TorrentFreak Reveals Top Pirated Games of 2011

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TorrentFreak Reveals Top Pirated Games of 2011

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The industry faces yet another year of massive loss while gamers pilfer more than a billion dollars worth of virtual goods.

Videogame lists abound this time of year, tracking everything from personal favorites to top sellers. But as we reach the end of the holiday season, perhaps it's time to finally take a break from the "nice" and put our eyes to the "naughty." That's exactly what BitTorrent news site, TorrentFreak, decided to do when it pulled the data on a year's worth of pirating trends for the PC, Xbox 360, and Wii.

Somewhat obviously, the PC dominates the not-so-coveted "most plundered" category. Without the need for altering hardware to accept pirated games, the computer community is plagued by more than three times the amount of virtual theft per cross-platform game than its console counterparts.

Most Pirated PC Games (by download)
1. Crysis 2 (3,920,000)
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (3,650,000)
3. Battlefield 3 (3,510,000)
4. FIFA 12 (3,390,000)
5. Portal 2 (3,240,000)

As some of you may remember, the "winning" title, Crysis 2, was actually leaked over a month prior to release, causing EA to worry that the game's launch would suffer considerably. After less than a hundred thousand leaked copies went out (a comparatively tiny number), EA breathed a sigh of relief. Little did they know that it would actually be the next month, after the game's official release, that would bring the real avalanche of piracy. The tsunami of downloads that followed eventually granted it not only the top spot for PC titles, but also "most pirated game for any platform of 2011."

Next up is the Wii:

Most Pirated Wii Games (by download)
1. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (1,280,000)
2. Mario Sports Mix (1,090,000)
3. Xenoblade Chronicles (950,000)
4. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean (870,000)
5. FIFA 12 (860,000)

Interestingly (or sadly, depending on your opinion of the implications), the top pirated game for the Wii in 2011 wasn't actually a 2011 title. Super Mario Galaxy 2 was released in 2010, and took "top honors" in that year as well.

Finally, here are the numbers for Xbox 360:

Most Pirated Xbox 360 Games (by download)
1. Gears of War 3 (890,000)
2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (830,000)
3. Battlefield 3 (760,000)
4. Forza Motorsport 4 (720,000)
5. Kinect Sports: Season Two (690,000)

Microsoft's console was hit the least of the three reported platforms, but even 700,000 copies of a full-priced Xbox title is still a painful $42,000,000 of potential revenue loss.

Other platforms were not included due to their relatively low numbers. Perhaps the most notable exclusion is the PlayStation 3, though that likely has more to do with the methodology (illegal games are generally downloaded directly, and therefore more difficult to track) than an actual lack of pirates using the console.

It's easy to get lost in numbers when they hit the nine-digit range, but if you really think about those numbers, I mean really think about them, that's a massive amount of illegal downloads. And remember, these lists only represent three of the primary ways people game, and only five of the myriad titles available per system. It wouldn't be fair to say that every pirated copy represents a lost sale, but it would be equally unfair to say that every copy didn't. While, for some, it's easy to think of downloading a game as free and easy, this is our community, folks, and we all have an individual responsibility to support it.

Source: TorrentFreak

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Meh I really do not care, and in no way is a download a lost sale. Just look at studies done on this.

But I cannot believe that people have downloaded fifa 3.4 millions times on pc...

Hmm... I'm noticing a distinct lack of 4.5 million Witcher 2 downloads.

Funny how the infamous developers/publishers for the PC get the highest hits....

Kinect sports?
Really?

Deegamah:
Hmm... I'm noticing a distinct lack of 4.5 million Witcher 2 downloads.

That's actually a good thing then. CD Projekt Red estimated that number via mathematics, but it was still just a guess. If it is lower than that, then this can only be a good thing.

So the WII has more piracy than the Xbox is it me or is that bit odd

This confirms my suspicions that most people pirate games because they want to know if their computers can run it before they buy it. Why else would Crysis 2 be the most pirated?

Also, it would interesting to know how many times Witcher 2 was actually pirated.

Mike Kayatta:

The industry faces yet another year of massive loss

Do you have any evidence to back up this statement or are you just making it up?

Can someone quote me and explain how you pirate a Wii, Xbox, PS3 game? I understand the ability to pirate a PC game to a PC but I'm confused about the others.

Billions of dollars worth of product distributed that wasn't payed for.

Yes, that is a loss. Damn asshats.

People pirated Crysis 2 the most?

...

Why?

Also, do they have numbers for how much Witcher 2 was pirated? I believe pretty much everyone, including the developers, thought that it was 4.5 million or more. Would be nice to know the actual area of the numbers. Since it's obviously not that much, otherwise it'd be on the list.

The worst publisher hit was EA. So nothing of value was lost.

As for a Wii you can preload hundreds of cracked games on it depending on your method of storage. I haven't myself, as i don't own a Wii or could put up with motion control. And PC's emulate Gamecubes fine.

Irridium:
People pirated Crysis 2 the most?

...

Why?

Also, do they have numbers for how much Witcher 2 was pirated? I believe pretty much everyone, including the developers, thought that it was 4.5 million or more. Would be nice to know the actual area of the numbers. Since it's obviously not that much, otherwise it'd be on the list.

I think that Crysis is known as a bit of a benchmark, so many people likely downloaded it to see how it would run on their rigs. Notice that the console version of game wasn't on the top five of the other list. That may point to a PC-specific reason deeper than gamers just "wanting that game the most." That's just my personal speculation, though.

I'd also venture a guess that the numbers have something to do with far more people having computers than consoles.

Also, lack of demos. I firmly believe not having a demo for your game greatly increases how much it's pirated.

again the graphical milestones get screwed over by pirates and pc gamers wil undoubtedly say that no money or profit was lost or that its eas fault and get angry when companies decide to make the pc a lower priority or go to consoles or give it drm or drop it entirely............

Anyone see the bloody irony and entitelment?

Mike Kayatta:
Even 700,000 copies of a full-priced Xbox title is still a painful $42,000,000 of potential revenue loss.
....
It wouldn't be fair to say that every pirated copy represents a lost sale, but it would be equally unfair to say that every copy didn't.

So why did you? And if you actually read the studies (instead of jumping into an "OMG PIRACY IS BAD" mentality) you'd know the following:

1) Most pirates, if they like the game, will purchase it at some point in the future. Oftentimes the pirated copy is treated as a glorified demo (and I'll note, by the way, that none of the games called out above have demos), as that particular bit of customer service has fallen by the wayside in the interest of bigger margins.

2) Of those pirates who don't buy the game, the vast majority would not have bought it even if a pirated version wasn't available.

You're being disingenuous even putting a number like $42M in your article. Actual losses are a tiny fraction of that... although, as you point out, it's not fair to say it's zero, it's also fair to say it's much, much closer to zero than 42M.

Anyways, calling out your errors isn't the biggest point that needs to be made.
~~~
The point that needs raising is that study after study after study (and I mean real studies, not industry shill studies) have demonstrated that piracy is a symptom of a failure in customer service - i.e. the pirate almost universally produces a better product than the studio in at least some respects.

Pirated games
1) Provide a try-before-you-buy opportunity. I.e. the ability to try that $60 game before you make a $60 commitment.
2) Tend not to have the unskippable "this company made this game!" crap at the beginning.
3) Aren't as restricted (DRM and install limit wise)
4) In some cases, provide additional features. For example, LAN play or local multiplayer.

Purchased games
1) Treat you like a criminal.

So... which product would you prefer to have?

Crysis 2: no one actually wanted the game; they just wanted to check the Jiffix.

BoogieManFL:
I'd also venture a guess that the numbers have something to do with far more people having computers than consoles.

Also, lack of demos. I firmly believe not having a demo for your game greatly increases how much it's pirated.

crysis 2 has gaikai in browser dmeos im playing one right now look
http://www.screwattack.com/game-trials#Client
so that is a flaw in your argument the most pirated game had a multiplayer demo
and in browser demos this was just pure piracy and "prtesting" pc gamers.

theonecookie:
So the WII has more piracy than the Xbox is it me or is that bit odd

Honestly, it isn't really much of surprise. The 360 has a lot more security and updates incredibly frequently(and i think the updates are mandatory if you are connected to internet) whereas the Wii barely ever has software update, and the updates aren't compulsory. So people just don't bother updating.

Also playing illegal games is incredibly easy. All you need is a SD card and a spare USB pen. Whereas the Xbox you have to do loads of disk flashing and stuff.

Add to this that best of Xbox 360 content is online (Multiplayer gaming, mostly) and the Wii's isn't. Online gaming is always when pirates get caught out, and with the wii most games have the majority of their content offline.

The Plunk:
This confirms my suspicions that most people pirate games because they want to know if their computers can run it before they buy it. Why else would Crysis 2 be the most pirated?

Also, it would interesting to know how many times Witcher 2 was actually pirated.

Mike Kayatta:

The industry faces yet another year of massive loss

Do you have any evidence to back up this statement or are you just making it up?

I'm just making it up. All (conservatively) 100 million copies of various games illegally downloaded last year were all for demo purposes. Every single person who downloaded them promptly quit after playing thirty minutes, deleted the file, and purchased the game legitimately. Not even one person was interested in a game, but chose to downloaded it off BitTorrent instead of buying it. There's no way the industry lost even a dollar off of this legitimate and wholesome practice, so yeah, I'm making it up. Ya got me!

What stood out for me is proving that even games on consoles are being pirated. Sure the PC games have higher numbers, but it just seems like a pointless argument for developers to say they won't develop games for PCs because of the "piracy" issue on there since Xbox 360 and freaking *Wii* games are being pirated.

(Of course there is still a good amount of PC games being made, but I still hear a developer now and then say that bull-crap. Not even freaking Kinect games are safe from pirates!)

The Plunk:
This confirms my suspicions that most people pirate games because they want to know if their computers can run it before they buy it. Why else would Crysis 2 be the most pirated?

Also, it would interesting to know how many times Witcher 2 was actually pirated.

Mike Kayatta:

The industry faces yet another year of massive loss

Do you have any evidence to back up this statement or are you just making it up?

Critical thinking is a lost art.

Using the U.S. Dollar:

Average price of a videogame for the 360 before taxes: $59 rounded down.

Gears of War (890,000)

59*890,000=$52,510,000 loss for Epic Games alone.

Lets try this again:

Crysis 2 3,920,000

sold at launch for about $49 on the PC

49*3,920,000=$192,080,000 loss for Crytek.

saregos:

Pirated games
1) Provide a try-before-you-buy opportunity. I.e. the ability to try that $60 game before you make a $60 commitment.
2) Tend not to have the unskippable "this company made this game!" crap at the beginning.
3) Aren't as restricted (DRM and install limit wise)
4) In some cases, provide additional features. For example, LAN play or local multiplayer.

Purchased games
1) Treat you like a criminal.

So... which product would you prefer to have?

Yes, aren't they great!? We don't have to read about the thousands of people who labored for years to make something! We don't have to pay! We get unlimited demos! OF COURSE this is better; who wouldn't want this superior product? You've completely made me rethink my position. If only I'd considered how totally awesome it is to take someone's product from them and alter it however you'd like without paying them for it before writing this article! Games are like some sort of magical fruit that the universe randomly blips into creation. We should be free to take them and enjoy them whenever and however we want because clearly the universe will just magically continue to create more of them for us to take. And you know why? Because we're entitled to them. Never forget that!

Noble_Lance:
Can someone quote me and explain how you pirate a Wii, Xbox, PS3 game? I understand the ability to pirate a PC game to a PC but I'm confused about the others.

Consoles contain a CD/Blueray drive just like a PC. You download the disk data (ROM) from the internet, burn it on CD and stick it into your console. I'm not sure if there are some copy protection issues involved. I suppose there are because I've read a couple of times about people "modding" their consoles to pirate games.

rolfwesselius:
again the graphical milestones get screwed over by pirates and pc gamers wil undoubtedly say that no money or profit was lost or that its eas fault and get angry when companies decide to make the pc a lower priority or go to consoles or give it drm or drop it entirely............

Anyone see the bloody irony and entitelment?

I would like to know how the numbers above compare in relation to how many people actually own a PC vs. a console. If there are four PCs in the world for every XBOX, then the above numbers mean that MW3 was actually pirated just as much on the XBOX than on the PC. In absolute terms the numbers above are meaningless.

Also, many gamers own PCs AND consoles. The piracy will likely happen on the PC, but the purported "lost sale" would also apply to all the consoles that pirate owns.

Tiamat666:

Noble_Lance:
Can someone quote me and explain how you pirate a Wii, Xbox, PS3 game? I understand the ability to pirate a PC game to a PC but I'm confused about the others.

Consoles contain a CD/Blueray drive just like a PC. You download the disk data (ROM) from the internet, burn it on CD and stick it into your console. I'm not sure if there are some copy protection issues involved. I suppose there are because I've read a couple of times about people "modding" their consoles to pirate games.

rolfwesselius:
again the graphical milestones get screwed over by pirates and pc gamers wil undoubtedly say that no money or profit was lost or that its eas fault and get angry when companies decide to make the pc a lower priority or go to consoles or give it drm or drop it entirely............

Anyone see the bloody irony and entitelment?

I would like to know how the numbers above compare in relation to how many people actually own a PC vs. a console. If there are four PCs in the world for every XBOX, then the above numbers mean that MW3 was actually pirated just as much on the XBOX than on the PC. In absolute terms the numbers are meaningless.

Also, many gamers own PCs AND consoles. The piracy will likely happen on the PC, but the purported "lost sale" would also apply to all the consoles that pirate owns.

A direct correlation between owned PCs and owned consoles is likely still skewed. I'd be willing to bet there are over a hundred times more computers than Xboxes in people's homes, but the real question here is how many PCs are being used as a primary means with which to game as compared to consoles. That number would likely find PCs somewhat of a minority. Let's take Skyrim as an example. As of now, you have about 1.62 million PC sales, 2.69 million PS3 sales, and 4.62 million Xbox sales. Skyrim is currently the most popular game on the market, making it a good, if not definitive example. Skyrim is also a game that many people feel "is supposed" to be played on PC. So, considering it is dwarfed by both PS3 and Xbox sales, it's likely that the platform is used by gamers between two and four times less frequently than an individual console. This is only one game, but check the numbers on any other cross-platform title. You'll see the same, or more drastic, correlation. That being said, you can now compare that figure to the discrepancy in pirated titles. On average, PC titles are pirated four times as often, and yet, four times fewer people are gaming on PCs. Them seems to be pretty direct evidence that developers are losing revenue off of piracy based on this one logical exercise alone (though, that shouldn't really have ever been considered a question. How much, perhaps, but not "yes" or "no")

I'm somehow highly doubtful of the numbers presented this time... it doesn't exactly seem to add up, also Skyrim seems to be mysteriously missing from there, though indications and number comparison should show it should be on there. :P

Mike Kayatta:
A direct correlation between owned PCs and owned consoles is likely still skewed. I'd be willing to bet there are over a hundred times more computers than Xboxes in people's homes, but the real question here is how many PCs are being used as a primary means with which to game as compared to consoles. That number would likely find PCs somewhat of a minority. Let's take Skyrim as an example. As of now, you have about 1.62 million PC sales, 2.69 million PS3 sales, and 4.62 million Xbox sales. Skyrim is currently the most popular game on the market, making it a good, if not definitive example. Skyrim is also a game that many people feel "is supposed" to be played on PC. So, considering it is dwarfed by both PS3 and Xbox sales, it's likely that the platform is used by gamers between two and four times less frequently than an individual console. This is only one game, but check the numbers on any other cross-platform title. You'll see the same, or more drastic, correlation. That being said, you can now compare that figure to the discrepancy in pirated titles. On average, PC titles are pirated four times as often, and yet, four times fewer people are gaming on PCs. Them seems to be pretty direct evidence that developers are losing revenue off of piracy based on this one logical exercise alone (though, that shouldn't really have ever been considered a question. How much, perhaps, but not "yes" or "no")

Did you really just take the Skyrim numbers from VGChartz when it is well known fact that the game broke Steam's "fastest-selling" title record by 3 to 1 in comparison to anything released before and it has over 100.000 people playing it daily almost a month after it came out? http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/12/16/dohvakeen-skyrim-breaks-steam-records/

No you didn't...

What's more important to "correlate" is also how many of those downloads were likely made in developing countries and emerging markets (e.g. Russia, Eastern Europe, India, Brazil, China, Thailand and so on) by people that likely have a PC out of necessity for work, social contact, news and information etc. nowadays but would likely never get (or could afford) either a console or a very large number of these games... hell in a lot of those countries there's still street shops selling illegal copies of those games to people in person at a very low fraction of the cost, there were some articles not too long back.

I'd like to remind you of some of those from this very site:
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_189/5762-A-Nation-of-Pirates
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_158/5045-Piracy-and-the-Underground-Economy
There were some more but I can't find them right now :P

Well, the soloution is obvious:

We should stop making those games. If we just stop making games that people pirate, then the pirates will have nothing to copy and go out of business.

#herpderp

Voltano:
What stood out for me is proving that even games on consoles are being pirated. Sure the PC games have higher numbers, but it just seems like a pointless argument for developers to say they won't develop games for PCs because of the "piracy" issue on there since Xbox 360 and freaking *Wii* games are being pirated.

(Of course there is still a good amount of PC games being made, but I still hear a developer now and then say that bull-crap. Not even freaking Kinect games are safe from pirates!)

look at how many times mario galaxy 2 got pirated 1,280,000 times that looks like alot but think about it 1,280,000 in an entire freaking year.
now look at modern warfare 3 3,650,000 times in just 2 fucking months.

mario galaxy 2 has been out for a year so
1,280,000:12=106,666 units pirated each month

modern warfare 3 on pc has been out for 2 months so
3,650,000:2=1,825,000 units pirated each month

1,825,000:106,666=17,1
Oh yeah the consoles suffer just as much from piracy
[/sarcasm]

now
lets compare the console and pc versions of modern warfare 3
modern warfare for pc:
3,650,000:2=1,825,000 units pirated each month since its release
now the xbox version
830,000:2=415,000 pirated each month since its release

1,825,000:415,000=4.4
That is four times as much
four times!

there is no way you can justify saying that developers are complaining considering
that:
FUCKING CRYSIS THE FLAGSHIP OF PC GAMING! got pirated 20 times for each unit sold that is a real good reason to go develop for consoles.
now world of goo 90% of all the people who played it pirated it
and machinarium a game the developers poured their heart and soul into also 90& of the people who played it pirated it

either you refuse to acknowledge that much of the pc gaming scene has become a festering pit of pirates pirating everything they have a remote interest in playing and ruining the name of good pc gamers hell considering the circumstances (the shitty economy) there were precious few tragedies like crysis this year
so now please think before saying developers are whining about piracy on pc and using it as a reason to not develop for it because they arent its a sad sorry state for all pc gamers developers and publishers.

funny Skyrim did not make any of those (not counting Wii) lists

Mike Kayatta:

saregos:

Pirated games
1) Provide a try-before-you-buy opportunity. I.e. the ability to try that $60 game before you make a $60 commitment.
2) Tend not to have the unskippable "this company made this game!" crap at the beginning.
3) Aren't as restricted (DRM and install limit wise)
4) In some cases, provide additional features. For example, LAN play or local multiplayer.

Purchased games
1) Treat you like a criminal.

So... which product would you prefer to have?

Yes, aren't they great!? We don't have to read about the thousands of people who labored for years to make something! We don't have to pay! We get unlimited demos! OF COURSE this is better; who wouldn't want this superior product? You've completely made me rethink my position. If only I'd considered how totally awesome it is to take someone's product from them and alter it however you'd like without paying them for it before writing this article! Games are like some sort of magical fruit that the universe randomly blips into creation. We should be free to take them and enjoy them whenever and however we want because clearly the universe will just magically continue to create more of them for us to take. And you know why? Because we're entitled to them. Never forget that!

Uh... what? Did you read anything I said? Or are you just going to attack me (and a pretty little straw-man you set up for the purpose) for disagreeing with you?

Once more - Pirates currently provide a better product. Because they're more in-tune with what the customer wants. So maybe, instead of attacking the pirates (and while you're at it, anyone who disagrees with you, or points out flaws in your reasoning) you should concentrate on how to make the legitimate product better than the pirated one?

But no, instead you'll completely misinterpret everything I said. I would have expected better, but that's all too common.

Enjoy your high horse. But it's attitudes precisely like yours that drive piracy in the first place.

By the way, thanks so much for editing out the part where I pointed out that this is a failure in customer service. Probably because you can't address that?

Mike Kayatta:

The Plunk:
This confirms my suspicions that most people pirate games because they want to know if their computers can run it before they buy it. Why else would Crysis 2 be the most pirated?

Also, it would interesting to know how many times Witcher 2 was actually pirated.

Mike Kayatta:

The industry faces yet another year of massive loss

Do you have any evidence to back up this statement or are you just making it up?

I'm just making it up. All (conservatively) 100 million copies of various games illegally downloaded last year were all for demo purposes. Every single person who downloaded them promptly quit after playing thirty minutes, deleted the file, and purchased the game legitimately. Not even one person was interested in a game, but chose to downloaded it off BitTorrent instead of buying it. There's no way the industry lost even a dollar off of this legitimate and wholesome practice, so yeah, I'm making it up. Ya got me!

That's not the part I called you out on. I wanted you to back up your statement that 2011 was a year of massive loss for the industry, and that that loss was caused by piracy and not by, oh I don't know, THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS.

Xenoblade Chronicles make sense since I guessing this was before they announse the US release date. Also it seen the Crysis fans were in vain (since they vow not to pirate it).

The Plunk:

Mike Kayatta:

The Plunk:
This confirms my suspicions that most people pirate games because they want to know if their computers can run it before they buy it. Why else would Crysis 2 be the most pirated?

Also, it would interesting to know how many times Witcher 2 was actually pirated.

Do you have any evidence to back up this statement or are you just making it up?

I'm just making it up. All (conservatively) 100 million copies of various games illegally downloaded last year were all for demo purposes. Every single person who downloaded them promptly quit after playing thirty minutes, deleted the file, and purchased the game legitimately. Not even one person was interested in a game, but chose to downloaded it off BitTorrent instead of buying it. There's no way the industry lost even a dollar off of this legitimate and wholesome practice, so yeah, I'm making it up. Ya got me!

That's not the part I called you out on. I wanted you to back up your statement that 2011 was a year of massive loss for the industry, and that that loss was caused by piracy and not by, oh I don't know, THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS.

He's being disingenuous - if he was being honest, the bit you quoted should be "The industry might have lost some profits to piracy. Maybe."

Instead, he's implying that the industry is in the red. Which is definitely untrue.

Mike Kayatta:
snip

Eh. There's millions upon millions of gamers in places like South East Asia and Eastern Europe where video game prices are beyond their means, or there aren't any legit retail stores, or games aren't localized via digital distribution. A friend of mine went back to his home in Bangladesh for holiday and suddenly found out he couldn't buy any games on Steam because they were region-locked.

Do they have any other choice other than to pirate this stuff?

And trust me, you don't need expensive hardware to run PC games. My rig is running on an ancient ATi HD4350, and guess what? I finished Crysis 2 just fine (albeit at 800X600 resolution and low FOV).

Say, where's the report on handheld piracy numbers?

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