I want to pirate Watch_Dogs

As I write this, it’s almost 7PM on the Sunday before Memorial Day here in the US. Watch_Dogs will be released in less than two days. I don’t have a huge interest in the game to be honest, but this whole weekend I’ve had the strangest desire to pirate it.

Like I said, I’m not even all that interested in the game. I’ve got a huge number of already-purchased games on my backlog, and I’m still not totally done with everything I want to do in Dark Souls 2 or Transistor. Why have I been researching how to pirate Watch_Dogs during almost every free minute this weekend?

Let’s take a step back to my humble beginnings as a gamer. I had a Commodore 64 and later a sweet 386DX 40. As a poor junior high and high school student that loved figuring things out (like which BBS’es had the best stuff), I pirated my fair share of games. I “copied that floppy” many times. I had to if I wanted to play everything I had time to play. I wasn’t ever proud of it, but my pockets were as empty as my weekend schedules. I had to fill that time up somehow!

Once I graduated college and got a real job, I vowed to give up on piracy. I stopped frequenting IRC channels and Usenet binary groups and instead spent the money I now had on real, physical copies of games. It felt good to go legit. As “the scene” moved towards P2P, I moved towards Steam. Digital distribution was awesome – nearly instant satisfaction just like piracy, but without all the worry of keyloggers and trojans. It was (and still is) the best of both worlds.

Fast forward to last week. Watch_Dogs leaked. Not just for the consoles, but also for the PC. Reddit was FULL of people discussing the game, Twitch had a bunch of streams available, YouTube was filling of with videos of everything about the game, and almost every single person that had anything to do with those had an illegal copy of it. There are tons of links to the various torrents for Watch_Dogs everywhere. It’d be so easy. Just one click and a fake UPlay account later and I could be playing. If I was just a little less afraid of lawsuits or trojans, I’d do it, too. And I wouldn’t even feel bad.

This is a prime example of legit customers being absolutely fucked.

There’s no chance that Ubisoft doesn’t know that the game is out there. They have to know that their paying customers are sitting around (on a long weekend no less), waiting for the magic time to roll around when Ubi has graciously decided that it’d be OK for them to even start downloading the game (pre-load? NO FUCKING WAY IT MIGHT GET CRACKED OR SOMETHING). And yet they sit there, doing nothing while pirates enjoy a weekend of Watch_Dogs action. Legitimate streamers and Let’s Players are losing money because they are trying to follow the rules. People are being spoiled on the game because they want to spend money on it.

I bet it’d be trivial to log into their account on Steam and flip the switch. Hell, I bet the PSN store would make a special effort to make the game available if Ubi made the call, but they won’t. Because for some reason an industry that’s always talking about being on the “bleeding edge” of technology is stuck in the 20th century when it comes to distribution.

I’m sure someone from the industry will point out that Ubisoft has probably made deals with various retailers to digitally release the game simultaneously as the street date (you’ve all seen this image, right?), so as not to impact their precious 1990s business model for selling games. I don’t care. Just like I don’t care that there are marketing deals in place that makes it impossible for Major League Baseball to stream local games via MLB.tv, or how I don’t care that the poor cable companies *have* to offer 100 channels that no one wants because the content providers demand it. I don’t care. I’m the consumer – I’m the one that’s actually PAYING for stuff. But I guess my opinion doesn’t matter.

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