Post news RSS How can we lower game piracy?

It is a little disheartening to hear stories of high piracy rates of new indie games, dependent on their fans support - so i'd thought i'd pose the question why this is?

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For over 9 years now we've been running ModDB and in that time we've never been exposed to piracy since mods are free. But now that we run IndieDB and moreso Desura, we are starting to work with indies that come with a price tag, and are attempting to help them sell games. It is a totally new and challenging area for us, as it is for most indies and one of the tough facts of life is piracy.

Now I get that not every pirate is a customer, but when newly launched DRM free indies (yay) are released and have 10,000 players in the first day via torrent sites but only a handful of sales, I cannot help but feel frustrated and disappointed for them. For a lot of developers their first game either makes or breaks them, as they have invested a ton of time and effort into its creation, so I wanted to kick off a discussion to find out why you pirate (or don't), so we can share this information with others.

So imagine for a moment that it was impossible to pirate games, would you buy more games than you presently do? If your answer is yes... then why do you pirate some now?

To help you answer I have kicked off a poll, with the options:

  • I don't, I buy them!
  • To try them, but I usually buy if they are good
  • It is easier to pirate than to buy
  • They cost too much
  • Because I can
  • To avoid DRM

Because I for one would hate to see promising indie game studios have to rethink if they are doing the right thing and stopping making games, and I certainly don't want people justifying the use of DRM just to gain a few more sales.

Comments  (0 - 50 of 266)
j-pnator
j-pnator - - 77 comments

it depend i usually torrent them and if i like the game i torrent i buy it

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INtense! Author
INtense! - - 4,100 comments

So try before you buy? Do demo's help you decide if the game is worth the purchase?

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Heaney
Heaney - - 961 comments

I personally hardly ever buy a game that doesn't have a demo unless its a sequel.

Demos with links to buying the game definitely reduce piracy...

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Captain-Arse
Captain-Arse - - 467 comments

i find demos to be lacking in alot of aspects of the finished product, if the demo was a slice of the full content with a full workshop of all features without content like full levels but still keeping all of the props, effects, doodads, textures models and if part of the design weapons, i belive people would buy more of these titles from IndieDB, i admit i have pirated quite an extensive list of games but in the end and not out of guilt i buy the game because i have a full view of the extensiveness of the full aspects of the game. however indie titles will forever be hard to come by on torrent sites thankfuly it should stay that way as alot of the titles on IndieDB are fantastic to play. But alas games like Overgrowth with extensive work and development i have seen on quite a few torrent and direct download sites. This will always be a great dissapointment and of great consequence to all of those small devs out there trying to start out with great concepts and beautiful work.

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INtense! Author
INtense! - - 4,100 comments

I'm the opposite, most times I find demos give me more than I need and I only buy the game if it is super addictive and I need more content

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Joshy_
Joshy_ - - 39 comments

Personally, I would love to see more demos for games coming out. I think it gives you a good taste for the game and provides so much more than media and trailers do.

I have pirated a fair share of games, but end up buying the one's I really do enjoy a lot. Typically if I don't like a game I've just pirated I usually remove it within the hour of getting it. To me it's useful to be able to get into the game and try it before you fork over the cash, so that's why I do pirate games time to time.

If companies put a little more time in the development process and made demos then obviously I would get the demos. Honestly, I think that would help a lot more with the piracy issue. It seems though that the trend for game companies it to just get the game out as quickly as possible. You know when they have taken that extra step with doing things like demos, or releasing well done modding SDK's.

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Tetsuo3
Tetsuo3 - - 15 comments

That is complete ********.

"To me it's useful to be able to get into the game and try it before you fork over the cash, so that's why I do pirate games time to time----Useful to being able to get into the game before you decide buying it"

This is ridiculous, you watch trailers, download demos, find friends who have it, go to the shops and ask about it etc. It's not a privilage to be able to pirate games for your personal shopping choice benefit - which I highly doubt actually happens anyway, buying it after I mean. Making it sound so relaxed is exactly what is wrong with the pirate industry today.

"I have pirated a fair share of games, but end up buying the one's I really do enjoy a lot."

Maybe so, but I bet you don't do it as often as you think you do. I'm not just directing it at you either, but a lot of people do this.

"If companies put a little more time in the development process and made demos then obviously I would get the demos. Honestly, I think that would help a lot more with the piracy issue."

This is also a load of ********. Free game demos are released all over the internet that you can download off many different sites and aswell in magazines. It's just often though people ignore them and go straight to the torrent sites instead because they can't be bothered to pay or download the demo.

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Joshy_
Joshy_ - - 39 comments

"This is ridiculous, you watch trailers, download demos, find friends who have it, go to the shops and ask about it etc. It's not a privilage to be able to pirate games for your personal shopping choice benefit - which I highly doubt actually happens anyway, buying it after I mean. Making it sound so relaxed is exactly what is wrong with the pirate industry today."

Of course, of course. When demos aren't available though I want to actually get a chance at some gameplay. I use piracy for the sole fact of gauging the quality and appeal that the product has to me. Have you not ever tried a program or something and found it nothing like you expected? Even if you did your research on it?

"Maybe so, but I bet you don't do it as often as you think you do. I'm not just directing it at you either, but a lot of people do this."

A lot of people do, yes. However, I own almost every game on my computer now. I don't own Black Ops, but I own it on the PS3 and I much prefer it on the PS3 so I'm removing it. I also don't own Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, but I'm buying that too. So, that makes two games of my 22 that I have.

"This is also a load of ********. Free game demos are released all over the internet that you can download off many different sites and aswell in magazines. It's just often though people ignore them and go straight to the torrent sites instead because they can't be bothered to pay or download the demo."

I don't order game magazines so I wouldn't know about demos from there, but I don't see many demos these days.

I'm not trying to be all "relaxed" about piracy. Some people purely pirate games and never buy them which is stupid. On the other hand some games are terrible and I'm glad I didn't waste my money on them.

This guy sums up my thoughts:
"Piracy has done a lot of good for me.

If it was a **** game. I'm glad I didn't buy it.

If I really loved that game, I bought it.

It is that simple."

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[Q]uik
[Q]uik - - 458 comments

well, I tend to buy indie games more often than AAA titels
why?
same quality, less money.

60$ or 10$ for the same, or better quality? 10$ ofc.

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MuteWitness
MuteWitness - - 38 comments

This guy has my thought process nailed. I buy indie games because generally they are far better for the price compared to Triple A titles. They usually have quick bug fixes and updates, and from my own experience are friendly people no matter the situation.

I'm not going to say I don't pirate, I do. But it's few and far between because there is sweet **** all in the triple A category I want. Skyrim & Rage aside (Both which I Pre-ordered).

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vicolata
vicolata - - 53 comments

I think demos and especially trailers are ofen polished up (not for every game but for a lot). It's like you play the best level in the demo and afterwards when you finally buy the game, you find out that it was not worth your money.
I remember buying titan quest based on a demo... it was fun for the first levels but after buying it i found out that it was quite monotonous afterwards. Same goes for stalker, was a real disappointment after finding out that the game was full of bugs (half not found in the demo...)
So yeah I get what u mean, but i'll continue to pirate games for testing purpose.
Now Im NOT talking about indie games, paying 10 bucks to get a game from alpha to release is low price enough to get me to pay for it based on videos demos and comments and I think thats the way to go...

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Dmorgan
Dmorgan - - 25 comments

I love the misguided comments telling us how us pirates are such bad people who should go without.

Right, whatever high horse quest your on to protect your favorite games company is as misguided as you are.

None of these big companies need your defense they spend more money trying to stop piracy every day than families spend on food.

And little good it does, 2 days later its completely useless, The stupid fools would lose less money not protecting the software but just telling everyone there was protection.


And just how do you feel about hiring games then? I can hire a pc title for $5 finish it in 2 days and return it, Much more effective use of money compared to buying, If piracy dropped off the world hiring would be "KILLING THE GAME MARKET" next.

There is always something for misguided drama queen-defenders of the companies who don't need protection, To do battle with.. Next week tune in for Television killed the Radio.

And indie games never appear on my radar They aren't my taste.

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singingbush
singingbush - - 2 comments

you're wrong. game developers (especially smaller ones) often go under. It's a sad thing that many talented people put so much effort into creating a product only to find people taking it without paying. While some larger companies will still make millions anyway, it's the small businesses that are affected - often leaving skilled coders and artists unemployed.

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newbie2356
newbie2356 - - 140 comments

I haven't played a demo of a game in over 3 years. Yet I don't pirate.

Most of the time I wait for sales on steam, or try to save up enough money to buy on release.

So I either buy on release(as in preorder), or wait a few years for the price to come down on a game that interests me.

It would be nicer to have the old duke nukem method back where you get the first 3rd of a game, and then can buy the rest if you enjoy the game. Another reason I don't download demos is my download limit is quite low, I could buy a magazine with demos, but the cheapest one is $15 and then again, that $15 could better go towards a full game.

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robinerd
robinerd - - 200 comments

When deciding to buy a game, it's about so much more than just trying a demo or pirating it to try. I have bought lots of games just from watching trailers and previews, not even trying it out. A good example was Trine 1, which I now own four copies of. They totally got me just with trailers of the great content.

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Turkeys
Turkeys - - 227 comments

Demo's don't help much for me personally when compared to a full game torrent as it is easier for them to for example show the small well-polished part of the game when the majority of it could be buggy and unfinished. If I torrent the full game I get to see all of it, and if it is well-done then I buy.

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robinerd
robinerd - - 200 comments

But why would you buy it when you've played through the whole game? It's great if you do it to support the developers, but I suspect most people are simply to lazy to buy a game they've already completed.
I always buy a game if I like it, but I still think lazyness is a huge part of piracy.

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sniper77shot
sniper77shot - - 189 comments

The price, and demos help me decide if I want to buy it, I don't pirate but it does help me decide if I want to try it. Usually I watch a ton of gameplay then download the demo, the whole process takes 2 weeks.

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thunderising
thunderising - - 981 comments

demos do no help, they dont give any picture of the game, for all we know, they might demonstrate the best 30 minutes of the 8 or 6 hour game.

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Crispy
Crispy - - 602 comments

Demos have also been shown to reduce sales in some circumstances. If you show too much (or, for example in a Beta, it lasts too long), people who would have bought the game to see what it's like would no longer buy it, ro, people have simply had their fill (in the case of a multiplayer beta).

I'd rather deal with the people who will buy the games and serve them better than focus on why people are pirating; most don't have a cohesive argument, including why "it's not theft" is justification for circumnavigating the price the author has set for their creation. Ultimately it's a question of respect, and the anonymous and remote nature of software piracy remove the barriers of social acceptability that would otherwise prompt the pirates to think twice. The fact is piracy is socially acceptable: tackling that mentality is beyond what you can do as an indie dev.

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john415
john415 - - 1 comments

demos suck

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Torabi
Torabi - - 376 comments

Yes.
I will be honest here. I pirated a new release.(Not an indie game) I played a bit and then I said to myself. "I've got to buy this game! The developers deserve the money."
And that's that. Buying the game next week or whenever I am done with my school stuff.

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[Q]uik
[Q]uik - - 458 comments

I am totally supportive of demos, but theyre getting fewer and fewer, as the greater companies say: "they cost to produce", and thats true.

however, I have definitly seen a decrease in demos, both on indie and AAA, which is quite sad.

I try before I buy, and if I see a demo I grab that one instead of the torrent.

Also: Multiplayer helps, i know all games cant have it, but it helps

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Masri24
Masri24 - - 33 comments

what if it dosent have a demo like alot of games dont have

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STOKK-E
STOKK-E - - 292 comments

Me to and demo's sucks you never get into the game so you can think of buying.
And some games cost to much and i don't buy the but will play them.

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Kanealii
Kanealii - - 204 comments

Id have to agree, I pirate but If I like it, I do buy it. If I do not like it, simple do not buy it. Some Demo's are outdated versions of the game that come out before the came is even complete. In the end though, its a personal decision about integrity, whether or not you will buy the game you really enjoyed.

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MajorBanter
MajorBanter - - 110 comments

Isn't that a flawed viewpoint?

Furthermore, are 'mistakes' that make a game less than what YOU believe decent justification for performing a morally wrong and illegal action?

The hours that developers - not publishers - invest in these games does not mean you can dismiss piracy as 'the industry's fault'. It's the pirate's fault; surely if a game is flawed, why spend money on it?

Society's obsession with 'needing' things distorts actual requirements. You have never needed a game, and you can spend money on better things. If those points are correct, why pirate if you're not going to buy it?

I buy my games because it's easier, quicker, helps developers and above all because I enjoy playing things that I have chosen to invest in. Not generic crap I pirated.

While this argument is flawed in many ways, and can be countered, it's my viewpoint and I won't impinge that on other people. I simply feel that piracy has gained an image of anti-whatever and generates a bizarre sort of superiority in pirates.

Piracy a few years back was an underground 'get the things you can't afford' process, not a factory-line process of thievery that somehow gives people an excuse to look down on developers.

I will always excuse the poor. I will never excuse those who can afford the privilege of gaming.

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WhatYouAre
WhatYouAre - - 104 comments

I byn mist of my games, since my Xbox outran my computer a year ago or do. But I still pirate a few indie-games, and yes, I'm ashamed of myself. The simple reason to this is that I don't have acess to a Visa-card, which makes it sort of impossible to buy Indie-games.

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willy-wilson
willy-wilson - - 50 comments

I just don't see any reason to pirate at all. If a games not worth my money its not worth my time.

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Tallon_hunteR
Tallon_hunteR - - 138 comments

what this guy said

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Neon-Ghost
Neon-Ghost - - 1,605 comments

How would you know if it's worth your time and money then? A game is beyond just pictures and videos, and advertisements.

A great example of this is Homefront, all the advertising, media, and whatever, for what? A 4 Hour singleplayer game? How would anyone know about that unless they play the game or read critics?

Then again, most of these critics are unreliable now aren't they? And the best way to tell if a game is worth anything at all is to see it for yourself isn't it?

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Betelgeuze
Betelgeuze - - 872 comments

How would you now? Read reviews! Get informed! It's not that hard...
It's also not so hard to find reliable sources, sites like metacritic.com might give you a nice hint too!

Often you just know what games are going to be good, you just have to make a personal selection. The problem with pirates is that they don't make a selections, they just want everything!

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vader333
vader333 - - 619 comments

I think you should go for a shopping trip. I learnt the importance of first hand experience in - no, not my history lessons and their Source Based Questions, not my literature essays - but in a clothes store. Reject Shop, to be exact. A shirt may look real swank up front, but you never know if it fits you. It may be your face, your build, your height, something. There are too many variables in defining the quality of the game for you to simply judge a game by second hand sources. Thus First Hand Experience is Important.

"The problem with pirates is that they don't make a selections, they just want everything!"
Really? That's a hell of a sweeping statement. It scores F9 in my school for history essay. It's like saying "All Jews are evil".

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((;^GrimReaper^;))
((;^GrimReaper^;)) - - 563 comments

i have to say that when it comes to gettin games..i tend to be reallly good at pickin good games...mind they have some parts i dont like...but for the most part the game was worth my money...like last two games i bought that i consider worth the amount i payed for them...Black Ops and Crysis 2...i guess i could put MW2 in there but too many hackers on there...my next game will be BF3...so i can usually tell when a game is good or when it is bad...i just have the nose for pickin good games

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epic461
epic461 - - 40 comments

I always just watch a bit of the game play on YouTube, easier then pirating, same effect

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radutanasie
radutanasie - - 949 comments

I usually don't pirate Indie Games, but when I do I end up buying them. I mainly torrent them to try it out or because I'm lacking money at that time.

But I guess the main reason that people torrent stuff is because it's there for free and everybody likes free stuff, even if it's wrong to do so. Nevertheless, torrenting an indie game and then not buyint it will totally leave you with a guilty conscience.

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Mkilbride
Mkilbride - - 2,784 comments

Because when life presents you with doing nothing in your free time when you're not trying to survive, and doing something to keep you sane, I chose sane.

That said, I do have a large Steam library and tend to purchase games I like.

Multiplayer plays a huge factor into this. I have trouble purchasing 50-60$ SP only games, and MP only games I won't pay any more than 15-20$ for. If I buy a game, I want to get at least 40 hours out of it. If a game is only going to give me 6-7, I don't think I'll purchase it.

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Sanguinius
Sanguinius - - 5,719 comments

My salary is low and i live with a younger brother and a sick mother. So when i see a game selling for 50-60$ i go into rage. Of course i am going to pirate or download it from some warez site or torrent. Everything is expensive these days so its not sad to pirate the game, you usually save yours and others people's money by doing it. Maybe you have a good job with a good salary and 50-60$ for a game is nothing to you but for some people its a lot. Don't tell me you never downloaded a game or movie for free from torrents or some warez sites. Everyone did it at least once but people like me do it all the time because of the situation we are in. Thank god to all the people who pirate games out there. They make our life easier and more enjoyable. So long story short, half the world does not have the luxury to buy all these games so the only way to get them and play them is to pirate. I hope you understand. I am sorry, there is probably lots of grammatical errors but English is not my main language. And if this is really a trick poll then please go ahead call the authorities :P Hope i didn't insult anyone. Take care Moddb rock!!!

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Dra6o0n
Dra6o0n - - 534 comments

This, people still thinks 50 dollar games are nothing.

Game pricing is a definite problem in the industry because not everyone can afford them while sustaining their current lifestyle. And it doesn't help with the mass majority of the internet thinks it's status quo that everyone has more money than they use.

The keyword is Standards. The game industry probably already foretell the prices increase, and decided to set a standard so any sad sob that buys it will be paying them in bigger chunks of money.

Don't get me started in development cost. Development cost rose because of the standards being higher. It's not expensive because they got uber technology or skills, but because they can and will charge you for it.

Sometimes, there isn't a need to employ a mass 100 employees to release one frikken game! Corporate development has NOTHING on exceptionally skilled indie programmers and game makers. Where it takes 200 to debug a game, and fail, it takes one professional programmer to solve.

Personally for me, I'll pirate what I want, and what determines me paying is what I determine is a sufficient game.

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SabreXT
SabreXT - - 296 comments

Yet you can aford a £600 PC to play them on?

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Thorhian
Thorhian - - 1 comments

So... If you pirate games just because your salary sucks and you can barely afford rent... Why the flipping HECK are you on here? Why don't you go and get another job? Then, save up some for a game or two once in a while, this whole try and buy or if it suck you don't thing can't be justified either. There are reviews all OVER THE INTERNET!! Not just ign and metacritic. You can find REAL PEOPLES reviews on the Internet also, like on freaking amazon, or just do a simple search on google and YouTube.

And for the person who can't afford games, im sorry if I sound like a jerk, but I agree that game prices are overpriced a lot of the time. But, it doesn't mean you are aloud to break THE LAW! And by the the way, a lot of revs and artists dont even make it over 100,000 dollars on a yearly salary, you know why? Cause pubs and the main lead devz and artists get all the money. I have had experiences where some of them don't even get past 50,000 dollars for their work. Have you even tried coding or modeling? It's not exactly a walk in the park.... :/ I model stuff my self, and it's not like I can model, rig, and animate, texture, and code a character or object into a game in one freaking day.

Yes, some games are overpriced and you don't have money for h
Them, but its still wrong to pirate games, it's like saying it's okay to rob a bank. >:(

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MaeGGens
MaeGGens - - 19 comments

sometimes i torrent a full price game to test it but i never pirate a indie game because it's usually pretty cheap but when you play it u just feel the love went into the production of the game e.g. super meat boy or shank.

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MrTambourineMan
MrTambourineMan - - 717 comments

I do admit that I pirate some games (1 or 2 a year) but I buy around 10 games a year. The reason why I do pirate some is a. They come from major company with big sales + I don't have enough money (really!) (aehm... COD :) ) b. I don't really intend to play them trough. Last year I torrented MafiaII (the reason was bad reviews but I wanted to make sure) and COD7 (no good excuse beside point a.). But I bought GOW2,Red Dead Redemption, Dead Space, Metro2033, Napoleon TW, L4D2, VVVVV, Tales of Monkey Island, Stalker: COP, Multiwinia, Killing Floor, Command &Conquer 3 (a little late to the party :) ), Battlefield BC2(those are the ones I can remember). I usually buy on sales ( monetary reasons) with exception of indies which I buy full price as well (which is lower than AAA titles anyway).
EDIT: I usually buy PC games via digital distribution and Xbox games in a box.

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MrTambourineMan
MrTambourineMan - - 717 comments

P.S.When I was a kid with no money to spend and without digital distribution channels and without credit card I pirated pretty much everything. (But that was like 10 years ago and those WERE different times).

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TheUnabridgedGamer
TheUnabridgedGamer - - 1,671 comments

...or you could just be patient like me and wait for Amazon to have games like Transformers: War for Cybertron all the way down to 15 bucks (don't bother looking now. It's already back to 40, last I checked. I didn't get it because I doubt my PC could handle the game.)

Also, Mafia II had a rather well done demo (even with lag, I enjoyed my likely only taste of gangster sandbox games) that conveyed a majority of what you'd be doing (and the police are 10x more awake on the PC demo than the PS3 one, apparently. You merely hit a cop, they'll find you and have guns pointed at yer head.

And pirating any games is just unappealing to me. Even though I generally have trouble feeling as bad about CoD games getting pirated as others -- you're hurting the devs either way. I'm not gonna go and get pirated versions of the Mass Effect 2 DLC -- partially because some of that money goes to help Bioware.

It's better to wait, or borrow a game, than pirate. Once you pirate once, I doubt you likely can go back.

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luch174
luch174 - - 148 comments

As MaeGGens said, that would be my reason ever to download. I feel games are way to over priced for what they are. Indie games are more realistic for what i would pay. I think max i like paying for games is £15-20

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Heaney
Heaney - - 961 comments

If you want to lower game piracy, lower your price.

No-one is going to buy a 2D platformer for £30 (just a random example).

If it was £8 or something, they'd buy it.

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INtense! Author
INtense! - - 4,100 comments

But would you consider buying a 2d platformer if it was impossible to pirate games? that's the question i'm posing

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Heaney
Heaney - - 961 comments

Completely price-dependant.

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Crispy
Crispy - - 602 comments

The cost of games has GONE DOWN over the past 15 years and the cost of development has GONE UP.

RRP may be the same but the price of games drops off severely after release, and even before release you can buy a game online for a significant discount. I spend less money on a game today than I did 15 years ago.

This isn't the film industry where the technology is essentially complete. Games constantly need new tech and new talent, and that is expensive.

You want to squeeze the price harder because you're essentially ignorant to what goes into a game. Read the credits on a game (that's right, all the way through) next time you play one, and you'll begin to understand why the price is justified.

Indie games cost less because less people worked on them. It's that simple.

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Dra6o0n
Dra6o0n - - 534 comments

Whether the game is protected from piracy, does not play a part in whether the customer buys it or not.

*facepalm*

For a customer, it's only three things:

1) Price
2) Features [Gameplay, Graphics, Sound, bonuses]
3) Popularity

Even if you create a non-existent world where people don't commit crimes or steal or pirate stuff, it will go back to chaos anyways since that's a part of human nature. Pft.

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Computica
Computica - - 692 comments

4) Replayability <- Huge Factor!

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xxx.xxx.xxx
xxx.xxx.xxx - - 1,090 comments

(buried)

sorry for downrating your comment INTENSE, but 2D platform ?
Did you know (Duh) that those things can be found for free on the ineternet, and we have to pay for a technology wich is being nearly released for free, so a lazy slob can earn money out of a stupid rip off idea NO THANKS, thats why we are in the **** we are. I had fun with Mario nearly 15 years ago.
Not that 2D platform is bad but 30 bucks, hell no.

Super meat boy ? did you pay for it ? oh gosh
Limbo, same thing should have been released as a present with a game bought, makes for perfect partners and such

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