I wrote a piece way before about my experiences being a gamer in a third world country. I grew up in Southeast Asia, but I moved to the United States as I got older. During the holidays, I got the chance to revisit Manila, Philippines for a month. I decided to revisit the piracy scene by taking a detour into the capital’s top destination for pirated goodies. In addition, I also paid attention to the consumer habits of my family and friends.
On my last post, I talked about how one would see piles of pirated goods especially games being sold in stores. However, I had a feeling that things have changed especially since I’ve been gone for several years. In a time where online is starting to be a major component in gaming; I wanted to see if piracy was gone or if it had evolved to adapt the changes in the industry.
Read on for more.
Whenever I walked through the halls of Greenhills (THE place for pirated goods), I would see at least one whole floor filled with stalls trying to sell pirated games. These sellers had stacks of CDs of their fake games. There are generic DVD cases lying about that are waiting to be filled with some badly photoshopped fake cover of a video game. Sometimes you can just buy a game without the case altogether. You could hear customers haggling prices and ask their suki (a customer’s usual vendor) when a particular game will have a pirated version.
Ask me what it looks like now, it’s an entirely different picture from what I’ve seen before. There aren’t any piles of discs and cases lying around anymore. Piracy isn’t gone, it’s just in a different form. Now, pirated games are now digital. I think you could buy a bundle of games for the price of what one pirated disc would cost years ago.
Digital piracy isn’t a new thing. In fact, it was around when I was still kid roaming around Greenhills. The only difference now is that it seems to be taking up the majority of the market. It’s as if piracy is going digital like its legitimate counterpart as well.
In addition, the pirates booths/stalls aren’t as obvious as before. You would have to look for signs that would point you to the right direction. Sometimes people will just walk past you and whisper “PS, Xbox ma’am?” If you were interested, he would lead you to a booth behind the counter of their legitimate front. This wasn’t just because Greenhills had a construction facelift.
I’ve noticed that a lot of my friends and family members have noted that the pirate way tends to be more of a hassle than a convenience these days. Therefore, they have completely switched to going digital. You might wonder what they mean by that exactly. Back in the day, there were no DLCs or updates for games and consoles. There were only single versions of everything. It was easier for pirates to copy and tamper things in the past.
In the present, you can get banned from a console’s online service if your device has been tampered with. Sure, you could play pirated tampered games but you can’t download DLCs. You’re lucky if pirates decide to pirate the DLC, but I bet they only do that if a game is extremely popular. If I’m not mistaken, there was a time when tampered consoles can’t play new fake games until you bring them in to your suki for them to administer the update. You can probably do that on your own, but I bet that the majority of the consumers won’t even bother with going through the hoops.
I bet piracy would die if the Internet speed in Manila and any other third world country is competent enough. Everyone I know in this city knows how to pirate any kind of entertainment regardless if they are a child or senior citizen. It’s also impossible to be tracked! You won’t get any copyright notices here Why do people still resort to piracy? The Internet speed is ridiculously slow simply because providers greedily control it. Sometimes a movie or a game would be weeks long on an average household’s internet. Might as well just spend a few bucks to instantly gratify yourself.
I think that they key element in the battle against piracy is convenience. Third world countries should start making legitimate products and services even more convenient to acquire than counterfeit products. I don’t think it can ever be cheaper, but it’s enough to have it in a reasonable price range. I can see other countries improving, but I think it will take a while for Manila to see change.