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It isn’t controversial to declare pirates to be self-entitled assholes. Why pay for someone else’s hard work when you could get it for free? It really feels like developers are giving you the game, then.

Above: Stealing the Humble Indie Bundle was stealing from charity. These guys stole from sick children

Let's say up front that piracy is piracy, but we can't help but look at pirate incidents in shades of gray. Pirating a game like StarCraft II makes you a dick. But Blizzard can afford it. Pirating an indie game from a tiny studio full of people making massive career and personal sacrifices to do what they love, even if it means barely scraping by financially, and whose proceeds go to charity – well, that makes you a mega dick.

That's exactly what happened to the Humble Indie Bundle, a collection of indie games that included World of Goo, Aquaria, Gish, Lugaru, and Penumbra. The bundle was put on sale for a short period of time, for the low, low price of whatever the hell you wanted to pay. Gamers could buy the games for as little as a penny and decide how much of the money would go to the developers and how much would go to charity. At the end of the sale, the devs had raised over $1 Million, of which nearly $400,000 went to charity.

But not everybody paid.

Above: Currently there’s anew bundle of games for sale. Pay a lot for it this time as penance

Even though they could get it for a penny, gamers still pirated the game in astounding numbers. Since the download was provided for free and players merely paid for the key, the developers were able to figure out exactly how many people paid and how many didn't. A full 25% of the downloaders didn't pay for the games. When you steal something that costs a penny, it doesn't make you frugal. It makes you a complete douchebag.

Case #7: Bleeding PC gaming to death

Sorry to end on a downer, but this last one is a really big deal. PC gaming will never be “dead” – however, it will also never be the same as it was back in the platform’s heyday. And piracy is one of the biggest reasons for its decline. While illegal distribution of games occurs on all platforms, the PC has struggled with it the most. As a result, the days of the AAA PC title are gone. Most games are made with consoles in mind, and then ported to PC. Franchises and developers that made their names on the PC now call the console home. Where do you think most people are going to play the next Fallout, Deus Ex or X-com? If you guessed Xbox 360/PS3, you’re probably right.

Above: Hope you folks enjoy playing Crysis 2 over Xbox Live as much as you liked pirating Crysis

The numbers don't lie. It's the pirates who are to blame. According to developer 2D Boy, a full 90% of the copies of World of Goo out there are stolen. And it’s often worse with AAA titles that have higher price tags - developer Crytek claims that pirated versions of its flagship title Crysis outnumber legit ones 20 to 1.

Hurting one game is a nasty move by an individual, but effectively killing an entire platform is a virtual monument to shortsighted entitlement and selfishness. And we gamers ourselves are responsible. We are literally doing it to ourselves. Why? Because we can be real dicks sometimes.

Above: How can someone steal a game this adorable?

But sometimes we gamers can be good people, too. So there’s still hope for us. With any luck, gamers will never give us enough material for there to be a “part two” of this article. We’d be proud to find something else to write about if that were the case.

Dec 21, 2010

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