Via Slashdot I came across two interesting articles with sales figures for indie game developers one for PC and one for Iphone.
The PC game was developed by an experienced indie developer. It took a team of people about a year to make and has racked up sales of about $110k after two years which they reckon is just about break even.
The Iphone game was a one man effort which took about six months but it has only achieved sales of about €535 after a month despite good reviews. It looks like this game will never generate a decent return to the programmer for his time.
What really struck me about these articles is that both games were cracked almost immediately at launch. You can sense the developers' bitterness that many people may be playing their games without paying a cent.
I also know that there is no proof that that piracy resulted in a single lost sale of either game. Perhaps the games were crap. Perhaps a few folks who pirated the game even went out and bought a copy after trying it (yeah right).
I know that content piracy and the fight against it is an emotive issue. I know that "Big Content" has lost a lot of the moral high ground on this issue with clumsy attempts to restrict customers rights and abusive use of legal processes. I also know that the sheer unstoppable momentum of the digital information explosion probably means that the traditional pay for content business model is probably going to die out anyway despite cack handed attempts at restricting digital rights.
Nevertheless, accepting all of the ambiguity about what would have happened if, accepting all he uncertainty about what will happen when, those articles have convinced me that here, today in the world we live in now it is morally wrong to download and use content you are not legally entitled to. It is immoral to pirate pc games. It is immoral to pirate Iphone games. It is immoral to pirate books or films or music or cable tv.