1. The hardcore pirate. These are the people who frequent torrent sites, who collect multi-terabytes of pirated content, most of which they probably don't even use. If something can be pirated, they'll pirate it.
2. The cheapskate. They can probably afford to buy one or two games a month at full price, but why do that when you can get them for free? Then you can spend your money on something else. This person is also most likely to be a student, with only small amounts of disposable income.
3. The locked out. These are people who simply can't get it legally. It may not be distributed in their country. It may be banned, or simply overlooked. Or on the other side, it may be so old that no one sells it anymore. There's just no way to get it legally.
4. The casual pirate. These can be people who don't even know what piracy is. A friend likes the look of a game? Sure, fire up the DVD burner and give them a copy. They probably don't know anything about torrents or cracks.
I make the confession, and I make it easily. I have pirated Software (and other mediums). And I think I don't know anyone who hasn't. Well, If I'm in any way represantive and the asumption that pirating kills the content industry (and as a software developer I'm part of it) would be true, it would be extinct for a long time now.
Why is that?
Because, as much as I know no one who never pirated, I don't know anyone who hadn't also legally bought content.
Actually, I suppose, you can see pirating as a form of marketing. That doesn't work so well for games and music (yet still) but it works excellent with other types of software. My earliest "pirating" experiences have been with the Commodore 64. With that homecomputer (treated by many as a console
) Things got really messy. Nearly everyone I know who had one tried to pirate as much games as possible, often collecting over a hundred titles (making them the type 1). So its no wonder the gaming industrie cried out and lobbied hard measures against pirating. It was also the time when they started to treat every copy as a lost profit. Yet the whole calculation had a big mistake in it. People got the C64 in large numbers because games where so easily available. And While the average user had his collection of pirated games, most had two or three games as boxed, bought versions. Copies that would have not been sold without the existence of the pirated versions who got the people to buy the hardware in the first place.
1. Make the legitimate copy of the game better than a pirated copy
Or, failing that, don't make the legal version of your game worse than a pirated copy. Asking someone for money to get a worse version isn't a great sales tactic, guys.
2. Make the game available everywhere, fairly
It may be difficult logistically, but don't stagger distribution (maybe a day either way is permissible), don't lock out regions, and deliver it digitally to everyone at the same price - for fuck's sake, get rid of regional pricing. Telling someone they have to pay twice as much - in the same currency - as someone in another country is telling your customer that you don't value them as much as another customer.
3. Provide good support
It's actually amazing what this will do. Have you seen the forums for some indie games, where people will buy many copies of the game and give them to friends just to support the developers? You can also see this with some big companies that participate with their fans, causing them to come back for game after game. It's amazing how loyal gamers can be if they feel like they have a relationship with the developer.
That's pretty much it. A bit long winded, but if there's a TLDR version of the post, it would go like this:
You won't ever stamp out piracy, so don't bother. A minimal amount of DRM is all that is needed, any more and you're doing more harm to your product than good. Focus the majority of your efforts on making purchasing your game a better experience, and more convenient than piracy can ever do.
The lack of these sum pretty much up why I pirate. DRM being the main problem. I used the first filesharing tools because it was so easy to get music that was not easily to be found anywhere else, here it was a search and a click away. I wanted to be able to read a book on a handheld electronical medium (Tablet PC, PocketPC, Cellphone and the like, most preferably on a paperlike ebook) and keep it. Beside a nice printed version on the shelf. But I cannot get a legal digital copy without hard DRM restriction. Music is available now legally with the same comfort that started me downloading it illegal in the first place, but with DRM restrictions that actually garanty that you have to either pirate it anyway or buy it over and over again, if you want to change the medium, reinstall the OS or anything like that. (By the way, that led me personally to prefer Creative Commons licensed music and restricting myself to legal streaming for other sound instead of buying)
But its not only DRM. Try to be a legal customer when using Microsoft products (espacially in a company). The licence terms are often that complicated, that many, many people "pirate" Software without even knowing it. In my experience even Microsoft sales people don't really have the neccesary insight.
Than there is another problem. If you work in an office there is a set of software you should know well. Microsoft Office, Adobe Products and the like. People need to learn to use this products, but each copy, depending on the software, has a pricetag in the middle three figures. Thats why some companies actually make their products easy to hack (Adobes copy protection is a joke). The more people have experiences with the software, the more likely its used in a corporate setting, where the products definatly am bought (Well, I've seen some struggling, small companies that didn't, but its the exception)
I run emulator software for older Nintendo Products. I wouldn't have too, I also have a Wii and you can purchase older titles for it. But I found the process pretty painfull, when I looked into buying one of the older Mario titles.
If I look at the problem from a meta view I can see why the problem exists. Copies of mediums are only a product because legislation makes it one. Its hard to get around this reality and creating a feeling of buying a real product in the same way you buy hardware. I also think that its the wrong concept to monetize in the long run. But the internet has provided us with better working models.
Subscriptions, Actually financing the production instead of the copies (I think this is what makes Kickstarter projects so attractive). Freemium. These actually work with games.
In case of Application development the Open Source model is actually quite attractive and since most of my projects where on individualized software, as most application development is, I don't see a monetization problem at all here.