Yes, it is irritating that people who might have otherwise bought it will pirate it instead, but this group is almost certainly a minority. Intention alone is not sufficient to assert that a sale will have been made. The person might not have been financially capable of paying for the product; the interest in the product might be there, but this interest may well dissipate depending on the product price, the conditions attached (DRM and so on); the product may not even be available in the region.
I, for example, have an illegal copy of Parasite Eve 1 for the PS1 on my PC. There, I've openly admitted it. We in Europe have been denied the opportunity to buy this game for the past decade and a half. There is no way of playing a legal copy on my PS3, as the US version is region-locked. Therefore, Sony/Square Enix have not lost a sale from me, because they have provided me with no opportunity to buy. Should they release it on PSN in the future, I may consider buying it, even though I generally only buy disc games.
fair enough. of course, if a game is not legally available to you and you decide to pirate it, the publisher doesn't loose anything.
the problem is when a game is easily available for everyone, fairly priced, even DRM-free, and still gets pirated more than it gets bought. The Witcher 2 comes to mind. it sold rougly 1.3mil copies, and that's a good number. but it was also pirated 4 times that number, which is, supposedly, a success.
am i to believe that of the 4-5 million pirates only a marginal number would have been ready to pay if they couldn't have stolen it that easily? i don't think so. 1) before pirating you'd need to know about the game and about the way to download, so you're already an insider. 2) you'd have to download a substantial package of data in the 14GB range. most people wouldn't do that for only a passing interest in the game. 3) the game was available in both a physical and a digital edition, DRM-free and fairly priced (at least on GoG.com). 4) if you have the kind of internet connection that makes a 14GB feasible, you're not some poor schmuck that couldn't afford the game.
i am convinced that a large number of those 4-5mil who pirated TW2 would have (eventually) bought the game if it hadn't been so easy and without consequences to steal it.
Well, I am not sure where most of the piracy occurred, but I have a pretty good idea. Russia and the CIS have been notorious for pirating, which is why some publishers and platforms decided only recently to apply a reduced price policy in these regions.
I can understand that, being from Switzerland, you may have a hard time understanding why people pirate games or that only a few of the people who pirate games would buy the games if they couldn't have stolen it easily. I myself had a hard time believing at one point but I had to do some research into the region and the dynamics. I don't know (or want to know) what your average monthly income is but it, in no way, compares to that of the average person in Russia, or any of the CIS countries. I only see it as normal then, that people would pirate games that are costing a tenth (an exaggeration perhaps for many cases but also true for some countries like China) of their monthly income. You may say, "well the cost of living in these countries is cheaper", which is true, but unfortunately it doesn't change the price of games offered in these regions (actually in some developing countries, prices of recently released games are sometimes twice or three times that in the US, as I had the opportunity to see on my recent vacation in Turkey- Dirt 3 was being sold for 70 Euros when it was only 40 dollars in the US)
Please note that I am not saying what they do is right, only that I am not shocked at why it is done and why the numbers are so high there.
To counter your second remark, although someone form Turkey already pointed it out, it costs less than the current price of The Witcher 2 to receive an internet package that can download as many games as a person living in these countries wants without having to pay 30-60 dollars for the game.
Note that I am not defending piracy, just pointing out how people can and will counter the points you made. So to counter all this, one must point out that games are not a necessity but a want. Thus, there is no excuse for pirating a game (as opposed to say how I would have reacted to a person starving to death stealing a loaf of bread to stay alive). Price is too high for you? Don't buy and wait for a year; prices almost always fall and there are so many digital sellers and clients now that there are frequent sales making the price of games more and more affordable, even if you are living in a developing country with a low income.
What do you think?