There's a long-standing — and incorrect, I think — view amongst publishers that a game pirated is a game stolen.
It's not (who says they'd ever have bought a copy anyway?), and in a great piece over on GameSetWatch, Irish designer Tadhg Kelly (formerly of Lionhead) argues an even better reason why this isn't the case. Instead, he says, we shouldn't think of pirates as thieves. We should think of them as fans, and change the video game business accordingly.
Talking about publisher's stance on piracy, he says "They're seeing their business as a content business, where the content is the thing that has value. This is not the case."
"The games industry, like all the arts, is about finding and interacting with fans, so that value comes from a relationship."
"What it means is that your game, and you as a developer, needs to be built with the idea of forming a connection with players, and to do so with as many players as possible. The relationship that you establish with those players is the true source of revenue and success."
It's perhaps a little "pie in the sky" for big publishers as they exist today, but as Kelly's full article explains, there's something fundamentally broken with that, too, something that actually in some ways encourages piracy. It's an interesting read, if only because it seeks to tackle "piracy" not from a direct, reactionary standpoint but in terms of changing the entire business of video games.
Opinion: Game Developers Should Love Their Pirates [GameSetWatch]