Facebook Files: Theft, Piracy And Going Digital

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Welcome to Facebook Files, where people seem to like sending us their own discussion pieces on our Facebook group, so that’s what we’re doing again this week?

 

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This week’s Facebook File is another interesting discussion piece by Anton, on piracy and digital distribution, that I felt deserved to be posted in its entirety.

 

Anton wrote:

I was resealing games at work tonight, and it got me thinking about things. Not only could my time be better spent on other tasks, but wasn’t there some kind of legal issue in regards to retailers opening games and then selling them? I’m pretty sure that the seal on Xbox games says something about that…

 

Anyway, the whole point of “gutting” the games is to prevent theft. My train of thought got going, and I was reminded of the following article I read on Kotaku the other day: Most People Are Still Buying Boxed Copies of Games.

 

It’s really made me realize that digital is the way to go. Not only would it cut down on the waste created from the construction of the games and packaging, but it would also cut down on piracy and theft.
According to the article, most piracy is done on the PC. I’m sure that some of that involves pirating console games, but it seems to me that it’s a lot harder to pirate a PS3 game than a PC game (just an example).
Maybe I’m wrong, though, since I’m really not too familiar with game pirating. I’m a fairly honest person.

 

I guess the point I’m getting at is that it’s a lot harder to make money at pirating games than to actually steal physical copies of a game. For example, John Smith steals a box of Halo games. He will have an easier time selling those games than if he pirated a Halo game and burned a bunch of copies at home. It’s also probably a lot easier to just steal from a retailer than to create any kind of pirating operation. Honestly, after working in retail so long, it surprises me that there isn’t more theft from retailers.

 

So, if the industry were to go completely digital, retail theft would be gone. Of course, tons of retailers would be screwed. Especially those retailers who specifically sell games.

 

But if the industry were to go completely digital, would piracy increase?
Thoughts? Opinions?

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.