If you’re a gamer in India, you know that this place is a hotbed for piracy to the point that if you go up to an official Sony showroom in some small town, they’ll offer to crack your PlayStation 3 or PSP for a fee, and that’s just speaking of small towns. Even in cities like Delhi, Kolkata or Mumbai, you’ll find street side stalls selling pirated PC games for a nominal fee with zero guarantee that the games you buy from there will actually run to begin with. Every single gamer I’ve come to know in India was a pirate at one point or the other in their gaming life, including myself. But is piracy something that’ll never go away from the Indian gaming scene?
Well for one thing, a lot of people in India are misinformed about video games and this is a pretty common issue. Not only do the older generations of people, who are mostly parents of the current generation of Indian gamers, believe that video games are nothing but a waste of time which is why some go ahead to actively support piracy in order to save money by not spending on “original games” which aren’t much different from pirated games other than the fancy packaging that the original ones get. I would know because my parents did this. But that’s only one of the few reasons, and not even one of the major ones, as to why piracy is propagated in India and is still thriving in this country, if we’re ever going to be a country free of piracy (That’s definitely not happening but maybe we can tone it down a little?), we will need to understand the causes of piracy to begin with. So what are the main reasons piracy exists in India?
Lack of Awareness:
I say this mostly because if Piracy was only because of financial reasons, we wouldn’t see people buying pirated games from street-side vendors at prices that are much higher than prices of a lot of games during Steam Sales. It might come as a surprise to most people but today there are actually quite a few ways to obtain original games at a much cheaper price compared to buying their pirated counter parts from street vendors across India (Such as Humblebundle.com and previously mentioned, Steam Sales!), there are even ways to obtain full games for the price of nothing, as in you can get games for free if you’ve eagle eyed vision and you know where to look for them. Origin is probably one of the most well known places on the internetz right now where you can get free games, along with websites like Bundle Stars, GOG (Good Old Games) and others who also do frequent giveaways.
Lack of Infrastructure & Proper Internet:
Everyone who uses BSNL is probably nodding their heads simultaneously while reading this. We have companies offering us 3G plans which aren’t actually 3G and we’ve ISPs like BSNL, whom we are better off without to begin with. Unlimited plans in most cities outside your closest metropolitan city is highly expensive or not available to begin with and even if you’re lucky enough to get a hold of one, most don’t offer you the speed you require to play or buy games online. If you’re lucky, you might live in a city with a private ISP but they probably want to charge you a hand and a leg to give you what you want… and that’s for the initial days. Service is never a guarantee for the most part and all of this combined, makes buying video games and registering them online (Since most games have DRM or always online requirement these days) near impossible or frustrating to say the least.
No leaders In The Industry:
Whether you agree or not, we don’t have enough dedicated media websites covering the game industry in India nor do we have famous personalities such as TotalBiscuit or Jimquisition in the industry who can tell their fellow Indian gamers in this country not to pirate video games and also what the side effects of piracy entail. Having role models is always important and they can honestly be anyone in the industry today, however, people need to step up for that role and not sit back and expect it to happen.
No Sense of Community:
In my opinion, I do think that the lack of a unified community of Indian gamers, or even a connected community of gamers, leads to most gamers becoming pirates. About two years ago, I got into a Facebook Group called Serial Gamers where I met a large community of Indian gamers most of whom were buying games instead of pirating them, something I never thought I’d live to see. Because of said community I even noticed that there were quite a few pirates who actually went ahead and started buying games because they wanted to play online with their fellow gamers, show off achievement points and not seem like scum for pirating a game to their gaming buddies.
Well, these are just but a few reasons that might explain as to why piracy is still propagated in India and if you feel that I missed on something, feel free to inform me in the comments below or Tweet to me @Legacyofashes (yes, tweet, because I’m trying to active on Twitter and shit.)