Video Game Piracy May Be Dying As Developers Make It Tougher For Thieves

Video game piracy might not be dead, but it’s certainly not thriving as it once was. This is bad news for gamers who either don’t want to properly pay for their games or simply want to try games for free before they buy them.

One particular website dedicated to offering Steam games for free (which won’t be mentioned by name here), strongly encourages its patrons to buy games, if they like them. There’s no way to know how many games are actually bought from sites offering illegal downloads. As video games continue to sell for $60 and up, and with DLC making them even more expensive in the end, many gamers prefer to “look the other way” and just play for free.

Legal concerns aside, if gaming developers don’t make enough money on their work, it creates a financial issue which may lead to popular franchises coming to an end due to a lack of financial success.

Electronic Arts and Ubisoft have been among the first publishers to really “crack down” on this problem within the industry. FIFA 2015 was one of the first games to include Denuvo’s anti-piracy protection. This protection, according to Game Informer, has increased cracking time from mere hours to months. Ubisoft also built in a way to fight video game piracy when they released Far Cry 4, making the game difficult to play due to the day one update fixing a key problem, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.

Just Cause 3 is one of the latest in a series of serious headaches for game crackers. One programmer had nearly given up simply because the last level was too difficult to crack. Chinese cracking group 3DM was the one facing the problem, and the cracker was encouraged to keep trying. To this day, there are still no working cracks available to gamer thieves attempting to play Just Cause 3 for free.

Unlike movie and music piracy, video games require a lot more from pirates to be made available for free. With most media, all that has to be done is record a viewing of the movie or a listening of the song. Higher quality piracy employs software used to bypass copying the disc. Some movies, like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, cannot be copied through regular means. Google Play Music provides a similar security feature by downloading music in a format that only the app itself can play.

Piracy is illegal and in any form it is punishable with heavy fines and prison time. Despite the potential consequences, pirates are willing to take the risk.

Video game piracy is much trickier, because the pirates have to know to work around security programs and bypass them without making the game unplayable. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Mad Max both had robust security in the background. Early pirated copies would crash the game just by doing something players needed to do in order to progress. Plus, the upgraded requirements of later games have made it necessary to for some playing pirated games to buy a new computer just to play anything made for Xbox One or PlayStation 4. This might not be the biggest problem for video game piracy, but it certainly represents a cost to play newer games, something pirates don’t want.

It might seem okay to gamers who don’t have money to just download and crack their latest game, but that’s not helping the industry. Gaming developers are trying to make money, and every copy they don’t sell impacts whether or not the title gets a sequel or continues as a franchise. In some cases, video game piracy forces developers to release an incomplete game and leave the patch behind a paywall.

As games get more and more powerful and complicated, you will probably see pirates taking much longer to find ways to crack them. If Just Cause 3 is an example of where the game industry is heading, we could see this kind of piracy die altogether.

The best solution benefiting developers and consumers alike is to rent the game and try it out first. Companies offering game rentals include Redbox and GameFly. Then, if you like it, buy a copy. It might not be cost effective if you’re strapped for cash, but that method will probably last longer than video game piracy will.

[Image via Greenheart Games]