Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Piracy Games

Estimating Game Piracy More Accurately 459

Posted by Soulskill
from the arrrrbitrary-numbers dept.
An anonymous reader tips a post up at the Wolfire blog that attempts to pin down a reasonable figure for the amount of sales a game company loses due to piracy. We've commonly heard claims of piracy rates as high as 80-90%, but that clearly doesn't translate directly into lost sales. The article explains a better metric: going on a per-pirate basis rather than a per-download basis. Quoting: "iPhone game developers have also found that around 80% of their users are running pirated copies of their game (using jailbroken phones). This immediately struck me as odd — I suspected that most iPhone users had never even heard of 'jailbreaking.' I did a bit more research and found that my intuition was correct — only 5% of iPhones in the US are jailbroken. World-wide, the jailbreak statistics are highest in poor countries — but, unsurprisingly, iPhones are also much less common there. The highest estimate I've seen is that 10% of worldwide iPhones are jailbroken. Given that there are so few jailbroken phones, how can we explain that 80% of game copies are pirated? The answer is simple — the average pirate downloads a lot more games than the average customer buys. This means that even though games see that 80% of their copies are pirated, only 10% of their potential customers are pirates, which means they are losing at most 10% of their sales."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Estimating Game Piracy More Accurately

Comments Filter:
  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by tnok85 (1434319) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @04:54AM (#32109244)
    Every. Download. Is. A. Lost. Sale.

    It's an empirically proven fact.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Thanshin (1188877)

      It's an empirically proven fact.

      Don't be so restrained, you know it's a fudamental truth.

      I am.
      Every download is a lost sale.
      About everything else, I doubt.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Zocalo (252965)

        Don't be so restrained, you know it's a fudamental truth.

        You know, I think that actually works better without the extra "n" given the smoke being blown around this by **AAs et al. +1 for inclusion in the next update of the OED.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by natehoy (1608657)

        fudamental

        Wascawwy piwates, steawing my intiwectuwal pwopewty.

        Or maybe I misunderstood, and the word is a contraction of the acronym "FUD" and the word "MENTAL". :)

    • Cool. Them I'm going to download 100 games a month, and thereby earn $6000 simply by downloading. I'm going to be rich.

    • Stop it. Now your post will be cited in some lobbyist's report to some congressvermin and worked into the justification for ACTA secrecy. Thanks a lot asshole.

    • It strikes me that perhaps the numbers show a sharp skew twords cost per unit being too high for sufficient market penetration, but that's just me =) I mean 5% is a really bad conversion rate of potential customers.

    • by Terrasque (796014)

      Every. Download. Is. A. Lost. Sale.

      It's an empirically proven fact.

      So true, and by downloading this comment to your browser for display, you deprive me of my god-given right to get money for free.
      My lawyers will contact you shortly.

      However, you do have the option to settle this before the court and lawyers get involved, for a mere tenth of the sum it would otherwise cost.
      Just dial 555-I-IDIOT and follow the instructions, and the problem will be out of your world in a couple of minutes. Remember to have your credit card and IP address ready.

    • Re:But... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @05:35AM (#32109422)
      Indeed! I absolutely would have bought The Adventures of Mark Twain [amazon.com] had it been available in the UK, but it's Region 1 encoded only! BADOING! one lost sale there, and it's not even my fault!

      Stick that in your empirically proven facts (I know you were being facetious).
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BenoitRen (998927)

        I have a related experience. See, sometimes I import video games because either the US version is superior (true 60Hz mode), or the game was never released in the EU.

        Now, when it comes to the Wii, there are no boot discs available that work thanks to Nintendo locking them out through firmware updates. So what do I do? I hack my Wii so I can play the games I legally bought through a home-brew launcher. Yet in the eyes of Nintendo I'm just yet another pirate, even though I haven't pirated anything.

      • Re:But... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jonwil (467024) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @07:44AM (#32110070)

        I bought several DVDs from the USA a few years ago. 2 of the items I bought have STILL not been made available in Australia (and one of them, Young Einstein is an Aussie cult classic and one of the funniest Aussie films of all time IMO)

        I also have a large number of items in my music collection that I downloaded from various sources simply because there was/is no other way to acquire that particular content.

        The number of people who pirate because the content they want is unavailable for them to legally purchase is likely a significant part of piracy, one that the copyright holders need to recognize (and reduce/eliminate by making content available to the entire world in a timely manner and by keeping content available for longer)

        Just ask many Australian TV viewers with tech skills about "Channel BT" (i.e. BitTorrent downloads) and how many shows they have downloaded simply because they have given up waiting for the local network to show that particular episode.

    • As funny as it is, it is actually kind of true.

      Why? Even pirating costs something. User has to find copy, download it and get it working (also, he must have lerned how to do each of the three things). His time is not "free". Hell, even intent of pirating something means it is worth at least something to downloader.

      Problem is that this worth is way, way below current pricetag and soemthing that typical gaming comany does not "get".

      Make service that beats pirating in ease of use and security, be modest with w

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jac89 (979421)
        I think you just described steam :). The number of games i pirate has fallen dramatically since i started using steam, and i have even bought titles i pirated in the past at their awesome sales.
      • by Aceticon (140883)

        Why? Even pirating costs something. User has to find copy, download it and get it working (also, he must have lerned how to do each of the three things). His time is not "free". Hell, even intent of pirating something means it is worth at least something to downloader.

        Problem is that this worth is way, way below current pricetag and soemthing that typical gaming comany does not "get".

        Actually, most DRM in games is such that installing, activating and dealing with potential problems (connection problems, CD-

      • by plastbox (1577037)

        I agree (if I understood your post correctly). People don't want to pay $50 for a game that is, more likely than not, shit. I think the only games I've ever bought were bargain bin spur-of-the-moment purchases, and a few bought online (on Steam, WoW, etc.) where convenience combined with my want for some entertainment right now trumped my innate cheapness.

        I can either:

        • Spend time going to town and shopping for the game I want
        • Give $50-60 to some store for a physical medium I can't backup
        • Go home and hope I d
  • That's the second post from that blog in as many days - they were the ones that did the Humble Indie Games Bundle, weren't they?

    Slashvertisement?

    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @05:25AM (#32109378)

      That's the second post from that blog in as many days - they were the ones that did the Humble Indie Games Bundle, weren't they?

      Slashvertisement?

      No, Slashvertisement would be me saying: "I bought the bundle yesterday, Gish alone is worth half the 15$ I decided to pay, and having played gish and WoG I'm pretty sure the rest of the pack will easily be worth the other half."

      For example.

  • because I stopped playing video games. I love the old keyboard and mouse. I love the PS3. I love the Xbox. I don't love how ham-fisted the publishers are getting with DRM and all the rest. If popularizing a game increases the chances it'll be pirated, I won't participate any more.
    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      I don't quite get your point.

      You stopped playing pirated games because of DRM in the unpirated version?

      You stopped supporting publishers you weren't supporting before?

  • How much of their potential customers are ninjas?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tepples (727027)

      How much of their potential customers are ninjas?

      You'll have to extrapolate this to the sales charts for Pirate Gaiden and Teenage Mutant Pirate Turtles.

    • Well, ninjas are peasant folk who have taken up arms against oppressive socioeconomic conditions, and pirates are (largely comprised of) peasant folk who have taken up arms against oppressive socioeconomic conditions, so...

      All the pirates are ninjas?

  • I was with them until the cited Blizzard...

    Blizzard isn't more successful because they are better games developers, it's successful because they require use of a subscription service for the game to be interesting at all. In other words, it's because they are tied to external content that remains under their control.

    -- Terry

  • PS3 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Krneki (1192201) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @05:11AM (#32109330)
    PS3 is so far warez free, stop bitching and develop only for this platform.

    What? You like even less Sony then pirates? Bad luck.
    • Say my indie developer team has a feature-complete PC game. How do I get in touch with Sony in order to start porting the game to PS3 for release on PSN? Do I have to start a company, get a dedicated office, and publish an unrelated PC or iPhone title first, like I would with Nintendo's WiiWare (source [warioworld.com])?
    • Especially the model you can slip in your pocket and make phone call with.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    i will NEVER EVER buy another game that i do not pirate first.

    you bastards have just burnt me way too many times to be trusted ever again without heavy investigation on my part.

    now, if you change the policys that say i can not return a game that i've bought. well, i'll think about it.

    you lost my trust long ago. if you want it back you'll have to EARN it.

    and if by some chance you come up with the unpiratable game. i guess i'm just done being a gamer.
    i'm getting kinda old anyway. and theres lots of other

  • ...forced to pirate? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @05:56AM (#32109522) Homepage Journal

    Android market supposedly suffers badly from piracy. Boo hoo hoo evil pirates, not giving money to developers who deserve them.

    I downloaded Maverick Lite [androlib.com] recently. I decided it's a cool app and wanted to buy the full version.
    Until then I was puzzled by lack of paid apps in the market. Now I saw "Maverick Pro" not found.
    I checked, double checked and found:
    Only 12 countries support paid apps [google.com] and mine is not one of them. I checked, Maverick Pro was only available through Android Market, not any other online store of Android apps.

    I faced two options:
    1. download a torrent of paid apps for Android, and install the .apk from SD card.
    2. root the phone (voiding warranty), install "market-enabler", back-up the current SIM Id, spoof it with ID of one of providers that offer paid apps, then purchase the app from app store.

    Guess which one I choose...
    The second one. Yep, I hacked my phone and purchased the app legally.

    • Yep, I hacked my phone and purchased the app legally

      If the purchase involved spoofing a SIM ID, you most definitely were not purchasing it legally...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ZorbaTHut (126196)

      Should've just emailed the developer asking for a paypal address, handed him the appropriate amount of money, then torrented it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AK Marc (707885)
      I was forced to jailbreak my phone. I moved to a place AT&T doesn't offer service.

      I didn't ever even think about pirating games. Now I'm curious about how to do it. If anything, their complaints pushed a legitimate customer to investigate piracy. That, and I got a good Sudoku when it was free, and it got deleted and I can't download it again without paying (I thought they stored what I own, but they don't save the free apps past a certain point or something like that because it's not there in my li
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @05:57AM (#32109526) Homepage

    </Morbo> [youtube.com]

    Magic 8 Ball says: Just a different aroma of bullshit.

    "Potential" customer are not equal. Someone who has expended effort to get your product is a lot closer to being a purchaser than someone who's never heard of you. That's why demos exist. That's why marketeers aren't all out on the street giving handjobs for crack.

    10% lost "customers" is just as ridiculous a metric as 80% lost "sales". Adding another bad metric doesn't inform the debate, it just gives the other side mud to sling as well.

  • by Tei (520358) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @05:57AM (#32109528) Journal

    These that don't want to buy something, don't need to.
    Yesterday "Pay what you want" 5 games pack has made to the authors $342.000.

    The money is not on the people that don't have money (students that piracy his games), the money is on the people 35 years old, with childrens, and a love for gaming. Tryiing to extract more money from these students is stupid. Is like tryiing to extract juice from rocks, having a river nearby. GO AND FUCKING FORGET THESE ROCKS, AND GO TO THE RIVER!.

    The river is fucking awesome, or maybe I am stupid and $342.000 is nothing. Also, the owners of Steam must be stupids too, and seriusly, It a system that is probably losing a lot of money. Sure? nope. It just don't work that way. Steam is good for these that want to pay for his games. Hence, is making money. All these systems like SecuROM, Ubisoft cracked DRM, and GFWL ... are misguided and stupid,.. "don't get it".

    You will not make money from the pirates, these people is not your public. Is a public, but one that don't want to pay for stuff. Your public is the people that have money and want to use it to buy nicenies things. Give the awesome to then, and forget the pirates.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @06:09AM (#32109570) Homepage

    The highest estimate I've seen is that 10% of worldwide iPhones are jailbroken. Given that there are so few jailbroken phones, how can we explain that 80% of game copies are pirated? The answer is simple -- the average pirate downloads a lot more games than the average customer buys. This means that even though games see that 80% of their copies are pirated, only 10% of their potential customers are pirates, which means they are losing at most 10% of their sales."

    This is only true if there's no connection between wanting to game and having a jailbroken iPhone, which I assume is very false. Very many people don't care about jailbreaking because they use it with no, free or few applications, the value of jailbreaking to them is very low. On the other hand, if you want to play lots of games (where lots of games * money = lots of money) then jailbreaking has a high value. The data presented doesn't preclude the possibility that 80% of your market is within the 10% that are jailbroken.

  • by Bob_Who (926234) <Bob&who,net> on Thursday May 06, 2010 @06:19AM (#32109622) Homepage Journal

    PIRACY involves the true (not imaginary)loss of actual monies specifically spent on the the stolen product, with cash from a real customer that goes to the PIRATE in exchange for stolen treasure, thus PIRACY.
     
    Downloading media that is not generating revenue, nor taking actual cash dollars in exchange for stolen or counterfeit inventory, is just listening to tunes, like last century "hearing the music on the radio" was free bandwidth with copyright material that could be recorded off the air, sold the license or suggested piracy. It was Fair Use.

    I have heard zillions of "stolen" songs on the radio and paid for zero - it never cost anyone a sale. However, I have spent many tens of thousands on music and concerts and media and swag and fashion, audio gear, etc... Nowadays, no more "old style" radio worth hearing, I use the streaming web, or mp3s or rip off ipods, which function like 20th century radio..like the free radio. I don't make disks, or duplicate and sell it, and it ain't piracy no matter how many times the greedy corporate scum executives of the entertainment industry rape and pillage, and have been robbing artists and customers revenue for years. Its their only skill. This is why nobody believes the whining of rich assholes anymore - they never cry when they grab the cash, only when they can't get everything from a supersaturated market.

  • by chill (34294) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @06:28AM (#32109652) Journal

    I wish the RIAA, MPAA and BSA all had magic, unbreakable DRM that made it impossible to use their products at all with paying. I want to see their reactions when their revenues go down as people just DO WITHOUT their unnecessary crap.

    FOSS software and CC media would go thru the roof.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Except that people still play PS3 games, and they did so even for the years before GeoHot announced his hack. Most people are still so confused by technology that they fail to understand that DRM is artificial and unnecessary, let alone that there are software vendors that are not hell-bent on restricting their users.
  • I run the NOCD cracks for all the games I buy. It's just more convenient that way. Who wants to keep dozens of CDs floating around their desk getting scratched up? I've got C&C4 on my laptop running the crack patch so I don't have to be online to play it. And I wasn't even considering buying Assassin's Creed 2 until the crack came out - now it has, and now I have. Are all of those considered pirated copies?
  • by Tom (822) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @08:41AM (#32110668) Homepage Journal

    Unauthorized copying (remember: "Piracy" is that thing done on sea where people get killed) has been around forever, and will be around forever. Consider that a fact.

    How you act with regards to facts of the outside world says a lot about your personality. Basically, you can accept them, you can cry and whine about how unfair it all is, or you can try to change things. Usually, you don't fall into one extreme but a mixture with one dominant trait.

    The music, movie and computer games industry largely falls into the second, with a slight bit of the third. The problem with people like this is that the feeling of "the world is soooo unfair" is close to "I am entitled to be treated better". Which leads to irrational and counterproductive actions (the 3rd trait).

    For example, copy protection has long since left acceptable territory and entered ridiculous. And in many parts, has already crossed ridiculous and entered offensive. If you hit Google with "SecuROM" and a few terms of your choice, you'll find it fucks up people's machines, causes crashes and sometimes makes the entire system unbootable.

    As a legitimate customer, I've long tired of being treated like at the airport in the privacy of my own home. No, your stupid game is not important enough that I'd give up the confidentiality or integrity of my entire work environment. No, you can't have root access. You want to be sure I am a legitimate customer, fine. But I want to be sure that this is still my computer, which means not handing you the keys. I don't give the TV people access to my fusebox either, just because I watch their program. I don't give my car keys to the guy washing the windows. Know your place, then we can have a business relationship.

    As it is, there's a good number of games that I would buy, but don't, because I'm not putting up with this shit.

    And, quite frankly, there's a lot of times where I'm happy the crackers got it done, just because maybe, just maybe, the stupid fucks who put money into pointless, evil DRM schemes may learn that it's not worth it.

    Use some customer-friendly, easy copy protection, that's ok with me. Unique key, ok. Some CD checks on the installer, fine.

    Having to have the CD in the drive to play? Have you idiots heard of notebooks?
    SecuROM, Starforce, any-other-DRM-crap? See above.
    Limited number of activations? I'm sorry, if the doctors don't consider you insane, the doctors should hand back their licenses

    Most importantly: Make good games. There is still a short list of companies out there where I know I'll buy their next game for sure. Because they've never let me down, and they don't fuck with their customers, they please them. And you other stupid gits in the industry better learn that fucking and pleasing are only the same thing in a different "business".

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

Working...