Nintendo's sales in Europe are down by nearly half in recent months and the company is pointing the finger squarely at piracy as the cause.
Nintendo has been an active opponent of piracy over the years. The company has convinced eBay and Amazon to stop carrying the R4 chips that allow the use of homebrew and pirated software on the Nintendo DS and recently settled a million-dollar lawsuit against an Australian man who put a copy of Super Mario Bros. Wii online for download. But despite these victories and others, the company appears to be losing ground; in a recent Asahi Shimbun report, it claimed that "magic computer" devices like the R4 are responsible for a slide of nearly 50 percent in Nintendo's sales in Europe.
Europe appears to be Nintendo's biggest piracy problem, as over the same period, sales dipped by 11 percent in the U.S. and only seven percent in Japan. In January, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said the company would attempt to "enhance the ability to combat piracy in Europe through both legal and technological means," with a focus on making consoles that will not play pirated software.
But technology can only go so far and as one Japanese student living in the U.S. made clear, Nintendo is also fighting a widespread indifference toward piracy. "If I were to buy the software through the regular channels, it would cost so much," she said. "Everybody is using [circumvention devices], and I don't feel like I am doing something particularly wrong."
In June 2009, Nintendo monitored ten websites offering illegal game downloads and determined that its software had been pirated 238 million times, which it claimed translated into roughly $10.7 billion in lost sales.