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What is the Difference Between Piracy and Buying Used Games?

On 09/06/2013 at 09:54 AM by Blake Turner

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Ooh boy. Controversial question. The main issue people have with piracy is that no money is going to the developer. This is the same with used games, and yet we wholly accept this, and even fight for it. We do both for the same reason, to save money. So can someone answer what the difference is, morally speaking?




09/06/2013 at 10:02 AM

I think the main issue with piracy is your getting games for free illegaly with used games sure there not going to the developers but your still paying but piracy is theft and its morally wrong but I have done it so to not be a hypacrit if you can get it for free why pay unless you have a conscious lol!!!


09/06/2013 at 11:01 AM

Good question.  Looking past the fact that one is legal and one isn’t, they are quite similar in that the actual creators of the work don’t get paid either way (at least not directly).  But they are different in other ways.  The simplest and most obvious reason being that a great deal of the time (although I know there are exceptions) people that sell used games use that money to buy other games, therefore still helping the industry.

 But you asked about the moral aspect.  I’ve never really thought about it before, so this is kind of the top of my head.  This could be a really in-depth and interesting discussion (which I don’t really have time for), but to put it simply, societies have pretty much always ran on trade of goods and services.  Trade of used goods still benefits people, whether they are the original creators of the goods or not.  The seller can go on and spend that money on something else they want or need, while the buyer gets the goods they want at a (typically) cheaper price.  For a (potential) buyer to take themselves out of that equation but to still take the benefits of that society makes it morally questionable, in my opinion.

But in comparison to other things that rank as morally wrong in my mind, pirating games ranks really low on the list.  I just wanted to weigh in since I thought this was an interesting question.

Jonathan Drake

09/06/2013 at 12:16 PM

A damn fine point, sir. 

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/07/2013 at 12:34 AM

Yeah, but the same argument can be used for piracy. "If I pirate this game from Activision or EA, I can finance a game by a company I like!" What's the difference?


09/07/2013 at 01:04 AM
I don't follow your reply at all.  How is piracy the same?  If you justify it because you're giving money to the company you "like" more, how is that not still going against what I said?  That attitude is still screwing someone.  You're still taking somebody's product without paying anybody for it.  Your justification may be "I like this company more, so I'm giving them my money," but that's still just a justification.  You're still taking and using the product of the company you claim to not like.

And maybe not you specifically, but a certain percentage of the people who use that justification would have bought that game if pirating wasn't an option, whether the game was used or not (and therefore benefitting someone, no matter if it was the original creator nor not).  So yes, it hurts people in a different way than used games do.
Again, I think digital piracy is a minor crime.  I don't typically judge people for it.  I just think you're getting pretty beligerent in your cavilier attitiude to justify it.  I'm sorry if that's comes across as rude.  I'm a little drunk right now.  I actually kind of want to erase what  I wrote right now, but I won't.  I'll just go ahead and say I think you're a pretty cool person as far as I can tell.  I really don't judge you harshly for pirating games.  I admit that I used to do it too.  I just don't think the same way about the subject nowadays.

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/07/2013 at 01:19 AM

I'm not defending piracy. I was speaking specifically of your statement that saving money on a new game can be used to finance another new game. I just using that same logic and applying to piracy. You're right, in both cases, you are still screwing somebody. That is what I was trying to say anyway, I may not have worded it right though.

 Also, if you have ever something to say about me say it. You're both reasonable and generally polite so I won't take offense to it :p, and will either see your point or explain myself if need be.

 As for me pirating? Not really anymore. I used to be heavily into piracy. I used to also be heavily into used games. I'm not condemning either party, because I've done both. Now however, I buy new, but that's because on PC I get new games that are so fucking cheap it's beyonf belief. I don't blame people who buy used games, because they are going off the same logic that I am.

 The problem lies with the retailers, and their refusal to mark down prices on new games, forcing people who can't afford them into buying used games. Those are my thoughts anyway.



09/07/2013 at 01:36 AM

Blake all he's saying is piracy is theft your getting something for free thats not going back into the gaming industry but like I said I have done it and im not a hypacrit so im not trying to justify it or fault it im just saying lol!!

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/07/2013 at 02:06 AM

Lee, I'm arguing with the point he made about using the money saved on used games to fund new games.


09/07/2013 at 02:15 AM

Oh I see lol I should have quit while I was ahead lol!!


09/07/2013 at 09:23 AM

If someone really is going to buy one game, and therefore buys one and pirates one, I agree that it doesn't hurt the industry at all.  It's still morally questionable, in my opinion, but not really all that bad. 

But I think the question really becomes would you really have only bought one game if you didn't feel piracy was okay?  Maybe once you beat that game you actually paid for, you would then want that other one, and would have sacrificed something else in your life you didn't want as much to get the money to pay for it.

Also, (this is not directed at you speficially, it's just my thoughts on piracy in general) I think that piracy has kind devalued the worth of games in many people minds. You see it all the time on internet boards, things like "$15 for that game?  Fuck it, I'll just pirate it." 


09/07/2013 at 07:48 PM

I'm not sure if it is the same in Australia, but I know the gamestops in America don't really set the price on new games. Price points and sales are, for the most part, dictated by the publisher. Gamestop makes very little money on new product. Without used game sales gamestop no longer exists. If they chose to discount the new games on their own they would take a loss on them. 

I can't defend their used game pricing because I think it can usually be pretty awful at times, but you can't blame them for not reducing new game prices. I know what your thinking, "Wal-Mart and other big box retailers can reduce their prices more." Remember that big box stores aren't in the video games industry per se. Games get people into their stores. People come in their stores, and they buy a bunch more crap that is jacked to high heaven, and possibly a game for their kid. It is just another draw.  

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/08/2013 at 12:01 PM

Yeah, I didn't know that. So my stance is this: Buying Used games is fine. However, my problem is with how they are pushed. I know some people on here are saying they've never been pushed onto them, but whatever. Retailers are trained to offer a used game over a new game, telling them that they will save 5 bucks or whatever, and trying to say that it's pretty much the same. I've been confronted with this multiple times, and they make it seem like you'd have to be an idiot to take the new copy.

 Piracy is stealing, there's no ifs or buts about it. One is legal, the other is illegal. Both hurt gaming though.


09/08/2013 at 09:07 PM

Yeah. That also depends on the clerk you get though. The hard part about saying "Gamestop does this" is that everyone gets a different employee. It just depends on how hardcore that person is to the GameStop tenants. 


09/06/2013 at 11:34 AM

I've financed many a new game with trade-ins and sales of used games--something you can't do with pirated stuff. So I don't really buy the argument that they don't see any money from it.

At the same time, I'd have no problem buying digitally if we saw better pricing. As much as I love Steam sales, I don't see why digital copy should EVER match the price at retail to begin with. Other than publishers wanting to pocket the difference...

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/06/2013 at 10:01 PM

So? People have financed new games by pirating. Both save money that can be spent on other new games. That's not a justification.

 And what? Digital copies are exactly the same as physical copies, only difference is you don't get a box.


09/07/2013 at 08:14 PM

I would say that the games industry is hurt by piracy way more than you think it is compared to used games. Everyone loves to wave the "I would buy it if I really liked the company" flag, but then why does that give you the right to pirate everyone else's game. No money changes hands. No economy is helped. I don't like carrots. Does that give me the right to steal carrots as long as I buy potatos cause I like them? Besides there are a few people that pirate games that buy them also, but not many of them. I found a study that shows that piracy isn't as crazy as the publishers would have you believe, but there are still millions of games being pirated. This is the Wired article that broke the study down, and there is a link to the actual study if you want to read that in the article. 

If Gamestop stops selling used games they go out of business, and fourty to fifty thousand people lose their jobs. There's also 4,000 less places for developers to sell their games. It isn't a small issue. There are nuances that you have to look at. 

Also remember that we aren't just talking about big developers/publishers. The little guys are taking a hit on these as well. It wasn't all that long ago that we were able to talk about this:

If people are downloading indie games illegally then what is the point. It can drive away some of the brightest if the cost becomes to high. I don't think that piracy is the worst thing in the world, but I think it would be very niave to think that everyone who is pirating is a good boy/girl scout, and will buy the game as soon as they get the money. 

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/08/2013 at 12:06 PM

 Yeah I do tend to agree, this is a very touchy issue, and I know retailers push used copies because they make fuck all out of a new sale. However, I don't think that makes it right to try and stop as many new sales as possible. That is kind of bullshit.

 As for piracy... I'd go out on a limb and say that a lot of people who pirate games are college students. We have a network on here with movies, tv shows and music that people share, and I've heard that's the case in a lot of places. It's just kind of something that's taken as normal at colleges, regardless of whether it's wrong or not.


09/08/2013 at 09:12 PM

That I totally agree with. Every time I think of game pirates I immediately think of high school/college students. They have little money and many (not all) don't often think about who they may be hurting. It wasn't until I got into my film degree courses that I realized how much work into each form of entertainment. How much money went into it. And how much pirating can hurt. I refuse to do it now, and I am still broke. I just prioratize what I want to spend my money on. Sometimes it is a game, and sometimes it is something else.

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/09/2013 at 02:52 AM

Yeah, look, If I'm honest I still pirate tv shows while they're on tv, otherwise I'd have to wait like a year to see game of thrones and breaking bad here. But I ALWAYS buy the dvd when they come out. I've got the GoT boxset, and all of the breaking bad dvds, all of the community dvds (except season 4...) 

 I pirated quite a few games last year. Then I read up on how much harm it was doing and sorta stopped. The only games I have pirated this year are the pc games lost in a house fire, which since I already owned and paid money for I don't see a problem with. Also, now there are so many f2p games out there it's kinda crazy!


09/12/2013 at 04:41 PM

I definitely don't have a problem with your lost in fire pirating. That makes a lot of sense to me.

Super Step Contributing Writer

09/09/2013 at 12:16 AM

Hold the fuck on, you don't like carrots?! 


09/12/2013 at 04:41 PM

Nah. I hate the taste unless they are in stews. Not tasty.


09/06/2013 at 01:29 PM

Well, at least buying a used game takes a used game off the market and makes it more likely the next shopper will go new. And of course, many older games can only be bought used anyway. Morally, I don't see nothing wrong with buying used games. Movies and books can be bought used and no one complains about that. What makes games so special?

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/06/2013 at 10:05 PM

 Movies and Cds are different. A movie makes the majority of it's money at the cinema. By the time the movie come out on dvd, a profit has generally already been made, so it doesn't matter as much.

 Bands go on tour and make more money that way then they would with a cd. Game retailers push used copies as soon as they become available, trying to take as much money from the devs as possible. Used games are game shop owners selling someone elses creation for their own profit without giving ANYTHING to the dev. That's the morally bankrupt part. And you support it.


09/07/2013 at 03:36 AM

The problem is the game industry has not yet adapted to used games. CDs used to be the vast majority of income for bands until the internet and piracy came into play. Now bands have adapted to the change by doing more touring. I still don't think music has even fully adapted to the reality that is piracy.

You also have to accept risks with buying used games (scratches that affect playablitiy, lack of online pass). These are the same kind of risks that come with buying anything used.

True Gamer At Heart

09/06/2013 at 01:32 PM

Currently with dlc there is a difference. If let's say if I buy gears of war 3, pirated then more likely I would not be able to get the dlc..Now If I bought a used legit copy of gears of war 3 then the company still does not get any money..But it does leave it open if I wanted a new stage, weapon or what not..I could do it using a legit used copy. That is the main difference for the current gaming world.


Another difference is you can sell or trade your legit copy of the game..I do not see that with a pirate copy of the game.


09/06/2013 at 03:14 PM

I actually have nothing to add to this.  Everyone before me made statements I would of made. Cool 

It does bother me that this is such an issue.  Like Halochief stated, "movies & books can be bought and no one complains".  Hell, you can buy damn near anything used and no one says shit about it.  Why is this an issue with games?  How are games different from any other form of hobby, entertainment, or art?  The used game issue is bullshit.  Publishers & developers just don't want to admit that they spent too much money making a game and they're expectations of the return were too high. 

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/06/2013 at 10:07 PM

This discussion isn't so much about you trading games with your friend or something. As I said previously, Movies have other ways to make money apart from dvd sales. Games don't. Used games are pushed from day one to take money away from the dev and give it all to the retailer. That sounds exactly like someone selling a pirated copy to me.


09/06/2013 at 10:42 PM

Sorry, but it's not.  No matter how it "sounds", the buying and selling of used games is not illegal.  Retailers buy their copies from the publishers.  The publishers made their money.  The publishers paid the developers to make the game.  What they all need to do is be more responsible with the money.  Yeah, movies can make money through other ways, but not all movies are created equal.  What about the movies that don't make it big at the box office?  Or movies that aren't picked up for play on television?  Like many independent movies.  And how about we forget about just movies for a second?  What about everything else?  Televisions.  Clothes.  Cars.  Dvd players.  Tires.  Furinture.  Music cds.  Toys.  Phones.  Clocks.  Books.  Blankets.  Stereos.  Tools.  What makes videogames any more special than these things?  Didn't people come together and put their hard work into making all that other stuff?  And, let's not forget that publishers get paid by game rentals companies and charge for dlc and overly expensive digital downloads to make more money.  

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/06/2013 at 11:07 PM

The problem isn't with the trading, but with how hard used games are pushed.


09/06/2013 at 11:31 PM

What exactly do you mean by "pushed"?  I buy games new & used all the time.  I don't have used games pushed on me.  I buy most of my games from the same GameStop.  The people that work there know I won't buy a used game to save $5, so maybe I don't get the pushed experience. 

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/06/2013 at 11:38 PM

 I have a friend who works at game, and he says that when they are training, they are directly told to try to sell used copies instead of new copies. If somebody is trying to buy a new copy, you are obliged to try and sell them a used copy by saying it's cheaper and it's basically the same thing. They constantly advertise used copies at every chance they get. 


09/07/2013 at 12:11 AM

If that's the case, then I can understand the problem.  In my town, there's a pawn shop law that also relates to GameStop and other shops that sell anything used.  Retailers have to hold used items for 30 days before the items can be resold.  It was created to prevent stolen goods from being resold.  It's probably another reason why I don't get a big push of used games on new released games.  

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/07/2013 at 12:32 AM

 Yeah, look. The problem isn't with pawn shops or anything. If it were just people trading their goods for other goods or cash and still buying new, there'd be no problem. It's just the state the industry is in now. A quote from the CEO of Ready at Dawn said this: "I'd love to see anything that can help distribution move quicker toward a 100 percent online model. It's not piracy but used games that are killing us." Piracy may be evil, but it's also hard to do, and is seen by many to be stealing, pushing many away. Used games on the other hand, makes people feel secure, because what they're doing is legal and accepted by society, but does the same amount of damage to the gaming industry when done on a large scale, which gaming retailers pretty much force to happen. 


09/07/2013 at 09:24 AM

Of course the CEO would say that.  He's passing his company's failure onto something else and it's not like he doesn't want to make more money.  It's funny how a lot the Japanese aren't making such a big deal about used games.  They have plenty of stores that sell used games.  These companies would love to have online distribution 100% because then they have control over everything.  I'm going to get a bit upset here.... THERE IS NO FUCKING REASON WHY A DIGITAL DOWNLOADED GAME SHOULD BE THE SAME PRICE AS A PHYSICAL GAME!!  THEY CUT COSTS IN DISTRIBUTION & PACKAGING ALONE!!  IT'S A FUCKING RIPOFF!!  PERIOD!!.  End upset.  The fact is they want to take away the control you have over the product you bought with your money.  They get your money and you get to "rent" the game.  Of course, this pretty much only applies to consoles, but it's not like pc games couldn't have something similar happen to them down the road, once the console model is enforced.  You can't sell, trade, or even let a friend borrow a freaking game without bullshit to go through.  Even with Microsoft's Xbox One, they wanted to charge you to do things with property you already owned!  Stuff you can do for free with physcial games.  

And, it's not that hard to steal games.  Stealing pc games is freaking easy.  I could train a monkey to steal a pc game.  Stealing console games requires opening the system and soldering mod chips and shit and sometimes you can only use certain programs to burn disc images.   

You see these people as honest and genuine and see them as trying to make as much money as they can.  The direction they are going is set up to fuck us.  I don't have a problem with digital downloads if these bastards wouldn't trying to screw me over at every turn.  I understand wanting to make more money, but I want control over the property I legally paid for and own.  They cross that line, then fuck them.  

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/07/2013 at 10:46 AM

Stealing a game on pc is easy? When was the last time you tried? It's easy for someone who knows how, but to a normal gamer? Fuck no. If the game has any form of drm then you need to know how to install cracks, how to deal with isos, use virtual disks, and if it needs online verification, how to disable your firewalls and so on and so forth. It is easier than stealing a game on a console, yeah, but it's far from easy.

  "THERE IS NO FUCKING REASON WHY A DIGITAL DOWNLOADED GAME SHOULD BE THE SAME PRICE AS A PHYSICAL GAME!!  THEY CUT COSTS IN DISTRIBUTION & PACKAGING ALONE!!  IT'S A FUCKING RIPOFF!!  PERIOD!!" No argument there. They have to pay a fee to get it onto the digital distributor, but that's a one time fee. However, I feel the discounts we get on PC kind of justify it. I mean I got Skyrim for 15 bucks less than a year after it came out.

 I also agree with everything else, but there is a difference between wanting every dime from you and just wanting money from the purchases, and both piracy and used games take away from that.



09/07/2013 at 11:20 AM

Dude, PC stealing is basically software.  Yeah, the average joe couldn't do it, but give them a day and you got a pro.  If they already have a decent PC, they don't even need to buy anything.  You ever thought about how easy it is to put every videogame console from the beginning of time to the N64, PS, SAT, & DC era on to your PC with all the thousands of games included?  All you need is the internet and the right websites and you're set.  Give me 30min and I'll have thousands of games. Laughing 

I will admit, digital distribution on pc is awesome.  Damn shame it's the opposite on consoles.  There are games on PSN and XBL that are years old still at retail (or close to it) price.  The physical copies are under $20.  If physical games are fazed out and this expensive digital game shit continues, console gaming is screwed.  

The thing is, they want more money from a product I already own.  I seriously don't understand why publishers don't sell more games themselves.  Retailers order games from publishers.  The games we see on the shelves are already paid for.  Retailers know what to order by the number of preorders they receive and they estimate the number of "walk-ins" that come into the store to buy the product.  Publishers make their money off sales and "maybe" sales.  Whether the game sells or not, the publishers still get paid.  Whether the game sells or not,  the developers get paid.  And I seriously doubt many developers get a lot of extra money if the game's a hit.   

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/07/2013 at 11:41 AM

Hey... Valve is releasing a console soon. If they do well enough to compete with sony and microsoft those two would HAVE to change things up because Valve would obliterate them in pricing. I doubt it will compete though tbh, but we can hope.

I think the thing to remember is that when steam launched it was fucking dreadful. I mean for like the first couple of years it just sucked. It took a long time to actually become what it is... so theres some more hope.

 Sorry I'm not replying to everything you said... but my head is too full of useless philosophy facts to argue with the rest. I've been trying to explain Plato's Theory of Forms is a synthesis of the philosophies of Heraclitus and Permanides for the last 7 hours so my brain is dead lol.


09/07/2013 at 12:37 PM

I hated philosophy in college.  It can go anywhere and I usually like to keep my arguements focused and somewhat grounded to what I know is real.  Or is it really? Laughing


09/06/2013 at 03:16 PM

Piracy is illegal COPIES of a game sold for profit, the developer only got money for the original. In the case of used games they got money for every copy on the original sale.

As far as I'm concerned if I buy a book, cd, dvd, or game, that single copy is mine and if I choose to sell it I should be able to. But if I took that  original copy and printed up 100 more and sold them, then that is wrong and fucked up.

But for publishers to act like it still belong to them is bs. It would be like if I decided to sell my car and Ford comes to me and say's " hold on there buddy, where is our cut. You bought the car but its our design."

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/06/2013 at 10:10 PM

Used games are pushed from day one to take money away from the dev and give it all to the retailer. That sounds exactly like someone selling a pirated copy to me. This isn't about you trading in games with your friends or whatever. This is about game retailers selling traded copies so that they get all the money and devs get nothing.



09/07/2013 at 01:54 AM

Thing is most people buy used games to save money. And for the most part even a used copy of a game that has only been out for a few months will often be maybe 5 bucks cheaper than new at best. If its a game I really want I'd rather cough up the extra 5 bucks and get a virgin copy. Which is supposedly what publishers and develpers are crying about, used games cutting into the sales of new games. But as I just mentioned there is no incintive to buy a used copy of a newish game because your not saving anything. So that kind of kills that argument for me. Plus even if you trade a used game for a new game or I should say a stack of used games for a single new game, that new copy is being paid for. Gamestop had to pay for it and they will make that money back and profit from reselling the trade-ins. The point is there is no gap, every original copy is being paid for once, which is fair. Honestly I think the real issue here is that Gamestop has a monopoly with this.They give you chump change for a trade or sell, and then mark the game price up to high heaven when they resell it. If anything I feel guilty when I buy a used game because I know the person who sold it or traded it in didn't get shit for it.


09/06/2013 at 04:13 PM

I've just seen the image at the end of two movies saying "Piracy is not a victimless crime". Companys die, and people loose jobs. There's so much free gaming to be had online, why ya gotta steal someone's hard work.


09/06/2013 at 06:23 PM

Yeah, there is a slew of free to play games. Heck, I even got the really good horror game "Cry Of Fear" for absolutely nothing!

However, "gaming piracy" isn't something I'd turn in a friend for or shame someone for. In my life I've seen very deplorable and heinous atrocities so maybe I'm disensitized to lesser crimes!

What would boil my blood more is someone taking credit for someone else's hard work.

Blake Turner Staff Writer

09/06/2013 at 10:11 PM

I've both pirated and bought new games. There was a time in my life where I thought I'd buy every game I pirated, and I tried to justify it. Now I only download tv shows and movies lol because fuck em, their industry isn't in as much peril as ours.


09/07/2013 at 02:29 AM

I used to do it for music, back when Napster was a thing. I got over it. I don't need every darn album under the sun.

Casey Curran Staff Writer

09/06/2013 at 09:13 PM

You still need to buy DLC with used games. So piracy is the more morally correct way.


09/06/2013 at 11:58 PM

If a game is being sold used then it already made its new sale buy by the previous  owner. The devs got their money from that game. Used is never pushed on me at GS, but I do buy used games occasinally so they know that ill ask the used price if I want it. I dont see it the same as piracy. Piracy to me is not paying anything at all to anyone. Completely free, which can get you jail time so Ill stick to buying my stuff from stores.


09/08/2013 at 01:28 AM

This sums it up perfectly. The publisher got all the money they're entitled to from that copy, per the First Sale Doctrine of the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 109, which is a critical consumer protection. For my part, I have never had a used copy pushed on me at GS. They've always given me a new, factory-sealed copy unless the game is completely out of print.


09/07/2013 at 01:25 AM

What is the difference between buying a used car and stealing one?

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