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Letter To The Editor: 'The Long And Short, Piracy Matters'

Is game piracy OK? Gamasutra has recently had further interesting feedback to some of our notable features and opinion pieces on that and other matters, as collected through our Letters to the
Gamasutra has recently had further interesting feedback to some of our notable features and opinion pieces, as collected through our Letters to the Editor, so here's the newest weekly roundup, with some of the reactions you might have missed. Click through on each link (free reg. req.) for the full Letter. The first letter comes in response to our Does Size Matter? feature on the length of games. Reader 'jspartan' writes in to say: "I think many devs are forgetting a most important part of what they are doing. That is they are not making games just for themselves, and just because they don't have the time or desire to play through an epic doesn't mean their potential audience won't. [...] I think the main reason for games getting shorter is due to the primary quest for graphical excellence. It takes a lot of effort and time to create all these next-gen graphics, and that has a price." The majority of the remaining letters all are in response to our recent provocative opinion piece by programmer McKay Salisbury claiming that game piracy might, in fact, encourage growth and sales in the industry, likening it to word-of-mouth marketing. Sean Bean says the justification of piracy to better inform a purchase is flawed: "It is one thing for a company to offer samples as a form of marketing, but entirely another for a person to take it upon themselves to steal under the guise of becoming an "informed consumer" and potential advocate. If you're so convinced that your opinions influence the purchasing habits of the masses, present that fact to the companies you steal from and they may just *pay* you to play their games." And while Beum-Ho Chung does seem to agree that there might be a point "concerning the high price point of video gaming as a hobby and its subsequent inaccessibility to unemployed youths or families in a lower income bracket," Chung says other options are available: "This holiday season, with new consoles being released and the next generation consoles showing up with several hundred dollar price tags, shouldn't the real story so far be the surprisingly high sales figures of PS2 and Gameboy Advance? The fact that these two platforms, though no longer in the spotlight, still seem to be selling well can be attributed in large part to their existence as a more affordable option for many. The success of lower priced gaming options would seem to be the industry's best weapon against the threat of piracy." Esequiel Garcia responds with hypotheticals to try and distinguish between rote piracy and the 'mixtape' effect: "If a gamer invites a friend over to let them play with the title that they purchased and he allows his friend to play the game all the way through, is that piracy? What if he lends him the game to play and isn’t present, what if he makes him a copy and isn’t playing the game for the time that his friend is, should in any of the examples above a person be required to fork over 0-70$ dollars to the publishing company so that he can get a feel for or enjoy the game his buddy purchased? What if someone who doesn’t even like games, buys them so that he can share them with his friends in the above manner? What if he shares the game with 1 person, what if its 10,000, but doesn’t see any monetary gain. What about the massive black market exploitation of interactive content?" And finally, Adam Martin writes in simply to reiterate the points he raised in his 2005 Gamasutra feature on piracy, adding: "I stand by everything in that piece, and think it is just as true today as it was last year, if not more so. The only major change I've seen is that since then the second-hand market in "used" games has become even more vibrant, and the mainstream companies have become even more protectionist about claiming its "bad" and "immoral" simply because they are failing to make any money out of the consumers they are overcharging." For more reactions to be read and responded to, visit our letters page.

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