So with the recent news of the Wii U's supposed hacking, I thought I would ask the question presented in the headline while providing my own thoughts on the matter.
Piracy is something I think almost any big gamer is guilty of at one point or another and whether they know it or not. Downloading a free game or perhaps playing a copy that friend made for you, for instance. The use of ROMs, ISOs and other files that infringe copyrights is pretty prevalent in today's gaming industry which has lead to a restructuring of how developers handle it.
Ubisoft took the DRM route on the PC, forcing players to be online even when playing a single player game. EA tried the same approach more recently with SimCity, ultimately ending with disastrous results.
And finally, the granddaddy of these arguments; the PSN hack attack. Needless to say, this was an attack on the company of Sony itself as oppose to anyone else. I remember after the network had been cracked, there were reports of hundreds of thousands worth of PSN games being stolen. After having filed a lawsuit against a hacker who had broken into the PS3's supposedly unbreakable infrastructure, Sony received DDoS attacks from an online group that gad broken off of their original ties with Anonymous. This resulted in the personal information of many users being stolen as well as the entire Playstation Network being shut down. Unfortunately for me, this happened the very day I had picked up my copy of Portal 2 on the system, preventing me from linking my PSN account to my Steam account and even from getting my free copy on Steam.
On a side note, much of the media pointed many fingers at Sony. I felt that too much of the blame was aimed at Sony and not nearly enough at the hackers who had perpetrated the issue. It was a mess and Sony's handling of it was obviously not perfect, but they certainly handled it much better than other corporations have; and fans received free games as a result. Doesn't fix it, but it's better than nothing.
So we have the obvious drawbacks to hacking and piracy. But what are the positives?
Like with any medium, piracy can lead to one thing in particular; notoriety. As with band demo tapes getting passed around, a game that gets widely downloaded can become more and more popular as the years go by. The Mother series is a pretty good example of this.
Hacking on the other hand can also lead to breaking region locks as well as conveniences like the Homebrew channel for the Wii. While people could use this to effectively download and steal Wii games, the channel brought upon many neat features like DVD playback and game modding communities, particularly for the Smash Bros. series.
Where I stand on it is obviously not going to turn many heads, but I think hacking/piracy is acceptable under particular circumstances. For starters, I don't approve of stealing games that are currently on the market in some way. If there is a game you want to play and you can buy it legally (whether for its console or on an emulator), then I feel that's what gamers should do. If it's a rare game that cannot be bought in a legal manner, then it's hard to say that it's a bad thing to download since there's no money being made from the title.
For another, modding can lead to some cool things. But considering where hackers took the PS3 and in some regard the Wii, it's obvious that people with the ability to crack all of these codes cannot always be trusted. I think the Homebrew channel was a plus for the console as oppose to a negative, but leading to the theft of games like on the PSN (and obviously later the hack attack) really makes the line between acceptable and unacceptable a lot thinner.
Enough gabbing out of me. What's your take?