Online Gaming Piracy: How Bad Is It?

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On the back of yesterday’s article on Ubisoft’s law suit against OEM, The Shelf continued to dig to find out more about the world of online piracy in the gaming industry.

Online piracy has been a topic widely discussed in recent years, particularly in relation to the music industry. The case brought forward by gaming giant Ubisoft did however provide a rare chance to investigate further into the world of gaming piracy.

At a first glance gaming piracy doesn’t seem as wide spread a problem as that of music piracy. This could be due to the increased file size of game downloads that make downloading a little more difficult than that of music. It could also be due to sophisticated copyright prevention measures the industry already has in place. So is online gaming piracy a big problem after all?

If you ever wanted to know how many pirate downloads the top games are receiving then RPS (http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/03/05/the-yarr-ts-piracy-snapshot-532008/) has compiled a chart of the most downloaded game titles.

Top of the list is Assassin’s Creed with 25734 downloads followed by Frontlines: Fuel of War (12688) and Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat (8792) making up the top three. The figures were compiled through file sharing site Miniova, and represent the amount of downloads made in a single day.

The full top twenty

1) Assassin’s Creed – 25734
2) Frontlines: Fuel of War – 12688
3) Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat – 8792
4) Dark Messiah of Might and Magic – 8402
5) Lost: Via Domus – 5883
6) Turning Point: Fall of Liberty – 5183
7) Sims 2 – 4026
8 ) The Club – 3672
9) Bioshock – 3489
10) The Witcher – 3121
11) Need for Speed ProStreet – 3061
12) Crysis – 2847
13) Conflict: Denied Ops – 2085
14) Neverwinter Nights 2 – 1893
15) Hellgate: London – 1750
16) World in Conflict – 1531
17) Stranglehold – 1459
18) The Orange Box – 1341
19) Age of Empires – 1099
20) Flat Out 2 – 1074

Top twenty UK games sales

THE SIMS 2: FREETIME
WORLD OF WARCRAFT: BATTLE CHEST
SINS OF A SOLAR EMPIRE
THE SIMS 2: BON VOYAGE
CIVILIZATION IV COMPLETE
CALL OF DUTY 4: MODERN WARFARE
ASSASSIN’S CREED
COMMAND & CONQUER 3: TIBERIUM WARS
RACE DRIVER: GRID
MASS EFFECT
WARHAMMER 40,000: DAWN OF WAR SOULSTORM
CRYSIS
MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR X
WARHAMMER 40,000: DAWN OF WAR COMPLETE
AGE OF EMPIRES III
MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR X DELUXE
AGE OF CONAN: HYBORIAN ADVENTURES
SIM CITY SOCIETIES
CHAMPIONSHIP MANAGER 2008

*Note* Sins of A Solar Empire – is absent, despite sitting #3 in the UK retail charts

With the download figures taken from a single days download activity it is mind-blowing to see how many time the top titles are downloaded.


“Call of Duty 4 has been on sale for 113 days, assuming day zero piracy. A seven gig torrent, assuming a 100k download speed, takes just under a day to download. Assuming that the rate of downloads now is constant across those whole three and a bit months – which is incredibly conservative, of course, as it’d have been much higher upon release – that means 993496 copies will have been illegally downloaded via Mininova alone. Which is the sort of number that makes Infinity Ward sad.”

The problem with discussing piracy with game titles is that it is generally agreed that each download it not equal to a sale lost, generally because or people using multiple torrents, meaning it’s possible that trying multiples at once to see which one gives the game first. That said even if a tenth of downloads converted to a real sale it would benefit the industry massively.

On RPS the point is highlighted that even with these conservative figures, with a game like COD4 released for 113 days, assuming it was never more popular than the sample day taken, it has been downloaded 993,496 times. Again assuming it stood at zero at time of launch. Plus, that’s through one single torrent site!

There is a discussion forum about the topic at bit tech for those who want to get involved

                    

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