Digital piracy, some might say it’s the worst thing that could happen to a company, and others claim it’s a way to let those companies know that their prices are too high, let’s discuss.

Video game and movie piracy, one claims it’s good, the other claims that it’s bad, but how can we stop it?
Let’s first take a look at video game piracy.

Video game piracy has existed as long as video games have existed, and that’s a fairly long time now.
Back in the ’90s, we didn’t have Steam, Denuvo and all these other DRM’s and platforms, heck, the internet was only starting to grow, so how did people pirate, and how did companies stop piracy back then?

Back then, you had websites like ThePirateBay, but a lot more primitive, and downloading games was a lot slower and less safe.
The most common practice of piracy was “Exe cracks”, which one would use a modified version of the games .EXE file, so it could run on the PC without the need for a disk to be inside of the disk drive.
Yes, that was one of the forms companies used to try and prevent piracy as well.
The DRM was the CD itself.
No CD? Well, no playing for you!

People would go to local stores and rent a few games and simply use these “cracks,” and then return the game.
On the console side, things were a little bit different.
With consoles like the Nintendo 64, game backup devices were commonly used to copy and flash the cartridge.
Piracy wasn’t as big back then just yet.

2000’s are here and so is the internet!

Knock, knock, it’s the 2000’s, and we brought the internet with us!
Cheat codes were “AllTheWeb’d” or “Yahoo’d” and the need for gaming magazines started to decline.
Game developers became smarter, they knew that people found a way to play their games without the need of a CD, and people started copying their files and placing them on the internet for everyone to download! Help!

So, why not use the internet?
CD-Serial keys became the standard, and if players wanted to play online, they had to be verified!
Not every game used a server to verify the serial keys, but they would block people using the same CD keys in an online match!
This stung pirates a little bit, but it also hurt those who simply let their friends “borrow” their game, and who wanted to play together.
If someone uploaded 1 serial key, you could bet that the thousands of people pirating the game, will be using that key, resulting in not a lot of them being able to play the game online.

The movie industry also got hit with the “evil” video recorder!
How dare people have a machine that would record and often times skip ads of a TV show to watch back later?
Luckily corruption lobbying worked, and the government said: “You can use your DVR, but they aren’t allowed to skip ads!”
But wait…
The internet is here!
People are throwing our movies and TV shows online for free!
What the F—?

There must be a better way!

Gabe “motherf—ing” Newell arrived, and he has a beautiful new idea!
“People are pirating our games? The way to end piracy is to provide a service that’s more complete than cracked software, and that restrictive DRM only encourages more piracy. “
Steam was created and it was the best thing since sliced bread absolute worst thing ever.
Internet connection issue, extremely barebones, you didn’t even have a friends list!!!!!!
It didn’t work, it crashed your PC and it was so slow!
But luckily the people at Valve strived to make it the best thing since sliced bread, and oh boy did they do that!
However this is still the early 2000’s, give it some time.

On the movie side of things, corruption lobbying was still going strong.
Hollywood tried to take on European countries, forcing them to invade the privacy of their citizens to ensure that those citizens aren’t doing naughty things.
Sweden and the Netherlands said:

Steam Destroyed Piracy

It’s not the early 2000’s anymore, Steam is popular and every day more and more game publishers come to steam to have their game on the Steam platform, as they see an increased profit from games using the Steam service.
Hooray! Piracy is dead! Steam saved the world! Gabe Newell was crowned eternal emperor of planet earth!

Piracy wasn’t completely dead, it was declining rapidly!
Games didn’t need a DRM, they needed to be good games.
People would pirate a game and play it to see if they’d like it, if they did, they’d buy it, if they didn’t like the game, they didn’t buy it.
There was no loss in sales, as those pirating would likely not have purchased the game anyway.
A study by the EU even found that game piracy actually increased game sales.
The 300+ pages study can be read HERE.

How about the movie industry? Still a lot of piracy? Yikes!
Well, just throw more corruption lobbying money at those senators!


Breaking news, it’s the 2010’s and piracy is slowly rising again?
EA pulls their games from Steam and tries copying Steam with their new hip “Origin” and Ubisoft did the same thing and called their platform “Uplay.”
The difference being that EA would keep their first party titles on Origin, and their third party titles could still come to Steam.
Ubisoft took a different approach and simply sold their games on both platforms, with the catch that users had to install and run Uplay even if they bought the game on Steam.

With no real refund policies, and the rise of different platforms, people started pirating again, not a huge increase but any increase is still an increase.

On the movie side, things are going better than expected, well… Somewhat.
Netflix is making Hollywood happy, but due to licensing issues in different countries, having Netflix in the Netherlands, Germany, or even Turkey was kind of useless.
There was no real choice, but hey, at least in the US, it’s doing great!


Exclusive interview with the gaming industry: “So, why did you think it was a good idea to create crappy small DLC that are only small cosmetic items? Do you think this will help the industry?”

Games industry: “Well, we don’t call them DLC, we call them Microtransactions. We believe that it’s a fun way for people to buy beautiful cosmetics for their guns and horse armor, they can still get these items by playing the game (unless they play Call of Duty), but it’s simply for those that don’t have time to play for hours on end.”

Interviewer: “Great to hear, there’s absolutely no way this will be abused in the future by the gaming industry what so ever with more encroaching and predatory money scamming making systems.”

So how is Netflix doing?
Pretty okay, but some companies looked at what EA and Uplay did and decided to do the same thing!
Pull their stuff from Netflix and create their own Netflix, with blackjack and hookers a lot of headaches and increased piracy.

Hollywood after they figure out that people got used to Netflix so much that they didn’t want to switch to another streaming platform.

Who likes Lootboxes?

Skip ahead a few years and we have Lootboxes!
Who doesn’t like mystery boxes that contain cosmetic items that used to be unlockable by playing the game?
Well, now you have to pay for them! Hooray!
Fifa became a multi million dollar franchise after the succesful introduction of “Ultimate Team.”

Fifa players enjoyed buying random packs of players, so why not introduce these mechanics in EVERY SINGLE GAME?
It didn’t take long for the game industry to take notice on how profitable this idea was.
Players would spend hundreds of dollars on random packs, and then buy the next Fifa game a year later, and start from scratch again, and paying those hundreds of dollars again!

It looked like every single game started to have loot box mechanics, from car soccer to Call of Duty, everyone was in on it and the players didn’t seem to mind.
After a while, some players did mind, but who cares?
There are some that pump in thousands of dollars into the games, and that’s more than enough for us!
We literally did the impossible!
We managed to sell a game for $60, and use mechanics of a Free-to-Play mobile game and our games still freaking sell!

On the movie side, things aren’t looking so great.
Many streaming platforms started to divide people.
$5 here, $10 there, and oops…
You’re paying the same amount of money to watch your favorite shows and movies as you did when you still had a TV subscription.
Hell, in some cases you might even pay more, and even then, your favorite TV show or movie might not even be available for streaming!
Well, maybe it’s time to start pirating again?

Okay, This is Epic!

Fortnite became the biggest hit since sliced bread Minecraft and Epic Games was truly born.
The first real competition to Steam!
Where Uplay and Origin pretty much failed, Epic would be a fair competitor that would benefit developers and gamers!
Competition means lower prices!
Aaaaaaaanndddd that’s not the case…

Epic Games didn’t want to become a competitor, it wanted to become a rich kid who buys their way to the top.
Exclusive deals were made, and certain games would no longer be on steam for a full year.
This pissed of gamers more than the lootboxes could.

Epic was supposed to be the savior, but they ended up being the villain.
Gamers didn’t want exclusive deals, that’s why they left their consoles behind and started playing on PC.
If Epic wanted to be a competitor to Steam, they would’ve sold the same games as Steam did, and simply have a better pricing model that would entice developers to come to their platform, and gamers as well.
But who wants to be a competition anyway?
Let’s just buy up third party titles, hell let’s take it a step further, let’s give deals to game developers who are using KICKSTARTER and who PROMISED their game would be available on Steam, and let them be exclusively on Epic!
That’s absolutely not the biggest FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU—–KKKK YOUUUUU to gamers at all!

Meanwhile, Bethesda who was the last hope for gamers said “Screw it!” and joined the absolutely disgusting lootbox and microtransaction train.
They started with selling MODS for money, which were of abysmal quality, kinda like the state of their games when they are first released and let’s have the most beloved franchise of all-time become a multiplayer game!
Hell, people will love the outrageously expensive microtransactions in Fallout 76, and they’ll absolutely love the idea that installing our game could destroy your PC due to our launcher being as buggy as our games!

Not only was the launcher broken, the game was so boring and broken that game stores had to give the game away for free, because nobody would buy the game.
It became the worst Fallout game in the franchise, and had an even worse score than Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel!
Gamers and critics agreed that this game shouldn’t exist, and game critic site Giant Bomb even refused to rate the game because of how terrible it was.

On the movie side of things, piracy has become popular again, and this won’t change for the forseeable future, especially with even more companies setting up their own “Netflix” style streaming services like Disney+ and CBS All Access.

Bye Lootboxes, Hello Suprise Mechanics

Before we end this article, let’s talk about the absolute state of EA and the gaming industry as a whole.
Because what EA did with Star Wars Battlefront 2, governments around the world are looking at lootboxes, and most deem it a form of gambling.
Belgium and the Netherlands have started cracking down on games with lootboxes, and in the US, Rep. Josh Hawley is trying to stop these predatory mechanics in video games.
Knowing the US, the game industry simply has to throw some corruption lobbying money at the senators and it will be fine.

But in places like Germany, Sweden and the UK, a ban on lootbox mechanics might come sooner than expected.

EA was summoned to the parliament in the UK to talk about these lootbox mechanics and how they might be gambling.
Well, fear not!
EA promised they aren’t doing lootboxes anymore!
They got rid of lootboxes, and they introduced a new mechanic that is the same as “buying a toy from the toy store.”
“Suprise Mechanics” is what EA calls them!
It’s the exact same thing as lootboxes, but it’s different because it’s “a surprise.”

Dear EA and others in the gaming industry, if you keep pushing your predatory “surprise mechanics” down our throats, we won’t mind it.
You know what? Keep pushing them!
We won’t even pirate your games!
All of us humans have decided to no longer pirate games anymore!
People will simply have “surprise ownership” of your games.

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Jade Ten Hoven
Jade Ten HovenWriter
Dutch-Spanish writer for The Liberal Voice.
Politics don't interest me, that's why I report on tech, games, and sports.
Singing coach and all-around goofball.

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