It’s 2020, and we’re still living in a time where piracy exists on the Internet. Despite what others might have, you believe, the reality is that Internet piracy is one of those things that will never go away completely.
The Age of Piracy
As Internet streaming services and developers lower the price of their services for an average consumer, one might find it surprising that piracy has only increased. In 2019, the streaming giant, Netflix, overtook cable TV subscriptions as it was estimated that 76% of US consumers were subscribed to Netflix compared to only 67% on cable TV.
At the same time, torrenting sites have seen a substantial increase in their website traffic. Although there are numerous uses for torrenting other than piracy, the reality is that torrenting sites are a go-to platform for people sharing content illegally.
Cracked games or piracy, in other words, severely affects developers in the gaming industry. The truth is that piracy is a complex subject. Contrary to what some sources would have you believe, piracy is not just a simple criminal act perpetrated by greedy gamers who don’t want to give fair compensation for products and services they consume.
Instead, piracy is used in a multitude of ways depending on circumstance. Sometimes players would pirate a game to test if they wish to purchase it or not truly. In a world where betas and demos are often being sold as preorder gimmicks, the traditional methods of knowing whether or not you even want a game are becoming less accessible.
As a result, some players would pirate a game and then purchase it later on, should they like the gameplay. However, by pirating a game, players expose their device and themselves to online risks, proving detrimental in the future.
Learn about secure online gaming.
5 Real Security Dangers of Downloading Pirated Games
Online video game piracy is a serious matter. Even if you think that downloading cracked games is no big deal, these five undeniable security risks should be a wakeup call before it’s too late.
As the saying goes, when you’re not paying for something, you are the product. Similar is the case with cracked games. When you’re not paying for games, you’re essentially foregoing your online privacy and security in many ways.
Piracy isn’t safe. Apart from the moral obligations, there are too many risks to playing pirated games. Here’s why you shouldn’t play cracked games:
- It Could Inject Your PC with Malware
The utmost concern and likelihood are that cracked games commonly have viruses packed with the download file. Maliciously installing a virus as part of game software makes it very difficult for antivirus software to detect and remove the malicious software.
Viruses could include spyware, malware, and worse, ransomware.
- You Could Get Banned from the Gamer’s Servers
When it comes to playing cracked games, it takes nerves to connect to the game’s servers as that can get you permanently banned. This particularly takes place on consoles where pirated games are considered a serious offense by developers and console manufacturers.
Playing cracked games on consoles could result in a ban from Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. This comes as no surprise as in 2009, Microsoft notoriously banned nearly a million Xbox Live players to modify their Xbox 360 consoles and play pirated games.
In simpler words, playing pirated games is against the code of conduct, and you could receive a temporary or permanent suspension of your account. If your account is flagged and suspended, you could lose access to playing games from that account, and worse, lose all your game progress, achievements, and data. Not worth it, right?
- It Might Land You In Legal Trouble
Saving a few bucks can end up costing you a lot of money. Like illegally downloading music and movies, pirating video games is considered a federal crime in the United States. The legal punishment may vary depending upon the state by typically ranges from paying back the copyright holder to spending some time in jail.
This doesn’t mean that every individual who downloads pirated games will be imprisoned. However, you’re definitely at risk as you are doing something illegal and immoral.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that your ISP and the government agencies already keep a close eye on nearly everything you do online. This means that if you’re pirating content online, you can be easily caught.
- The Game Might Not Even Work
Contrary to what the site might have you believe, more than half of the time, pirated games tend not to work at all. This means you wasted your precious time downloading the game only to have it not work.
In reality, the file disguised as a ‘video game’ could be spyware that’s keeping a close track of your online activities.
- You Might End Up With More Than You Asked For
When you’re torrenting, you’re basically participating to become a distributor of the torrent files on your computer. This process leaves you vulnerable as it becomes easy to detect your involvement in copyright infringement. While the chances are slim, it is a valid concern that could get you sued by the copyright holder.
When it comes to piracy, running into malware isn’t something out of the ordinary. If you’ve ever pirated a game or any other file, you very well know how your antivirus responded to the crack you were downloading.
Having malware install in the background while you pirate a game makes sense as game-cracking hackers have ends to meet as well. Think of this as their source of income. The odds of downloading a free game or a file without expecting to have a virus come along with it have always been low.
How to Stay Safe from Piracy
Here’s how you can stay safe from downloading malicious programs on your device:
- Do not use pirated software
It’s simple. Don’t torrent pirated files. Head over to the official store and purchase original games and software. If you don’t have enough money at the moment, then wait for the yearly sales. Online video game stores such as Steam and Epic always have discounts going on.
- Avoid obscure pirate sites.
Torrenting sites popup now and then. An old reputable torrenting site has moderators who closely observe files on their platform. This means the probability of picking up a virus from their platform is somewhat lower than on a site that popped up a few weeks ago.
- Install a reliable antivirus and never (ever ever) disable it
If you don’t have a reputable antivirus protecting your device, you can’t cry, saying, “my device got infected.” No precautions mean you’re exposing yourself to evil actors. Now that doesn’t mean you head online and spend a lot of money on antivirus software.
Learn the benefits of a VPN for online gaming.
All in all, piracy is risky. It’s best to stay away from downloading cracked games or other files.