Is Piracy Just a Game?

May 7, 2013

Sometimes learning life lessons can be hard, as independent video game developer Greenhart Games recently found out. Greenhart decided to release a doctored version of its “Game Dev Tycoon” to pirate sites at the same time the original hit the stores. The gist of the game is to have players fulfill their fantasies of becoming game developers themselves, chockfull of all the trials and tribulations of business development.

However, purveyors of the pirated version of the game came across many more tribulations. Once these players spent a significant amount of time building their virtual gaming business, a funny thing would happen: their make believe profits would tumble no matter what they did. These unlucky business folk would encounter a sales report announcing:

Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally. If players don’t buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt.

But, ironically, the joke fell on deaf ears to some frustrated gamers who only wanted their business to succeed:

In a blog, Greenhart Games struck a conflicted note to the reaction of their experiment: “As a gamer I laughed out loud: the IRONY!!! However, as the developer, who spent over a year creating this game and hasn’t drawn a salary yet, I wanted to cry.”

Many other developers from Sydney to Silicon Valley are probably crying as well, considering that game and app piracy rates are well near 90 percent. Unfortunately, the effects of rampant piracy are felt in the real business world, with real developers closing up real shops and eliminating real jobs after pouring real time and real money into creating for us.

But it doesn’t end there. Consumers are also going to need to break out the tissues, too. Not only will they lose out on quality entertainment, but they are also likely—90% likely—to fall victim to malware or malicious code from “hacked and cracked” games.

The truth is that while the games may be fantasy, the consequences of piracy and counterfeiting can be very real and very harmful.

Cross-posted from the Global Center for Intellectual Property's blog.

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