This I my first attempt at blogging on Destuctiod, I have been planning on doing it for a while now and I finally found the right time to get started. I thought I may just start by getting my piracy out of the way first.
When I was still in primary school I never really pirated anything. I owned a GameCube and a GBA and I also played on my mothers desktop from time to time. This changed when I went to high school (late august 2004). I got a laptop for school and every classmate did as well as part of a pilot with using laptops in education. Soon after the start of the school year I started playing some pirated pc games most notably GTA Vice City, the game started to spread around the class by some of my classmates and most of us played the game on our laptops. I also started downloading emulators for the n64 and gba, and pirated roms for those systems as well.
At the time my English and knowledge of the internet was not good enough to find stuff myself with the exception of roms from rom sites so I couldn't even reliably download pc games myself. This really limited it to the games spread in class and some emulators with roms. This had no real effect on the games I bought. Not that that was much as the allowance me and my brother got was together not really that much. I did get a ds later in 2004 to replace my gba. At the time I didn't even know that downloading roms was wrong, I figured that stuff publicly available on known sites could not really be illegal.
The next year I switch schools but I could still keep my laptop and use it on the new school as well. This was mainly because my handwriting was bad and borderline unreadable. I didn't really start pirating more pc games, I still used emulators and roms but the games spread by classmates where gone. I actually started buying pc games full price like Age of Empires 3. Later in November 2005 I got a pc capable of playing basically all games released before 2006 at decent framerates including the heavier games like F.E.A.R. And Far Cry. During this time I still bought DS and GameCube games as well.
I really started to turn to PC piracy about 2 months after the launch of Oblivion, I got the game on launch and while it didn't run that well on my pc I was not that bothered about it at the time. If you are used to it 12 to 20 fps is perfectly playable. My brother lend Oblivion to some friend but when he returned it the game was full of scratches and the disk didn't even show up in windows any more. This made me start looking around the web for ways to make the game work without the disk which eventually let me to the discovery of torrents. While I may have pirated some small things in the past with Emule and Limewire those where never reliable for me but with torrents the flood gates where opened to pirate about any PC game I ever wanted. This meant that I hardly ever bought a pc game for the years after that except for some multiplayer titles like Battlefield 2 which I bought for cheap.
On the console and handheld side of things I actually started to buy more games as my allowance grew and I didn't have to spread the money towards pc games now that I pirated them. Even if I didn't pirate on pc my pc would not have been able to reasonably run games newer then 2006 so I would have only bought cheaper older titles at most. In December I also got a Wii just after its wait past away so instead of buying gamecube games I now bought wii games.
Somewhere in the second half of 2007 DS flashcards started spreading around my school and I decided to get one as well. This was soon after the release of the first single slot flashcards but they still had to be shipped from Ebay sellers and from Chinese webshops still unknown to me. I really did want a flashcard especially because to me DS games where really overpriced, especially in The Netherlands. DS games would cost about €40 to €50 and I knew my Father could import them a lot cheaper from the US when he had to go there on a business trip. This strengthened me in wanting a flashcard so I finally went to buy one, following the advice of some classmate who had a good experience with the webshop. I paid about as much for the flashcard and a 2gb micro sd as I would pay for one DS game.
From this point forward I stopped buying DS games and only bought Wii games. I think I still spend about the same amount of money on games as I did before however instead of spreading between Wii and DS it was all on the Wii now. Because of this I didn't really consider my piracy to be that bad. After all my pc couldn't run new games and I still spend about as much money on games on Nintendo systems.
Around April 2008 I initiated the finally step towards total piracy. I was a really big fan of Super Smash Bros Melee as it was my first and by far most played GameCube game and I was really looking forward to the release of Brawl, Which got released in March in the US and I knew it was out there however on a region locked wii I had to wait till the end of June before I could ever play it on my wii, I got so frustrated by this that out of Fandom I went the step towards installing a modchip and downloaded Brawl way before its European release.
Now that I had a modchip I stopped buying games on the Wii completely as it was hard for me to defend spending €50 on a game while I only got about €20 a month and I could also get the games for free. This was strengthened by the fact that I already pirated on my other systems. At the time I saw not much of a point in paying for something that could also be obtained for free and didn't see enough added value in online portions or some library comfort to be worth buying but most importantly I found that one sale less doesn't hurt a dev that much.
Because I stopped buying games I could save up the money instead which I did till the end of 2009 when I finally got enough money to buy a gaming pc. In a way the pc was thus paid for by piracy.
Because I was scared of building my own pc at the time I bought an Acer instead which had a huge discount on it making it quite close to a similarly priced self build one. I would however not recommend others to do this as the pc had its problems. First of it had to be send on RMA after one month because the system wouldn't boot and later the GPU started overheating because the case had to little ventilation to actually have its gpu be used for longer gaming runs. The gpu ultimately died from this.
The new pc didn't stop me from pirating, in the contrary I actually started pirating the newest pc games I couldn't play before. I also pirated windows for the first time. I did that because the pc originally came with vista which was quite shitty at the time (with newer updates its not that bad). They offered “a free upgrade to Windows 7” because the pc was from a few months before its release however in truth free Windows 7 meant I had to pay €30 shipping on the disk so I decided to pirate it instead. I never really bought windows separate anyway. I did buy a few online games during this time including Battlefield Bad Company 2.
Late 2010 I got a PS3 for my 18th birthday this was just after soft mods got released for the system
And I intended to use it for piracy only. I even dubbed my ps3 Pirate Station 3 it being the 3th system after my DS and Wii I exclusively used for piracy. This was at the time more and more games seemed to be delayed on pc or even skipping pc altogether and I wanted to also play those games however I found encouraging this behaviour by buying the console version a bad plan so I didn't buy anything on my ps3. This however did not mean the end of my pc piracy but I slowly started to buy pc games at discount prices, steam sales, humble indie bundles, and other sales where now where I got some legal games. I also slowly started to develop a backlog.
Throughout 2011 I slowly bought more and more games on sales and indie bundles on pc but remained fully pirating on my other systems. My Wii and PS3 could not even play new legitimate games at that time. My wii had its disk drive replaced by some optical drive emulator back in 2009 as the disk drive broke which meant I had to use downloaded games even if I owned the legitimate version. On my ps3 the custom firmware was behind the official one which meant new games could still be patched to work on modified systems but my ps3 could not run new games without pirating or ripping the iso myself. In October I broke my dsi and I bought a used psp go in return and I never really bothered to buy games for it, the psp go couldn't play most psp games legit anyway. As such a psp go was only really suitable for pirates.
In january 2012 I actually bought skyrim full price (not actual rated price but the price I paid to order it online at some webshop which was cheaper then the 33% sale on steam running at the same time). From that point forward I almost completely stopped pirating on pc and started buying more and more games on sales and I even preordered Borderlands 2 at some point. This also meant my initially small backlog started growing more and more.
This brings me to my current situation I stopped buying pc games again until by backlog is slimmed down, at the moment its huge even including big titles like darksiders 1+2 and LA noir. I still pirate on psp and ps3 even if I can just buy the ps3 games, wii has no new games so its irrelevant and the wii games I do play I play on an emulator.
So is there anything we can learn from this?
If it wasn't for the drm that required my disk to be in the diskdrive I may have found piracy on pc at a later date though I don't expect it to change that much, maybe I would have bought one more pc game.
First of all my Handheld and Console piracy started because I felt I got screwed over as Dutchman or European. Nintendo Please don't do that and please keep fairer price points in Europe.
Second Piracy does not always mean less money spend on gaming and even when it does it just means money spend elsewhere, if policy makers read this they will see there is no real economic damage of such piracy.
But really the most important thing here is to say yes I am still a pirate even if I am less of a pirate now then I used to be I am still one of them.
Maybe I will express my current views on piracy at a later date as including it here would really make this post a bit to long.