"Hey, you should check out this new game I got" a friend said to me the other day. We went to his place, and honestly I did like it - the game that is; the house was something else entirely. A shooter of a here unnamed title.
It wasn't until later I realised he'd downloaded this piece of art illegally rather than paying for it. And from that moment on, I didn't feel like going back to play it again with him. These days, I often feel I'm the only one obeying the laws of our nations. Heck, even old ladies cross the street despite the flashing red man!
So what is the world going to do about this ever discussed issue? Videogames, movies and perhaps more so, music, are being pirated by the minute. "The businesses will crumble," say some, and that might partly be true - where's the money going to come from if the users don't pay?
But then again, it's important to remember that a similar debate was on when the radio first appeared. Now people could listen to music without buying the records! But as it turned out, the music world survived. And so will the gaming world today, because there will always be a demand for games, and where there's a will there's a way (or rather, where there's a demand, there's a will). And it's still an industry worth billions.
Yet, these billions are generated by the big guys. What about the smaller ones? They're the ones suffering. It's a tough business to break into, and unless your product gets out during the right time and in the right way, you risk losing it all, even if the product is a good one. Often because of the illegal gamers who can't be bothered to pay up for their luxuries.
Piracy is also an issue that won't go away. You can write all the laws you want to, but as long as it's so widely used, it can't be stopped. You can only write successful laws about things a majority of people actually wouldn't do themselves already. And as piracy doesn't fall into that category, no law in the world will be able to get in its way.
So to address the problem, actions do need to be taken. They already are, in fact. With the increase of online distribution, developers are able to make their products available more conveniently to the customers, and to a lower cost on their own account. You don't need to go down to the store when all you need is an internet connection and a credit card, two things nearly everyone has at hand these days.
Other means have also been open for debate. Like a fee being paid to the creators by the internet connection distributors, who in turn charge this money from their customers. But the issue is still fairly new, and only the future will be able to tell the real outcome of what works and what doesn't.
Personally though, I belong to that group of odd people who'd just like to have the product in your hands. To be able to see and feel it, and even flick through the manual just because it feels good; one of those who seldom download even a paid product just because it's nicer to buy it in a physical store. Sure enough, downloading the same thing might be easier - and cheaper - but it simply isn't the same. But unfortunately for us, the future might not look too bright.
In whatever way the industry develops in the future, I have no doubt it will live on. Piracy can't be prevented, and it will force the industry to take new turns. However, the fact still stands: piracy is a crime! So do yourself and the rest of us a favour and buy a copy of the next game you find interesting, rather than getting it through more suspect sources. For now, it's the decent thing to do.