as the player were there to whoop some enemy ass. Sometimes you flew in a plane, sometimes you drove a tank, sometimes manning a turret or even driving a jeep: All in the name shooting guns and making explosions for victory. Now, take a trip forward in the future to November 8, 2011 at the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warefare 3 and explain the game play to me. If you figured it out, then the underlying answer is: Yes, at the core, the franchise's concept has barely changed. The reason for this is simply because, it sells. It's that game that the company can rely on bringing in cash by the war boat full, and when following the mold and template they've created, it's something that's now streamlined for quick releases. With development, this may be a good thing, for video games however, this is bad. Yes it may joy the masses who ritually buy the new Call of Duties for the advancement in graphics, new levels, and new multi-player modes and more, but what they don't know is they are throwing gallons of fuel on the flame of mediocrity. Slowly but surely, the ritual of being loyal to a game franchise and following the hype to drive their purchase, is no different than the action of killing the hope for change yourself. As of the last release of Call of Duty, people are starting to notice these trends, but what they don't see is that the very mediocrity they are becoming tired of is the fruit grown from something seeded years prior to this (and about 4 Call of Duty releases). The company invests a lot of money into making a Call of Duty game, but has the assurance that they will make at least several times that back in profits. The blueprint is working, and as they say, "Don't fix it if it ain't broke." What chance do you think there is for Activision to just turn around and experiment with truly unique ideas and take new uncharted risks in the next Call of Duty game, especially when this latest one broke pre-order records? Probably zero, and that ladies and gentlemen is the makings of a STALE GENRE.
Why did I just explain/rant all that and what does it have to do with the subject of piracy concerning indie games you ask? Here is why. Indie games are generally made by small groups of people, or even just a single person. They have no budget, no $100 million dollar backing like the large companies do, instead they just have an idea. These could be fathers, mothers, professionals, absolute beginners, employed the unemployed, but what they have in common is that they all take time out of their personal lives to take an idea and make it into a form of entertainment and visual expression. Their hard work, done on their own time and often sold for scant amounts of cash and change, are a rare escape from the same old crap we are constantly subjected to on our local game store's shelf. Not that I condone piracy, but I can see why someone would want to play past a demo made by a large gaming company, which usually is the most exciting game play, in order to really see if their $60 investment will actually be worth it. Indie games however, are a fraction of the price. Even if they may not be up to par with the latest triple A titles out there, at least you supported the idea for change, and someone who is willing to attempt it. Who knows, the first game may not be that great, but maybe he or she can use that cash earned to make the second game outstanding. The point here people, is whether someone pirates a game to stick it to the 'fat cats' at a big company, or because you can't shell out $60 for a new title every 2 weeks, Indie games are there to give you sweet release from corporate clutches. Pirating from indie developers not only hurts the chance of talented new comers getting their chance to get into the game development scene, but it also says that it's okay to be spoon fed crap for the price of a full course lobster dinner.
I for one, tip my hat to those who try to make their ideas a reality, and applaud the color one creative mind can bring to a grey market. Thank you Indie developers everywhere for your hard work.
- Garrett Lindquist