There are two main reasons that I pirate games.
Poorly coded games. Many of the games that are released now are in a Beta state, they are not ready to be released. Too many companies release games before they are ready, generally due to deadlines that are unreasonable, or due to poor management, or both. It is grossly unfair for any publisher to expect the paying public to be the Beta testers for their product. If I am going to put my money down on a game, it better be polished, and with minimal bugs. I am aware that no software of any complexity is going to be bug free, and I do not expect it to be. What I do expect, is for the game to work. One bad example of this type of game is Assassin’s Creed. On the PC, it had major bugs, including numerous show stoppers. The game was released at least 3 months too soon. When Ubisoft finally got around to patching the game, instead of fixing the worst problems, they downgraded the graphics from DX10.1 to DX10.0. You know, because of NVidia and their silly “The Way It’s Meant to be Played” program. It should read “The Way It’s Meant to be Paid”. As long as developers and publishers release games that fail a basic test of fitness, they have not earned, and do not deserve a red cent.
As someone on a fixed income, I do not have a great deal to spend on games. When a game is released that is polished and just works, and is something I want, I pay for it. When it is a game that I wouldn’t pay for regardless, I feel no compunction about downloading it. The developers and publishers haven’t lost a penny due to me, I wouldn’t buy it anyways. No one should feel morally superior for paying for crap games. Especially crap games that do not meet the basic warranty of merchantability. If they cannot even meet that basic level of competence, then almost by definition, their product is in an unsalable condition. I, and many people I know, refuse to support these living examples of Sturgeon’s Law. However, make it good, and make it interesting, and I’ll give you my cash.
I know I said 2, but here’s a third. As long as publishers inflict Digital Rights Infections, and try to dictate what hardware and software I can have installed, they do not deserve anyone’s support. Contracts of adhesion that they try to force on people are beyond unconscionable and by attempting to force them down our throats, with the assistance of game stores, they are acting in a way that is reprehensible. As soon as anyone tries that, the contract is null and void. Since the game stores continually violate the law by refusing refunds on these products, especially the ones that fail to meet the basic warrant of merchantability, and since they are acting in collusion with the publishers, I have no moral or ethical problem pirating their products. When they start treating their customers as customers, and not units, and start following the law, then they may expect some support. Not until then.
So for the foreseeable future, I’ll stick with Indie games, and games such as those produced by Stardock. No BS, just a good game, without all of the crap, legalistic and otherwise.