Piracy’s lesser known influence

A year ago or so I purchased a game called Battle Mania Daiginjou from eBay. It cost me quite a lot actually, around 200 dollars or so. At the time it was something around 150€, so the price wasn’t that bad for a rather rare Sega Mega Drive game. The game’s still awesome and it’s the most played game in my Mega Drive next to Thunderforce VI and Alisia Dragoon. How I got into Battle Mania is a simple and rather common story… in a way.

It’s no secret I have a soft-modded Wii for multiple purposes from backing up my saves and NAND, as well as other low-level stuff that I’ve forgotten. I really should play Monster Hinter again… Still, I wanted to try out the many emulators that Wii has, especially the PC-Engine emulator for some shooting game goodness. I had popped in numerous random games to the SD card to test the emulators, and the Mega Drive one was just a package of Seven recommended obscure Genesis games or the like. One of these games was Battle Mania Daiginjou. When I first time gave it a go, it didn’t think much of it. It kinda was there. The rest of the games were what I already had on the shelf; Sonic 3, Thunderforce etc. but after some few hours of testing out the modded Wii I came back to Battle Mania again. Something just kept drawing me back to it. It wasn’t just the music or the gameplay, but the overall feel of… light hearted comedy and overall awesome content that made me smile. It was like playing a Dirty Pair game with converted mini while shooting down demonic trucks that run on mice.

I noticed that I started it playing it almost daily and after time I played it I got a little bit farther, until I beat the game. Battle Mania was awesome, and I felt a lot of remorse that I wasn’t able to pay for it. I searched what other games the development team had done, and I got naught. So, the next best thing is to buy the game physically, even if used. Naturally I went for the best Japanese second-hand ‘net stores I could, but I found either no-sales or that they didn’t sell to foreigners for some reason. eBay was my last point, and naturally I was really hesitant to purchase this game. I bode my time for some three months until I made the purchase. And when the game came in, I concluded the matter as followed; best game purchase over 100€ I’ve ever made. Also the only one.

You might be wondering why am I telling you this. Am I searching for some sort of absolution or the like? I wasted hundred bucks in your eyes to a game that most of you haven’t heard about and don’t care about? Due to piracy I was introduced to a great game series by a chance. The same can be said of those PC-Engine shooting games that I tried out. Most of them has been released on Japanese PlayStation Network, and all of them were worth the money. I recommend checking out Soldier Blade, and if you’re into pinball then Devil’s Crush is what you want.

Piracy has had this kind of effect before, where “free” content has found its audience and leads into sales. I am one example of it, and a research Swiss government did some time ago can testify further. What the industry usually ignores when comparing the number of sales and the numbers of pirated products is that how much they overlap. There is also the question how much sales would be lost without piracy. You never hear the industries speaking of this.

In a sense it’s wrong to think piracy as just stealing. In the end it has common grounds with libraries as well, where people are able to loan books, music and videos without paying anything. How does the industry see lost sales from this end? Honestly, I’ve yet to hear anything from here. Most of the time the music and videos from the library end up being ripped to a hard drive. Well, the media are there for public use, so I guess it isn’t that long stretch to see this as a sort of proper use, albeit underhanded and all that. Illegal thou? Depend on the country mostly.

If piracy also encourages people to keep historical record, then I guess it also encourages people to try out new things, which seems to lead into more sales. As such we could assume that the best form of marketing could be free products, and allow people to decide whether or not they wish to pay the price for said product. This would also weed out low quality products in the best situation. We’re seeing this in the video game and film industry to an extent. I know at least one women who watches a film or two per day, and most of the time says I could buy this and the following she has five or six new DVDs on her shelf. That’s pretty much the only decent thing she does otherwise in her life.

The industries have fought against new forms of media before. The film industry tried to stop VHS, VHS rental stores and all that from spreading. Now the film industry’s basically all into DVD and they’re putting home versions out faster than ever before. Piracy has existed in pretty much every form imaginable, but Internet is perhaps the first time piracy existed before valid commercial channels. Freeware has existed since the dawn of the Internet, and perhaps this is one of the causes why the industries proper have stayed away from non-physical markets until rather recently.

If you won’t believe my word that Internet can be positive advertisement, you might want to listen this guy below me.

Now don’t get me wrong; piracy’s still illegal and all that, but for every two bad things it does, it does one and a half good thing.

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