Video games piracy is less prolific than feared, report claims

A significant study by a group of universities has downplayed the significance of video games piracy.

Wired has word of a joint study between the Department of Communication and Psychology at Aalborg University and the PLAIT Lab at Northeastern University as well as Robert Veitch from the Department of IT Management at Copenhagen Business School.

It analysed the file sharing of 173 specific games across 14 platforms over a three-month period between 2010 and 2011. Titles included

In total the study found 12.6m unique peers accessing the files Call of Duty: Black Ops, StarCraft II and Fallout: New Vegas.

The ten most popular titles accounted for 42.7 per cent of the total with 76.7 per cent of the traffic coming from just 20 countries. Romania, Croatia, Greece, Portugal and Hungary were the most active relative to population size.

RPGs were the most pirated (18.9 per cent), followed by action (15.9 per cent), third person shooters (12.7 per cent) and racing (9.3 per cent). Games that scored higher on Metacritic were in turn likely to experience higher levels of piracy.

"First and foremost, P2P game piracy is extraordinarily prevalent and geographically distributed [at least it was during the period analysed],” Aalborg University’s Anders Drachen stated.

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."

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