id: PC Piracy a "Dirty Little Secret Among Hardware Manufacturers"
There’s no denying that piracy is a significant problem for PC game developers. While some overplay or downplay its significance, it is no doubt an issue. But consider the effect of piracy on PC hardware manufacturers. Without a top-of-the-line graphics card and processor, it doesn’t matter how many copies of Crysis you can pirate, you’re not going to do much without the hardware to run it.
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, id Software vice president Tom Bramwell floated an interesting theory that PC hardware manufacturers might not be the biggest opponent of the piracy scene.
“There’s lots of things that they could do but typically just they just line up on the wrong side of the argument in my opinion,” Hollenshead claimed. “They have lots of reasons as to why they do that, but I think that there’s been this dirty little secret among hardware manufacturers, which is that the perception of free content – even if you’re supposed to pay for it on PCs – is some sort hidden benefit that you get when you buy a PC, like a right to download music for free or a right to download pirated movies and games.”
Asked if he thinks the manufacturers are secretly happy about the the situation, Hollenshead replied, “Yeah I think they are. I think that if you went in and could see what’s going on in their minds, though they may never say that stuff and I’m not saying there’s some conspiracy or something like that – but I think the thing is they realise that trading content, copyrighted or not, is an expected benefit of owning a computer.
“And I think that just based on their actions…what they say is one thing, but what they do is another. When it comes into debates about whether peer-to-peer file-sharing networks that by-and-large have the vast majority, I’m talking 99 per cent of the content is illicitly trading copyrighted property, they’ll come out on the side of the 1 per cent of the user doing it for legitimate benefit. You can make philosophical arguments that are difficult to debate, but at the same time you’re just sort of ignoring the enormity of the problem.”
He certainly raises a good point. You can’t come right out and say this is true without some evidence, but it seems to make too much sense to be untrue. Either way, Hollenshead probably shouldn’t count on getting any Christmas cards from Intel, AMD and Nvidia this year.