According to a recent study, the number of illegal digital videogames on torrent file-sharing websites is not as drastic as the industry says they are.
WIRED reported on a joint-study between Anders Drachen from the Department of Communication and Psychology at Aalborg University as well as the PLAIT Lab at Northeastern University and Robert Veich of the Department of IT Management at Copenhagen Business school.
Drachen and Veitch analyzed the file-sharing of about 173 videogames across 14 platforms, which includes all major platforms, over a three-month period between 2010 and 2011.
Their study found 12.6 million unique peers from 250 different areas sharing illegal copies of games including: Fallout: New Vegas, Darksiders, Tron: Evolution, Call of Duty: Black Ops, StarCraft 2 and The Sims 3:Late Night. Overall, they found 12.6 million unique peers from 250 different areas
The most popular genres in BitTorrent websites are RPGs which account for 18.9%, Action-Adventure for 15.9%, third-person shooters for 12.7% and racing for 9.3%. They also found that the higher a game’s Metacritic score, the higher the levels of piracy.
The top 10 videogames at the time drove 42.7% of unique peers on BitTorrent with just 20 countries accounting for the 76.7% total file-sharing activitiy. Countries where activity was notable at the time include Romania, Croatia, Greece, Portugal and Hungary.”
They both agree that piracy is commonplace within the videogame community. However, they explain how “despite the substantial debate about digital game piracy, there is minimal objective information available about the relative magnitude of piracy, or its distribution across different countries nor across game titles or game genres.”
The Entertainment Software Association claims that they have counted nearly 10 million illegal downloads of about 200 games in December 2009. On the other hand, TorrentFreak claimed 18.14 million downloads for the top five games in 2010, and 5.34 million for the five most downloaded console games.
Drachen says that though the study still reflected the fact that quite a lot of people do pirate videogames, previously reported alleged facts about piracy were highly exaggerated. Common assumptions such as only shooters are illegally downloaded have also been proven to be false and that the study saw plenty of activity for children’s and family games.
The study further added that the industry is shifting towards online platforms for major commercial and casual games in an attempt to reduce piracy.