Recently, a rather overlooked and yet massively damaging issue was brought to the attention of the government. Stacey Williams, CEO of Vantage Interactive wrote to the Secretary of State for Business, Digital, Energy and Industry (BDEI) u/Model_David asking the government to do more about video game piracy; but what exactly is video game piracy and how severe is it?
Since the early 2000s the video game industry has exploded in the U.K. resulting in an industry worth £3.86bn in 2019 and is predicted to reach £10bn by 2023. The U.K. is home to a competitive mix of high brow studios and indie studios including Rockstar Games, Antimatter Games and Gaijin Entertainment. In her letter to the Secretary of State for BDEI Stacey Williams highlighted the fact that 14% of Britons had admitted to illegally pirating a video game in the last 12 months which has undoubtedly resulted in the profits of millions of sales not going to the studios who are responsible for creating the game. While some of the more mainstream companies may be able to ‘ firm these hits, the U.K. is home to a thriving indie game community which could be decimated by an increase in video game piracy resulting in many bankruptcies and many people out of a job which they love.
Not only does it have an impact on studios it also has an impact on players who may have to use subpar versions of the game or experience interference while playing resulting in them abandoning the game and potentially any future titles the studio brings out.
To combat the increasing issue of video game piracy, Miss Williams called on the government to ban the websites which facilitates the piracy and introduce stronger penalties for those responsible. However, in his letter of response u/Model_David was very clear that no further legislative assistance would come from the government and that video games companies should strive to make better on the price and services of games they provide to avoid piracy. He did agree to communicate the severity of the situation with crime agencies although this clearly wouldn’t have been the answer the games sector was looking for.
The Spectator managed to catch up with the Secretary of State to clarify some things further asking what they would say to those who agree with Stacy Williams, that we cannot shrug our shoulders and give up trying to stop piracy, u/model-David responded “I would like to state my respect for Stacey Willaim’s opinions but the government has been totally clear on this issue. We will never accept any kind of piracy and we will work to stop it.”
We asked the Secretary of State about what they would like to say to those who are pirating games and services illegally u/model-David said “I would say [to them] that pirating games and services is wrong, they should stop doing it at once. I will do everything in my power to stop this illegal crime from continuing. We need to take big actions against this and the government takes it very seriously”
We asked u/model-David what they thought more generally and asked what they would say to the games development sector, they briefly said “be calm because we are doing everything we can to make that business work again. The government will use any measures necessary to prevent piracy of games”
Another strong message but this time in favour of the game development industry – a welcome message for them to hear. It still remains unclear whether the Secretary of State will follow up on these “necessary measures” with banning the websites responsible for piracy like Miss Willaim’s letter lobbied for or whether these were just strong words from the government. It’s clear what’s needed to satisfy and potentially save the video game industry, the decision now lies with the government but with a track record of supporting businesses in dire straits the games development sector must have confidence in any upcoming decision from the government.
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