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Football Manager 2013 Pirated 10 Million Times, Says Devs

Logging IP addresses on pirate versions? Cleverley done.

We always approach piracy figures with a healthy skepticism, but this is interesting. Sports Interactive says that Football Manager 2013, the previous iteration of the game, was pirated 10.1 million times. The report they’ve just sent out goes on to break down those figures by country, and estimates the likely lost revenue as a result of illegal downloads.

The best part is that Sports Interactive and Sega are being totally reasonable about it. Speaking at the London Games Conference as reported by MCV, FM producer Miles Jacobsen said that it’s “ridiculous” to equate these numbers with lost sales.
According to the release sent out by Sega, the game was cracked in May of last year, but that crack included a flaw that allowed the game to “phone home” and for Sports Interactive to log the IP address of every person who grabbed it. IPs are a poor way of pinning down individuals, but they can be used to estimate quantity.

China is reportedly the largest source of piracy, with 3.2 million illegal downloads. Sports Interactive looked at the drop in activation rate after the patch, which overall they say fell by 17%. Although it’s not quite that simple, as they also provide figures for individual countries. Here’s the full chart for the top 10, showing the number of illegal downloads and the drop in post-crack activations:

Territory

Illegal downloads

Legitimate activation in the post-crack period

1.

China

3,186,227

-60%

2.

Turkey

1,053,302

-87%

3.

Portugal

781,785

-41%

4.

Italy

547,009

+14%

5.

South Korea

385,283

– 50%

6.

Thailand

364,724

+ 7%

7.

Brazil

353,833

– 37%

8.

Poland

322,757

– 59%

9.

Serbia

250,365

– 91%

10.

Croatia

230,261

– 58%

That means that activations in Italy and Thailand actually went up after the crack was released. Which is strange.

It’s heartening that Sports Interactive isn’t using these figures to leap to any unjust conclusions. They do estimate however that 1.74% of pirates would have bought the game if the crack didn’t exist, and that this adds up to a $3.7 million loss in net revenue. When I asked for clarification on that how that 1.74% was reached, a representative for Sports Interactive said that they looked “at the differences in sales between FM12 and FM13 during corresponding periods, taking into account pre-crack increase and post-crack decreases across every country.” I’ve asked for more information and, if we hear back, will update this post tomorrow.

It doesn’t sound like Sports Interactive or Sega have any intention of adding more inhibitive DRM to future versions of the game as a result of the piracy. If anything, it’s remarkable that it took six months for the game to be cracked in the first place.

Football Manager 2014 is now out and is excellent. Read Adam’s Wot I Think, our Verdict, or send someone round to my house to stage some sort of intervention because I can’t stop thanks.

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Graham Smith

Editor-in-chief

Graham is to blame for all this.

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