The Tuesday release of “Black Ops 2,” the newest installment in the first-person shooter “Call of Duty” series, is expected to break sales records and have game stores refilling the shelves for weeks. Amazon named “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” the most preordered game in the company’s history, although those numbers don’t reflect the illegal copies that have leaked onto the Internet and will almost certainly be readily available on torrent websites in the coming days.
The BBC reported free copies of the game were available for illegal download more than a week before stores like Gamestop and Best Buy began pricing “Black Ops 2” at $59.99. That was obvious on YouTube, where plenty of game play videos were posted before it was possible to play legally.
There is an inherent risk in downloading “Black Ops 2” torrents, however, as Microsoft has punished gamers trying to play “Halo 4” online before the game was released. The copyright police have been slow to catch up with the torrent technology, but earlier this month “Halo 4” users had heir Xbox Live accounts “permanently suspended,” according to the BBC.
“The 'Halo 4' leak has happened much earlier than these things normally do, and the fact is that many people are going to want to play it,” MCV editor Michael French said. “Piracy is a bit of an unspoken force on the Xbox 360. The industry talks about it being rife on PCs - which it is - but it also exists on consoles. A [modified] machine allows you to download the files over the Internet and play them yourself. It's not super-hard to do, but it is illegal.”
Cinema Blend reported “Black Ops 2” leaked online last week and downloads were quickly increasing throughout the days leading up to the official launch. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” a previous release of the same franchise, was one of the most pirated games of 2011 despite becoming available only at the end of November.
The online piracy of major releases may hurt the game market, but don’t expect many users to feel regret. Retailers like Gamestop have been criticized for years because of a used game policy that disenfranchises even the most devoted gamers. Hypothetically, a customer could spend $60 on a new “Call of Duty” release and see the value plummet more than 50 percent before even leaving the store.
Forbes reported on an anonymous Gamestop employee who wrote of practices like this bringing an end to the gaming industry.
“It’s all based on how long the game has been out, the published reviews, customer feedback, and how popular the title is,” the employee wrote. “So yes, if a hyped game comes out the first week and it sucks, and GameStop realizes that the game won’t turn them much of a profit, they will drop the trade-in credit under the standard $25 rate because they’re expecting a flux of customers trading the game in. It’s standard capitalist tactics, but it leaves you as a consumer feeling cheapened and taken advantage of. Why exactly would you want to do business with a place like that?”
Now, more and more people simply don’t.