Max Payne 3 for the PC is next on my list of games to buy. I checked piratebay on release day and wasn’t surprised to see it there mere hours after it had hit Steam. It wasn’t the seed-leech ratio that put me off from downloading the magnet link though, it was the size. At 27 Gigabytes, it’s a whopper of a game. Normally I’d turn to buying it off the local DVD store, but 27 Gigabytes meant I’d have to pay for at least 6 DVDs, which is a complete no-no for my wallet. The only way I could get the game was through my friend who downloads all his media off a local server hosted by his ISP. So it would take a short walk to his house, a few transfers with my 8 GB memory stick and voila, I’d be in possession of a 60 dollar triple-A game!
This is how it is in Bangladesh. Not once did I think of actually buying an original copy. Why? Because most of us can’t even imagine spending over 5000 taka on something meant for pure entertainment. It’s just not feasible. Every market in Dhaka reflects this “third-world” phenomenon: they don’t even bother selling original stuff.
And it’s not just electronic media that are pirated.
A quick stroll through a hardware store will yield fake iPods and Rolex watches of seemingly good build. Once you use them though, you quickly realize why they cost a tenth of the actual price.
That’s the catch with using pirated stuff. You only get a fraction of the original value of the product. Sure, I’ll be able to play through the single player campaign of Max Payne 3, but the fun will last for mere days. A cracked game can’t go online and so can’t access the awesome multiplayer bits that provide entertainment for months on end.
And even if I could, the multiplayer experience would be abysmal due to bad ping (which in my case can go as high as 500 milliseconds). ISPs that provide connections good enough to play games online are few and far between. The incentive to buy original games goes out the window because of these basic setbacks.
Now is there a remedy to this problem? Not as of now, but that’s not where the story ends. The first thing that needs to be taken care of is ISP quality. There is no point in buying a game with great multiplayer features, such as Battlefield 3, and not have a good enough net connection to play it with. If you’re using broadband, you can ask the one in charge of the ISP branch to lower your ping.
The other thing that needs to be done contradicts what I said earlier. The only way for game companies to notice the gaming community in the country is for us to buy their games. Steam puts out awesome deals every weekend (just last week it offered Metro 2033, a survival-shooter game for a measly 5 dollars, which is around 400 taka at the current exchange rate). The more we buy from them, the more it will benefit us all. It’s incredible that the majority of gamers in the country have never experienced the infamous Call of Duty multiplayer, or never played Splinter Cell: Conviction in co-op mode!
We are such a small blip in the piracy radar that we are never even mentioned as one of the more blatant consumers of pirated products. But at the end of the day, we are hurting ourselves with every torrent download. If you have the cash and if you want to see Bangladesh in the list of countries featured in gaming clients, do your part.
Our collective movement can’t and won’t eradicate video game piracy in the country, but it may just be enough to convince companies to sell their products to us at a lower price, similar to book publishers selling low price editions of their books. This is how it is in India where you can buy a new release with 2000 Rupees and older ones at half or a third of the original price. It’s definitely not something impossible to achieve; but if done right, it might change the face of gaming in Bangladesh.