Back when I call the small town of Teluk Intan, Perak my home, on some weekends dad will bring me and the family around the small town (now a growing, albeit poorly planned city in my opinion) and visit this one small shop at the Aik Aik Complex, a shop thrive full of CDs: games, movies, Malay telemovies, albums: you name it. The shop’s boss even recognized us, being regular customers and such. Never managed to brain how to get PC games working (don’t how to ‘crack’ it) so I spent my time with PS1, and later PS2 games. Games were dirt cheap: less than RM10 per CD, so at times when new releases start piling up, I asked a handful of titles in one go.
Those were the good old days.
Although the level of piracy is still astronomically high in Malaysia, there has been some awareness on the whole thing: raids by customs, local artists ranting they aren’t getting enough pay, yet using pirated software and materials are still commonplace.
But get this: there are legitimate reasons we do so.
For one thing, not many can get those original material. Games in particular are so rare to find the legit copies. And those bootleg versions? All over the place. Heck, you can easily find them sold in pasar malams (night market) along with the char kuey teows and cakois. But then again, I did remember there were sold in Jusco, Ipoh. They just place the cover image, with several slips underneath. Just grab the slip and give it to the counter to purchase one. Most were PC games by EA, and dad mostly bought golf games. But how many people had the luxury to travel far to state capitals just to grab a copy of a game?
And the price. Oh boy, the price. That old PC game I mentioned? If my 6-year-old self remembered correctly, it is hundreds of ringgits. How much for the bootleg version? Less than RM10, DVDs tend to reach RM10, while normal CDs were half of that. To put into perspective: a wholesome Malaysian lunch (rice, a piece of chicken, some vegetables at the side) would be around RM5 ( depends on location. More bustling towns will charge higher). Given how hard to purchase a legit copy, and how pricey it is, and the fact that those pirated ones can function EXACTLY like the originals, why pour the effort to pay more for the same thing?
That was the late 90’s. Now it’s 2014, and things have changed. I believe starting from now we Malaysians should have slowly supporting legit copies of games- and apps, and movies, and albums. Why? Here are 4 good reasons:
1. EASY TO ACCESS, EASY TO PAY
For one thing, major companies have started to venture into emerging markets. Before this, companies in the entertainment or software industry- which mostly based in US, Europe and Japan, would only focused on select parts of the world- US, Europe and Japan. Those are where majority of consumers are in the right income bracket that can spend money on the things they are creating.
Things have change now. Korea is juggernaut of technology, boasting the highest wifi coverage in the world, and home to major gizmos manufacturers: Samsung and LG for example. China is now a huge economic force. E-commerce site Alibaba opens trade in the American stock market, and is deemed one the most highest valued stocks ever valued in its initial offering. And everyone is trying to get a slice of pie in the Indian market- one of the emerging markets with low average income, but high population. The middle east? Apart from some parts where conflict still happens, the peaceful ones are cash cows.
So of course companies have started to venture into other regional markets. Thus, the availability have vastly improved now. Games now even have launch dates specifically in these regions, with local distributors authorized to, well, distribute original copies.
The price is still iffy, though. Most copies of original games are around RM180-RM200. Games are mostly sold for USD60, so, 60 X 3.5 (exchange rate, give or take) = RM210. Older games do drop to RM140, or less for second hands.
For PC games I would suggest going for services like Steam. For Steam, prices have converted to RM. Some new games are sold for RM160 or less, even lesser if pre-ordered (I don’t recommend pre-ordering, though). Yes, it’s digital only. But if there’s access to good internet connection (a Unifi subscription is more than enough) and willing to live in the cloud, I recommend to go for it. Other services like Humble Bundle, GOG, Green Man Gaming, and Origin are other substitutes for Steam, but to my knowledge only Steam is selling stuff in Ringgit. Others are in USD.
Same goes to Google Play Store. All prices are in RM.
So how do you purchase from these services? Most banks now issue ATM cards that can be used as debit cards. Debit cards are sort of like credit cards: instead of charge now, pay later; you straight away pay using the money available in your account. These services require the use of debit/credit cards, so fill in the required details and you can shop away afterwards.
(Note: CIMB bank debit cards cannot be used for online transactions, so you have to open a KWIK account, and use those details instead of the debit card. I know, it’s weird and cumbersome, but at least you didn’t have to be frustrated that the services refuse to accept your card, like I did).
Now that we can pay legitimately, just wait for sales: games under RM10 do appear once in a while- not just indie titles, but AAA titles too.
2 SUPPORT THE DEVS
Unlike celebs and artists that can still make money from their fame, even if people pirate their works, devs on the other hand, cannot.
If before this you justify that “not buying them legit would not make them any less richer” your’e half right. Right if you’re talking about those celebs. Wrong if it’s the devs.
The gaming industry is harsh. Plenty of turnovers. Working environment is not the best thing. Company closures are common.
I remember enjoying one the best surprises in recent years: Split/Second. A racing game by Black Rock Studios, which don’t have much of pedigree before. But the game was fantastic. I enjoyed it with some friends at the sheer awesomeness that is a racing game with a reality TV twist- with plenty of blockbuster effects that not only looks cool (explosions, destructions, it’s what Michael Bay would be proud of) but affects the gameplay: destructions would change a track’s layout, which adds more challenge to just racing and avoiding stuff that explodes.
I torrented that game, waiting for weeks to finish downloading it (spotty university internet to blame).
Not that long after release, it was announced the studio would shut down, citing lacklustre sales.
Ouch. That hit me.
This case, among with others, inspired me to go legit (partially, for now). It made me feel bad knowing I enjoyed their labour of love and hard work, but refused to support them. Now the world might not see a Split/Second 2. Sure the industry is partially to be blamed: too competitive, not willing to take risks, high development costs, etc. But that doesn’t mean we are not responsible at all.
Which leads directly to:
It’s a Malay word, loaned from Arabic: barakah. English translations seems to point to ‘blessings’. Doesn’t feel like a word-for-word translation, but I think I can work with it.
Anyway, why is it then? This can get a bit spiritual so bare with me. Life might seem not fair, right? From our limited view, it may seem so. But the the Almighty that governs the universe knows what is fair for us. As you can see from the previous point, a company shut down indirectly caused by a guy (and I assume plenty of others too) played the game without paying a single dime to them. What if these talented folks condemn such acts, as in not giving their ‘blessings’ on doing it and pray for justice to those that stole their work? Ohho, god works in mysterious ways, and the prayers of a person being treated unjustly is strong. So in the long run, us torrenters may get justice served at inopportune times: maybe we got and unlucky day on day where everything went wrong, maybe we face problems that we didn’t expect to happen (*cough* academic problems *cough*). Or if we strike lucky in life we might as well get justice served after death.
Hey, pirating is considered as some form stealing, right?
4 ONLINE ONLINE ONLINE
The days of copy protection hassling paying customers are numbered, as they are more reasons to get a legit copy: online component.
Ever since the internet is getting more coverage and faster, the concept of multiplayer has evolved from crowding in a couch and sharing screens, to players doing it online from the leisures of thier own couch and screen. The popularity of such trends has induced publishers to squeeze in online multiplayer in almost any game. Heck, some even made single-player styled games to have synchronous multiplayer, or required a constant online connection, with mixed results (Hello Simcity 2013 and Diablo III). Getting a game with online modes via pirating means you are forfeiting the opportunity to play on official servers, and some games couldn’t run without a connection to servers. So you don’t really gain access to everything in the game now.
And you can only get achievements if you play online.
tl;dr? The 4 reasons from me why we should buy legit copies of games are:
- EASY TO ACCESS, EASY TO PAY
- SUPPORTING THE DEVS
- JAGA KEBERKATAN SHEIKH (or DON’T LET THINGS COMES AROUND GOES AROUND)
- HOW WOULD YOU GET ACHIEVEMENTS IF YOUR’E NOT ONLINE?
Sure, there’s debates on advantages of pirating, but get this: Malaysians don’t pirate because of all those arguments primarily: Malaysians do it because it seems the better way to get hands on games.
Let’s save the debate for another time. At least we should start thinking on getting some of your favourite games proper and pay the devs the hard work they poured. They’re people like us too.
Thanks for reading. Pretty much new here, and this is the obligatory intro post in case you’ve missed it.