A Surprising Number Of People Feel Bad For Pirating Stardew Valley

A Surprising Number Of People Feel Bad For Pirating Stardew Valley

Whenever piracy is mentioned, people always whip out the argument that, if pirates actually like the game, they will totally purchase it in the future. For Stardew Valley, the latest game tearing up the Steam charts, that age-old saying might actually be true for some players.

Yesterday, as I was rounding up Steam reviews for farming simulator Stardew Valley, I came across this curious evaluation:

I wondered: how common was this phenomenon? So I looked up torrents for Stardew Valley, and dove into the comments. What were pirates saying about this game? What would I find?

The first thing I saw was the most obligatory type of comment:

Now, Stardew Valley isn’t a huge title. SteamSpy estimates that there are a little over 100k legit owners total, and the biggest torrent online for Stardew Valley has only 130 comments. But, even so, it appears that the people pirating Stardew Valley think the game is so good, they’re telling everyone else they are going to buy it. Heck, some people say that pirating the game was the exact thing that drove them to purchase the game legally:

There are also players who are taking the time to remind others to purchase the game, or are vouching that the game is worth buying:

You’ve got players troubleshooting how to carry over their savefiles from the pirated game to a legit copy:

You’ve got people writing comments with the assumption that others have bought the game:

And, most telling of all, you’ve got people who outright say they felt guilty for pirating the game — and that’s why they ended up buying it:

You might think, OK, what’s remarkable here? People always say piracy is a good thing because it leads to more sales, so, duh, of course people are saying this in Stardew Valley’s comments. Well, no, actually. That’s not necessarily how things play out for other games. For all the times people defend piracy in public spaces, when you look at actual torrents themselves, you don’t always see a lot of people saying they’re going to buy the game on the actual torrent. On a huge title like Fallout 4, you can scroll through all 1.6k comments of the biggest torrent around and only find a few people announcing that they’re going to buy the game, and an even smaller number of people reminding others that they should support the developers by purchasing the game.

Most comments on any given game are people troubleshooting issues, trying to work out why a game won’t run the way its supposed to. At best, a player might endorse a game as worth playing/pirating, not necessarily purchasing. And at worse, you have players in the comments trashing a game, telling others that whatever the developers are asking for isn’t worth it — so, yeah, pirating would be ‘justified.’ Players who tell others to buy a game certainly exist on most game torrents, but Stardew Valley still seems to have more of these types of players than the average game.

It’s particularly surprising because torrents are the last place where people need to defend the practice in the first place. If you’re browsing a torrent, I’d wager changes are pretty damn good you’re considering downloading a game. And you can probably assume that anybody else who is on there is likeminded enough that they won’t judge you for being a pirate; you don’t need to do the whole song and dance about the merits of piracy, as you might an article online, or an argument on Twitter.

The pirate promises surrounding Stardew Valley might just be bullshit; there’s no way of verifying if pirates are actually buying the game. It could all be a performance. Even so, the comments alone are a testament of Stardew Valley’s charm and winning formula: the game is so good, pirates actually obligated to explain themselves, they feel the need to assure other pirates that yes, they are going to buy the game at some point, don’t you worry.


  • Dammit… As someone who is very familiar with piracy, I keep forgetting to even consider it a possibility for games. Reading this has given me a bunch of feelings I don’t want to deal with particularly that spark of excitement that I could be playing this game I can’t afford, tainted with the stab of guilt I get from even considering pirating this wonderful game…

    • I’m in a similar spot. Really want to play this but don’t think I can stretch my budget to buy it for a while. Don’t want to pirate it but it’s very tempting!

      It’s like being told you can have cake in a month but sitting on the table right next to you is another piece of cake…

  • So, the argument that ‘those who pirate were never going to buy it anyway so please do not count it as a lost sale’ can be put to bed?

    • At least in this case some of those lost sales turned into sales. Not all of them, but some. I’m sure there’s plenty more pirates who feel no remorse.

    • That’s a different point and is not proven at all.

      Someone who pirates it wouldn’t have necessarily have bought it even if they couldn’t have pirated it.

      This says that just because someone pirates it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t buy it anyway.

      What this doesn’t prove is that piracy equals lost sales, in fact it’s (somewhat anecdotal) evidence for the contrary.

    • Yup. Anyone still trying to bolstet their ill-thought out posts with that analogy immediately invalidates what little truth there might have been in their often ill-thought out anti-piracy tantrums.

      Ofcourse, most of us have been calling people out on that since the first time the sentence appeared, but atleast now there’s solid proof of that arguments stupidity.

  • I hate piracy.
    There’ll be those there in those comments saying that they bought it, but not all of them would have or will. And the excuse, “I can’t afford it just yet” is pathetic. Seriously, just hold off until you can afford it.

    • Its 15 bucks, thats like 3 beers, a lunch, a return Manly ferry ride, what the hell is is wrong with people, if it was 80-100 bucks I could see people pirating it before buying it.

        • Three schooners of some kind of mid strength most likely. Great Northern or Carlton Mid are the only ones I could think of that ever get that low.

    • I can’t afford it this week so I’ll pirate now, pay later, because I have no impulse control or alternate means of entertaining myself!

    • I have friend who pirates because he can’t afford it.

      He can’t afford it because he’s saving up to buy a graphics card so he can play pirated AAA games at max graphics. That and he smokes pot.

      If I could, I’d ring the police to report him, but I don’t exactly know HOW to report software piracy…

      • Don’t be such a try-hard. Nobody benefits from this attitude about reporting your neighbors for every slight against your values. These pirates are ultimately worthless on the criminal scale.

        • Why in the hell is this being a try-hard?
          I’d report him too if I knew how.
          Do you want to know why?
          A) piracy is illegal
          B) pot is illegal, and
          C) (no offence to your friend, but) the guy sounds like a douche.

          • Look were just going to disagree here. I know how to obey the law but I’m not going to refrain from criticising it just because it the law. The kind of fervour for blind obedience is exactly what fostered the kind of ‘us vs. them’ attitudes that underpinned the Red Scare – loyal citizen being the good patriot and those who didn’t conform: evil communists.

            I don’t believe that IP law is so sacrosanct or that the war on drugs holds any merit. You wouldn’t see me dobbing in a pirate or pothead because it’s just a grand waste of time and taxpayer money, and ultimately will do no good for the perpetrator and society in general.

          • You sound like the kind of person that blows ciggarette smoke into a babys face while passing them on a sidewalk because “it’s legal”.

            Far too many people are oblivious to the fact that the law is far from perfect, and is often based more on money or prejudice than doing right by the community at large.

            Only an idiot would try and argue pot laws sre justified, in this day and age where anyone not living under a rock could see the end of prohibition fast approaching.

          • And when you do, the good police officers will laugh at you. Are you really that stupid to think that the police will waste their time on such minor crimes? There are serious crimes that need to be tackled and you waste the polices time by reporting crimes like that. You realize most people caught in possession of weed for personal use will either get a fine or majority of the time to put it out or hand it over. The police would end up spending more money on going to his house and fining him than the fine it’s self would cover. If you’ve ever been on youtube and listened to a song or watched a video that wasn’t uploaded by the person who made it, you broke the law then my friend. Infact if you’ve ever watched anything anywhere on the internet that wasn’t uploaded by the person that made it or by someone who has been given permission to host it (I.e things like netflix.) then you broke the law. Feel free to tell me you haven’t if you want but i don’t believe you actually have monitored your browsing well enough to have never done it. And if you have, congratulations, you’re a hypocrite. Call the police up and report your self.

            Also if you are going to judge someone entire personality on that small slither of information you have about him, you’re more than likely the douche. Stuff like that makes you sound like a petty asshole. Dislike it all you want, you’re entitled to that but don’t waste the police’s time on such stupid things when there are actual crimes that they need to deal with.

            Furthermore, regarding the whole piracy is illegal thing. A decent number of current and future game devs don’t care about piracy. I’m on a Game programming course at university and a lot of the people on my course, me included don’t care about piracy. Some of them partake in it. You know why? Because it sucks to see a really cool looking game and not have the money for it because you have other priorities. Since i became a student i can barely afford new games any more,other people are in similar situations where they have families to provide for and other such things and aren’t in a financial situation to pay for them at that time and i feel for them because this is a beautiful art form that people shouldn’t be deprived from because they can’t afford it. I’d rather people enjoyed the game because if it’s a good game then lot’s of people will pay for it and hell, some of the pirates end up paying for it as well. Stardew Valley and the indie game scene in general stands as proof that people will pay money for good games. But even then, Hotline Miami devs (think it was them) put their game on a pirate encouraged people to pirate their game when it wasn’t allowed to be sold in their country because devs that care about their games care more that people enjoy the damn thing. The main people that bang on about piracy being bad are the arseholes that are in charge of the big companies that usually have no fucking clue about making games, the same arseholes that make devs to put out unfinished games riddled with bugs and the same arseholes that already have stupid amounts of money anyway.

            People like you make me angry. You sit there and say this is wrong so you can feel good about your self and like a moral citizen and bash these people for doing something that is illegal but don’t stop to consider the circumstances that some of these people are in. I’m aware that some people do it because they are cheap and that’s their choice but don’t act like you are some super moral person because you like to chat shit about piracy. If the GAME DEVS (note, game devs, not publisher or company or any shite like that. The actual people that put the time into making the game.) don’t care then neither should you.

          • I didn’t know differing opinions caused the blood to boil so much.

            Of course I’m not going to report someone for something so minor, it still doesn’t mean I condone it.
            And yes, I used to pirate stuff when I was younger, but now I actively try to do everything in a legal way (buying, streaming services, etc).
            I do not pirate games though, never have, never will.
            I get the argument that, “some people can’t afford it”. There’s lots of things I can’t afford, doesn’t mean I go out and steal it…

            It’s just a subject where we have different opinions. Nothing to get angry over 🙂

            And I just don’t like pot either.

  • I haven’t pirated a game in many years but there has been a single title that I purchased after pirating – The World Ends with You on DS (I’ve owned a 3DS since release and many games have gone on rotation during the ownership but that title has easily secured the longest time occupying the cartridge slot). These days, aside from my 3DS, I’m pretty much exclusively playing on PC and my Steam library is going strong with 1037 titles. I’ll probably end up picking up Stardew Valley at some point… and not play it just like other spur of the moment titles like Undertale. >.>

    • I can’t upvote this enough.
      There are those that simply want to try it, in the case of Stardew Valley, let the game run for an in-game week. It should be adequate amount of time for someone to gauge if they like it or not.

    • Like jengaship, I cant upvote this enough. The day of the demo is clearly behind us, but that was often the best advertisment for a game. Get in, try before you buy, and get a feel for whether its worth shelling out anything up to $120 for.

      And while this particular game is only $15 or so, I’d still prefer to try before I buy.

      To put it a different way, Castle Wolfenstein demo’s were a virus back in the day. Every other disc had a copy on it, and you just couldnt get away from it, but I bet that saturation of the demo generated a hell of a lot of sales.

    • totally agree, what happened to the days where i could get a free download for a demo/trial for the big AAA titles, like back when ps2 and xbox where the current gen.

      i blame it partially on the “lets play” youtubers. the average person can now see a game in play before its initial release and make a somewhat impartial guess on if a game will suit there play style or not, example, have always love the farcry series, but got bored of 4, once i saw primal was mostly a rehash of 4 I lost all interest in what i had been hyped for a number of months.

    • Idk I don’t think demo is really that justified. It could be done by major developers but I don’t think indie dev should waste time doing a demo build. Some games only hits their note during mid or end game. If everyone tries the demo and the first 30 minutes is boring, it is a loss of sale.

      I am only partially agree to games having a demo.

    • Well, the way I see it now, the steam refund option works kind of like a demo, play a game < x amount of hours, if you don’t like it, request the refund. If you do, then keep the game.

    • Personally I think game trials are the best modern solution. It would shut down all those excuses about demoes costing too much to make.

  • What is it about piracy articles that makes everyone think they should make a comment about what a good samaritan they are because they don’t like piracy? Here have a cookie.

    • Because it’s an article about piracy, and people have opinions about piracy.

      What a stupid question.

      • Yes I suppose it is hard to distinguish between having an opinion and casting judgement.

        • Wait, Pupp3t?!
          Sorry man, I didn’t even notice it was you I was replying to, haha! I didn’t mean to be so rude to you buddy :3

          I’m just, very anti-piracy is all.

          Sorry again buddy!

          • Lol I had a feeling you might’ve been seeing red in the comment section and just blanket shot-gunning away =P

            As a reference my only access to games when I was back home was piracy; taxes + being a third world country made it impossible to afford any old game let alone getting access to the new ones. While I appreciate once you have resources you should pay for what you use the reality is there are a lot more countries out there where games aren’t affordable than where they are. While my story probably isn’t going to be a representation of the majority in Australia I can promise you it is in a lot of other countries in south Asia.

            Games got me through a lot in my life especially as a kid; and if I hadn’t access to them I’m fairly certain I would’ve resorted to alcohol and substance abuse (two things that are quite easy to get in a poor country surprisingly). I guess my point is things aren’t always as black and white as they seem; I’m happy to pay for my games and keeping the studios I like fed but on the flipside I also want to support the concept of piracy because it did and definitely does make a difference in the lives of people who don’t have a lot of ways to cope with the reality they face.

            As a point of reference and if you’re curious it was cheaper for me to buy a table at a club with a few bottles of premium spirits than it was to purchase a single game legally back home.

    • Because it’s a hot-button issue with no right answer.

      How about some wholesome discussion about ABORTION, PETS, CIRCUMCISION, TIPPING, and my personal favourite: HOW TO COOK STEAK

    • Because some people lack the intelligence to understand the issue at large and instead just regurgitate the profiteering bullshit spin put out by greedy mega rich companies.

      The anti-piracy neanderthals don’t deserve the mature and well thought out arguments placed forth in every thread on the topic explaining why piracy isn’t anywhere near as detrimental (if at all, with it being obviously beneficial in this case) as the billion dollar companies would have you believe.

      I’m done giving curtesy to these people only to have it thrown back in my face all because I downloaded a rom of a fan translated snes jrpg not released here, or for not financially supporting a greedy company charging a $40 dearer pricetag for aussies than in the US. I implore everyone else who feels the same to join me in publicly ostracizing the anti-piracy sheep.

  • I pirated this game last Saturday because I had heard nothing about it and had no idea if it was any good or not.

    After I noticed a few hours had passed without me even realising I thought this is a game worth buying and bought the steam version and have been singing its praises to friends ever since many of whom have also bought it.

    I would not have bought this game if I wasn’t able to download it and try it out. I would have just kept playing a Diablo 3 or something.

    • This is the exact same story for me (and probably many others). I really wanted a game like this but I felt I really should try it first, and I’m glad I did. Currently downloading into my Steam library as I type this.

  • It makes me happy to see such and interesting example of people thinking about their own purchasing power, no matter the context. There’s two things I want to point out:

    Pirates and buyers aren’t, and never were, polar opposites. They’d buy something one day, and pirate something the next; a multitude of reasons for doing so each time. The only thing surprising here is to see both decisions happening in the same place.

    Secondly, this isn’t for the mainstream CoD dudebro audience. It’s a farming simulator: tending to your crops and animals, being a part of your local community and forming enriching relationships. I’m going to guess that the gamers that enjoy this game will be the more altruistic, sincere individuals that are no strangers to rewarding those that warm the cockles of their hearts.

  • sounds to me like pirates aren’t seeing any real value in the latest shooty-bang-bang™ but are willing to pay for a quality product at a reasonable price that’s not a rehash of every other game out there.
    Perhaps if AAA spent a little more on product development and less on marketing their latest shiny they wouldn’t have as much to complain about.
    I hadn’t heard of this game before reading this but I think I might have to check it out.

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