Blog: Video game piracy in the Middle East
DRM is not the answer for stopping piracy.
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.
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.
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.