Videogame piracy is killing the industry, right? Well, if a new study is to be believed, maybe not.
Ever since the widespread adoption of the internet media companies have been decrying the global communications tool as the harbinger of death for any creative professionals. The argument claims that without strict regulation, everything from movies to music to videogames will be pirated ad infinitum, rendering any individual work worthless and eventually collapsing entire sections of industry.
Here in the States there's been an appalling lack of honest scientific study into piracy - major media companies have lots of sway within our government, and hate the idea that facts might ruin their ability to complain - but things are a bit different in Europe.
Relatively recently (late 2010) a group of researchers deployed advanced tracking tools to monitor the actual prevalence of pirated PC games on the BitTorrent file sharing protocol. PC Gamer breaks their findings down succinctly:
The most pirated title was Fallout: New Vegas, with 967,793 downloads. That's a lot, but the overall piracy rate still falls well below past reports. Perhaps owing to the window of the study, RPGs were easily the most pirated genre, followed by the somewhat vague "Action-Adventure" (a category that included Darksiders and The Force Unleashed 2). 37 percent of the pirated games were M-rated, and a strong correlation was identified between Metacritic score and how often a game was pirated.
As PC Gamer points out, these numbers fly in the face of prior reports which painted piracy as the apocalyptic doom of all media. Of course, since the study only persisted for a few months it's entirely possible that its findings may simply be a momentary aberration, but it's just as likely that they serve as ammunition against the angry cries of videogame publishers. Whichever possibility you subscribe to is up to personal preference, but it's nice to see someone conducting honest research into the issue. If nothing else, this should serve as a bullet point in favor of consumer freedom.
For more, you can view the entirety of the researchers' report by visiting this .pdf. Fair warning: It's a bit dry.
Source: PC Gamer