Legit gaming: cheaper than piracy


Digital piracy is said to be a battle of convenience—your participation or your opposition is decided on how easy it is to commit the crime.

And it is a crime. Republic Acts No. 8293 (IP Code of the Philippines) and No. 9239 (Optical Media Act) make that clear. But while most people would never stoop to commit physical theft, the digital kind, it seems, is far less objectionable to most of us. Not only is it a matter of weak implementation of the law (do you know anyone who went to jail for piracy?), a moral protestation to digital piracy is nebulous as well for most Filipinos. In the Philippines, game prices are prohibitive, with new AAA titles costing P2,000 to P4,000, or one to two weeks’ worth of minimum wage. Still, there are undeniable advantages to getting licensed games. If you can afford it, going legit is well worth the cost.


While the prices of games from retail stores are still high, digital downloads can be considerably cheaper. Games on Valve’s Steam service are (currently) priced lower in the Philippines than outside the country. Speed Open FOrum January 2015 b Case in point: I bought Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor at a retail store for a little less than P3,000. On Steam, the regular price is P1,239.95. On sale (which happens often enough), it goes for as low as P830.77. Other sites that offer cheaper prices than retail stores are g2a.com and gog.com. Not only can you come across hard-to-find titles in these sites, their prices are also lower than in retail stores.


In the black market, pirated games cost about P80 per DVD. A big (data-heavy) game would usually require two to four DVDs, costing P160 to P320. At a Steam Summer Sale, I bought Skyrim, the latest edition of Tomb Raider, and the ultimate edition of Injustice: Gods Among Us all for less than P150 each. In essence, you can buy licensed AAA games cheaper on Steam than if you go to your suki pirated game store. These much-anticipated sales happen multiple times a year—and it’s not only Steam that does this. EA’s Origin, Ubisoft’s uPlay, and even Blizzard’s Battle.net service periodically offer significant discounts.


I currently have more than 800 titles in my Steam library. That many games would normally cost a fortune. But I’ll tell you my secret: through bundle sites such as Humble Bundle, Bundle Stars, Groupees, Indie Gala, and Indie Royale, I only paid about $1 (P45) each for about 85 percent of those games. These sites offer bundles that give you savings you won’t find anywhere else. Once, I paid $6 (P270) for the Humble WB Games Bundle. The bundle included the Game Of The Year editions of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, F.E.A.R. 1, 2, & 3, The Lord of The Rings: War In The North, Scribblenauts UnlimitedGuardians of Middle Earth (and Smaug’s Treasure DLC), Gotham City Impostors: Professional Kit, Mortal Kombat Kollection, and The Lord of the Rings Online: Steely Dawn Starter Pack. Basically, I paid about P23 per title. A siopao in a convenience store costs more than that.


When your game is legit, you can avail yourself of the online add-ons that pirated games have no access to. Multiplayer—a must-have component in games such as Call of Duty, Company of Heroes 2, and NBA 2k15—can only be accessed when your game is licensed. DLCs, patches, expansion packs, and critical game updates are automatically available for licensed games. While you can scour the internet for components that can be used by pirated games, it is often hit-and-miss, and exposes your system to viruses and other malicious software. If you’re a completionist or hypercompetitive, you’d want to accomplish all of your game’s Achievements and test your performance in the Leaderboards. Both features are available only on licensed games.


I know how to crack pirated games. I know how to search for bug fixes on the internet. Still, I can’t count the number of times I threw out DVDs out of frustration because the game simply won’t work. It gets more aggravating when you have invested dozens of hours in a game only to get trapped in a particular area because the game is broken. My party in Dragon Age 2 once got stuck in a mission after I defeated a boss because an NPC won’t speak. Never mind the cost of the broken game, that’s 40+ hours wasted.


We have grown accustomed to piracy because it’s an everyday, accepted practice. However, recent developments in digital game distribution have lowered the cost of licensed games, sometimes even making it cheaper than the pirated versions. If the game you’re eyeing is at least three months old, I encourage you to go legit. Chances are, your game is now within budget, and you’ll be thankful you took the plunge.

Words Mark Isaiah David First published in Speed January 2015 issue