I’ve always taken the stance that pirating games is bad, and there is no situation in which it is okay. To me, pirating a game is tantamount to stealing right out of the developer’s pocket. My reasoning is that the developer stands to make no money from a pirated version of a game, because no one has purchased it, they’ve managed to acquire it for free. However, Shota Bobokhidze of developer ShotX Studio, creators of Danger Gazers, has changed my mind about the whole situation.
In a recent interview with Polygon, Bobokhidze explained that he had uploaded his latest game to Pirate Bay himself. He went on to describe how he grew up in a situation where pirating was the only way to get your hands on new software. There are a number of reasons for software to be unavailable to people, including region, or just the fact that they don’t have the money to spend on games instead of food. He added that the people who pirate a game can contribute to the developer in other ways, like word of mouth reviews, or even written reviews, of the game they’ve pirated. Simply posting about the game on social media could be enough to justify the pirated copy to many developers, because it could lead to two sales instead of just one.
Since posting the game on Pirate Bay, Bobokhidze estimates that he’s seen a 400 percent increase in sales, a lot of which could be from people who played the pirated version and enjoyed it so much that they purchased a legitimate version. He also said that he’s had emails expressing support, as well as donations directly to the studio, which never would have happened without that pirated copy.
When The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt launched, it was pirated like most other games. Developer CD Projekt Red still valued these fans and players though, which is why they uploaded updates to Pirate Bay, ensuring all players had access to the best possible experience. Once again, the developer did this because they valued the experience of the player over how much money they were making, and were really happy just to have people talking about the game on Twitter, which they still are today.
Having heard directly from a developer about the benefits of pirating, my mind has been opened. It’s easy to forget that some people have built careers out of getting paid to share things on social media. Places like Twitter are incredibly powerful for products, and can be the life and death of a game if certain things are shared about it. I’m going to ease up about pirating games, because I’ve forgotten that being able to buy them is a privilege that not everyone has. Furthermore, I’m resolving to share more about my favourite games right now, because that could be the difference between the game’s developer making enough money to create another amazing game, or going under.