I’ve always been interested in your thoughts on piracy.
But why was the Commodore 64 such a piracy magnet?
I remember Will Wright saying Raid on Bungling Bay performed much much better on NES (in his opinion) because the NES reduced casual piracy.
What would you attribute the higher piracy and lower sales to on C64?
Ahh, Raid on Bungeling Bay. Here is the C64 version complete with landing at enemy airports to refuel!
I cannot access sales data of Commodore 64 games. Even the sales data of the Commodore 64 itself is in dispute. Let us go with this:
You see that spike around 1984? Not only was there a Console Crash, there was this incredible commercial. Reader, you must see it to believe it!
Yes, the Commodore 64 salute! And I always take my Commodore 64 on the waterslides. *salute!*
(For the younger generations, that is not a gigantic keyboard. That IS the entire computer!)
In the ‘portable’ version, the Commodore 64 still makes trips to water areas. Did you know if you use a Commodore 64, girls in bikinis will appear. It’s true! It happens in this commercial:
Oh, now that I am done reliving my Commodore days, I will consider the email’s question.
OK, the chart above has about 12.5 million Commodore 64 systems being sold. Super Mario Brothers sold 40 million copies. I am sure there are some NES systems sold that did not have any Super Mario Brothers attachment but consider the numbers. NES simply had a much, MUCH larger install base.
NES sold so many more games than PCs for the same reason why game consoles today sell more games than PCs. The NES was more accessible. Who was it more accessible to? To grandma? Sure. To Dad? Of course. But the most important NES consumer were kids. Some kids had a Commodore 64 but they tended to be older. Commodore 64 games also had a MUCH LONGER LOAD TIME. I am talking even half an hour at times to load up a game. No joke! The NES had no load times.
The games on the NES were just so much better. The top games on the Commodore 64, not including the arcade ports (which were better on the NES anyway), were games like Cybernoid, Spy Vs. Spy, M.U.L.E., and Archon. On the NES, these games got trounced by the omgawesomesauce that was coming from Japan. Japanese gaming really shook everything up.
Piracy on the Commodore 64 was rampant, no doubt. However, it is wrong to assume a pirated game is a lost sale. Most of the time, the pirate doesn’t even play the game at all! The truth is that the NES had a much larger install base, the entire install base wanting to play games (some people used the Commodore 64 for non-gaming purposes, those poor souls), and you could RENT NES games. I rented Raid of Bungeling Bay as I rented every NES game ever made. More people were able to discover Raid of Bungeling Bay because of this.
To answer the emailer’s other question, my view on piracy is simple. If there is no legal recourse to obtain a game, you pirate it. If you cannot obtain the game due to no one publishing it in your area, you either go without the game or you become a criminal. I choose to become a criminal. (This should not shock people. If I had the choice between a woman or a cool video game, the cool video game wins every single time. I’m a gamer first.)
If the new Nintendo president declared, “We must eliminate all the old Nintendo games from the face of the Earth! This way, people can only buy our new games.” I will resist! They can take my cartridges from my dead cold hands! I will not comply in the destruction of our cartridge history. If I had the choice of being a criminal gamer or not being a gamer at all, I choose criminal gamer.
The best way to reduce piracy is to publish the game everywhere. If people cannot buy it, they will pirate it. The gamer instinct is strong, my friends, and it will find a way!
Above: I cannot resist the temptation for another C64 video. Viva la MULE!!!