Spirited Debate On Game Piracy

In this day and age, I consider a lack of a demo to be deliberate concealment, and the sign of a bad game. Note to chrisg that I am not implying that this makes piracy okay.

I am very, very pleased that they just finally dropped a Viva Pinata demo on us.

Not having a demo is like not allowing movie reviewers to preview a movie beforehand

Fedaykin98 wrote:

I am very, very pleased that they just finally dropped a Viva Pinata demo on us.

A playable one? Really?

Staats wrote:
Fedaykin98 wrote:

I am very, very pleased that they just finally dropped a Viva Pinata demo on us.

A playable one? Really?

Milli Vanilli wrote:

Girl you know it's true! Ooh ooh ooh!

Downloading it now...

chrisg wrote:

Lots to say

Post of the week. Easily.

Thanks for the insight.

I couldn't find the original article about the story of the dvd Spiderman 2 pirated copys. Here is a short draft. A few interesting points this page left out. I think the movie ended around 2 am, and the first draft was on the net right after that. The theatres all had metal detectors and other stuff to try and stop the copies from being made. All the movies were encoded. 10 hours later spiderman was being sold on the streets in many countrys. All this came from just 3 bootleg copies.

http://lawofnations.blogspot.com/200...

Piracy does hurt for sure. I think the start of the problem comes from high cost and lousy content. I am sure many of you have spent big bucks on a game ,and just felt it wasn't worth the money. I do tend to think this could lead to people not feeling bad about downloading a bootleg. A person can come into my store and buy used dvds for $5.99 and $7.99neach, for stuff that just came off my new release wall. Would you rather pay $8 for the original, or spend 3 to 4 hours downloading a huge file? At 8 bucks most people I think would tend to buy the original. Now make that movie 30 bucks, or someone downloads it for free, and I feel many people will be downloading the movie on the net. I don't think you can blame the consumer 100% here, as we all have been sold a bag of crap one time or another. That doesn't make piracy right I just feel that combination could contribute something to the equation. I do know Piracy cost the movie industry billions every year.

Interesting Story on PC games. I had 5 or 6 request in the past month to carry these games. I was thinking gee this market is bigger then I thought, and I better look into carrying the pc games. I talked to my distributor yesterday, and they don't stock pc games any more. He told me they weren't selling well at all. That was quite a surprise to me. That is just a tidbit from the inside.

It's doesn't take more than common sense to conclude that piracy hurts the game industry, but the degree of harm done can't be determined with any sort of precision. And as has been pointed out at length in earlier posts, there are plenty of other profit-reducing factors at work.

I feel for the game industry, because realistically there's no way to prevent piracy, and the choices as to how to minimize it aren't easy ones. Avoiding copy protection altogether obviously has its drawbacks, yet any copy protection scheme imposes, to some degree, upon honest gamers.

Unless by some miraculous mass epiphany gamers' ethical sensibilities and respect for IP laws begin to outweigh their desires to get something for nothing, piracy is going to be something developers will have to contend with. Thankfully, you don't have to look too far to find successful, profitable PC games despite piracy. So it's obviously not an insurmountable challenge.

If we're going off-topic to movies, I'd like to add the fact that I used to buy 10-20 DVDs per month. I stopped the minute the HD war begun, as I don't want to re-buy movies until the war is over. Haven't bought a DVD in over a year. (thankyou, MS for MCE).

wanderingtaoist wrote:

Few points:
There are games selling like hotcakes despite having no copy protection at all. Recent example can be Europa Universalis III.

A common argument with hopelessly flawed logic.

If people could have easily pirated Gears of War, taking away 25% of its sales, it still would have "sold like hotcakes", but would there have been an impact to the bottom line? No doubt.

Now imagine this happening to games that aren't as widely-appealing and widely-selling as Gears of War.

And here, we arrive at the current state of PC gaming. Swampy mentions the flight sim genre. It would be foolish to deny the fact that piracy is very detrimental to these games.

Eastside Hockey Manager is now extinct due to piracy, as claimed by those developing it.

chrisg makes some good points on the gaming business model, and we see gaming starting to find ways to give old titles more legs (Xbox Live Arcade, Virtual Console, GameTap, etc). At the same time, a business model with flaws does not let piracy off the hook, and certainly doesn't excuse it.

I used to wonder how many more developers were going to speak up and say, "piracy is killing us!", while gamers replied, "you're lying!"

Now I wonder how many more developers are going to speak up and say, "piracy is killing us!", then have their actions reflect these claims (going multiplatform, digital-only distribution, ditching the PC entirely a la Call of Duty 3, or just plain dying out like EHM), while gamers still reply, "you're lying!"

It would be foolish to make piracy the scapegoat of all of PC gaming's ills. At the same time, it would be foolish to ignore just how big of a problem it actually is.

By all definition I have no right to call myself a hard-core gamer any longer. The time in between all night sessions of a game are longer and longer apart. But as someone in his early 30's married and with dependants, I can say that I haven't pirated a game or software in a long, long time. It seems when I was a mere slip of a youth before I made money, the C64 was a pirates dream, a hole punch and sector editor were all you needed. On the PC in my 20's I had more disposable income and I pretty much disposed of it in all forms of media be it video/pc games, movies of all forms, books and music and when I spent almost all my money on those things and fast food, yet I pirated more.

I am much more stringent about where I spend my money now and much more aware of how my money helps others pay their family's bills. Although I'd like to buy every game I can, now-a-days I can't but I also don't pirate them so I miss out on them; That's life, you can't have everything. I'm aware that I've got an example to set for my children, a conscious/karma to balance and time I don't want to spend behind bars no matter how far-fetched the idea seems. I've done the math, it's cheaper for me to buy the Action Pack for my copies of Windows and Office than to buy them seperatel or try to meet buddies on the other side of the water to 'hit the MS store', copy, etc. It's just easier to pay the 300$ a year and get 10 copies that I'll use half of and never have to worry about getting a visit from Mr Federal Agent to haul me off to 'pound you in the butt prison'.

Piracy can be attributed to a multitude of factors, ignorance, laziness, cheapness, crass indifference, etc, etc. As Rez said, it will never be stopped and money spent locking down a system is money that could be invested elsewhere. However, my opinion that the money is best spent elsewhere is just that, my opinion, it's not my hours invested sitting in a cube hax0ring away at code for 2+ years that's getting ripped off. It's a fine line and one that I'm glad I mainly have to ride as a consumer, I'm saavy enough that I can get cracks for games I purchase but don't want to be bothered by disc checks or some other DRM.

The last three games I bought were:
Zen of Sudoku - Dec 2006
GH1 and GH2 (along with a PS2 and knickKnacks - Last week as the present to myself for upgrading my MCSE for my POS job.

Fedaykin98 wrote:

In this day and age, I consider a lack of a demo to be deliberate concealment, and the sign of a bad game.

I am right there with you ;). However, since producing a demo is an investment on top of the development costs and since we do not have data floating around about the average cost of such a production, it may as well be a sign that the publisher did not want to invest any more in the development. So the game itself may be a good one, but the publisher hit its cash limit on that project.
Too bad you won't find out until after spending your hard earned cash. And since you often cannot return opened games, you will probably sit on a turd, so in order to strengthen the trust of the consumer in a product, the publisher better reserve cash for a demo, if the game is good that is :).
Maybe someone should build a business around creating a wrapper for the game executables, that turn them into timed demos and after entering a serial (buy from the website, or wherever), the wrapper unpacks the executable and you have a full game. Biggest hurdle: Provide enough encryption and checks to prevent a 0day release thanks to you own demo :).

liongames wrote:

A person can come into my store and buy used dvds for $5.99 and $7.99neach, for stuff that just came off my new release wall. Would you rather pay $8 for the original, or spend 3 to 4 hours downloading a huge file? At 8 bucks most people I think would tend to buy the original. Now make that movie 30 bucks, or someone downloads it for free, and I feel many people will be downloading the movie on the net. I don't think you can blame the consumer 100% here, as we all have been sold a bag of crap one time or another. That doesn't make piracy right I just feel that combination could contribute something to the equation. I do know Piracy cost the movie industry billions every year.

Problem is that mostly you cannot drop the retail price of the game to such levels due to licensing and production costs you have to pay from each copy sold, but you have a point there and I too believe that the retail price of most games is way too high.

Later on in the cycle budget game publishers probably can get to such levels, by paying the original publisher a fixed sum in order for an allowance to republish the title and then hope to make that money back plus some extra cash. But then the developer sees nothing of that money, plus the original publisher probably has already written that game off financially, so it does not add to the financial result of the game anymore. I don't know how widespread the fix sum negotiation is though, or if the publishers rather agree on a payment based on copies sold, which makes sense for a high profile title at least.

*Legion* wrote:

[...] and we see gaming starting to find ways to give old titles more legs (Xbox Live Arcade, Virtual Console, GameTap, etc). At the same time, a business model with flaws does not let piracy off the hook, and certainly doesn't excuse it.

Dave Perry gave an interview to a german IT news site ( golem.de, if I can find the time I will post a synopsis later on) and while I despise the view on game development work environment that he endorses - he basically said that the chinese are catching up and that the devs in the US and EU better get accustomed to the working standards of the chinese or be done with - I found the idea he funded two MMOs on at least worth a closer look:

Basically they give away the game for free, but you have to pay a yet unspecified amount to get anything but the most basic stuff. His argument is that you cannot pirate a "free" game, and he hopes to get his money back by the purchases of additional content to the users. This business model needs a very patient investor though :). Also you will have a hard time as a single player developer, but in his view these are a thing of the past. Many points worth discussing in his interview, but at least he provokes some thoughts.

chrisg wrote:

Dave Perry

Speaking of bad games with no demo! (Enter the Matrix) I have no respect for Dave Perry, forever. He drops that unfinished junk on us, then starts a consulting company to teach other people how to make games? That's the job of a Will Wright, or a Cliffy B, or ANYONE but Perry. And don't anyone get me started on a hard launch date and how it wasn't his choice - knowing the ship date months in advance means that you have no excuse for not planning around it.

Games like EtM are exactly the kind of trust-destroying bunk that lead some people to pirate (which I'm still not advocating). The frequent tendency of publishers to put out unfinished products means that when it comes to the industry as a whole, I have little sympathy for their problems. Yes, there are good guys, and I shouldn't lump them all together, but I'm still smarting over getting Daggerfall back when I didn't have all the money in the world to buy every game out there. I paid full price for something that was unplayable. You NEVER get sold a car that doesn't have a rear axle, or can't go faster than 45mph. You NEVER buy a CD where half of one of the songs is just missing, or doesn't have drums on it, etc. I'm not saying those industries are saints, but the video game world's tendency to push games out early is inexcusable. I have no tears for the industry as a whole (Eastside Hockey Manager, however, may be a legitimate tragedy).

Ultimately, I think that the game-makers can fix most of the problems with piracy themselves through various online components, digital distribution, etc. It probably won't ever be completely eliminated, and they'll have to change the way they do business. And that's fine. In the meantime, I'll reserve my sympathy for everyone who's bought their unfinished products.

/totally unexpected rant

Looks like Funcom is throwing in their 2 cents into the piracy discussion.

Funcom, the developer behind the adventure game classics The Longest Journey and Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, have announced their decision to stop producing traditional, offline PC games... who previously have mentioned MMOs and adventure games as their primary focus, blames piracy as the reason for the decision.
According to Funcom's Trond Arne Aas, there had been over 200,000 illegal downloads of Dreamfall, even before its release last year. Also, he estimates that for each PC game that is sold, between 3 and 10 times as many is stolen, thus resulting in Funcom's decision to stop producing offline PC games.

They just announced like two weeks ago that Dreamfall is going to continue in an episodic format. I think that means that the series is going to go to digital distribution. The way that badly-worded article describes it can make it sound like they are abandoning the adventure genre which I don't think they are. Unfortunately, I think developers jumping on the "piracy is the reason any game that fails does so" bandwagon is going to happen more over the next while with Todd Hollenshead's speech. I would like to see some actual analysis that proves the claim of 200,000 illegal downloads and the 3-10:1 ratio of games pirated versus games bought. Those sound very much like numbers pulled from thin air as there is no concrete way to track the illegal downloading of anything. If there was, it would be a lot harder to do.

Parallax Abstraction wrote:

Those sound very much like numbers pulled from thin air as there is no concrete way to track the illegal downloading of anything. If there was, it would be a lot harder to do.

It's very easy to track how many times a torrent has been downloaded.

Not with accuracy no. Particular since most warez sites are now using encryption to disguise the traffic. If they are just using the numbers off the torrent site's page, that's not at all concrete.

magnus wrote:

If we're going off-topic to movies, I'd like to add the fact that I used to buy 10-20 DVDs per month. I stopped the minute the HD war begun, as I don't want to re-buy movies until the war is over. Haven't bought a DVD in over a year. (thankyou, MS for MCE).

I agree with 100%. I stop collecting movies also because I dont want to rebuy them and I own video stores. Sometimes the studio heads never cease to amaze me because they hold high positions in the company and can't see past the end of their noses.

Something tells me Eastside Hockey manager would have bombed (say on the 360) without the rampant piracy.

Piracy is a fact of life. If you want to combat it then lower prices and make high quality games.

They say most people don't play more than a couple hours of an average game anyway. What does that mean? IT means people are samplers. They like to check out games, but most don't interest them for very long. So create a business model to fit that behavior.

Either lower prices or come up with a subscription model. IN effect this is what Gamefly and the used games business do anyway.

Hell you should offer the core game for $10 and then offer all the extra features for extra $$$$. That would let people sample games on the cheap and if they find something they like they can shell out the dough for more content/features/options.

trip1eX wrote:

Hell you should offer the core game for $10 and then offer all the extra features for extra $$$$. That would let people sample games

Heh. Watch this happen on the 360. Except for the fact that $10 will still be $60.

This is where I admit that the game industry is in a real catch 22. I don't want to pay $70 for an 8 hour game and those are the titles I rent rather than buy. However, I also don't think charging half that and nickel and diming me to death with micro-transactions is the way to go either. Particularly because every game that's heavily relied on micro-transactions so far has ended up being far more expensive in the end. Gamers in general (particularly on the 360) have a very short attention span and if you give them only a minimal amount of content to start with, they are more likely to get bored of your titles quickly and move on than if you give them a completely game up front and charge to expand it. If Crackdown (my running example of a game that doesn't have enough content to be worth the price of admission) shipped for $25 but only had one city segment and one gang and you paid to unlock the additional ones, I likely wouldn't have bought it at all and if I did, I don't think I would've gone past the first gang. When I had all the content, I felt that it was already there and I did want to finish the game so I continued on. But if faced with the possibility of paying a second time (even if it wasn't as much) to continue on, I may have paused to think about it.

Though I've taken the tough "stop whining" stance against Todd Hollenshead et al., I do feel the developers pain and I've no doubt that while many people who pirate wouldn't buy the games anyway, there is definitely lost revenue among them. I do know what it's like to work hard on something and I feel that these guys deserve success (well, at least the ones who actually make good games.) I just don't believe that using piracy as a blanket solution for why a title doesn't succeed is valid and I see many developers using piracy as an excuse to justify any commercial failure. I loved Dreamfall and bought it but that game tanked commercially because there was very little game to it and it was in a genre that no one plays anymore -- which the reviews reflected. I honestly think that title got more exposure through the piracy than it ever would have had if it wasn't possible to pirate it. Piracy is an unfortunate cost of doing business (just like having to eat losses from people being stupid is in my line of work) and rather than spending money on DRM measures that only punish the legitimate, paying customers, the development community needs to find a way to work within the limitations it places on them. I tell you, every time I buy a game and have to spend 30 minutes finding and applying a crack so I don't have to have the disc in every time, my desire to buy another game from that company drops a little bit.

SwampYankee wrote:

If you listen to the developers at 1C (IL Stormovik, Pacific Fighters), they are almost out of business because of piracy. Some of the best in depth flight sims ever made, and they almost can't survive because of thieves. What else needs to be said?

I know I am late to the conversation, but who plays flight sims in North America anymore Swampy? IL was a great freaking game (yes I bought it to try it) but it is not like it had a big market here.

And aren't those dev's blaming the piracy on Eastern Europe and Asia, where these games have more of a fan base? Perhaps the problem is cultural?

I agree with most of the posts here. Make good games and they will sell in North America and Europe. Don't burden us with Starforce, Steam, etc.

Some of the following points have been brought up in this thread earlier, but for the life of me I cannot find them. Still, here is my $0.02 on the matter.

I have no sympathy for developers and publishers who claim that piracy is the main contributing factor to their declining sales of games. I believe it is a crock of sh*t to say that piracy is dragging down the PC industry. I do believe that piracy does impact sales, but not the extent that developers and publishers say. To believe that for every downloaded game is a lost sale is wrong and a belief that people hide behind to justify more stringent copy protection systems or to make the effect of piracy seem worse than it is. Somebody on the fourms here (I think it is Minase) has a quote from Warren Spector in his sig saying how Warren never minded piracy because chances are that person was never going to buy that game to begin with.

The PC video game industry is itself the main reason why sales are declining. In no other media form are products allowed to ship and be purchased as the state at which some PC titles are in. When I purchase a CD, DVD, book, or any consumer product I expect the damn thing to work. If it does not work, I should be able to return the item for a new one or a refund. When I purchase a PC game (and I am by no means painting with a broad strokes here and saying all of them are bad), it can be at times a roll of the dice to see if it works on my system. PC games have been shipped with crippling bugs, errors, and f*cking flat out missing content which people pay for. For the majority of other goods and services than can be purchased, this would be considered unacceptable. For the PC gaming industry, this is business as usual. I expect by no means to have every PC game run flawlessly on every computer upon launch, but when your game lacks god damn content (reaching back here, but the Star Trek:DS9 Dominion Wars game touted a new kind of Federation ship in the game that was finally patched in 6 months later), does not support one of the major video cards brands (Metal Gear Sold 2 for the PC did not support ATI cards at launch. I was floored when I read that on the box of the game), or is far, from being finished (see Vanguard, Vampire The Masquerade, or Battlefield 2), do not act surprised when the people you are selling this stuff to get jaded. Add in on top of all that that the many PC games are designed for high end hardware that only a small percent of the target demographic have in order to run well, then you further alienate more and more customers. I was myself strictly a PC gamer for a long time. I finally got fed up with when I kept spending $500 every year just to keep my computer at just below mid range and bought a 360.

Copy protection is a useless layer of DRM that hurts more than it helps. Every form of copy protection has been broken and cracked, even the infamous Starforce. If people want to pirate your games, they will. More developers are realizing this now, and while I think it would be hard to prove that removing copy protection will increase sales, it certainly will not hurt. I applaud the developer Relic for their smart, sensible approach to their bare bones (if any at all) copy protection policy. The original Dawn of War shipped with CureRom copy protection, as did the expansion Winter Assault. Well after Winter Assault was on the shelves, they patched out the CureRom copy protection, and dropped it all together (I think, I could be wrong and if I am someone please correct me) for the next expansion Dark Crusade. Company of Heroes also shipped with very lax copy protection as well. Even without copy protection, all these games sold well.

In the end, the PC industry has only itself to blame for the lack of sales. Piracy hurts yes, but not to the extent that the industry claims. Don't piss in my ear and tell me its raining by claiming you game did not sell well due to piracy when the damn thing probably shipped in a pre-beta state.

I think Dr_J makes a few good points. I've been nearly PC only with games for over a decade. I download occasionally, more-or-less just to see how games will run on my machine. I've never had a top-of-the-line system, and with the inability to take games back, I just can't risk spending what little money I have on games I have no chance to play or enjoy playing due to hardware/software issues. If a game runs well, and I'm interested in it, I'll probably pick it up once it hits a bargain bin or at least goes down in price.

There have been many games I've heard where the developers said piracy killed them. Lock On, as previously mentioned, didn't do well in sales. I can tell you, I cracked it (yes, it has starforce, and yes, it's a Female Doggo to get around), and there's just no way that piracy played a big part in it's failure. I've been messing with computers for years now, and know most of the tricks to break DRM. It took me 4 hours to figure that game out, and that was with a guide telling me how to mount it, and what to disable for the DRM not to go nuts. Normal computer users have very little chances of getting a copy of that to run. Very little.

The biggest problem that game had was that it was marketed for 800HMz+ machines with pretty standard low-end hardware (bare minimum requirements, which, in my mind, means playable at lowest settings), but even a 3.2GHz system with top-of-the-line hardware lagged. I couldn't get a plane off the ground on a 1.1GHz system with decent low-end hardware (all exceeding the requirements) with everything turned off, and the game was still too laggy to enjoy on a 2.26GHz system (again with decent hardware) later on when I tried it again.

The PC gaming industry needs to wake up and realize it's killing itself. PC games have always required more work to play than consoles. With consoles, you buy the hardware, and anything marketed for it should work. If it doesn't, you take it back, because either the game is defective or your machine is. With PC games, even if all your hardware is working, and all your software is compatible, and the game disk is in pristine condition... you still have game-breaking bugs that completely ruin the product half the time. Then you have to wait for a patch to come out, and hope that it fixes the game for your system. If it still doesn't work... well... tough noogies, because you can't get your money back.

The best systems I've seen to really break piracy, as someone else has mentioned, is to make it nigh impossible to play the game with others without a legal copy of the game. It's a form of protection that can net sales from pirates who are stopped dead in their tracks when they try to sign onto a network, but really love the game and want to play it multiplayer, and keeps the rest of the paying players from having to deal with imposing security measures. I know Sierra likes to use checksums, which work amazingly well. Me and someone else were using cracked copies of HW2 back during our little revival, and we had to get Vrikk to crack his before we could do anything. NWN used those limited CD keys that couldn't be generated. If you had a legal one, you inputed it, and you were good to go. If you didn't, you were SOL.

Dr._J wrote:

To believe that for every downloaded game is a lost sale is wrong and a belief that people hide behind to justify more stringent copy protection systems or to make the effect of piracy seem worse than it is.

I see their point on this. The amount of games available to pirate is staggering. Yet even when I did pirate a game I was selective. I didn't just pirate a game cause it was out there and free. I only pirated those games I had an interest in already. If liked it enough I would buy it, if not I just forgot about it. So in my case it did cost them sales. If I wasn't able to check it out beforehand I would've most likely bought it and been disapointed.

Pirating has helped cut down on my impulse buying. Thats gotta hurt for them.

Also what has to hurt them is consoles have stolen me away from pcgaming. I haven't subscribed to a mmo in over 2 yrs, and the last game I bought was NWN2. Before that it was Auto Assault(friend talked me into it.) It use to be my pc game purchases always outnumbered my console purchases, but recently it has switched.

Dr._J wrote:

PC games have been shipped with crippling bugs, errors, and f*cking flat out missing content which people pay for.

I actually bought a game long ago that had multiplayer features listed on the box, but upon opening there was a piece of paper explaining that it didn't have it but would be patched in. I want to say it was a Might and Magic game but honestly I don't remember what it was. I do remember not being able to return it to the store though.

This thread has taught me that pirating is A-OK. Thanks, trusty Buccaneers of the internet!

I don't see this thread expressing that opinion in any kind of majority. I think most people agree that pirating is wrong, we're just sick of seeing developers whine about it as if it's the only reason for any game that fails, rather than admit maybe they have some faults of their own.

The irony is that we as gamers can sit here and rail against the Publishers and Developers for blaming piracy and how wrong they are until the day they simply stop making PC games.. and then guess what we're the ones that get hurt in the end. Already the PC gaming market is a shadow of what it used to be.. remove WoW, The Sims, and a handful of other franchises and your left with a bunch of niche titles with dubious production values.

I'm thankful for PC devs like Blizzard, Valve, and Bioware amongst a few others for still attempting to push the envelope on the PC side.. because if I was in their shoes I'd drop PC gaming like a bad habit.. it just simply doesnt make good business sense anymore.

We'll see how well Quake Wars sells.. I think that may be the final barometer on whether or not we continue to see big AAA Online FPS's that are PC first Console second.... it may be after that title its forever and permanently reversed.

I've seen little from Microsoft and their Windows Gaming Platform to let me believe that anything is going to come out from that.. the whole numbering thing that was supposed to remove the mystery about what and how a particular game would run on a particular system seems completely absent from the few Games for Windows boxes I've seen.

The PC gaming industry needs to wake up and realize it's killing itself.

They are. Well, they recognize that, due to many circumstances including piracy and the escalating costs of game production, developing solely for the PC doesn't make fiscal sense.

TheGameguru wrote:

The irony is that we as gamers can sit here and rail against the Publishers and Developers for blaming piracy and how wrong they are until the day they simply stop making PC games.. and then guess what we're the ones that get hurt in the end.

If it comes down to a bunch of people in their garage there will be pc games being made. Even more so if all the big developers stopped. I'd actually like to see all the indie games that would pop up if that happened.

MoonDragon wrote:
SwampYankee wrote:

Azure, can't they just wait for a review instead of stealing it to "try it out?" Really, I think that the argument that people steal games because companies might fool them into buying a stinker hold no water. You could make the same argument for any commodity, a meal, music, etc. The way to defend yourself against getting taken by a company is to research the product before buying it, not stealing it then deciding if you wanted to pay for it.

Someone already brought up the issue of reading magazines/books in your local bookstore before buying them. Is that not a form of stealing? God knows I've perused many a magazine on the shelves before I finally settled on one, once a blue moon. Technically, I stole the content from all the others I did not buy. The thing is, I did not buy them because the content they had was crap and not worth my money.

Same goes for CDs in most major media outlets. These days you can walk into a store, pick up a CD, scan it, and a database will play it for you. In full. Not just little 10s demo clips. In a way that is stealing the content of that CD as well. In my mind, it is analogous to downloading a game, installing it, playing it for a day and then uninstalling it. After that, decide if the game/CD is worth your money or not. Unfortunately there is no legal analogous way of trying out game software. All that is available to us are loaded demos and sold-out reviewers.

I don't agree with your comparisons. Magazines are placed on the shelf, and unless sealed there is no LAW against your reading it at the shelf. If you were comparing stealing a game to walking out of the store without paying for the magazine, reading it on your sh*tter, then bringing it back to the store you'd have a better comparison. The fact that the magazine is not shrink wrapped is implied consent that the publisher is OK with someone leafing through it at the rack.

As for the comparison to listening to music at a kiosk designed for exactly that....hardly theft unless you are taping it out of the earphones and then bringing it home to burn to a CD.

I see a lot of defenses of the behavior. I guess we will have to agree to disagree. I always believed if it wasn't yours you had no right to steal it regardless of how you might justify your behavior to yourself.