Nowadays, with the rapid development of technology, electronic games appear more frequently in people’s daily lives because of their benefits such as no need to go out, easy access, and a variety of types of entertainment activities for young and old people. However, as the popularity of electronic games has increased, two major copyright problems have come to light that affect both game companies and gamers due to factors such as price and inspiration: piracy and plagiarism.
Plagiarism and piracy should be prohibited, because they are harming the interests of game companies, impairing the player’s enjoyment of the game to a certain extent, and so on.
What are piracy, plagiarism and copyright?
Piracy jeopardizes copyright, plagiarism is the failure to mark the original author and source publication with credit (Snapper, 1999). U.S. Copyright Office explains that Copyright is intellectual property that can protect all creative products, such as a book, music, film, etc.(2019). Copyright also has the advantage that the public can access the good ideas contained in such creative works to progress, so copyright is time-limited and scope-limited (Gray, 2020). After the time limit, the work enters the public domain, and because of the scope limitations, parts of the rights to use the work are not exclusively owned by the right holder (Gray, 2020).
Figure 1: Copyright.
Note. From Copyright Symbols by Mike Seyfang, 2008, Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/31477768@N00/3020966582). Copyright 2008 Mike Seyfang.
Therefore, people can use these works easily and conveniently.
Bad influences of piracy and plagiarism in electronic games
The video game is one type of the electronic game and the industry was one of the industries that had to deal with tactics such as non-commercial piracy and threats carried out by hacktivist groups in the 1990s (Depoorter, 2014). Firstly, it affects the game companies, the sales quantity and funds are not enough, which leads to underfunding of the game production companies, affecting their company income and employee welfare, which may result in layoffs and staff turnover. And, staff turnover can lead to changes in the content and style of the game, and can even lead to the game not being completed in high quality because of the company’s financial problems, and players will not be able to experience the game they want. For example, the Prototype was pirated for approximately 2.35 million, and its development studio, Radical Entertainment, was hit hard financially by piracy and found it difficult to produce new works (Rahaman, 2020).
Figure 2: Prototype game.
Note. From Prototype. Xbox 360. 1080.P. Gameplay Part.01.-03. On my YouTube Channel https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwsjII0MclEHBL9M7A1UDRze4YybNH19m by Rob Obsidian, 2015, Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/65092514@N08/18363593100). Copyright 2015 Rob Obsidian.
In particular, small game companies are extremely vulnerable to the impact of piracy and go bankrupt because their size and economic strength do not allow them to ignore such financial losses.
Plagiarism is also very common in electronic games because previous programs and ideas are constantly used by the next generation, and it is difficult for the next generation to innovate these ideas (Ciancarini & Favini, 2009). This is because if the previous ideas and programs are very popular, the next generation of game developers will no longer need to spend a lot of time and energy creating new programs and ideas. They can earn high incomes by just following the previous ideas. This results in different electronic games of the same type being very similar, because they follow similar regulations and procedures, making it difficult for people to tell whether they are plagiarizing or borrowing. For example, MOBA games refer to multiplayer online competitive games. Popular games in this category include League of Legends, Honor of Kings, and Dota2. However, because League of Legends appeared earlier than Honor of Kings, the two games often fall into plagiarism scandals. C. Custer, a former graphics editor at Tech in Asia, mentioned that Honor of Kings and League of Legends are highly similar in many aspects such as colors, maps, and troop line designs, but both League of Legends and Honor of Kings belong to Tencent Corporation (2016). This means that the line between plagiarism between the two becomes blurred, some netizens even made a comparison video of the character modeling and design of the two games(MOBA BATTLE, 2022), allowing other netizens to judge whether they were plagiarized. Therefore, the dispute over whether the game is plagiarized or not cannot be stopped because it is inconclusive, which greatly affects the reputation of the game company and the perception of the players. Players can easily get confused with the data of characters in different games, leading to game failure and even quarrels, affecting the harmony in games and Internet communities.
The positive effects and hidden traps of piracy and plagiarism in electronic games
Pirated games also have positive effects like saving money and optimizing player’s experience. First of all, many people play video games but some of them cannot be purchased due to the high selling price including R&D costs, company management, and game maintenance costs (Gupta, 2022), so pirated games give some gamers the opportunity to save money and still be able to play (Al-Rafee & Cronan, 2006). In addition to this, people who pirate the game will have the opportunity to crack codes of the original game and improve these codes to perform better for the benefit of players. For example, Resident Evil Village, the eighth installment of Capcom Games’ popular IP Resident Evil series, is expensive, costing AU$56.99 for the regular base edition on the Steam gaming platform, and AU$117.95 for the deluxe edition which includes even more bonus props for the game. Many players want to save money to get more game rewards, so they can choose to download the pirated version for free. In addition to this, the original game would have lagged due to some programming issues, and the pirated version even fixed this problem to make the game smoother, forcing Capcom to fix the problem so that the original players could also have a good gaming experience (Leadbetter, 2021). However, these free pirated games also hide consumer traps, because pirates also need financial benefits, so they include a lot of advertisements inside the game or on the webpage where pirated games are linked to download to lure gamers to click on them and spend money, for example, the cracked version of Resident Evil Village has a lot of advertisements in the download webpage (Xiaoyaoguaifenxiang, 2023). Therefore, pirated games still put players at risk of losing money and don’t exactly protect or save money.
The advantages of plagiarism games are that they are promote innovation and easy to play. Because of the similarities between the two games, so game companies need to keep developing and creating new terms to make their games different to attract new players and retain old players. Also, because the games are highly similar, it makes it easier for players to get started playing new games. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild and Genshin Impact are both open-world exploration games with similar gameplay, players of either game can quickly skip the novice tutorial and enjoy the game when they play the other game. Genshin was inspired by Zelda but has its own innovations based on the Zelda rules and gameplay settings, such as a new story and spending money or game resources to get new characters by drawing cards (Albader, 2022), resulting in the download of Genshin, although free, subsequently costing more money than Zelda. Settings such as game currency circulation and random game events in the game will more easily stimulate players’ gambling spirit (Shibuya et al., 2019) because these events and resources will affect the player’s game experience, players need to obtain new characters to help them complete these events to obtain richer resources and a better game experience. In particular, younger gamers who suffer from anxiety and stress will be more likely to spend more money to get new characters because using games is an easy way for them to combat stress-relieving emotions (Tang et al., 2022). Players are prone to spend a lot of money with a gambler’s mentality and reduce pressure, falling into the spending trap leading to addiction and high consumption. Therefore, plagiarism games also cost players extra because their innovations are not totally beneficial to the players.
This paper explains the impact of plagiarism and piracy in game copyright on players and companies, although they can promote innovation in game companies, save players money, and optimize the game experience, etc., plagiarism and piracy still have problems such as damaging the reputation and interests of the company as well as and bring hidden consumer traps for players. Therefore, plagiarism and piracy should be reduced to better protect the player’s playing experience and money and the company’s reputation and interests, and maintain the intellectual property to protect creative works.
Albader, J. (2022). Genshin impact VS Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Smoke Signals. https://chsnews.org/9704/entertainment/genshin-impact-vs-zelda-breath-of-the-wild/
Al-Rafee, S., & Cronan, T. P. (2006). Digital Piracy: Factors that Influence Attitude Toward Behavior. Journal of Business Ethics, 63(3), 237–259. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-005-1902-9
Ciancarini, P., & Favini, G. P. (2009, April 26). Plagiarism detection in game-playing software. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Foundations of Digital Games. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1536513.1536560
Custer, C. (2016). China’s top mobile game is a complete League of Legends ripoff. Tech in Asia. https://www.techinasia.com/chinas-top-mobile-game-complete-league-legends-ripoff
Depoorter, B. (2014). What happened to video game piracy? Communications of the ACM, 57(5), 33–34. https://doi.org/10.1145/2594289
Gray, J. E. (2020). A brief history of digital copyright and google. In Google Rules (pp. 1–18). Oxford University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190072070.003.0001
Gupta, M. (2022, November 17). Why are new video games so expensive? Esports with Tournafest. https://tournafest.com/blog/why-are-new-video-games-so-expensive/
Leadbetter, R. (2021, July 15). The stories are true – The pirate version of Resident Evil Village improves performance. Eurogamer.Net. https://www.eurogamer.net/digitalfoundry-2021-resident-evil-village-cracked-performance-beats-official-code
MOBA BATTLE. (2022 March 26). League of Legend Wild Rift VS King Of Glory / Honor of King Side By Side Hero Compare [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–Wdv8IAu78
Obsidian, R. (2015). Prototype. Xbox 360. 1080.P. Gameplay Part.01.-03. On my YouTube Channel https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwsjII0MclEHBL9M7A1UDRze4YybNH19m. Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/65092514@N08/18363593100
Rahaman, R. (2020, July 20). 15 most pirated video games ever. GameRant. https://gamerant.com/most-pirated-video-games/
Seyfang, Mike. (2008). Copyright Symbols. Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/31477768@N00/3020966582
Shibuya, A., Teramoto, M., Shoun, A., & Akiyama, K. (2019). Long-Term effects of in-game purchases and event game mechanics on young mobile social game players in japan. Simulation & Gaming, 50(1), 76–92. https://doi.org/10.1177/1046878118819677
Snapper, J. W. (1999). On the Web, plagiarism matters more than copyright piracy. Ethics and Information Technology, 1(2), 127–135. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010083703905
Tang, A. C. Y., Lee, P. H., Lam, S. C., Siu, S. C. N., Ye, C. J., & Lee, R. L.-T. (2022). Prediction of problem gambling by demographics, gaming behavior and psychological correlates among gacha gamers: A cross-sectional online survey in Chinese young adults. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.940281
U.S. Copyright Office. (2019 October 31). What is Copyright? [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukFl-siTFtg
Xiaoyaoguaifenxiang. (2023). Shēng huà wēi jī 8 ： cūn zhuāng pò jiě bǎn R e s i d e n t E v i l V i l l a g e zhōng wén pò jiě bǎn s t e a m pò jiě yóu xì dān jī yóu xì xià zài miǎn jiě yā miǎn ān zhuāng xià zài jí wán – xiǎo yāo guài fēn . xìng qù shǐ rán de zī yuán bān yùn Blog.[ Resident Evil 8: Village Cracked Version Resident Evil Village Chinese Cracked Version Steam Cracked Game Stand-alone Game Download No Decompression and No Installation Download and Play – Little Monster Points. Interest-driven resource transfer blog] https://www.xyg688.com/post-2561.html