On The Witness and digital piracy

I’ve always taken a harsh against pirating digital goods, and reading Jonathan Blow’s recent tweets about how many people have pirated The Witness just made me more angry about the situation.

For this particular game, the chief excuse seems to be “$40 is too high”.

I understand that some people may not be able to afford The Witness. But even if the price is too high for someone, it doesn’t mean the value proposition isn’t there — quite the opposite. The Witness has over 50 hours of content. It has sublime graphics, great gameplay, and runs well on both platforms it’s currently on. In my estimation, it’s one of the best puzzle games ever made. Just because you can’t afford it, it doesn’t mean it’s okay to not pay for it.

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The problem isn’t the $40 price tag. Price is just one in a long line of excuses pirates use to justify not paying for someone else’s work.

  • If a game has DRM: “I’m pirating it because I won’t tolerate DRM”
  • If a game is developed by a large company: “I’m pirating because company X doesn’t care about its customers”
  • If a game isn’t available on every platform under the sun: “I’m pirating because it’s not also available on X”
  • If a game isn’t available in every region yet: “I’m pirating because company X doesn’t give shit about country Y”
  • If the game has DLC: “I’m pirating because they want us to pay for stuff that should have been in the base game”

The list goes on and on. Examining it any further is a futile exercise. Piracy will continue regardless of  prevailing circumstances, because pirates are a bunch of self-entitled people that simply like free shit.