158: Piracy and the Underground Economy


New member
Oct 3, 2008

do you realise that the price is supposed to cover up development costs?

cutting the costs might have us ending up with low quality, bugged games flooding the market

besides.. there are plenty of people buying games at the 60 price point..

if the industry actually did what you proposed.. then both it and the pirates would lose

cause games would suck, and no one would pay anything for them anymore

UNLESS, lowering costs would change the quantity sold so much that you would get a profit

this all comes down to the question of what's the price elasticity and income elasticity and all that economics jazz

piracy is the black market of video games... and in some countries the black market is more important than the official market


Citation Needed
Nov 28, 2007
Honestly your making more compelling arguements against piracy. To be honest I think the "human face" of something like this is irrelevent.

It's like this, games are a luxury item, as such I have no sympathy for someone who wants to steal them "because they can't afford it". If you can't afford $30 or $60 for a video game then obviously you have concerns beyond gaming. Gaming is at best a hobby, NOT an entitlement.

When it comes to the piracy your discussing your not even defending it as a victimless crime because as you pointed out the pirates in question are SELLING the games. These guys didn't invest anything in their development, but are making money off of it. That changes things a bit on the moral spectrum as wrong as it is in any form, over someone who is pirating a game and distributing it for free.

I'll also be blunt in saying that I have increasingly little sympathy for the so called "developing world" in general, which does fit into this somewhat. This is largely because there are only so many resources on the planet, believe it or not. there are so
many humans out there that just supporting our population at the current level is literally seeing us deforesting the planet, and strip mining it to death (to name only a couple of things), we're using those resources faster than the planet can replentish them. There is simply not enough resources on the planet to support the current population at anything close to the level of the average American or UK citizen, which is what people generally want and feel is an entitlement. As the developing world... well develops, it puts more pressure on resources tha get diverted from other places. With something as simple as wood, you can only cut down trees so fast, and if everyone is building nice houses that means there is more competition for the wood that is being produced. Even with recycling the increasing demand means that to meet that demand we have to cut down even more trees which leads to pulling further and further ahead of the planet's abillity to replentish itself, and sometimes even amounts to raping it so hard that we leave areas where nothing will grow back for thousands of years.

Every person wants to live better, but frankly not everyone can, despite what US morality might want to leave us to believe. We simply overpopulated the planet to that level, especially in a lot of these underdeveloped nations. The increasing demand for resources and raising prices is one of the big reasons why the economy is in such a mess, and the price of things like wood/paper (look at book prices), oil, and similar things are going through the roof even in the first world.

To put it brutally, it's very much an "us or them" situation, and as nasty as it might seem to start smacking down people in developing nations that have very little, I think that keeping the little guys down has actually become a matter of nessecity for the first world. I also tend to think one of the only reasons to solve this kind of problem is to get rid of a lot of people very quickly... which is one of the reasons why I am so relatively callous in talking about breaking cultures and killing hundreds of millions of people in various discussions. See, I believe if we kill tons and tons of people that means less pressure on global resources and a higher standard of living for the survivors. Even if the "victims" hate it the descendants of them down the road will be much happier if they are able to keep the population stable, leading to less global stress and violence from then out out.... some people don't get how brutal militarism, mass murder, and even what some might argue as genocide can be humanitarian practices when viewed as part of a big picture.

Now... the point of this rant that probably has a lot of people going "wow Therumancer, your one twisted Bastard, and what does that have to do with piracy", is simple. When you look at this whole [email protected] up situation, people stealing video games is just flat out pathetic. Especially seeing as it shows a mentality of entitlement that is at the root of how a lot of these problems got his bad, where people think that because something exists somewhere they have a right to it. The "if we can't afford it, we'll steal it" mentality.

I'll also say that video games are the tip of the icerberg here, really, the so called "developing world" steals pretty much everything it can get it's hands on.
Producing knock offs, and counterfeits of consumer goods which they use to pump up their economies and then use the resulting money to compete with first world nations for resources. A problem when your in one of those first world nations and your own bloody economy is suffering because of it.

In short, this article does not represent a new point of view. Someone did an Escapist article called "Nation Of Pirates" dealing with the situation in Brazil. My basic attitude
is that the whole "pirate economy" can die, and if it ruins millions of people employed by it, I really don't give a crap. From my perspective it's like saying that Organized Crime employs lots of people and if you shut it down all those pimps, drug dealers, bookies, extortionists, and thugs will be bankrupt due to losing their livelyhood. When did it become our responsibility to prop up foreign economies anyway? Sure we've agreed to this diplomatically in certain cases, but when it comes to stealing? Sorry... no, just no. Besides the US and other first world nations are increasingly in a position where we just can't afford it.

Oh and one final note for those who read this far and might be thinking "yeah well, if the video game industry decided to lower prices they could sell to these economies and make money, the developing world gets games, and they make money, everyone wins" it's not quite that simple either. See, if someone decides to lower the prices dramatically for a foreign market, especially when it comes to an IP, nothing prevents that market from taking the cheap goods and re-selling them in the first world undercutting the prices.

It's a simplistic example, but let's say someone decides to say sell a big Soccor game that sells for $60 in the US and more in Europe for $5 overseas because that's all the developing world can afford. What's going to happen is those guys overseas are going to buy up those games, and then send them back accross the ocean to sell for many times what they cost to purchuse, undercutting the prices charged by the company to begin with.

Things like region locking are attempts to combat this (so say an Asian version of a product that costs less can't be sold to an American consumer) but it doesn't work because all it does is lead to a trade in mod chips, and foreign hardware.

This is also one of the criticisms with online auctions and sales sites. See, it's relatively easy to go after one obvious distributor who is doing this with hundreds of thousands or millions of products at once in bulk. With The Internet though and bulk mailing/business software what they can do is broker it as tons of individual, smaller

If you get onto sites like Ebay you'll notice that there are games like Pokemon and such selling for like 25% of the market value in the US. A lot of those copies ARE bootlegs, *BUT* a lot of them are simply games from cheaper markets that are being repackaged and resold due to efforts to make exactly this kind of trading work... and as you can see it's an epic fail.

Understand also that a lot of this comes down to money, and profiting off of someone else's work. See a moral arguement can be made about grabbing a product that someone has no intention of ever selling in your part of the world, if it's being distributed for free. Things like fansubbed anime and the like. The differance here is that a lot of these games ARE availible in those countries and people simply choose not to buy them. What's more the guys pirating the games are actually selling them for personal profit. It's not the same thing at all. You'll notice that a lot of those who exist in the gray area of fansubs make a BIG deal about not charging, and also not distributing a version of anything up for sale or liscenced as an upcoming release. The same can be said of a few fan-translations of video games.