The Yarr-ts: Piracy Snapshot 5.3.2008

Honestly, this is serious analysis.
Something I’ve recently taken to doing is keeping one eye on the big torrent sites, just to see what’s topping their download lists. I do so because it’s illuminating to compare what people are willing to take differs from what people are willing to pay for. However, I thought it’ll be an interesting exercise to be a little more rigorous than that. So, hitting the Mininova, I totaled all the separate torrents for each popular game and worked out a chart. This is a snapshot of PC gaming piracy, on a single torrent site, on a single day.

Top 10’s here. The rest of the chart, plus analysis and my methodology beneath the cut.

1) Assassin’s Creed – 25734
2) Frontlines: Fuel of War – 12688
3) Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat – 8792
4) Dark Messiah of Might and Magic – 8402
5) Lost: Via Domus – 5883
6) Turning Point: Fall of Liberty – 5183
7) Sims 2 – 4026
8 ) The Club – 3672
9) Bioshock – 3489
10) The Witcher – 3121

11) Need for Speed ProStreet – 3061
12) Crysis – 2847
13) Conflict: Denied Ops – 2085
14) Neverwinter Nights 2 – 1893
15) Hellgate: London – 1750
16) World in Conflict – 1531
17) Stranglehold – 1459
18) The Orange Box – 1341
19) Age of Empires – 1099
20) Flat Out 2 – 1074

Methodology first. The numbers are total leechers. That is, number of people who are downloading from a torrent right now. Many of these – and the ones with the highest scores – have multiple torrents, which means it’s possible that trying multiples at once to see which one gives the game first. However, since I’ve only added up the torrents from the PC games sections first page – smaller torrents on the second page with less than 293 leechers have been omitted. Also, these are only torrents on Mininova. It’s the largest torrent site, but there’s many, many more. Finally, I’ve counted bundled packs – where the Add ons are added to a torrent – as a single game for simplicity.

Before we start, you may want to compare and contrast with the current PC charts in the UK and the US.

Okay – what to make from this? Well, Ubisoft are having a bad time. We mentioned that some code of Assassin’s Creed has been leaked before, but it’s worth stressing this is only a preview build. The game crashes upon reaching Jerusalem, which has lead to some hilarious hacker whining, immortalised here. Even when this is known, it hasn’t stopped people downloading the bloody thing. Lost making an appearance is expected, but Dark Messiah showing up is a genuine surprise – in terms of most leechers on a single client, it’s highest. Presumably this is because of the attention gained by the recent release of a somewhat lacklustre console version.

Secondly: The torrent kids will go wild for shooting stuff. In fact, any kind of shooting stuff. They don’t even care if it’s any good, as the sixth-position for the poorly-reviewed Turning Point demonstrates. While there’s more strategic games there, what’s also worth noting that the current big game – Sins of A Solar Empire – is absent, despite sitting #2 in the US retail charts. Which you may say is a cute demographic snapshot – though, I’ll note, that while relatively few people are downloading it, despite the fact it has no copy protection, it’s the second-most seeded torrent – even if no-one’s taking, people seem determined to try and distribute it for some reason.

Thirdly, let’s try a little really rough – if conservative – maths. Call of Duty 4 has been on sale for 113 days, assuming day zero piracy. A seven gig torrent, assuming a 100k download speed, takes just under a day to download. Assuming that the rate of downloads now is constant across those whole three and a bit months – which is incredibly conservative, of course, as it’d have been much higher upon release – that means 993496 copies will have been illegally downloaded via Mininova alone. Which is the sort of number that makes Infinity Ward sad.

A friend of mine said something that struck me recently: There probably are just as many “traditional” PC gamers as ever; it’s just that they’re not paying for it. Part of me suspects that eventually they’ll end up paying for it in another way. If I were considering making a PC game, looking at the list, there’s not a chance in hell I’ll make an FPS.


  1. Will Tomas says:

    I think Dark Messiah being on there now is surprising, but it’s exactly the sort of game I’d expect to be downloaded. I seem to remember you giving it a pretty good write up for Eurogamer, but it had a reputation of being buggy as hell and so naturally it’s the sort of game that people would want to try to play without having to make a cash committment.

    In some cases I suspect that the downloaders are getting games that they’re not sure about, and so download rather than buy. Can’t say for sure though. Interesting chart.

  2. bobphile says:

    I think AC is being downloaded even more because I saw other language versions up there and director’s cuts.

  3. Jim Rossignol says:

    Audiosurf is high on seeds too. Are pirates actually pretty discerning and trying to “promote” piracy of stuff they like?

  4. squerl says:

    Just from a bit of googling:

    Numbers 3, 4, 8-17, 19, and 20 all have PC demos out.

    Turning Point and Orange Box both have X360 version demos out.

    So only AC, Frontlines, Lost, and Sims 2 don’t have demos, which is surprising. I figured a cause for downloads would be wanting to try before you buy.

    (Again, information above is probably inaccurate but I’ll blame Google)

    It’s a terrible argument loop. When a company actually does institute some copy protection to try and prevent this, the people that already are downloading use that as an excuse, and then more people download and say it’s because they’re protesting against the copy protection. There’s no winning for the companies.

  5. heartless_ says:

    I think it is a bit hard to discern anything from the torrent sites other than pirates seem to favor more hardcore, action-oriented games. Having dealt with pirates for some time and banning them from various forums and IRC chat rooms, I’ve often found that they have a distinct Pokemon attitude… “Gotta catch em all!”. Pirates download simply because they can.

  6. Cigol says:

    I’ve downloaded games in advance that I’ve had on pre-order.

    The numbers are meaningless at the end of the day, interesting sure but you can’t infer anything from them remotely concrete. The landscape on the PC is constantly evolving and isn’t comparable to consoles such as the PS3 and 360.

  7. cHeal says:

    Well with Sins of a Solar Empire doing so well in the charts and not featuring on torrents may indicate that the Hype machine used by the big publishers is resulting in such huge anticipation that many pirate instead of buying and then just learn to pirate for convience. it’s hard say, it is a more complex issue than the publishers try to make out and isn’t just a case of pirates = teh Bad!

    I do think that DRM should be scrapped, in the vast majority of cases it’s proven to be completely useless and only truly provides an inconvience to the legit consumer, yes, yes tired argument but still correct in my opinion. DRM is not in itself bad but I do wish there were new, less intrusive methods of doing it.

    It’s a sad situation that the community seems to be in and I can’t see an easy way out. I think the first port of call has to be some kind of dialogue between develops/Publishers and the pirates to see if publishers can do something so people don’t feel they need to pirate their product anymore.

    I’d also think it prudent that parents be better informed about the situation, as I would imagine a lot of pirates are young people who can’t afford these titles.

  8. Steve says:

    When seed numbers are high and leech numbers low, it means a lot of people have probably left their computers downloading and it’s finished. That’s all.

  9. Nick says:

    Beyond basic copy protection (to avoid simple disc copying) they could probably save a bit of money not having something like secuROM or whatever, which can cause problems with people trying to play it legitimately, thus saving them a bit of extra tech support too.

    *shrug* It’s a shame that (partially thanks to the ease of music piracy in earlier years I’d think) downloading stuff has become almost instinctive to this generation.

  10. restricted3 says:

    @squerl: Yes, there is. Drop the copy protection. It’s clearly useless. The company doesn’t spend the money and saves itself some tech support nightmares, and the customer is happy because it doesn’t have to suffer through the DRM (see Frontline: it didn’t work because of SecuROM and they had to release a 70MB patch JUST so you could play it!).

    And no, I don’t think removing the copy protection equals lost sales. I DO think that putting in certain copy protections equals lost sales, though. Certainly for me.

    Battlefield Heroes, Steam or Instant Action are good models for the future. Traditional distribution, plus CD Checks?. No, thank you.

  11. Duoae says:

    Can’t really comment on the pirating numbers as i agree with heartless_ above me in the sense that i don’t think you can really get any empirical data from torrent sites.

    The one guy i knew who pirated didn’t have the pokemon attitude – though i can imagine that is the case with some people – but he did download a number of games that he simply never played or installed. Remember last year when there were all those big titles (yes titles) released on the market within a short time of each other and people were complaining that there wasn’t enough time to play them all? Well, imagine that but constantly…. and because the games are free, many are never bothered with because of the new ‘shiny’ that would just be finished downloading….

  12. Alex says:

    A friend of mine said something that struck me recently: There probably are just as many “traditional” PC gamers as ever; it’s just that they’re not paying for it.

    I have to disagree. I’d certainly not call them “traditional” PC gamers, rather something like pirate PC gamers – a lot of those downloaded copies would never translate into RL bought copies.

    Maybe it does indicate how large the market could be, though – it’s all a bit iffy to base these kinds of judgements on a day of harvested numbers, which in the end will only indicate possible, virtual users, at best.

  13. Rook says:

    What would be very interesting would be trying to harvest the ips to at least map them to landmasses. E.g. is Piracy larger in the eastern european countries or western european ones.

    edit: there’s probably more PC gamers than ever before, similarly there’s more choice in quality titles than ever before and more ways of getting your content.

  14. Chris Evans says:

    Interesting that the number 2 PC game in the UK, Football Manager 2008 didn’t even make the top 20 of Kieron’s list. FM08 has no copy protection in my view of it, all you need is the disc in the drive, no CD Key, no online unlocking etc.

    But then again it is a game which has limited popularity (i think) in the US so that could be a reason why it didn’t appear.

  15. squerl says:


    I’m not saying I agree with invasive/buggy/headache-inducing evil DRM. I’m saying that I believe companies have the right to try to limit the amount of piracy that takes place, and I hope that we can agree on that point. So far, it has worked out pretty horribly with buggy software that causes problems for consumers. DRM/copy protection is still relatively new (I don’t think CD keys count) and companies so far have thought of it last minute instead of fully testing it out, but if anything at all of what they’re saying (of course they’re exaggerating by a large amount) is true, I think in the future we’ll have better developed “product protection” schemes that won’t harm everybody.

    “Battlefield Heroes, Steam or Instant Action are good models for the future. Traditional distribution, plus CD Checks?. No, thank you.”

    Battlefield Heroes is free to play but ad and micro-transaction supported. They’re lucky with their business model that they don’t have to worry about copy protection. I don’t think you can expect a single player game to use that model.

    Steam is great, I think a big reason for piracy is just convenience. Why do I want to either wait for a shipment or drive into town to pick up a game I could have in a few hours? I agree 100% that companies should move towards digital distribution.

  16. Alex says:

    FM08 has no copy protection, all you need is the disc in the drive, no CD Key, no online unlocking etc.

    Disc in drive is copy protection. In fact, it’s the one most people still seem to get most irate about.

  17. Cigol says:

    Especially when it conflicts with your drive and prevents you from playing a legally bought game unless you use a cracked .exe.

  18. Chris Evans says:

    Alex – for me having the disc in the drive to play a game is what I am used to, and as such I don’t count it as being copy protection in the same way as CD Keys, online unlocking etc. are

  19. rabbitsoup says:

    link to

    this is a great point, secure PC gaming its the way forward, everyone has to pay for multiplayer. on another note last 2 games i downloaded were justifed as i lost the bloody disc (FFIX) and the fucking demo wont work i meet the specs tho (crysis) except im not paying for crysis now cause i got bored after the 1st level and dont see MP being worth the cash > was i in the wrong?

  20. restricted3 says:


    Of course they have the right to try, but once a game is cracked, DRM is useless, and they should drop it in a patch, if only for their customers.

    Also, the argument usually is that what they try to protect against is (1) against casual gamers copying (not many of those anymore, everybody knows how to use torrent/emule) and (2) protect the game the first days so it sells to the impatient pirates. Seeing how Soulstorm is already out, that model is clearly not working.

    I agree that piracy is more a convenience than a money thing. As they were saying in EuroGamer the other day, you get a better customer experience if you pirate your game, which in itself is really sad.

    StarDock is also the way to go. GalCiv 2 I bought ONLY because of their stance on copy protection (yeah, the game was also great, which helped).

    I buy from Introversion also because they’re one of the few innovating and don’t put stupid DRM in. Look at Defcon: you buy, you download, you play, and they even send you a box if you want it.

    Until the publishers finally realize all this, I think they’re going to lose more sales than they are going to get through DRM.

    Even with the damned StarForce (which killed a burner of mine), and with games like Splinter Cell 2 (¿3?) not being cracked for a year, the piracy numbers stayed the same. A pirate that’s not going to buy your game is not going to buy your game, and that’s it. But a customer that is going to buy it, perhaps will not buy the next one because your burned him with your last game.

  21. cHeal says:

    Secure gaming is unlikely to be the way forward. I certainly wouldn’t endorse it. Neither did I endorse Bioshock ( I didn’t pirate it either). No pain no gain. I’d abandon the mainstream pc gaming market if it went with what he is proposing. For multiplayer, yes that’s fine as long as private server hosting is still possible but not for SP.

    The great thing about the pc market is that anyone who has a pc can make a pc game, I think this will be the determining factor in the survival of the pc market, perhaps out surviving all other formats, who knows.

    Out of interest how did CoH sell on release? that had no copy protection except a cd key. Seemed to sell well, what were the pirating figures like? I hugely appreciated the fact they did go with a very light DRM, appreciation which quickly died as soon as the expansion was released.

  22. restricted3 says:

    Yeah, cHeal, me too. And reprotecting the original CoH with the v2 patches was a really wicked thing to do.

    Did the expansion sell more with the protection?. Somehow, I doubt it.

  23. Caiman says:

    I dunno, if all developers see this and think – like Kieron – that they should produce more games like Sins and less FPS games then – heh – I’d be happy!

    But seriously… no wait, I think I was being serious.

  24. Max says:

    “Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat”

    What is this, some new expansion? =O

    Only kidding, just being pedantic.

  25. mrkstphnsn says:

    I have a freind who Pokomon’s games. And he used to work for Sega. He hardly ever plays any of them and all I can discern from his actions is that he has no quality control.

    I nick music willy nilly and dl tv shows but my defense is this.

    Modern Music is shithouse (No matter what Gillsie says about the latest waifish scottish indie twang music) and TV is TV. I make cups of tea during ad breaks anyway so the ad revenue thing doesn’t work for me.

    If Record Companys do not keep their library in print they can go fuck themselves and I’ll go find it from someone else who loves it as much as I do on a p2p network.

    Same logic applies for Games. The fact that you cannot find Fallout1/2 and Planscape to buy is a farce. In fact it’s frankly a farce that you have to jump to hoops to get those games to play on Xp anyway.

    I’m sure through companies dissappearing and being eaten and crushed with the lamentation of their women echoing in their ears that there’s some reasonable reason for it but at the end of the day I have very little sympathy when people bleat about piracy.

    Assassins Creed will forever be blighted by the farce over it’s online reviews and it may be the best game ever but I’ll never know because I’ll never play it.

    When the games industry stops shoving the same old graphically enhanced crap out onto the market and realises that they could make a fortune with the back catalogue (enhanced and bought up to date and EXTREME) on something like Steam then I may have a bit of sympathy.

    My name is Mark. I’m a gamer and I havn’t bought or stolen a game in a shop since Orange box was released. I’m your problem game industry, not the people downloading your FPS’s. Your products shite, it keeps you up all night.

    This post was bought to you by the letters M, E, R, L, O, T.

  26. Dinger says:

    Okay, here’s the thing:
    “only geeks care about the absence of intrusive DRM part of their purchase decision.”
    True. The ones not complaining don’t have to worry about it: should their pirate copy break, they’ll just bitch about it being broken.

    As far as “discernment” of pirates go: yeah, they are. We’re talking torrents here. Torrents, they’ll tell you, are based on a “share and share alike” philosophy, but it’s asymmetrical. Most leechers will grab what they want, and go. Seeding, well, that costs bandwidth and exposure. So those who seed do it for reasons other than the desire to play the game. Many of them, I suspect, do it in the spirit of sharing something good.

  27. Joe says:

    The numbers are interesting. But it’s hard to draw any real conclusions from them.

    A thorough and unbiased survey of PC gamers’ piracy habits (and their given reasons for torrenting) is the prerequisite to a proper discussion. Without that, everyone – whether in the industry, on a blog or in a comment thread – is just speculating.

  28. Mo says:

    Re: TV. The networks make money on the # of viewers. Whether you’re actually watching or not is irrelevant. If you’re watching a downloaded copy instead of watching it on TV, you’re effecting somebodies bottom line.

  29. mrkstphnsn says:

    Genuine question. How do they calculate that if I don’t have one of the special boxes attached to my tv?

  30. Radiant says:

    Of note:
    NOT ONE CASUAL GAME amongst them.
    Also missing is WoW.

    Quite telling that no?

    Why doesn’t Infinity Ward use better cd key check/banning system?
    If Digital Paintball can implement an effective Global User ID check/banning system [a free QUAKE II mod] why not IW?
    No point pointing and crying about running your kids across the road.

  31. Will Tomas says:

    Actually, the fact that Sins of a Solar Empire isn’t featuring surprises me – I’d’ve thought that there would be a fair few Europeans pirating it. FM2008 not being there too is interesting.

    But more to the point – I’m surprised to see the Orange Box there, as I thought the whole point about Steam’s online verification was that you couldn’t get a pirated copy to work. I though it was why an internet connection is needed for HL2 even though the game isn’t online itself. Which really annoyed me when I hadn’t got an internet connection on my PC around the time it came out. Am I wrong about the Steam verification thing?

  32. Radiant says:

    @Will Thomas
    I thought the same about the Orange box/Steam but there were these vague magical instructions on how to emulate steam on your computer.

    But then I looked at the Steam website and saw that Portal on its own was only a fiver to download which, well, I wish ALL games were priced like that…

  33. Kevin Lee says:

    To my knowledge, hacked versions of TF2 can play on hacked servers, which bypass Steam all together. I imagine something similar is done for the none-multiplayer games.
    You’ll never be able to stop piracy, what you can do is make it worth your time and money to pay for the game. Digital distribution makes it quick and easy, and the constant patching and updating of game content makes it worth the money. (Cracked versions of Steam Games will obviously not be able to take advantage of new updates very easily). Giving a game a solid online multiplayer component also helps sales, as, at least for me, I didn’t buy Crysis because I heard that it was lacking in online play.

  34. sigma83 says:

    WoW is not on there because, quite simply, WoW’s copy protection is perfect.

  35. Stromko says:

    I think TV is a very different issue. That said, however, a lot of shows are released on DVD these days. Therefore if you were willing to buy the DVD, pirating it instead is an actual lost sale for the company. Since most of the DVDs aren’t very good deals though (each 10 – 20$-plus disc holds somewhere between 2 to 4 episodes, but could’ve easily held a whole season), I’d say that either argument has valid points.

    The trouble with determining the effects of piracy is the very thing that allows piracy to exist. Anonymity. This makes it impossible to determine what percentage of pirates actually end up purchasing the game.

    Now, cynically I would have to say it’s a pretty small percentage. Then again the percentage would’ve or could’ve made the purchase if they hadn’t been able to pirate it may also be very small. Personally, I can’t recall any game that I pirated that I didn’t end up actually buying.

    Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War would be an excellent example of a game where the customer experience is better for the pirates though. Every patch and expansion is a travesty of ever-more-broken balance. At least they got rid of the CD-check with Dark Crusade, though. It’s still a game I wish I hadn’t purchased, even though I lined right up and bought the expansions, plus CoH, plus CoH’s expansion which was just as brokenly imbalanced as DoW’s.. bleargh, end-rant.

    These days I’m just way too lazy to pirate anything that I could instead simply purchase, and everything I was hyped about I was able to get online. I’ve had good experiences with Stardock and Steam, and even Direct-to-Drive’s somewhat dodgy system has been worthwhile.

    Speaking of legal downloads, Planescape Torment is actually available on Gametap right now, so that’s one game you probably don’t need to pirate.

    I say probably because the emulator does have issues with some games. Quest for Glory, for instance, the first three are on Gametap and each one is terribly unresponsive and poorly synced in combat. I’m sure DOSBox would do a better job, but all the reputable abandonware sites have removed the download links since Gametap supposedly has it covered.

    (This post probably won’t make a whole lot of sense and I apologize, I’m overdue to sleep.)

  36. yutt says:

    Eh. A whole lot of this is silly.

    I’ve always considered myself primarily a PC gamer. There are a whole host of problems with PC gaming that have nothing to do with piracy. Until those are addressed, the whining and nitpicking over imagined lost sales is irrelevant.

    If I buy a Xbox 360 game, I can loan it to my friend for as long as I want. He can play it until he is bored and never rent or purchase it.

    Wait! That’s a lost sale! Surely this is the end of the Xbox! People sharing games!?

    Now, say I buy Bioshock retail, or HL2:E2 from Steam. How do I share this with my friend? I can’t, because the publishers have created so many ridiculous restrictions. Why should I buy a PC game, when the console version is so much more convenient?

    Valve could very easily allow you to “loan” games to a friend through Steam. You’d lose access until they “returned” it to you. Will this ever happen? Nope, because publishers are convinced that every time someone plays a game without buying it they lost an imaginary sale. Articles like this only perpetuate that short-sited myth.

    They could even allow you to rent games. I don’t buy the vast majority of 360 games I’ve played, and I’ve yet to hear Microsoft whine about how Blockbuster is destroying the industry.

  37. Mo says:


    Genuine question. How do they calculate that if I don’t have one of the special boxes attached to my tv?

    As in a cable box, right? No bloody clue TBH. :) I figure, just like an ISP knows how many people are using their internet connection, a network knows how many people are watching their shows. The specifics are beyond me.

  38. lalahsghost says:

    “These days I’m just way too lazy to pirate anything that I could instead simply purchase, and everything I was hyped about I was able to get online. I’ve had good experiences with Stardock and Steam…”

    I agree. If the game is a DVD sized game, even with my cable modem, I can’t be dicked with having to burn the ISO and praying for it to work. I’ve attempted to download S.T.A.L.K.E.R. like three times now because I’m iffy on it. All three times, I’ve canceled my download after four or five hours because it has gone too slow, or I kinda felt bad and told myself I would buy the game. Have I bought the game? No. Have I played the game? No. Do I want to play the game? Still not sure.

    My most favorite game of all time is Age of Empires II. I downloaded it in late 2007. It’s like my peggle for one-hour bouts of wall sieging. I found it at a local store brand new (GOLD EDITION) for Ten Bucks. And guess what? You’re damn right I bought that shizz! T’was a great game, and they deserved my cash.

  39. SenatorPalpatine says:

    Yutt, there is a big different between loaning the hard copy of a game (PC or 360) to a friend, and the ability to “loan” a game to anyone you meet on the interenet. You have to accept the trade-off from not having a hard copy.

    And you can loan games on steam, in a way. Give someone you trust the password to your account.

  40. Ed says:

    I’ll admit to downloading COD4 and really enjoying it. But I’m not sure it’s work the $69.95 Steam is charging for it. I mean thats more than I paid for The Orange Box which I’ve got much more out of. If the drop COD4 in Steam to $49.95 or so, I’ll happily buy it.

    I really only buy games on Steam now.

  41. yutt says:


    There isn’t a big difference. I can loan a console game to whomever I wish, for whatever reason and under whatever terms I choose.

    The problem is, I don’t have to accept any restrictions: I can just buy the Xbox 360 version instead, and many people do. As a consumer, why would I pay the same price (or more) for what is in fact a severely restricted version of the same product?

    As a diehard PC gaming fan, I usually do buy the PC version of games. But that is more due to nostalgia and personal obsession than any rational reason.

    Between ever inflating hardware requirements, compatibility issues, hardware costs, lack of ability to rent or loan games; there is very little that PC gamer offers superior to modern consoles.

    Why not use the uniqueness of the platform in an advantageous way rather than restricting it?

  42. Frosty840 says:

    Got to add that I’m still a not-a-fan of the whole “can’t lend games over Steam” business.
    I’ve got a ton of games I could lend out to people to help promote sales of future games, or even of the games I lend out, should the borrowers really like the thing.
    Also, no matter how many games I *have*, I can only *play* one at a time. Although I discovered the other day that I can actually *run* pretty much as many as my PC can take. Nice one, Valve…

    A bit of an aside, here.
    I played through CoD4 at my university because they’ve bought a PC lab full of gaming machines and lots of free games for us to play on, and at that point, not playing them just seems rude.
    I have to say that, having done so, I absolutely would not purchase the thing, as I’m simply not a big fan of multiplayer gaming, and the length of the singleplayer game can’t possibly justify the purchase price.
    If the singleplayer element were released for £15, it *might* be worth it, but of course nobody’s daft enough to try and take that suggestion to the marketing department.

    I don’t think that really relates to the discussion, but I’ll leave it in. PQDbLoS an’ that.

  43. Garth says:

    The thing to keep in mind is how many people pirate games that they would never buy. I, for one, buy games I like. Do I download games? Absolutely. Why? Because I want to test them ahead of time – I’m tired of 10 minute demos, or demos that don’t even play like the final game does.

    If you want to cut down on piracy, make your games worth buying. I’m sick and tired of this idea that games have to cost a tonne of money to do well, and require 150 man teams. That’s crap.

    How many people did it take to make Deus Ex? Fourty? What suddenly made it so you have to double that number to make a game half as good?

  44. Ed says:

    I’d happily donate £15 or so to Infinity Ward if they offered an option :)

  45. Muzman says:

    (ok, I’m slow and distracted but this is mostly in reference to the discussion of tv ratings about five posts up there)

    I’m not up with the latest on digital boxes but for the most part I’m pretty sure they still use the same old survey methods with statistical extrapolation, and by a third party company like Nielsen. It goes about 1 box for 5-10000 homes. There’s also (hopefully) privacy laws in effect which mean you’re notified if your viewing is being surveyed via any remote method and you must give your permission (but this could be buried in license agreements on sign up). At any rate I don’t think dowloading a show has everyone up in arms in quite the same way downloading a game does. For the above reasons the impact is delayed in the stats and they can’t simply count the torrents and go “OMG lost sales!”, although they do survey that on occasion and speculate on the impact.

    Regarding these torrent stats; I’m not sure about how torrents and trackers work really, but aren’t mininova a sort of a meta tracker search engine so what you’re getting is actually stats from several trackers at once there (plus their own). Isn’t each torrent listed seperately on each tracker but still forming part of the same ‘torrent’ of data? I think there might be a percentage of inflation, via counting the same leecher multiple times, in these stats. I could be completely wrong and misunderstand the whole thing though.

  46. malkav11 says:

    The numbers are vaguely interesting, but of course, that really is just one site, which cross-indexes a bunch of other sites. And it’s public, too, which means you’re getting the casual pirates with a few slummers. Private trackers are generally the way to go if you do very much pirating – they’re more secure, faster, and often have a much superior selection/quality for their preferred focus. For example, Oink (which got raided by the US government and is now defunct) was a music pirate’s heaven with tons of obscure stuff in high quality formats. Look for music on Mininova or the Pirate Bay or whatever and you’ll mostly get discographies with low bitrates and improper tagging. And no guarantees of that much.

  47. Dinger says:

    TV studios have been known to have their shows ‘accidentally’ released to torrent before the premier to build buzz and to provide a data point for marketing strategies.

    Maybe it’s down to this: people pirate because, for humans just as for many other animals, sharing information is a biological compulsion. We tell jokes; we gossip. Some go overboard.
    So if you want to make money off of content, by all means give something to share (a demo). Make your relationship with the customer direct (you are the one ‘sharing’ the game), and frequent (patches of copy-protected games only get cracked if the game is a hit). Sell something more than the software. In the US, the golden age of movie theaters came before the golden age of movies. The theaters themselves were the product: working-class palaces where the burdens of the day disappeared and the constraints on behavior loosened.

    Whatever you do, don’t employ DRM or a distribution model that makes a legitimate copy woorth less to the consumer thann a pirated one. That is: don’t mess with my PC and don’t expect me to ever walk into a shop.

    By the way, awesome graphic.

  48. ShawnD says:

    Ya know what, it doesn’t matter what we think, or what our buddies think, whether those are lost sales, what percentage of them would have bought it, what percentage did purchase the game, what percentage will buy the game….the business suits that work for publishers who forecast sales and make decisions for development for the PC platform don’t care, all they know is that people are playing the games without paying for them. That’s it. This has directly affected the way games are developed on the PC platform and why we barely have exclusives anymore, especially exclusive FPS’s.

    The platform is indeed changing, Relic is already putting advertising in their Asian markets, since their patch server dishes out multiple times more patches than units sold. More and more developers are going to have to do business in a new way, BF Heroes for instance, which isn’t what I’m excited for. I want BF3 and Crysis 2. All I know is, the more attention this gets, the more we are going to see changes in the platform, for better or for worse.

  49. UnknowHero says:

    Good that game publishers are not idiots like you that they will ignore 2 million sales of cod4 on pc and just give attention to the amount of copies pirated. also fyi, cod 5 is also coming to pc only after seeing the sale on cod4 on pc