Do you know the term "Warez"?

Discussion in 'GBAtemp & Scene News' started by FAST6191, Jul 29, 2018.



    Warez is a long standing term to describe various aspects of sharing copyrighted content and all that it entails. Detailing its complete etymology, as well as the related terms, is left as an exercise for the reader but know it is a corruption of the word wares (as in "I have these wares for sale on my market stall"). You will also have to take on faith that the term was near ubiquitous for many years.
    In a recent discussion on the forums it was intimated that the term was no longer in current usage, indeed having effectively died off some 10 years prior (a time before many members may have joined this internet lark). Being old and out of the loop then rather than face being laughed at when I was the one attempting to do the laughing "to a search engine we go!".
    One list of top gaming websites and top tech websites later. A great many still list it in their terms of use, news stories, headlines and more besides, however a distinct number of the results were from over a decade ago (something you would not expect given the attention "copyright infringement" still gets), and quite a few of the more recent instances were quotes from senior game developers (a group that is not largely composed of spring chickens, and often have a fairly interesting history with the concept). Said terms of use could also be written off as a legacy thing as well. Time to dig deeper

    There is a rather nice word frequency search provided by google in their "ngrams viewer". Link

    A downward trend in the time period concerned.
    As nobody writes books any more then historical search terms are also available to be searched. Pictured below is also with the addition of torrent as a means to compare.

    The trend pattern continues. Note that the linked and pictured versions use worldwide searches and then includes a lot of Eastern Europe, it seems to hold if you limit it to the usual "multi5" (English, German, French, Spanish, Italian) countries as well.

    What remains of usenet searches, though usenet is mostly composed of older technically inclined people these days, appears to show a similar trend (save for groups often being named warez but given the age of such things...). Perhaps more curiously still is torrentfreak, a popular news source dedicated to covering the events related to piracy, intellectual property law as it pertains to said same and related concepts, also uses it rather sparingly or when quoting if their internal search engine is to be believed.

    Unlike the poem ours is always to reason why, though as a spoiler for the upcoming section there are no answers or satisfactory conclusions. There are a great many other terms used by all sorts of groups -- infringing copies, backups, pirated copies, pirated materials, stolen works, copied games, cracked software and the list goes on.

    Linguistically Warez is a proper noun (even has a capital) that is not immediately obvious. Such a thing could be responsible for a downfall but again it was near ubiquitous. At the same time the term torrent (also a proper noun and completely non obvious) exploded so maybe it was just that.
    Occasionally you find hidden cabals of word pushers. GBAtemp tends not to be invited to such things and as most such things are more or less like this then we don't complain too hard. The results of such things do however leak out from time to time. In the case of the thing linked it is the 2007 version of the "The International Game Journalists Association and Games Press Present The Video Game Style Guide And Reference Manual". Being 2007 it is thus before/around the cutoff but it does mention it in its terms list.
    Journalists are but one type of language pusher so maybe they went with lawyers, guns and money. While no direct lawyer action is expected you can lean on people "don't use the word and you get this nice interview".
    2008 was a high tech time (game wise we were enjoying GTA4 and Fallout 3) but perhaps not so much as today. To that end were people noticing stories being left out of searches as "warez copy of fallout 3 releases weeks ahead of street date" (for the record Fallout_3_REVIEW_COPY_XBOX360-DiPLODOCUS was 9th of October for a game that hit on the 28th of the same month) got filtered? It is not impossible.
    Were advertisers (themselves usually the games and tech industry rather than general products) partially responsible? Quite possible actually as there are all sorts of things they ask for and this would be a banal sounding one. Not sure what it might gain -- you lose a cool term with a z in it and in place have something banal like backup or wrong sounding like pirate. Everything is still discussed and everybody still knows what goes.
    Was it an actual linguistic distinction? The words most commonly paired with warez were probably group or Scene. This refers to a specific method of distribution and mindset (see also "Scene rules"), and around the same time the "p2p" scene wherein one did not have to take great pains to join secretive groups was exploding. Given the complete pig's breakfast that has been made of the term hacker (never mind cracker) over the years this seems unlikely but it is mentioned anyway.

    Anyway do you still know/recognise the term? Is this idea that the term had fallen out of usage a surprise to you? Had you met it before? Is it rather quaint for you? Are you one of said younger audience that might be expected to have missed it entirely? Were you in a position to experience any of the "do as we say" aspects speculated upon above? Do you have some other reasoning for the trend? Discuss any aspect of this that you feel warrants it.
    Discussion (59 replies)
  1. Jonna

    Jonna Some sort of musician.

    May 15, 2015
    I love intricate posts delving into the specifics of something small, yet significant, and exploring every last possibility.

    No, seriously, I love it, I'm not being sarcastic.

    Your words are always fascinating, Tom. :yay:
    WiiHomebrew+Snes and LuigiXL like this.
  2. Chary

    Chary Never sleeps.

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    Oct 2, 2012
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    Honestly only ever heard the term "warez" on here. I remember reading the rules when I joined GBAtemp, and wondered what this weird 90s era term "warez" could possibly mean.
  3. Frederica Bernkastel

    Frederica Bernkastel GBAtemp Psycho!

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    Jan 31, 2008
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    We're going to see a lot of cycling around with niche terms like these.

    Popularity of a practice doesn't necessarily mean that there is widespread knowledge as to how it works or its best practices. As any piracy elitist I'm sure will attest to, usenet and FTP were never the most common places to look despite being arguably the safest and purest.

    Unless it has good reason to jump to the very, very top, there's a good chance that any new term (or a few oldies) simply will not stick.
  4. GensokyoIceFairy

    GensokyoIceFairy GBAtemp Regular

    Sep 30, 2017
    United Kingdom
    That's a lot of detail.

    Gone are the days of MegaUpload and RapidShare links too. They used to be everywhere. I sadly used MU for legitimate purposes back in 2010.
    air2004 likes this.
  5. stanleyopar2000

    stanleyopar2000 Dirty Weeb ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    Jun 22, 2007
    United States
    When I was I growing up I thought it was pronounced WARE-AZ
    Red771 and SIX10 like this.
  6. Dust2dust

    Dust2dust GBAtemp Advanced Fan

    Jun 17, 2010
    I've used the term Warez and even still use it today. I started being aware of the term not long after buying my first PC in 1999. It was not easy to get your warez back then, with the ever-present danger of the files getting deleted on the host sites before you had the chance to grab them all. And it was hard to go fast with a 56k dial-up modem. I was getting a 2.7 MB file (the regular filesize for ripped releases back then) in 10 minutes. :rofl2: If my memory serves me right, I may even had gotten some warez from this very site. :blush: God bless GBAtemp !
    air2004 and Jacklack3 like this.
  7. anhminh

    anhminh Pirate since 2010

    Sep 30, 2010
    Some how the word "warez" sound very "aesthetic".
    grey72 likes this.
  8. JoeBloggs777

    JoeBloggs777 GBAtemp Fan

    May 30, 2018
    United Kingdom
    I don't see the word much any more on the net , but in 90's when the BBS was king, we used it all the time for any software that we downloaded.
  9. crimpshrine

    crimpshrine GBAtemp Regular

    Jun 18, 2014
    United States
    In the BBS days (late 80's) I recall Warez being a common term users would use to distinguish PD (Public Domain) BBS's vs pirate ones. Like do they have Warez?

    early to mid 90's IRC/FTP just continued the popularity. Can't say I think of anything as Warez any more though..

    I recall other influences from the word also, like appz was usually pirates applications in the PC world for many years. I even see current day private trackers refer to PC applications category as appz.

    Don't trade on 0 day FTP anymore, but for many, many years (20+) same thing, 2 directories. games and appz.
  10. Jayenkai

    Jayenkai Makes Games

    Dec 25, 2007
    United Kingdom
    Bolton, England
    I much prefer the term Warez, and roms, as opposed to what the current kids are mistakenly calling "Homebrew"
    I blame that ENTIRELY on the "Homebrew Channel" being misused to spread pirated games.
    At the end of the day, all that does is make things infinitely harder for us actual Homebrew developers, as we're buried under a pile of pirated content.

    Bah, Humbug </grumpy>
    WiiHomebrew+Snes and Jacklack3 like this.
  11. mezz0

    mezz0 Member

    Mar 10, 2009
    HPVAC & Warez; all from BBS times long ago :)
    jolly good times, except for sub 14k4 speeds and such.. oh and loud modems
  12. Tom Bombadildo

    Tom Bombadildo Tom BombaDadlo

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    Jul 11, 2009
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    I forgot
    I've known the term basically ever since I started actually using computers (instead of just going to Paint and making pretty pictures) which was around 2000 or so (I was like 6 or 7 then :lol:). My dad used to pirate software for me back then, and eventually I started looking for stuff myself. Used to use a few P2P programs (that weren't Limewire), then transitioned to direct link sites, and then to torrents and such later. I think it was when I moved on to torrents that I noticed the term Warez wasn't used all that often anymore outside specific places. People would just refer to pirated content as just that, pirated content, or just "torrents" or "copyrighted software" and such.

    As a side note, I always thought the term "Warez" came about simply because it was "software", and adding a Z makes it super cool. :unsure:
    Y0shII and B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N like this.
  13. sarkwalvein

    sarkwalvein There's hope for a Xenosaga port.

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    Jun 29, 2007
    The disconnect. Yeah it makes you remember you are getting old.
    I didn't even notice the term "warez" was not being used as much.
    I wonder what other term I consider common is going obsolete.

    Tom! You can't be so young! Not you too!
    Last edited by sarkwalvein, Jul 29, 2018
    Ryccardo likes this.
  14. smileyhead

    smileyhead So long, and thanks for all the fish

    Aug 31, 2015
    I still use the term.
  15. kuwanger

    kuwanger GBAtemp Maniac

    Jul 26, 2006
    United States
    This actually follows from the next bit:

    Google. Google downranks "warez", so legitimate sites try to avoid the term. Copyright infringement holders use Google to go after "warez" sites so sites avoid using the word.

    That's worth a good chuckle. Or are you serious?

    Which brings up the other point: the commercialization of the internet. Most countries that'd use an English term like "warez" now have ready access to online means of purchasing games/programs. Also, the median income is enough to actually support a habit that can avoid "warez" and still have a comprehensive gaming/programs experience. I'd be interested what your results would be if you used a comparable Chinese word for warez and if you use another search engine like baidu.

    Google doesn't/can't downrank "torrent" because torrent has plenty of legitimate uses. Warez in its literal meaning has only illegitimate uses. So, it's not "just that" torrent was a means of Warez but the term is so ambiguous that TPB doesn't even include either term. Of course torrents themselves have still been pretty heavily impugned which is why there's been a move to magnets which are still called torrents even though I don't think people understand any of the details of the connection, really.

    Yep, I'm apparently enough of an old-timer. As far as falling out of use, that's really the cornerstone of reality for any subculture. Words are invented/used by a subculture, they're commonly used by others, and either they're integrated in a new form by everyone or they're sufficiently attacked that the originators of the term tend to move on to other terms. This includes profanity, sexual terms, descriptive terms that shift to denigrating terms, etc.

    To me, this is just a sign of how Google/search engines went commercial and the "freedom" of the internet has been heavily lost. Forever now I know that Google will not try their best to help me find what I'm looking for but what best meets their agenda. Apparently their agenda isn't that focused on taking down click farms. Or doing a good job of matching long literal strings (like path/filenames for errors). *shrug*

    PS - A bit off-topic, but it still reminds me of the funny time PBS Newshour was interviewing a bunch of Chinese college students on whether they knew about Tiananmen Square incident. I'm still not sure if they were feigning ignorance or really didn't know because China's censorship worked so well.
    Last edited by kuwanger, Jul 29, 2018
  16. TheZander

    TheZander King of the Level 7's

    Feb 1, 2008
    United States
    Level 7
    Be aware, the world needs more warez. I think nfo ascii art used the phrase warez a lot. Personally i prefer bootleg. Seeing bootlegged dvds of movies still in theatres being sold in gas stations it's pretty awesome.
  17. Petraplexity

    Petraplexity Fidget-Spinning Spicy Memelord™

    Sep 5, 2015
    United States
    Over There
    I've learned the term warez a long time ago, from... warez sites.

    Oh, and this timeless classic:
    Skindred and supergamer368 like this.
  18. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    United Kingdom
    While I don't disagree as to the possibility, and will have to pause for a moment to wonder if the search filter also does all the fun things we see with the translation side of things, I have seen plenty of style guides, phrasing suggestions, editor guides and discussions of said same I had not seen it frowned upon.

    At the same time I will also note, and probably should have at the start, that adding torrent back then to a search was something of a... actually I can't even call it an open secret for getting yourself a dodgy copy.

    I might also have to disagree with it only having illegitimate uses, though I suppose they could have got away with that. Also I guess warez was the additional search term of choice before torrent took off, unless you knew what you were doing and in that case "intitle:"index of"".

    While it was something of a cheesy segway I would have to ask what percentage volume of human textual communication could be said to happen via books today as compared to online text?

    I did consider having a paragraph pondering such things (and once I switched from the default US to the worldwide option it was dominated by such places, despite rather smaller populations) and finances but decided against it in the end. That with me and mine having been to a lot of those places the... endemic would probably be the word of choice.

    Choice link

    Ah, missed homebrew from the list of terms. I don't know if I would go that far. Homebrew seemed to rise up to replace public domain/PD (also mentioned in the replies, and for others playing along there is a reason is called what it is), mainly as public domain does have a specific legal meaning and not all homebrew, or indeed open source, is public domain. I still saw PD used in the N64 era but by the time I appeared on the GBA then homebrew was it. That said its extensive usage as a verb and adjective (I homebrewed my Wii, my homebrewed Wii...) I do reckon (albeit without any checking like I did for the opening post) was something I saw rise with the Wii stuff. Modded, chipped, emulator or flash cart depending upon the system/method in question being the term before then.

    I also saw bootleg in a later comment, but I will probably have to spare that for when I consider "bootleg arcade games" another day -- bootleg seems to be a term used in English/by English speakers for the China/Hong Kong set making interesting remixes (what would today probably be called a ROM hack) of games and releasing those, also occasionally as a term for flash carts. Outside China/HK though it appears as though different terms are used.

    To finish the old man grumble grumble routine I suppose I shall also pause to consider jailbreak and root going wide, or in the case of the latter losing a lot of their original meaning.

    Glad you liked it. I can't say I considered it an intricate post, more enough that I was not effectively just writing [title] and carrying on from there.
    LuigiXL likes this.
  19. migles

    migles All my gbatemp friends are now mods, except for me

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    Sep 19, 2013
    i am very familiar with the term "warez" mainly because torrent websites.. IIRC there was a torrent site i used in the past that used the term warez in the banner\description
    but it used to be a common word...
    Ericthegreat likes this.