Blog: Video game piracy in the Middle East

By on February 22, 2011

DRM is not the answer for stopping piracy.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

Piracy in general has plagued the Middle East for quite some time now. Whether its movies, video games, or music anything is available for a cheap price in your local Souq. Heck even when I got my first console the Sega Genesis, every cartridge I bought was pirated. To be brutally honest, it was the only way anyone knew how to buy video games. I clearly remember when my parents bought me and my brother the original Playsation. My dad came in with a stack of 20 or so game discs. Obviously all of those were pirated as it would have cost us a fortune to get all those games at once. Regardless, nearly everyone in the region was doing the same thing and its still prominent  till this very day.

A shop somewhere in the Middle East selling loads of pirated game discs and cartridges

There are a lot of arguments for and against piracy but neither side seems to be winning over the other. The arguments against piracy say that developers need support in order for them to produce our favorite titles and if consumers just pirate video games then they are essentially killing their favorite franchises. The argument for piracy constantly brings up the issue of video games being overpriced and DRM and restrictions put by the developers and publishers. Even though each side has a valid argument, there are some holes that weakens what each is pleading for.

Developers and Publishers treat Piracy as this arch enemy that needs to be taken down. But the reality is, whatever they do Piracy will NEVER cease to exist. Rather than putting up crazy DRM and other restrictions on their products which people actually buy FROM THEM, they need to reward a customer for buying their game and supporting them. For example, they can add in extra DLC and multiplayer features for new copies of the game. They tried time after time to kill Piracy by forcing an abundant amount of restrictions onto their own customer base. They need to change their mindset and rethink their tactics to favor rewarding over punishing.

The people pirating games seem to always come up with this argument that video games are overpriced around here. Yes that was a solid argument back then in the  Playsation, or even the Playsation 2 era. I remember at the launch of the PS2, the biggest gaming store in Bahrain at that time sold launch titles for 45BHD! That equates to a whooping 120 USD! No one in their right mind would buy a title that is sold for DOUBLE the actual amount. Not to mention the lack of titles actually available to buy. These stores didn’t bring a lot of titles and they were only limited to big releases which made it even more tempting to pirate as there was a huge collection to choose from.

I wish we had a Gamestop around here.

In current times however the argument of availability of titles and overpricing is pretty outdated. There has been a huge growth in the variety of stores offering a large collection of titles for prices extremely close to the official retail price. Even if there was a title the stores didn’t have, some would gladly specially order the title for you. In addition, any person out there that says “oh there are so many games out, I can’t possibly buy all of them because that would be too much money” is not thinking right. You don’t NEED to buy every single title you want ON release date. Just get the titles of the year that you look forward to the most. You can wait for the rest to get a price drop and then buy them for less than half the original price.

I don’t really condemn myself or anyone else within the region for pirating games before the last couple of  years. Mainly because of how overpriced and limited titles were back then throughout the region.  However since I got my Playsation 3 back in March 2010, I realized that the market  is finally getting sane. Prices and availability are no longer a problem and hence I decided to buy the games I like to show my support to people pouring all their hard work into making what I love.  Whether you agree with my point of view or not that’s your own choice. However I definitely don’t want what happened to the PSP to happen to any console out there. That’s why I want to show my support as much as possible to stop awful things like that from ruining the industry.


About

A young zergling from Bahrain dreaming of one day magically morphing into an ultralisk. 20 years old, 2nd year of university, and a lover of all types of games specially RPGs and RTSs.

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  • Master_shake_350

    I am gonna say I used to, but I don’t any more. I guess that is why I am so poor.

  • Sultan

    Too right man I use to only buy pirated games but its not until this generation of consoles I realized that developers need support. Now I only buy legit games even though im going through financial trouble. I just try and buy a game every 2-3 months.

  • Newbz

    Some games don’t offer you the chance to test it out via a demo as single player or multiplayer.
    If you have noticed , most of them used to have demo’s before.. suddenly they all just went away.
    Who in their right mind would pay for a game that’s overpriced , and that i have no knowledge of what content or how the gameplay is.
    Yes there’s videos and pictures and commentary but none of them come close to the experience i have as a gamer.
    Piracy will always be there. I’m not there to support it but developers really need to listen to their customer requirements and capabilities.

  • Newbz

    Some games don’t offer you the chance to test it out via a demo as single player or multiplayer.
    If you have noticed , most of them used to have demo’s before.. suddenly they all just went away.
    Who in their right mind would pay for a game that’s overpriced , and that i have no knowledge of what content or how the gameplay is.
    Yes there’s videos and pictures and commentary but none of them come close to the experience i have as a gamer.
    Piracy will always be there. I’m not there to support it but developers really need to listen to their customer requirements and capabilities.

  • http://twitter.com/theregos Nick R

    What we really need here is what they have in places like UK – a store where you can buy second-hand games for a reduced price. There are plenty of titles in my collection that I wouldn’t mind giving away to that someone else can give them a go.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mufaa Mufaddal Fakhruddin

      True that Nick. There was a startup called Gomboz Games that aimed to do that but after their launch delay, there is no word from them. The website is down as well. Guess they couldn’t get it up from the ground.

      I wonder if used games would be a feasible business here at all.

      • Newbz

        Well i am selling a few of my original games nowadays
        Some included Fallout 3 C.E, World in Conflict, Frontlines , Battlefield 2, just to name a few which were sold off.
        At one point it’s all about playing a game from end to finish , and ending that phase , however while the idea of playing 2nd hand games is quite a good idea, nowadays publishers are pushing for online activation , registration and authentication which make you link up your game to the account henceby forever branding the game to you. Lets say u buy 5 games namely a,b,c,d,e and you have to link up the game to your registered account on a platform called River™ , lol i didn’t use the other name of river, hence anyhow u love games a till d , but e is something u wouldn’tmind trading it or maybe even selling it off ,however you can’t since it’s all tied to your account, either you sell all or you sell none.
        I did hear Bioware came with some features that allows you to buy the game, authenticate it and then u can disactivate it to be sold to someone else , but there’s something of losing the membership .. or the next person who buys the game will have to buy the authentication , practically making it a new sale.

        Just my 2 cents.

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  • Killua

    If only Amazon doesn’t add 50$ to your shipment for middle east, that’s actually making it stupid to purchase online.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rahul-Dev/100003534616187 Rahul Dev

    hey this is best way to recognize basic of games…..we are here ….buy xbox 360 games.

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