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Challenging our preconceptions about video game piracy

Anders Drachen

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large-scale analysis of BItTorrent file-sharing of videogames, conducted by Anders Drachen of Northeastern’s Game Design program and PLAIT Lab and Robert Veitch from the Department of IT Management at Copenhagen Business School, has shown that the number of illicit digital copies is not as high as reported by industry trade organisations.

The researchers analyzed the filesharing of some 173 computer games over a three-month period between 2010 and 2011, initially setting out to study videogame piracy because “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”. Both sides of the debate agree that game piracy is common, but the numbers vary dramatically between reports. The Entertainment Software Association claims that it had tracked almost 10 million illegal downloads of around 200 games in December 2009. Meanwhile TorretnFreak reported 18.14 million downloads for the five most downloaded PC games on BitTorrent in 2010, with a further 5.34 million downloads of the five most downloaded console games.

To learn more about the study, read the full article at Wired UK.

Additional coverage of the issue and Anders’ research can be found in an article at Forbes.