Does it surprise anyone? More to the point doe sit surprise me? In a word … no. There are barely legitimate means of acquiring PC video games where I am as it is whether that be from a physical store or online. But even if there was I could see many of the kinds of people that these games were meant for not having the kinds of disposable income to buy them at the current full retail price in a place like this anyway. Generally many of these games now come with a heavy online element to them that vastly enhance the games by allowing you to add more levels, play against others online and generally update. However for many it’s the case that they can't actually access these online features to begin with unless they had acquired the games legitimately. As most PC gaming veterans will know pirated versions of these games will generally have their online game play/content and software updates disabled/blocked.


The legitimate channels of acquiring PC games…

Ok, so we know that we can get pirated copies of games straight off torrent sites but most likely as said before they'll have their online elements disabled/blocked along with the ability to update with new stages and features and join multi-player online servers.

However the folks at EA do also provide a legit online download service and from time to time (usually around various western seasonal holidays that still allow for downloads at the same price in many Asian regions) for a week or so they let titles from their $30 to $20 PC game catalogue go for 4 to $5 dollars a pop. Alrighty then, but hold on…


Lets do some math… 

The average size of a big budget game download is around 5 to 8GB's.

My internet connection cost me 17 dollars a month and I have a 10GB download cap on it (it costs a lot more with other ISPs in Cambodia) . So…. (counting on fingers and using the MS calc…)

An 8GB download would in essence cost me $13.60 in using up 8GB of my download allowance in the space of a day and half. Which kind of then only leaves me 2GB to use for the rest of the month which I could more then likely use up in 3 to 4 days. So that then leaves me 25 days without internet.



I'm "thieving" you say? Well look at it this way...

Now stop me if I'm wrong, but even when companies like EA make it possible for me to buy their games legitimately for 4 to 5 bucks a throw as a download its not possible or worth it for most general consumers with limited financial resources at their disposal to really bother downloading them since it generally tends to be more expensive and time consuming in places like Cambodia. There isn't really any incentive for consumers in Asia to buy legit none pirated games from legit websites even when they slash the prices due to relatively expensive capped data connections. 

I have a number of games that I've bought legitimately from EA. But because the downloads are so damn big against the context of capped domestic broadband connections here, its not worth me downloading the games that I've already legitimately paid for and own. It would be cheaper for me to just go to a store where they sell the pirated game and buy it again for a couple of dollars on DVD (minus the ability to access online gaming features and game updates) which I can install in about 10 minutes to play straight away.

$29 (already paid for game price) + 13.60 (8GB of data to download from EA official servers) = $42.60

Or possibly…

$5 (already paid for game price during sales) + 13.60 (8GB of data to download from EA official servers) = $18.60

Ok, even if I don't include how much I already legitimately paid for the game in both cases its still $13.60 just for the download itself…

Total time to install... (assuming that it doesn't get disconnected and keeps restarting which means it would eat up much more then just 8GB of my data allowance trying to download the game)

1.5 days. (variably longer)

$4 (for 2 pirated DVD's with the game on them) + 40 to 50 cents (petrol to get to the store and back on a motorbike) = $4.50

Time to install…

10 minutes.


Needless to say I'd be more then willing to acquire my games online legitimately especially when they have the limited period special offers on. But generally it doesn't make sense in a place like Cambodia where bandwidth and data allowance is at a premium unlike many parts of the developed west where broadband connections are mostly uncapped and can reach up to 50mb/s download speed in some major cities (4Mb/s base average to 10mb/s) for roughly the same price. 



But even if we were to look at it from a purely profitable angle….

An initial few hundred thousand legit downloads at the full price of  $29.99 turning to a slow trickle whilst a  few million others acquire pirated copies with no enhanced online game features... 

vs.

A few million initial downloads at 4 to 5 dollars with more people actually having the fully featured final product. What does the math tell you? In fact would it not make sense to make it even cheaper then that to attract even more potential custom? But I guess that would only work if all broadband connections weren't capped and it wasn't as easy to pirate the games.




Reasons why this maybe wouldn't happen…

…where software is sold legitimately in the high street in more developed regions of the world...

It would mean far less store fronts that puts people in employment as far as legitimate selling of software goes. This obviously has a knock on effect on logistics companies that employ people to transport the goods, less product to transport means less logistical work which also means less people in employment. 
 

… where there is a lot of software piracy on the high street and very few legitimate means of buying software...

Its usually the places where there isn't the jobs in the first place. Even if they did try selling legitimate software there would be very few people who could afford to buy it at a high street recommended retail price. 



A possible future of legitimately selling video games in developing in regions of the world?


There isn't really a legit logistics infrastructure in place so it wouldn't matter anyway. But I reckon…

- People would have their own USB sticks, flash drives and external USB hard disks. (its not like they're hard to come by these days).

- There'd be a whole bunch of gaming capable PC's set up connected to a constantly updated server in store with all the latest games.

- People would be able to browse the games via the gaming terminals to instantly load them and try them out. Or if you know what you want just head to counter to get it loaded instantly on to your storage media and pay your dough.

- Once you find a game you want to buy you pay your 5 dollars (or even how ever much it costs after they put on top additional costs depending on operating costs and location since people can choose which store they buy from, if its too much they'll obviously know the places where they can get it for a better price)  and you hand over you're external storage media that they instantly load the game onto for you directly off their servers. They also issue you with a unique code that’s also required for activation that helps identify which store the various software companies has to pay money to or are producing the best sales. In which case the software companies will then know where to target specific gaming products and run certain promotions based on patterns of purchases/sales. Obviously it would be cheaper to download it at home since there are no store operating costs and it would take longer on a 1Mb/s connection and eat into your data allowance. That’s assuming your connection is capped. Not to mention these stores will most likely be selling other computer and video game console related hardware inventory in store. 

- Once you get it home you install it and activate it online via your applicable personal gaming accounts. The purchases will be verified against the updated records from the store that you bought it from.

They might also want to develop further the online gaming features of games to make them something that people will want to legitimately acquire and use by making a legitimate none pirated purchase.