Not quite as many pirates as the industry imagined

Remember when Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said there was a 93-95% piracy rate? Yeah, he was wrong!

In a university study, researchers showed that the level of piracy is not as high as previously believed.  Using specialized software to monitor BitTorrent over a three month period, the researchers tracked filesharing of 173 computer games.  The researchers acknowledged that it was only a snapshot of a time period, yet the levels of downloads were not as high as anticipated.  The most interesting part of the study were the genres:

“First and foremost, P2P game piracy is extraordinarily prevalent and geographically distributed [at least it was during the period analysed]. However, the numbers in our investigation suggest that previously reported magnitudes in game piracy are too high. It also appears that some common myths are wrong, e.g. that it is only shooters that get pirated, as we see a lot of activity for children’s and family games on BitTorrent for the period we investigated.”

Who knew it was a common myth that only shooters get pirated?  In any event, they only make up 12.7% of the downloads.  RPGs come in on top with 18.9%, followed by action-adventure at 15.9%.  Additionally, the research shows that there is a correlation between a game’s score on Metacritic and the volume of downloads.

What do you think about this whole debate?  Do you think piracy is killing gaming?  Do you think pirates never buy the game?  In my experience, most people download when they’re unsure of something, but will spend the money once they know they like it.  Be it with music, movies or games, most people will actually support the studios and buy the product once they’re sure it’s not crap.

Of course, this ignores the side of the internet that’s given up on torrents in favour of…other means. 

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Author:Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!

  • CODDAMIT

    Other means? Tell me now before Google gives me the answer.

  • Admiral Chief Combat Engineer

    Oooh, we have a contender for the best header of the week. Nice one Zoe.

    To be honest, I haven’t pirated a game in AGES. Thank you Steam and your succulent specials!

    • PointMan

      *Thank you Steam and your succulent specials for the massive backlog of games I have.

    • PointMan

      *Thank you Steam and your succulent specials for the massive backlog of games I have.

    • PointMan

      *Thank you Steam and your succulent specials for the massive backlog of games I have.

    • PointMan

      *Thank you Steam and your succulent specials for the massive backlog of games I have.

      • Admiral Chief Combat Engineer

        Correct (nice edit though, yes, saw the original)

        • PointMan

          Dam, thought i got away with that :P

          • Admiral Chief Combat Engineer

            It would have been trolling had you not edited, but hey, shows you care right?

          • PointMan

            Care I do, I’ve got a reputation to uphold.

    • Brady miaau

      I have pirated games, from people in the office.

      Call Of duty black ops 2, played 5 minutes, deleted.

      Batman Arkham thingie, played 30 minutes, bought.

    • Brady miaau

      I have pirated games, from people in the office.

      Call Of duty black ops 2, played 5 minutes, deleted.

      Batman Arkham thingie, played 30 minutes, bought.

    • Brady miaau

      I have pirated games, from people in the office.

      Call Of duty black ops 2, played 5 minutes, deleted.

      Batman Arkham thingie, played 30 minutes, bought.

      • Admiral Chief Combat Engineer

        Could not fly eh? Batman totally worth it

        • http://www.idontlikegamingiloveit.com Tateboetie Malaaitie

          Anti piracy by trolling, og I loved that shit to bits the first time I saw that and had myself a fat shadenfreude because my original worked just fine.

        • Brady miaau

          did not get far enough in Batman for the bug to effect me, but read about it

          Besides, I bought it on xbox, but played other on my PC. I believe we must buy, but have been through the story of paying several hundred Rand for a crap game, so prefer to check it out. Also, I have never played a game like batman, the whole action / adventure type thing, so was not sure I would enjoy it. I play RPG and some strategy (on PC), so this was a bit out of my zone.

          • Admiral Chief Combat Engineer

            Final verdict then? Worth it for you?

          • Brady miaau

            It was AWESOME. What a game! Each night the wife went to bed I plays. Some mornings, went in to work an hour late to play (I like to start at least an hour before anyone else) Although some of the scarecrow stuff seemed forced

            Although, I read enough reviews to know that it is the best of class, so I have not bothered to play other super hero type games, like Spiderwoes or anything.

          • Brady miaau

            As regards story and stuff, I got more out of, say, Dragon Age Origins than Batman, but for sheer enjoyment (which is the point) it is fantastic

    • Brady miaau

      I have pirated games, from people in the office.

      Call Of duty black ops 2, played 5 minutes, deleted.

      Batman Arkham thingie, played 30 minutes, bought.

    • Trevor Davies

      Preach it brother!

    • TiMsTeR1033

      Thank you steam for informing what games to get via other methods. :P

    • Lourens Jordaan

      There be a word for people without beards… woman.

    • Lourens Jordaan

      There be a word for people without beards… woman.

  • http://tumblr.exhibeo.com/ Axon1988

    Was this research not done back in 2010 to 2011? In theory (if it was done back then) a lot might have changed since then.

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    I’m not surprised to hear this. I always thought that 95% was a ridiculously high number and just a imagined stat to try and justify DRM.

    And by other means what are you talking about?

    • Admiral Chief Combat Engineer

      Prolly HDD sharing?

  • Trevor Davies

    The big sticking point is always the assertion that a pirated copy is a lost sale, which is how the publishers like reporting it because it inflates scary numbers, but isn’t entirely accurate. It’s based on the assumption that someone possessing an illegal copy would have bought it legally if they couldn’t pirate it, or that they wouldn’t purchase a legal copy at a later date.

  • Trevor Davies

    The big sticking point is always the assertion that a pirated copy is a lost sale, which is how the publishers like reporting it because it inflates scary numbers, but isn’t entirely accurate. It’s based on the assumption that someone possessing an illegal copy would have bought it legally if they couldn’t pirate it, or that they wouldn’t purchase a legal copy at a later date.

  • Rob

    Usually Check it out if there is a pc version if i like it I get the PS3 equivalent 699-799 a crap load to drop on a mistake

    • http://www.facebook.com/zubayr.bhyat Zubayr Bhyat

      It’s definitely a question of affordability. Preplayed games have been a staple of mine for the last year and I’ll continue buying like that till my console’s decomposing in the ground.

  • Galbedir

    Personally, I feel games are just to expensive in correlation to the salaries in SA to buy an original every time a new game is released. I lived in the UK for 2 years and found I could afford a newly released original game every week or 2. While in SA, a new game puts a dent on my monthly spending.

    • Brady miaau

      I have never in my life bought games so quickly. Wow, did not think of that.

      I spend way longer on games BUT I buy games that have long lasting appeal (in theory), like Dragon Age Origins, took me months to complete, with all DLC. Bought no games during that period.

  • VR

    Glad you following rule #1 of ‘other means’.

  • Ultimo_Cleric_N7

    Well personally, I think devs are just making excuses to hide the fact that they want more control over their titles and justify DRM, DLC and other ‘hidden costs’.

  • TiMsTeR1033

    see them pirates are being taken seriously!

  • Rince an repeat

    I have only ever pirated one game, and that was Generals. I then bought it cus what a game! I know plenty of people (family…) who pirate though. They say if the games were cheaper, they wouldn’t. But that is a a batshit stupid argument. If 200mil is dropped to make a fantastic game, then pirating it will create a situation where developers think screw that, and give us Aliens: CM! GAHHH!

    • Brady miaau

      If you cannot afford to drive a 5 series, then you drive a Polo, right?

      Or does that not count with games?

      Perhaps I see it differently, I can afford (mostly) to buy what games I want. But I certainly will not spend R699 on a new game, just wait a year or two and then buy it.

      • Rince an repeat

        I see what you are saying, that some games are over-priced, but if I can’t afford a 5 Series, I don’t go out and steal one either… Agree with the waiting for them to come down in price.

        • loftie

          piracy isn’t stealing. Imagine your 5 series got stolen, but it was still there in the morning. :)

        • loftie

          piracy isn’t stealing. Imagine your 5 series got stolen, but it was still there in the morning. :)

          • Rince an repeat

            Haha! That would be awesome. As for not stealing, this it he problem with the new world, all these copies and stuff. In the old days it would take class, and nerve to steal the Mona Lisa, now you just torrent that shit. Thing is though, if a company estimates a certain number of copies to be sold then… Mmm…

          • Brady miaau

            Imagine the exclusivity of you driving a 5 (3) series was stolen because many others made copies of the same thing and used them as if they paid for it.

          • loftie

            Hehe, I am not perturbed by exclusivity so I would not have a problem with this.

          • Brady miaau

            fair enough :)

          • Brady miaau

            On a more serious note, I do not think piracy is like stealing, but the car analogy for me is about the buying, i.e. the personal honesty of saying that is what I can afford now, I will plan for the future to get that other thing I want

          • loftie

            This is true. I pirate alot of games, but will always end up buying the box copy in the end, because I like the box, its shiny, has a nice smelling DVD inside and opens you up for multiplayer!

          • Sandelk

            Personally I’m shocked that people think that piracy isn’t stealing… It absolutely is and your analogy doesn’t make sense, because people that worked damn hard to make the game . I’m not justifying what games companies are doing with “DRM” or the ridiculous prices and poor quality games that are coming out, but as a software developer and someone who has created games, it is an insult when people think they can just have something you worked darn hard to put together.

          • loftie

            Of course the analogy doesn’t make sense. My remark was more in reference to this pic (http://tightmixblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/piracy-not-theft-460×328.jpg) and is not my actual opinion.

          • Sandelk

            Personally I’m shocked that people think that piracy isn’t stealing… It absolutely is and your analogy doesn’t make sense, because people that worked damn hard to make the game . I’m not justifying what games companies are doing with “DRM” or the ridiculous prices and poor quality games that are coming out, but as a software developer and someone who has created games, it is an insult when people think they can just have something you worked darn hard to put together.

          • Sandelk

            Personally I’m shocked that people think that piracy isn’t stealing… It absolutely is and your analogy doesn’t make sense, because people that worked damn hard to make the game . I’m not justifying what games companies are doing with “DRM” or the ridiculous prices and poor quality games that are coming out, but as a software developer and someone who has created games, it is an insult when people think they can just have something you worked darn hard to put together.

        • loftie

          piracy isn’t stealing. Imagine your 5 series got stolen, but it was still there in the morning. :)

        • loftie

          piracy isn’t stealing. Imagine your 5 series got stolen, but it was still there in the morning. :)

        • loftie

          piracy isn’t stealing. Imagine your 5 series got stolen, but it was still there in the morning. :)

      • Admiral Chief Combat Engineer

        Well I don’t want to drive a 5 series, and I drive a Polo (just becoz commuting is expensive, and diesel is cheaper that petrol currently)

        • Brady miaau

          Good choice!

  • loftie

    “most people download when they’re unsure of something, but will spend the money once they know they like it” <– This is me

  • Lourens Jordaan

    I haven’t been a pirate since the US Navy sank my boat. I should have kept trolling

  • silverscorpio

    What will the Publishers tell the investors now when they have bad sales a because of a crap game they made. Now they cant even really justify drm.

    Publishers will support a study funded by them, a report that they made up themselves that show piracy is 110%. The investors will fall for that.

  • Johan du Preez

    Piracy never killed the gaming industry, its just a convenient excuse for company’s to use to try and lock their users into a system to dictate the them what they can and cannot do in game ie. DRM, micro-transaction etc ….

    The gaming industry make more than Hollywood a year how bad can piracy be?

  • Johan du Preez

    Piracy never killed the gaming industry, its just a convenient excuse for company’s to use to try and lock their users into a system to dictate the them what they can and cannot do in game ie. DRM, micro-transaction etc ….

    The gaming industry make more than Hollywood a year how bad can piracy be?

  • Johan du Preez

    Piracy never killed the gaming industry, its just a convenient excuse for company’s to use to try and lock their users into a system to dictate the them what they can and cannot do in game ie. DRM, micro-transaction etc ….

    The gaming industry make more than Hollywood a year how bad can piracy be?

  • Tbone187

    I admire the buccaneers out there…It’s a reminder to these huge companies that the power is in the people’s hands…I say pirate all you want but purchase those titles you’re a fan of…Now dats fair play…

    • http://www.facebook.com/gustav.w.diedericks Gustav Willem Diedericks

      Word brother

  • Tbone187

    I admire the buccaneers out there…It’s a reminder to these huge companies that the power is in the people’s hands…I say pirate all you want but purchase those titles you’re a fan of…Now dats fair play…

  • Tbone187

    I admire the buccaneers out there…It’s a reminder to these huge companies that the power is in the people’s hands…I say pirate all you want but purchase those titles you’re a fan of…Now dats fair play…

  • Yobokkie

    Yeah the assumption the industry makes is very flawed. Being as a downloaded copy does not mean a lost sale. Over the years I have downloaded a fair share of games and always ended up getting them later on. The ones that I haven’t are the ones I only played the pirate copy for 2 minutes and decided it was rubbish. Pirate copies just never work as well as a legit one nowadays anyhow, especially as they usually require messing with a platform for legit games like steam or uplay which in turn messes up your legit gaming. So whilst I don’t pay the full price for PC games too often, I always buy the ones I want from steam/ gamersgate sales.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Fouche/627282362 Paul Fouche

    personally i havent played a single player game in ages… so yeah piracy hasnt happened in a while

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