PC piracy survey results: 35 percent of PC gamers pirate

Comments from gamers that pirate

Three questions on our survey let respondents fill in an "Other" field with whatever they wanted:

Do you think it's wrong to pirate games?

What are your reasons for pirating PC games, now or in the past?

If you pirated PC games in the past, why did you stop?

More than 4000 respondents wrote in their own explanations here. Some are simple:

  • I'm not paying £30 for a 15 year-old game
  • I'm still a kid when I did this
  • No support in Africa, no official dealers
  • It was easy
  • It was huni pop

A few made it hard to pass judgment.

  • I get games to cope with depression. Sometimes I can't afford enough games to keep me going.
  • "I'm on disability. I realize that falls into the "lack of income" criteria but it needs to be stressed that my lack of income will never change and is not because "he just doesn't work hard enough"

Many, many others offer justifications for why they pirated a game that they took some form of umbrage with.

  • If the game tries to charge an AAA price ($60+) but lacks the quality or content to justify paying that for it or lack of any multiplayer in a game that should have. I pirated rimworld because the developer would not guarantee steam keys to people who backed it but the day it launched on steam i ponied up the cash.
  • if the developer is lying on the trailer and shows better graphics than the actual product can show on highest settings. it's cheating the customers! search on youtube "ubisoft downgrades" and see for yourself. also games that reported to have many bugs.. first i try the pirated version to see how it works. and only if it's working right i'll buy the legal copy.. if the game is brokem i'm waiting for updated reviews and when it's fixed i'm buying it.. the waiting time also gain a price drop ususally.
  • Investments cant be based off reviews anymore. Paid reviews bias and fraud voids all credibility.
  • In game limitations ex. 30fps cap locked fov
  • All Rockstar games and EA games are stolen out of principal.
  • Insulting amount of DLC, I want the full product.
  • Because fuck Blizzard, EA, Sony and any other huge game maker that fucks over their customers; but especially Blizzard.
  • Developers putting in to little effort. It's DLC DLC DLC everywhere. Games are more of a money machine than something to entertain the masses now.
  • Dumb ass Denuvo
  • I feel ripped off by publishers who release extremely buggy / unplayable games and don't patch them adequately. I've had to "finish" games by watching video on youtube because bugs rendered the game unplayable.
  • Corporate greed. Pre 2005 everything was good. Full complete games with decent expansions worth paying for instead of expansions to finish the game. Launch day DLC. Microtransactions. Etc etc etc.

Many others again and again repeated major points. A game was unavailable to purchase anywhere digitally. They already owned the game on another platform or had lost the disk. The price in their region is exorbitant. Not available in their region at all. To demo a game before buying it.

Here and there former pirates wrote in that they only pirated games in the '80s or '90s when friends gave them copied floppies or burned CDs. Hundreds said they pirated games when they were younger and had less money. 

Wrapping up

There are millions of PC gamers out there, and we've only heard from a small slice of them. We hope these responses are enlightening for gamers and developers alike. Are there more or fewer pirates than you expect? Are their reasons for pirating games surprising? 

Let us know how we can keep this conversation going. The more public the discussion of piracy is, the more likely the games industry is to recognize where it can be better.

Special thanks to editor Jarred Walton for digging through the data and creating most of the charts for this article.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).