The Study Dispelling The Myths Of Video Game Piracy

The Study Dispelling The Myths Of Video Game Piracy

Most studies regarding video game piracy are funded by companies attempting to prove how widespread piracy is and how much money everyone is losing. There is actually very little objective information on precisely how widespread piracy is and what kind of behaviours lead consumers to pirate one title over the other. This new study by Anders Drachen set out to provide a more accurate snapshot and ended up dispelling some of the widespread myths of video game piracy.

One of these misconceptions is to do with how widespread piracy is. According to Drachen, the numbers previously reported were too high. Drachen doesn’t claim that piracy isn’t widespread and that it isn’t an issue, simply that numbers haven’t been reported accurately. According to the report that has to do with taking ‘snapshots’ of pirate activity. If you take that snapshot immediately after a game’s release it tends to over-exaggerate precisely how much pirate activity is actually taking place.

The report found that piracy is usually focused on very few specific titles. The 10 most popular title accounted for 41.8% of activity, which is astounding. The ten most torrented games, over a period of three months from late 2010 to 2011, were Fallout: New Vegas, Darksiders, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, NBA 2k11, TRON Evolution, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Starcraft 2, The Force Unleashed 2, Two Worlds II and The Sims 3: Late Night.

There were a couple of common sense conclusions that were interesting: metacritic score tends to have an influence on what is downloaded, whilst genre has less of an impact than initially thought. There also may be some issue with ratings. Games rated ‘M’ and ‘T’ by the ESRB make up a majority of pirated games.

You can read the full report here.

Via Wired


  • I think Gabe Newell and even Apple know the secret to combating piracy.
    Give the consumer access to fast, reliable and well priced services that are safer and more convenient and people will pay for stuff they actually want.
    Steam and itunes prove this.

    • Yep. Especially if they can guarantee it will always be there for them to download at a later date.

    • Damn right. I used to be a major software pirate. Seriously. At one point I hadnt bought software in years. Now? I havent pirated a game in years. Wait, there was Syndicate… that was meh. Only because it was banned.

      • My behaviour has been very similar. But I think another important factor for me was not being a student anymore and having a lot more money to spend.

        • Im still a student, but Im finding that between Green Man Gaming and Steam I have no excuse. When games hit 2 – 3 dollars each? I have zero excuse. I did have work to get my online subscription for tv going but the work fell through when the owner went bankrupt *sigh* my luck. More work starts next week thank god.

          However, when summer sales start etc, I usually find myself stocking up for the year by spending up to 200 dollars which I usually get from friends etc on my birthday (Dec 7) and Xmas.

          • Same story. My steam list is over 200 strong and I have many quality Xbox 360 and PS3 games. I just don’t buy games on release unless I really can’t help myself. Between second hand titles, clearance sales, Steam holiday/publisher pack sales and Humble Bundle I am inundated with more games than I could possibly play by the end of the year (and not drop out of uni).

            It’s glorious that games are so popular that I can take advantage of the surplus in supply.

      • I’d like to think Syndicate was banned just out of common decency to the gaming community. Completely crap with an ending that made no sense. I wish Bullfrog were still around..

    • Make it more convenient for people to buy your product rather than steal it, and they will buy it. Who’d have thought?!

      I really don’t understand why so many companies don’t seem to get this very basic idea.

  • It’s good to see someone taking a proper look at this issue. You’d find the since we now live in a world of system firmware updates and steam sales, people are a lot less likely to pirate these days.

    Personally I pirated a lot during the PS2 era. Nowadays I either import games (for PS3) or wait till sale time (Steam… Those evil evil Steam sales) to buy games.

  • It’s interesting, all the pirates I meet usually sit under two main categories:

    1. People who pirate as a means to try before they by, they used to do it at the local library or video store but now it’s cheaper and easier to do it from their desktop.

    2. People who just pirate everything and even if they couldn’t, they wouldn’t have spent any many on that thing anyway, they would have just gone without.

    Obviously, this is a broad generalisation and there would be plenty who sit between. But it has proven to me that a pirate doesn’t = a lost sale in most cases.

    • There is a third group:

      3. People who pirate because they love a franchise but hate the company.

      I literally only pirate EA games. This is because they keep buying franchises I love and ruining them. I want to enjoy the game, but I don’t want to give EA any money, which they’ll use to buy up another franchise or license. Frankly, I hope EA folds. I’m not going to claim this is ethical or moral. It’s spite.

      • So you want to enjoy a game you claim they have ruined, for example, with overly intrusive DRM, such as always-online, but not give themany money fro enjoying the game they have “ruined” yet, you still enjoyed?

        • No. In fact, I don’t think I’ve enjoyed it once. I definitely didn’t enjoy DA2, ME 3 or Crysis 2. I usually like the IP enough to pirate it and try it though. Your ignoring the sports licenses though – they’ve made it so that for many sports, there’s is the only option, not necessarily a good one.

          Like I said though, I’m not making a moral case here at all. Its a ‘I couldn’t give a shit about EA and hope they fold’ position.

      • Companies and people change. if you think the game is good, you should support it. Dw I hate ea as well, but still give them money for mass effect 1 and 2. Got 3 for free, due to a cheap copy of SimCity I bought. Which is not bad game, though ea service ruins it completely.

        • They won’t change if we keep giving them money. Ignoring a twelve month period where they seemed interested in building new IP, they’ve been nickel and dimeing fan bases for 20+ years.

  • I wonder what makes certain games more pirated than others. There doesn’t seem to be any common trait amongst that list at all.

    • I haven’t played all of these games, but manyof them seem to be games that reviewed well but were also buggy. Particularly Black Ops and NV.

  • I think piracy is far less common than it was in the Xbox/Dreamcast/PS2/Cube era and previous to that the PSX/Saturn era.

    It was easier and cheaper to pirate back then. Especially the Dreamcast. The damn thing just played burnt games without modification.

    It’s a lot more hassle now to pirate for the regular joe.

    • C64 was the BEST for piracy – oh your DATASET tape includes anti-copy features? ‘scuse me while i put it and a blank casette into my stereo and dupe it. Man, being a kid was fun.

  • I pirated like crazy on the PS1 and Xbox original.

    The last game i pirated i think might have been Swat 4.

    Now however i have money to spend on games. Before i buy a game ill review it online. Then go ahead and decide if i want it and download it off steam. Back in the day i was willing to spend 2 hours figuring out how to get the game to work and just play through any limitations of pirating (no internet play, random unsupported bugs, glitchez, no updates, etc)

    But steam is a god send. ive been through 4 computers with steam and still have all my games. I couldn’t be any more impressed with steam.

    • steam, I laughed at on release… this will NEVER last! Now I laugh at past me. Youre an idiot past me. youre an idiot…

      • when it first came out i was so incredibly furious with it. I couldnt get half my games to work and i lived in a house where i had wireless internet for a year so godforbid i try and play a game while not connected! But by that time other games had their own DRM like Spore… holy crap.

  • Since graduating from college I pay for everything – party due to increased income and partly due to the great options and price of PC game downloads in the last few years.

    I do however still download pirated games for my old dad to try out (since it’s a rare game that I can just lend him the DVD of these days) – but he mostly just goes straight back to playing Heroes III and Battlefield 2 anyway.

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