from the lesser-of-two-evils dept
We of course talk a great deal about video game piracy here and nearly all of the commentary from the gaming industry centers on how piracy is destroying an industry that only seems to continue growing. Were you to take only a brief look at the history of our posts on the subject, you would come away with a clear picture that game developers see piracy as the greatest of all evils.
It turns out that for many developers there is a greater evil, however. An evil so great, in fact, that game developers are actually pushing the public to piracy as a remedy.
G2A, the grey market purveyor of game keys, has once again drawn the ire of game developers less than keen for their games to feature on G2A’s digital shelves. It’s previously clashed with TinyBuild and Gearbox, and a recent ad push has seen it condemned by more developers, with some even saying they’d rather players torrent than buy from G2A.
Publisher Mike Rose noted that a search for his games placed G2A ads for them above the publisher’s own link. “We make zero money on our games if people buy them through ads,” he said. He recommended that people considering buying a game through G2A just pirate it instead.
This recommendation was followed up by Rose and other game developers on Twitter, suggesting that anyone thinking about buying a resold game key via G2A just pirate their games instead. This isn’t he first time we’ve seen this sort of thing specifically about G2A, which is one of the more popular Steam key resellers out there. A couple of years ago, another indie game studio went so far as to put its game up on The Pirate Bay itself just to keep money from reaching the hands of G2A.
The big problem here is that game developers regularly give away free or cheap Steam keys to influencers and others in the hopes of promoting the game on the internet. Some of those influencers then turn around and resell those keys on the G2A market. For its part, G2A insists that it will take down fraudulent sellers and even issue refunds to devs that can prove the keys sold were obtained by nefarious means, but that’s generally a lot of window dressing, given that G2A also buys Google ads to place its own links at the top of search results for these same indie games. Meanwhile, these resold keys generate no revenue for the developer, but do increase their costs in customer service, server requirements for online games, etc.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this is that these indie developers, for whom you would think piracy would represent an outsized threat compared with the AAA publishers, see piracy as a perfectly acceptable remedy.
If you can’t afford or don’t want to buy our games full-price, please pirate them rather than buying them from a key reseller. These sites cost us so much potential dev time in customer service, investigating fake key requests, figuring out credit card chargebacks, and more. https://t.co/25NWxrj8f8
— Rami Ismail (@tha_rami) June 30, 2019
Now, I’m quite sure that none of these developers would come right out and say that they like piracy generally. Still, it’s interesting to see the nearly universally demonized practice of copyright infringement turned to as a pressure release against a far greater evil. Given that some of these indies proactively combat key resellers by putting their own games up to be pirated, might there be other ways they could use “piracy” to their benefit as well?