Kotaku Census 2010: PIRATES!

Today's census questions are all about pirates. Yaaarrrrrrrr!

It's a touchy subject in the video game business. Despite having been around since the dawn of time, when young men swapped 3.5 inch floppies on the school playground (ooo eerrr), piracy is increasingly being cited as a serious problem by video game publishers and retailers, who have seen profits eaten into by the advent of free, illegal internet game downloads.

While we understand it's a controversial issue, and that some people may feel reluctant to take part in a survey centred around illegal behaviour, we also feel it would be a disservice in a feature like this not to broach the subject.

Needless to say, just like we're not passing on any of this on to marketing or advertising companies, we're not passing any of this onto publishers, either. It's for SCIENCE (and fun).

We'd also like to point out that this entire poll is about piracy. Downloading or otherwise getting hold of games you didn't pay for. If you make copies of your own discs, for security against small children or convenience, that's cool, we're not including you as a "pirate".


Have You Ever Illegally Downloaded Or Copied A Console Game?

Doesn't matter how you got hold of it or how you play it once you do, we'd just like to know. If you've never owned a console for which games can be copied - so a PS1, PS2, Dreamcast, Xbox, Xbox 360, GameCube or Wii - please do not answer.

Have You Ever Illegally Downloaded Or Copied A PC Game?

Doesn't matter whether you burned it or downloaded it, we'd just like to know. If you've never owned a PC on which you played games, please do not answer.

Have You Ever Illegally Downloaded Or Copied A DS Or PSP Game?

Whether it be via an R4 (or similar device) or simply downloading it to a PSP, we'd like to know. If you've never owned a PSP or DS, please do not answer this question.

If You Do Pirate Games, Why Do You Do It?

So you're a pirate. It's OK, we're not judging you. We'd just like to know, why do you do it?

If You Have Played Pirated Games, How Did You Obtain Them?

As the question says. If you've played a pirated game, how did you get hold of it?

Do You Think DRM Services Help Prevent Piracy, Or Promote It?

Digital Rights Management services are a recent, and also unpopular aspect of PC gaming, where publishers are able to control how many times you install a particular game, and in some cases, even the circumstances under which you can play them. Because of this, there has been immense backlash from amongst the PC gaming community - a group of consumers for whom access to pirated games is often easy and immediate - prompting us to ask this question.

Does DRM Software Influence Your Purchasing Decision?

In a similar vein, DRM services can have an adverse effect on people who have previously been able to enjoy a game they've purchased whenever, and wherever, they've liked. So we'd like to know, do you think DRM is severe enough that it'll influence your decision on whether you'll buy a game or not?

Have You Ever Downloaded An Emulated Arcade Game?

Nice soft one to finish up with. Emulated arcade titles, played on a PC program such as MAME, are technically illegal (well, many of them are), as they're copies of old arcade ROMs that you're getting hold of without paying for. Have you ever downloaded any of these and played them?

That's it! Thanks again for helping out by taking part, and stay tuned tomorrow for a whole new set of questions, none of which will be about walked planks or shivered timbers.


    I think a few of the questions should change slightly; yes that’s why there is an “other” option. But “other” is to general I think.

    -If You Do Pirate Games, Why Do You Do It?
    Should have an option of
    “Because the game has gotten a lot of bad reviews and I want to test it out first.”
    It also should have a rating option of major deciding factors or even being able to pick multiple. Eg: First being bad reviews, then expense. Ect.

    -If You Have Played Pirated Games, How Did You Obtain Them?
    Likewise, should have the option of “ALL the above” or being able to pick multiple

    -Have You Ever Downloaded An Emulated Arcade Game?
    I’m in between “Yes, I got thousands”, and “yes but I had no idea it was illegal”. I would be. Yes, but I only have a few.

      it seems some of the questions have been updated since i posted :P, so ignore some of what i said.

      i hate pirates althogh ive done it once for battlezone 2 combat commander last year that game is so old its is literally impossible to get leagally

    i kinda wanted to clarify the Other option on one of them but it was txt limited

    It should also have There is no relevent Demo for the final push as to whether or not i purchase a game

    This poll doesn't have enough answers to accuratly describe my pirating habits...

    The last question's answers are a little polarised, though I imagine this one is seen as being a little more light-hearted. I personally do have some emulators and ROMs and I know they are technically illegal, however I wouldn't have thousands. Just a dozen or so.

    i live in aus, uni student. i could get a job and buy my games or i could just pirate them. only games i buy are on ps3 coz you cant pirate onit.

    I think a question asking for the rough percentage of games you bought versus pirated would have been useful.

    Also are we talking about in my lifetime? In the last 12 months in the last decade? This would affect the results I imagine.

    I think there should be another option in the "If You Do Pirate Games, Why Do You Do It?" section. And that is "Because it's 8+ years old and isn't available anymore."

      I know someone who had to download the first Brothers in Arms game, because as you say, it wasn't available anywhere. Completely coincidentally it was released on Steam a few months later so they happily bought it. Same deal with the original Aliens vs Predator game.

      Piracy was pretty much required if you wanted to play Japan-only games on systems like the Dreamcase.

        Er... Dreamcast, that is.

        Oh, and I lost my Civ 3 'play' disc. I could install it fine but couldn't actually play the damned game, so a friend... er... assisted me in that department. I bought it on launch day so I thought it was bloody well my right to be able to play the game I bought.

    When I was a kid I used to get pirate PS1 games because I couldnt afford them and my parents thought video games were a waste of time. After that I got old enough to get a job. I threw away the copies and re-bought originals and I haven't pirated since. My friends offer to give me copies of pc games theyve downloaded but I always have preferred having a legit collection I can look at. As a kid it was always sad and reminded me of how poor I was and had no help from anybody gaming wise when I stared at my collection of burned PS1 disks.

      Same here had lots of PS1 copied discs but never done it since for PS2&3.
      They look good next to my CD's DVD's Books.
      Don't like Download Only - I like the new smell & / or Ebay bargins and then once finished fund my gaming habit by selling via Ebay to help other less well off people and not paying excessive ex-trade-in store prices.
      My right to buy & sell as I see fit.....

    I'm Originally from Brazil! There I used to pirate games in almost all console that I had, but since I moved to Australia things got waaay easier to afford a legal copy, now I own more than 200 original games .

    The situation in Brazil for gamers is just awful, with games costing pretty much what you own working full time for the hole month. Consoles that costs the same as a pre-owned car, so the people find a way to play the games that they want, even if its not the right one

    When I got my PS2 modded it was for the purpose of buying Suikoden III from the US, the other major factor was I didn't ever want to put up with another six month wait for another botched NTSC to PAL conversion like FFX.

    That said I didn't have a lot of money at the time and once I had the PS2 chipped I quickly started to snap up all those PS1 RPG's that never made it outside of the US but through less than honourable means.

    I didn't have the money to splurge on these games at the time but I didn't want to go without these games either when I could have them for free. Without consequence no less. The logic never sat well with me at the time and it still doesn't.

    When my uni days were well behind me in the real world with a full time job I went back and purchased nearly every game I ever pirated for the PS1 and felt a little better about myself.

    I've never been too hard on pirates as my morality on this matter was directly tied to my income at the time. Once I could afford to buy the games I wanted I gave up on piracy overnight and never looked back but prior to this I was happy to pirate away.

    I can certainly respect the 'why pay for it when I get it for free'. Piracy for piracy's sake is nothing else if not honest. It's certainly something I practiced myself. I could have always gone without playing these games but it was (and is) just so easy to get a hold of them I just tried not to think about it too much.

    The BS excuses people come up with to justify piracy themselves can certainly get under my skin sometimes. These games obviously have some value to the player as one invests thier time into them so to turn around and play the game you're 'boycotting' because of high price or DRM etc is a joke. You cant have it both ways. Piracy is not a form of protest its just piracy so at least be honest about it.

    I’m a full time uni student with no money, so pirating games would seem like the easy option but i dont do it. Not out of some strong moral code mind you, simply because it wanst avalable to me at the time. Back in the PS1 days a few of my mates had a chipped PS1 but they all got it done from a friend of a friend and by the time i had found the shop that did it the PS2 was like 3 months away from release so the incentive to do so was gone. Same for PC really, i’ve never had one of those blockbuster 100 gig a month plans so downloading full games wasnt an option. These days i just wait for the games i want to drop down in price and get them.

    An 'I wanted to see if it was good or not' would have been good.

    Where's my "downloaded from a BBS at 14.4kbps" option? :D

      Don't copy that floppy.

    The why do you do it question seems to be open to the widest variety of answers..

    For me, I play most games for 1-2 hours max. I give them a taste and move on. Paying $60-$100 for any game when I know this is all Ill play it for is hard to justify. Its not that they arent good games, I just dont have the time to invest.

    Games I know Ill stick with Ill pay for every time. I tend to have one primary game that I play multiplayer on the PC. Take Valves Orange box.. I paid full price on release and have nearly 1000 hours up in TF2.. for that Id gladly pay double.

    I still happily buy single player games, sometimes twice, if I know Ill play it. I purchased GTAIV and Fallout3 for both PS3 and for PC.

    Sure, I could probably download and play demos, but why not get the full game when I have the bandwidth and storage to do so.

    -- Now that I read that back it really is the old argument that I would never have bought it in the first place.. its not a lost sale at all. In fact I have a history of purchasing games I never would have had I not originally pirated it in the first place. --

    I use to pirate the shit out of PS1 games. Had piles and piles of them. But I found it killed my love of gaming. Having so many was just overkill. No time for them all and I didnt appreciate the good ones.

    Now, I only download PC games because I know Ill only play a few levels, get sick of it, then never play it again.
    PC game demos are deliberately not long enough to encourage you to go buy the game.

    Since my PS1 days each and every one of my console games have been legit.
    When I was a hardcore PC gamer every one of my PC games were legit too.
    Now, Im just a casual console gamer. So my console games are legit but I download my PC games (for reasons above).

    BUT. . .
    I loved Torchwood! So I bought it.
    Same with Cogs (thanks Kotaku for showing me that one).
    And the missus loved Plants vs Zombies, so I bought that one too.
    I never would have bought those games if I didnt pirate them first.

    For me, personally, game piracy is like my own version of extended demo evaluation, lol.

    This wasn't a well written survey, although I acknowledge it's hard to write a good one on this topic. Downloading emulated arcade games has, at times, been arguably legal (though not tested) in line with judgements that suggested software not actively being exploited by its owner over long periods could be considered abandonware.

    "Try Before You Buy" should have been included in the "why" options, and I felt there should have been options expressing the association between DRM and malware in PC gaming. (I don't PC game much anymore largely due to DRM/malware concerns, although I'm quite happy playing XBox 360 games which obviously nevertheless have DRM measures such as region-locking and online authentication.)

    Warez the other options? Nice survey, hating DRM atm so I won't buy any hardcore DRM'd games or Acti (but thats another story). Funny question about the emulated arcade games, they hit off at my high school, every student having a flash drive filled with emulated games (Smash bros was the school fav). I like to think PC is the only thing being hurt by pirating, though I don't own a DS so handheld piracy is out of my league (don't plan on bricking a PSP).

    Have You Ever Illegally Downloaded Or Copied A Console Game?

    No. I don't like chipping consoles and voiding warranties.

    Have You Ever Illegally Downloaded Or Copied A PC Game?

    Yes. 100$ for a game is gouging at its best. I refuse to make that large an investment without trying it first.

    Have You Ever Illegally Downloaded Or Copied A DS Or PSP Game?

    No, I hate handhelds.

    If You Do Pirate Games, Why Do You Do It?

    See above.

    If You Have Played Pirated Games, How Did You Obtain Them?

    Friends, internet.

    Do You Think DRM Services Help Prevent Piracy, Or Promote It?

    Neither. DRM gets cracked the day its released.

    Does DRM Software Influence Your Purchasing Decision?

    Not really.

    Have You Ever Downloaded An Emulated Arcade Game?

    Yes. Nostalgia.

    I admittedly used to download a lot of games when I was in high school. I had precious little income to spend, but what little I had I'd often be saving up to buy a PC capable of playing the games I wanted in the first place.

    Around the time I got into uni I secured a much better job with a decent income, and I have since made efforts to purchase every game I obtained illegitimately. Thankfully being primarily a PC gamer, this has been relatively easy thanks to services like Steam and Good Old Games.

    There was a time where I used to use an R4 cartridge to download DS games as well when I was just getting started with the handheld. Eventually I discovered the ability to import and now I own legitimate copies of just about everything. It was the first gaming system I had ever purchased that wasn't a PC. I've since acquired a Wii, PSP and PS3.

    Gaming used to be this insanely expensive hobby that I couldn't really afford, but now with digital services like Steam, the ability to import DS and PS3 games for much cheaper than Australian retail prices, I've been able to do quite well for myself in forming a large collection of games. I dare say I buy too many games now, as I still have a neat stockpile of games I've yet to play!

    Two cents from a former-pirate trying now to do the right thing.

    PC Game? Yes.
    Why? If it's a game I really had my heart set on, but it also has Orwellian DRM then I would likely pirate it. If that game had little or no DRM I would likely buy it.
    I buy a lot of games from GOG.com, largely because they have no DRM. I don't agree with the whole "you don't own what you buy" philosophy of the gaming industry. IMO they have no right to tell me how many times I can install a game I bought on a computer I bought. Nor can they dictate to me how I will play that game - eg. demanding online activation or a permanent online connection for otherwise offline games. When I look back at the days when anti-piracy consisted of quoting passes from game manuals, it shows that the more we capitulate to increasingly onerous DRM, the worse it gets for legitimate buyers.
    So yes I think DRM promotes piracy and does little to prevent it. I read a quote somewhere from a publisher who said that DRM works great - for about a week - and that lead time was all they really cared about.

    I to have try before you buy as my main reason. Sometimes it's just that I can't justify spending the amount of money they are charging for what they are providing, though now that digital distribution sites often have less popular games (and occasionally some popular ones) at sensible prices or massive sales I tend to just hold out until I think I’m getting what I’m paying for.

    As far as DRM is concerned, it generally puts me off purchasing a game and this news one like silent hunter 5 and assassin’s creed 2 puts buying those games right out of the question as my internet goes through stages where it starts dripping out ever 30seconds to 5 min. Not being able to play my single player games at this time would infuriate me.

    Speaking of bull**** DRM, Command & Conquer 4 has just launched in the USA, and EA have decided it has to be connected to the internet to work, ala Ubisoft's stupid Assassin's Creed 2/Silent Hunter 5 DRM. Go to hell EA.

    I have pirated games for which there is no demo. I want to know what a game is like to actually play, before I buy it. If I like it, then I delete the copy, and I put it on my "To Buy" list. I try to keep how often I do this to a minimum, but sometimes I pine for a game I do not yet know the quality of.

    Boy, do I feel guilty =]

    Back in the C64 days the form of Piracy most of my friends and I used was to pay the extra $2 for the Dual Format copy, now 90% of the time the Disc version and the Tape version where in there own boxes with manuals. So when my friend and I bought a game we gave each other the tape version.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now