Dreamcast Piracy - Good, Bad, Ugly?: Arrr, Matey! ... I'm sorry, I really am...
For almost as long as there have been video games, there's been piracy to go along with it (granted, I doubt there were many bootleg dedicated Breakout players in '76). Lucky for the industry, in the early days, this was a threat hardly worth mentioning; the cost of producing a pirated cartridge would've likely been more than simply taking the high road and purchasing the real enchilada.
The only real copyright-infringement of videogames way back when was some emulators. I remember being fully and completely blown away when I saw a news story about some illegal machine that could transfer Genesis games onto a PC. Before that, not a trace of the shady operations in the gaming underworld had graced my innocent mind.
I became very fascinated with this wonder machine, and slowly developed at insatiable urge to locate one for my very own. Of course, this phase passed; I realized that it would be as bad as walking into the store, grabbing the games off the rack, and charging out like a crack-filled maniac. This was the property of a corporation, and as much as we forget it at times, corporations are people too.
Bringing a healthy amount of pros and cons, Optical Media has made a mad dash in the gaming industry, as all the next-gen systems (aside from portables) will, or already do, feature some form of Optical Media (Y'know, CD's, GD's, DVD's). Most folk on both the production and consumer ends will agree that the good stuff far outweighs the bad: Quick, Cheap, Massive amounts of data storage. If we were still on cartridges, the gaming industry would be a LOT worse off than it is now.
Their main con is the ease of piracy. CD-R drives in home PCs could be killing the industry... At least Sega seems to think so.
Pirating Dreamcast games is much easier than it should be. Just type in "Dreamcast Warez", or something like that, into a search engine, and marvel at the amount of sites that turn up. Additionally, warez trading services such as Hotline and Scour make it even easier. To Sega's credit, they are hard at work to shut down these bastard sites, but they can only do so much. More sites spring up before Sega can shut the others down, and so there is always a steady stream of illegal material for would-be pirates to grasp in their greedy talons.
What comes next is a fairly simple process of running some free programs and burning a CD-R of the Dreamcast Disc Image, and unlike the PlayStation, mod chips aren't even necessary. You can simply burn a disc that is inserted previous to the game that has been burned.... Commonly known as a "boot disc".
Yes, Sega has been VERY quick to denounce piracy, and this writer agrees. After a little research, I've learned just how easy it is to find and pirate Dreamcast games... and that's not good news to Sega. But that's not the burning question.... can this significantly hurt the industry?
I don't think so. First of all, creating pirated games can be very pricey, and while CD-RW drives are becoming increasingly common, they're still far from being a household staple. Also, it often requires some tricky know-how that most casual computer-users simply don't possess. And with systems such as the PlayStation (the first one), hardware is also needed, known as a "mod-chip" (mod for modification, chip for, well, chip). Most gamers are more than a little wary of sticking a foreign object into their costly piece of electronics; much less affixing it with white-hot solder.
And it's not all economics. Some people actually do just object to stealing someone else's property, even if it has more anonymity than "actual" theft. Plus, there's something to be said for having the real thing. If this makes any sense at all, pirating a game steals its soul - it never feels quite the same. Jet Grind Radio isn't as artistic, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 isn't as frantic, Soul Calibur isn't as, well, perfect.
Pirated games aren't the games they try to be. They're a flawed copy of their original, and as much as they seem to be, they aren't the same game. They look the same, they control the same, and the story is the same. But the game as a whole isn't the same... It loses its essence. Please support the gaming industry, the true hardcore gamers, and don't pirate games. Or I'm afraid Gaming Target's sacred oath insists I come over to your house and kick you in the balls. Hey, I don't make the rules.