A freeloader is a program that uses some system or server resources to survive and possibly benefit its creator, without paying for them. Servers may provide some minimal service for free, in order to attract paying customers, or unintentionally, as an unintended effect of complex cost structures; there may be ways to arrange for some transaction charges, especially small ones, to be lost in the shuffle. A freeloader exploits these sorts of things to operate free of charge.

Also see: weeds, Flying Dutchmen.

FreeLoader is a program for the GameCube that allows the playing of games from other regions. It's a popular tool in the United Kingdom, where PAL game releases are often far behind their American counterparts. Obviously, American games are perfect for British gamers because they don't require translation, but UK games are usually translated into a number of other European languages before release, which is time consuming.

FreeLoader is used as a boot disk - after loading, it asks you to insert your game disc, and the game runs - a short and painless exercise. It's rumoured that games are starting to appear - such as the Japanese version of F-Zero GX - that do not work with the current version of FreeLoader, but it's likely a new edition of FreeLoader will be released to address this.

The GameCube will require a separate memory card for every region used - a US game cannot save to a card that has been formatted for Japanese games, and so on. Most importers will require three cards - UK, US and Japanese. You can reformat a card from any region, so three UK cards will suffice.

The most common use of FreeLoader is to allow UK gamers to play Animal Crossing, which has not seen a Eurpoean release despite popular demand. The two are often sold as a set, and since Animal Crossing comes with a free dedicated memory card, there's no extra cost involved.

Servo5678 notes that US gamers are using FreeLoader to play UK copies of Doshin the Giant, Nintendo's rather odd God sim, which it appears failed to get a US release. Interestingly, rumour has it that Nintendo used the sales of Doshin to help decide whether Animal Crossing should get a UK release, despite that fact that the two games are quite different and Doshin was never going to be a success in the UK market. Another reason Nintendo have given for the no-show of Animal Crossing in the UK is the effort involved in preparing the new Pokémon games for release.

The Economic Rationale behind being a Freeloader

A person or company that gains the benefit of a good without having to pay for it is a freeloader.

Goods can be described as rival or non-rival (depending on whether one person's use of the good diminishes another person's experience or not), and as excludable or non-excludable (depending on whether people can be prevented from accessing the good).

My newspaper and my coffee are excludable goods because I will smack you if you touch either of them. My coffee is a rival good because the more you drink it the less there is for me. But my newspaper isn't rival - as long as you don't crease the edges of my newspaper or get it wet when you read it on the toilet I will not loose any benefit if you borrowed it.

But other goods are not excludable. You can fish as much tuna you want out of the sea because nobody is stopping you. Of course, fish stocks are rival commodities because a greater number of fishermen means that there would be fewer fish caught per participant. Radio broadcasts are non-excludable and non-rival - nothing can stop me tuning in, and it won't stop you from listening too.

Many activities involving non-excludable commodities produce positive externalities, such as knowledge from a university, pleasure from music or good-will from a sporting event. But often the government or really nice benefactors are needed to fund such ventures since there would be very little return offered, although society as a whole would benefit. A freeloader could be the recipient of a $10 polio jab, since he is not paying the full cost of all the research that went into polio over the last few centuries.

Freeloaders exist when people can get something for nothing, ie: a non-excludable good. It is then up to whatever legal or cultural rules exist that determines what they can get for free. They are more likely to get up the nostril of paying customers if the goods are rival goods. If a city was putting on a firework display funded by its ratepayers, it would be unreasonable to expect non-ratepayers to avert their eyes during the display. But it would be a different matter if the city provided a limited number picnic hampers.

Whilst it is up to the individual to decide how guilty they should be the next time they go mooching, it is better to approach the issue of freeloading according to how rival or non-rival a good is. A good idea is to be the benefactor to one's mates once in a while (bake a cake for your work colleagues, shout a round of drinks), to assauge guilt and to maintain an informal economic system of reciprocity.

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