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Estimating Game Piracy More Accurately

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the arrrrbitrary-numbers dept.

Piracy 459

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."

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459 comments

Hardcore players (1, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109234)

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.

However that still doesn't change the fact that they are using a product they have no right to. It's not even the old "they just download it for the sake of it, they don't actually play them", since these are measured by submitting high scores to the game's server.

If the average pirate downloads a lot more games than an average customer buys, it just means that they're hardcore players and techies. You know, the group that here on slashdot is mad about casual games taking over more interesting games. Maybe it wouldn't if everyone would buy them? Casual people don't go pirating so easily.

The more interesting question is, why do these people think they're somehow obligated to take something that doesn't belong to them and without pay? Even if it isn't a lost sale, they haven't paid the author for the right to use it. That isn't right.

Re:Hardcore players (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109270)

Because that isnt how they see it, duh! And it's not even how the law sees it. It's a private transaction between me and the previous owner, if he makes a copy before selling (or giving, which is just selling for $0) it to me then that's not my problem. So if you want to make it a legal issue you need to look at the unauthorized copying by the seller (or gifter) and once you start doing that you're immediately going to run into the second hand market. Think about it, if the law prohibited second hand sales, that would be unjust - wait a minute, we're talking about iPhone apps right? The law *does* prohibit second hand sales. See how quickly moral arguments about copyright get silly?

Copyright isn't a moral issue, it's a legal one, and the proponents of copyright are all people with vested interests who take no care not to overstep the social contract, is it any wonder the public has no respect for them?

Re:Hardcore players (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109300)

No one is arguing it's right to pirate games. What's being said here is that the methods used to get the numbers in the statistics published are wrong, and the actual numbers are much, much lower. Whether this is on purpose or simply honest mistakes is left to be seen.

Is killing people wrong? Certainly. Shouldn't we call out people that say that there are x murders per year, when the actual number is much lower? Bloody hell yes. It makes your country (or state, or wherever the numbers came from) look bad, and portrays an inaccurate reality, which is the opposite of what statistics are about.

Re:Hardcore players (0, Troll)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109314)

Actually, no one has ever published statistics saying its lost sales. The statistics that have been published are how many pirates vs. customers the game has, and those have been accurate.

Re:Hardcore players (4, Informative)

DangerFace (1315417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109660)

Nintendo have: [edge-online.com]

Nintendo has blamed piracy for a 45 per cent drop in DS game sales in Europe between April and December 2009... Last June Nintendo monitored ten overseas websites that allowed people to illegally download software. It found that games had been pirated a total 238 million times, translating into one trillion yen ($10.7 billion) in lost sales.

And Sony, EA, Activision, Microsoft et al have all claimed the same thing at one time or another. They seem to be smartening up nowadays, though.

The statistics that have been published are how many pirates vs. customers the game has, and those have been accurate.

And the numbers are almost certainly not accurate, anyway. Some people DL several versions of the same game - some people buy several copies. Some people lend games to people, thus making customers into pirates, and some people lend copies to friends, making a single pirate into a counterfeiting ring. The actual numbers are completely impossible to determine by any means other than watching what every single person in the world is doing every second of every day.

Re:Hardcore players (5, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109308)

The more interesting question is, why do these people think they're somehow obligated to take something that doesn't belong to them and without pay?

Why is it more interesting?

I find the difference between the imagined and real economic impacts on gaming industry much more interesting than a debate about why people would rather not pay for things.

Re:Hardcore players (5, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109450)

I find the discussions about which part of the mental masturbation is more "real" interesting.

Hint: if it costs you nothing that I copy your game, you didn't lose jack shit. If you don't like it, make your game more entertaining than the pirated version.

You can play World of Warcraft on a nearly unlimited number of free private servers with the client you download from Blizzard for free; you can even roll your own. But in terms of quality, they're at most marketing for the real thing.

If Blizzard wanted, they could make it impossible for the private server developers to keep up. Nobody would bother to reverse engineer an encrypted protocol that changes with every patch. What do they do instead? They add content to their own and swim in the money it generates.

Re:Hardcore players (5, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109544)

to take something

You've never test driven a car I take it? You've never heard a song on the radio, then bough the CD? Rather you always go to the record store and by CD's of artists you have never heard before? You always pick your doctor at random out of the phone book and never ask family/friends for a recommendation?

Let me put it to you another way: Why do software companies think that they can fork out buggy, shoddy games and expect their customers to fork over $40-50 without the possibility of complaining (or even reselling the game)?

I admit that I have "pirated". The games that I like, I later bought. However there are a hell of a lot more games that have been deleted from my hard drive, and here I consider that I have saved myself from being ripped off. For example, I OWN a copy of Silent Hunter III. I OWN a copy of Silent Hunter IV which, IMO, was not as good as Silent Hunter III. So I downloaded a copy of Silent Hunter V. After 10 minutes, I wiped it from my hard drive and thank goodness I didn't pay for that piece of crap. Had it been a good game, I would have bought it. Just like I bought every other game I like.

But... (4, Funny)

tnok85 (1434319) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109244)

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

It's an empirically proven fact.

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109264)

No one has really said so, it's just how it has been twisted by pro-piracy people.

Re:But... (4, Insightful)

DangerFace (1315417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109744)

Of particular concern to the GAO was the “substitution rate,” the rate at which an illegal copy would have been otherwise legally purchased had it not been available. The MPAA and RIAA always use a 1:1 ratio to boost their figures and make the problem seem far worse than it actually is.

Okay, so that's music and film. Still, they are claiming that every download is a lost sale. In fact, more than that, they have claimed in court [wikipedia.org] that every download is several thousand lost sales. Oh crap, I accidentally used matters of record instead of just stating my (incorrect) opinion as fact. Oops.

Re:But... (2, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109266)

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:But... (2, Funny)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109296)

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:But... (4, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109346)

You know, I think that actually works better without the extra "n"

Ok.

Do't be so restraied, you kow it's a fudametal truth.

Re:But... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109618)

"fudamental" = Fear|Uncertainty|Doubt-a-mental

Re:But... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109268)

No. It. Is. Not.

Another empirically proven fact.

Re:But... (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109280)

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

Re:But... (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109284)

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.

Re:But... (1)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109342)

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.

Re:But... (1)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109408)

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... (4, Interesting)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:But... (2, Insightful)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109640)

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... (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109574)

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 what people have to pay and you are going to covert surprising amount of pirates to customers.

It is just that lost sale is not problem caused by pirates but problem caused by publishers.

Re:But... (3, Insightful)

jac89 (979421) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109668)

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.

Re:But... (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109672)

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-protection issues on your DVD-Reader or simply DRM that does not like some program you have installed) is actually more hassle than finding and downloading the game using your favorite copyright infringement tools.

In fact, every extra "trick" implemented in DRM just increases the probability that the shinny new game you just bought will fail to run on your system (and now you have the hassle of a return).

Re:But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109734)

A pirates time is not free? It might as well be as the technical skills that most pirates have are worthless. A lot of people will pirate as a try before you buy, but face it most pirates just want a free game.

Re:But... (1)

plastbox (1577037) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109754)

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 didn't just waste said money on crap

..or..

  • Spend 5 minutes finding a torrent
  • Spend 20 minutes downloading the game
  • Try it out for free

Same thing with movies. It's (mostly) not that I'm cheap, it's that convenience trumps pretty much anything. If I want to watch a movie and have to
A) go for a drive, pay $8-10 to rent a movie, and drive back to deliver it the next day, or
B) Spend 30 minutes downloading it
Hm, real tough choice there..

The solution? Let me quickly and easily pay an amount of money small enough to be "insignificant"* to access high-quality content.

*By "insignificant" I mean you probably don't even think twice about spending, say, $10. If the price tag says $50 though, you'd probably have to think it over.

You know what else are true? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109596)

Exposed. Cleavage. And. Titties. Are. Making. The. Earthquakes. Happen.

It are true, because of my learnings.

Re:But... (1, Interesting)

Ranzear (1082021) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109728)

I'm going to stick my neck out and say that I pirate games I don't want to pay for because generally too expensive to purchase. If I could pay $10 for each of a dozen games that I've pirated in the past year instead of $120 for two, I probably would.

In my case, they are losing a sale to fixing the price too high for too long, especially in this age of Price != Quality. On the flipside, I'll buy titles on Steam for $9 on-sale and secondary to that reason never have to worry about losing access to it because of some shady DRM scheme.

I think a lot of pirating of games is for the same reason as pirating of movies still in theatres: They simply cost too f*cking much to access legitimately on a regular basis.

Second post from that blog (1, Troll)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109246)

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?

Re:Second post from that blog (5, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Second post from that blog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109420)

wait till you try out Aquaria :) Completely off-topic, but the Humble Bundle really is a great buy.

But it may be higher for PC games (1)

nordee (104555) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109250)

But this doesn't hold water for PC games, where getting a pirated copy of the game is much simpler (googling for a torrent of the game) than jailbreaking your phone.

So yeah, the estimates are still probably really high, but I bet they are higher for PC games than for iPhone games.

Re:But it may be higher for PC games (5, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109460)

Except it is also easy as hell to get PC gamers to buy, it is called giving them a good value instead of squeezing them for that last penny, duh! I'll use myself for a couple of examples: 1.-I bought MoH:10th anniversary, even though I heard the latest game in the series sucked (which it did BTW) so why did I buy? Because they gave me extras that made it worth buying like the original MoH:AA plus the expansions, Moh:PA Directors Cut, plus a couple of CDs worth of soundtracks and making of behind the scenes.

Another example is Good Old Games [gog.com] which has gotten me to buy plenty of games I normally wouldn't have, simply by offering x64 compatibility along with no DRM and plenty of extras like soundtracks and strategy guides. They make the purchase so easy and painless that it is literally easier to buy from them than it would be to pirate the game. After all with a pirated version I couldn't be sure it would run on W7 x64, nor would I get any expansion packs, all the extras, and have it as simple as 1 click and I'm done.

So if you want PC gamers to buy it really isn't that hard. Don't try to get us to pay $50 for a 5 hour long badly ported x360 game, if you really think your game is worth $50 then throw in a couple of your older titles you aren't selling any more so we don't feel like we are getting ripped off, and make it easy to buy from you without making us jump through bullshit DRM hoops (I'm looking at you, Ubisoft!) that simply make the pirated version a better value. If you find the right price or incentives you CAN convert pirates to customers. Hell I can't even count how many guys I know that ran formerly pirated XP Pro that are now running W7 thanks to the $50 HP offer. MSFT hit the right price and many decided it was just easier and less hassle to buy the new OS than pirate it.

Ultimately though, I have to wonder if all this "evil piratez" bullshit isn't actually a cover for the fact that certain big game companies want their PC games to fail so they can stick with the consoles. Lets face it, since the days of code wheels many of the big companies have been more about control than anything else. The x360 for the first time gives them "black box computing" where they can nickel and dime the living hell out of the players and kill multiplayer for game A when sequel B comes out. Of course if they simply dropped their currently profitable PC games division the shareholders would have a shitfit, so instead they purposely go out of their way to treat their customers like absolute dogshit. When the PC gamers avoid them like the clap they can say "See? PC gaming is dead" and stick with the 360 without shareholder screaming.

So I have to wonder how much of the "evil piratez!" is bullshit seeing how companies like Valve can make money hand over fist even on old games that were probably the most pirated in history. Plus piracy makes a damn fine excuse for when your game sucks, like the company that made Titan Quest which one of the developers tried to argue with me in the forums that the fricking demo I was playing "Had to be pirated" because the shitty code would CTD after less than 20 minutes. And sorry about the length, but as a PC gamer that has watched PC gaming go from one of the greats to a bunch of shitty 360 ports for frankly crazy money with worse nastiness than most viruses I really don't feel much sympathy for the game companies ATM.

Re:But it may be higher for PC games (0, Troll)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109718)

Except it is also easy as hell to get PC gamers to buy, it is called giving them a good value instead of squeezing them for that last penny, duh! I'll use myself for a couple of examples: 1.-I bought MoH:10th anniversary, even though I heard the latest game in the series sucked (which it did BTW) so why did I buy? Because they gave me extras that made it worth buying like the original MoH:AA plus the expansions, Moh:PA Directors Cut, plus a couple of CDs worth of soundtracks and making of behind the scenes.

Rubbish. The makers of System Shock 2 gave PC gamers plenty of value yet only five of them bought it.

Re:But it may be higher for PC games (1)

Narishma (822073) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109554)

If you read the article (yeah I know) he uses higher piracy numbers for PC than iPhone, but the conclusion is still the same.

Jailbroken (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109278)

Jailbreak detection?

Are they admitting that they spy on their users phones outside their running apps?

In some countries that might get them jail without possibility of jailbreaking.

Wrong (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109282)

"only 10% of their potential customers are pirates, which means they are losing at most 10% of their sales."

That's just as wrong as claiming that every pirated copy is a lost sale. 10% of potential customers isn't the same as 10% of the sales.

Lost sales are impossible to measure accurately because they are a hypothetical scenario: "What if the game couldn't be pirated, what would have happened?" Nobody can answer that question. Maybe it would have sold a lot more copies, maybe it would even have sold less as it would have remained largely unknown. We just don't know.

Re:Wrong (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109328)

I could imagine a few ways... WoW has zero piracy for example...

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109340)

Private servers. Yes, they exist.

Re:Wrong (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109382)

With an MMOG we gamers take for granted that we need to be connected to the net and transmit data back and forth all the time.

When Ubisoft implements something in what is arguably a single player game, I for one a) do not buy the game b) tell Ubisoft to go fuck themselves and c) make another notch on the "do not buy from this company until they redeem themselves" list.

Which is a shame, because from what I've seen Settlers 7 actually looks like fun and I might just have picked it up were it not for the absurd DRM.

So does that make me a lost sale because of drm because of pirating tally? Because something tells me it's more likely to end up in the one that argues for more drm, not less :/

Re:Wrong (0, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109594)

Slashdot users have really gotten more stupid... think for a second.

WoW has no piracy (no, fucking private servers don't count you assholes). What if they were to turn off the serial number checking for a year? How rampant would the piracy get in that year?

Re:Wrong (1)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109392)

Ok, so if the game I did some years ago (LK-Shoot for GP32, you can look it up on the google) had not be pirated, I'd have 15 million subscribing customers paying me $12 a month?

Damn pirates!

Re:Wrong (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109404)

Re:Wrong (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109430)

That's like saying people who go to burger king instead of mcdonalds are somehow "pirates".

Re:Wrong (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109448)

That's like saying people who go to burger king instead of mcdonalds are somehow "pirates".

I agree. Still infringing IP, though.

Re:Wrong (2, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109504)

Still infringing IP, though.

      So is singing the "Happy Birthday" song, but everyone does it.

Re:Wrong (1)

teg (97890) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109490)

(about people running WOW on private servers not being pirates) That's like saying people who go to burger king instead of mcdonalds are somehow "pirates".

I disagree. Your McDonald's/Burger King analogy would match better with people playing Age of Conan rather than WoW - something that is clearly not piracy, just choosing another vendor. Running WOW on private servers would be more like having someone tape a cinema showing of a movie, then showing that privately to a large group of friends.

PS3 isn't pirated yet (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109372)

Lost sales are impossible to measure accurately because they are a hypothetical scenario: "What if the game couldn't be pirated, what would have happened?"

It's not so hypothetical when you consider video games for the PLAYSTATION 3 console. It just got cracked, and the crack hasn't yet been weaponized for mass infringement.

Re:Wrong (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109470)

"Lost sales are impossible to measure accurately because they are a hypothetical scenario: "What if the game couldn't be pirated, what would have happened?" Nobody can answer that question."

We can't answer with 100% accuracy, but we can come really really close. There's a certain percentage of people who are never going to buy a particular product. Never. If they can get it for free they will take it, otherwise they will simply do without it. The amount of sales lost to "piracy" is very close to zero.

Re:Wrong (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109760)

Ya, that always bothers me. It seems the vast majority of "pirates" are typically kids who can't afford to buy these games. I know I pirated everything left and right when I was younger, cause I didn't have any money. Now that I can afford it, I drop $60 for another crappy PS3 game every couple weeks.

An English professor I once had did her dissertation on piracy (the kind with boats) and what drives the common person to become a pirate. It was almost always economic factors, typically due to political issues. I don't think much has changed here.

Re:Wrong (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109650)

"Lost sales are impossible to measure accurately"

Lost sales CANNOT be measured PERIOD. Lost sales are an industry fiction, people that know how to pirate will just wait for the crack or for the price to drop, the whole point of getting something for free means you didn't intend on paying for it in the first place unless the thing you were pirating was genuinely good and you want to support the developers.

Re:Wrong (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109742)

Lost sales are impossible to measure accurately because they are a hypothetical scenario: "What if the game couldn't be pirated, what would have happened?"

If the likes of Steam, PSN, XBL etc. are anything to go by, prices for legit copies would go up. Piracy rates on these platforms must be so insignificant they don't even matter, yet the price of new titles is MSRP even when few retailers ever sell at MSRP.

I believe the 80% figure (0)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109302)

Most people without jailbroken phones won't bother with your crappy app.

Most people who jailbroke purely for piracy are eager to try anything they can get working on it. (Those who jailbroke for any other purposes not included)

I could see a 1:4 ratio between the two groups, depending on the app.

Jailbroken (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109306)

So let's apply this to PC-Games
100% of the PCs are jailbroken, so at most 100% of their customers are potential pirates, which means they lose at most 100% of their potential sales to piracy.

I stopped participating in piracy (2, Insightful)

dontbgay (682790) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109310)

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.

But do you love other PC and console drawbacks? (0, Offtopic)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109384)

I love the old keyboard and mouse.

But do your friends and family who visit your house love having to wait their turn to use the keyboard and mouse instead of hooking up controllers 2, 3, and 4 and playing immediately?

I love the PS3. I love the Xbox.

But do you love the consoles' entry barriers against small developers?

Re:But do you love other PC and console drawbacks? (0, Troll)

conares (1045290) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109416)

I love the old keyboard and mouse.

But do your friends and family who visit your house love having to wait their turn to use the keyboard and mouse instead of hooking up controllers 2, 3, and 4 and playing immediately?

I love the PS3. I love the Xbox.

But do you love the consoles' entry barriers against small developers?

Do you ever make any sense?

Re:But do you love other PC and console drawbacks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109616)

I love the PS3. I love the Xbox.

But do you love the consoles' entry barriers against small developers?

Yes, I do in fact - developing for a console is unfathomably easier than for a PC and its unrelenting hardware progressions. I want to write a game, not an operating system. Licensing a _good_ commercial PC engine is way the fuck more expensive than buying a console devkit.

Re:I stopped participating in piracy (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109674)

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?

pirates?! blah... (1)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109322)

How much of their potential customers are ninjas?

Re:pirates?! blah... (2, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109394)

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.

I was with them until the cited Blizzard... (1)

tlambert (566799) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109324)

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

Re:I was with them until the cited Blizzard... (4, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109398)

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.

Please elaborate about how are Diablo, Warcraft and Starcraft not interesting at all without paying a subscription service.

Re:I was with them until the cited Blizzard... (1)

jac89 (979421) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109684)

To be fair i believe that Blizzard do make most of their money from WOW. (citation needed)

Re:I was with them until the cited Blizzard... (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109678)

They are not tied to external content significantly more than any other MMO or multiplayer game publisher.

PS3 (2, Insightful)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Sony's barrier to entry (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109400)

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])?

Re:Sony's barrier to entry (1)

Narishma (822073) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109566)

Why don't you ask other indie developers who make PS3/PSN games how they did it?

They're wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109366)

Living in one of those not so "rich" countries (but with real broadband) I can definitely tell you that I'm less inclined on spending money on games that people around me can play for free without any sort of consequences before they even hit any retail store.
Nowadays I only buy PS3 exclusives.

Their argument does not apply to PC games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109386)

Okay, iPhone, whatever... sure.

But PC games? I'm sorry, when we can see 2 million copies of the game reporting to our stats service the day after launch, and know that only 150,000 copies had been sold by that sime, then its pretty damn obvious that more than 10% of the players are pirating it. Piracy rates of 80-90 % are an unfortunate reality for AAA games, and have been for many years.

Why else would companies be willing to risk offending their paying customers with things like DRM that requires a constant Internet connection? Its because converting even 1/10th of the pirates into paying customers would give their sales a huge boost. I just hope they don't fall into the same trap that Star Wars Galaxies fell into (knowingly pissed off all of their existing customers in order to change their game to something they hoped more new people would pay to join... but they lost more players than they gained).

Re:Their argument does not apply to PC games (2, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109436)

Sure over 90% of your -players- pirated the game. That's clear.
Now what percent of your -potential customers- pirated the game?
Because from that 90% likely less than 10% would buy the game if they couldn't download it. The rest would simply "do without".

Re:Their argument does not apply to PC games (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109676)

Mod parent right up. If you care about pirates, your business model is broken. As a business, you should care about two things:
  1. People who pay for your product.
  2. People who might pay for your product.

Your aim is to make sure that people in category 1 stay there for your next product, and that as many people in category 2 move to category 1. Anything else is a distraction.

Re:Their argument does not apply to PC games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109488)

How many days after release? 1? 2? Many games are pirated well before the release date, or on the release date. Many pirates will be playing the game for a week or so and move on. When after a week, and you've sold 300,000-400,000 copies and most of the pirated versions are no longer being used, does your 90% figure hold up?

Re:Their argument does not apply to PC games (2, Insightful)

lordandmaker (960504) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109550)

Yeah, you've identified that only 150,000 out of 2,000,000 users paid for the game.

You can't identify how many of the remaining 1,850,000 would have bought the game had they not pirated it, which is kind of the point.

Why is this an article? (0)

MaXimillion (856525) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109438)

only 10% of their potential customers are pirates, which means they are losing at most 10% of their sales

Even though I don't believe piracy to be a large problem, that sentence is completely illogical. A single customer is not limited to buying a single game.

Same as for entertainment (1)

alfredos (1694270) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109468)

It's interesting that this particular platform enables measuring piracy with something resembling statistical certainity. While not the figures, the logic also works for music and films, for example. Next thing is go tell the politicians: Listen, guys, you are taking a couple cents off everything that can store a bit as a compensation for music and/or films piracy (in Spain; your mileage will vary by country). Of course they don't call it compensation for piracy, but they still take the money. Now, dear politicians, look at this example and tell me that its logic doesn't apply and that your argument stands as it is. Say it loudly and publicly if you dare.

Flawed reasoning? (1)

lemmywrap (1605025) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109480)

I'm assuming only jailbroken iphones can run pirated games, according to the estimates at most 10% of the phones are jailbroken. The article seems to assume that the other 90% are all paying customers for a specific app. Not true of course, no app/game has 100% market share. For example if an game is installed on 11% of the iphones, of which only 1% are non-jailbroken, then they could be losing as much as 91% of their sales to piracy. I say "could" because not everyone would buy it....but it is by no means limited to 10%.

Note to game companys. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109520)

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 crap i can try and waste money on. from industrys that have not fucked me over every chance they got.

...forced to pirate? (4, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109522)

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.

Re:...forced to pirate? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109714)

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...

<Morbo CUSTOMERS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY! (2, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109526)

</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.

Piracy is unimportant. Is rocks juice. (4, Insightful)

Tei (520358) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109528)

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.

Re:Piracy is unimportant. Is rocks juice. (2, Informative)

Ranzear (1082021) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109758)

Don't forget Toady making $16,104 in a month [bay12forums.com] just by releasing a new version.

Indeed, its a 'donation' system, but thats about as close as you get to 'Pay what you want' without the same words.

Results are skewed/biased! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109542)

I think it's a fairly good assumption that iPhone users are not a representative sampling of the whole "gamer" universe, since it is a closed platform. It seems obvious to me that being a iPhone user should be somewhat correlated with "don't mind paying for stuff as long as they are quality stuff". This correlation is not perfect, of course (hence, the 5% jailbreaks). The fact that you have to jailbreak your phone to "pirate" stuff on the iPhone "garden" (i.e. illegal, not trivial for non-technical people and may void your warranty and whatnot) probably means that one isn't going to bother with it unless you're going to pirate a lot of stuff (or, put another way, "since you took the time/work necessary to jailbreak your phone, you might as well reap the rewards"). This closedness basically splits the continuum of (payers / try-before-buypeople / casual pirates / heavy pirates) that you see across the PC "gamer" population into two sub-populations (payers / heavy pirates), which is a phenomenon that had already showed its face with the consoles (i.e. people who modify their PS/Xbox ARE going to pirate like crazy simply to "make their investment worthwhile"; it's a psychological thing). So, I say you would probably see different numbers if the chosen platform for the analysis was "PC" or "Android phones".

In the end, it may be beneficial (from Apple's point of view) to do this if most of the borderline people end up becoming "payers"; not so much if they decide to become heavy pirates or simply ditch the product/platform.

Re:Results are skewed/biased! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109578)

I know it's bad form to reply to myself, but I have something else to add.

In the case of Apple, this bias that exists in the sub-population that is composed of their costumers (more likely than the global population to pay big bucks for hardware and software as long as it "just works") is actually, in itself a big incentive for development in their closed platform: software devs are basically going for the upper class people who are willing to spend monie$ on a bunch of random apps without a single thought: seems like a good plan ;)

Flawed use of statistics (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109570)

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.

In other words, those WHO CAN PIRATE, 80% WILL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109572)

Those who can't pirate, won't. Somehow claiming those who can't pirate, 90% of the "world" (since when do iphones even count?) has never seen a pirate copy of ... what exactly? ... is sort of like the Greeks saying they aren't bankrupt, not so long as Germany is paying its bills. Well, yeah, okay.

Some Math and Numbers (1)

daba (1754056) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109600)

If 100% iPhone users are divided in 10% jailbreakers and 90% regular users and we assume that 100% of those jailbreakers actually pirate software (which is not given for sure) and pirating aswell as buying a software means you have a general interest in the software then we have a total of 12,5% iPhone users interested in a software which is divided into 10% (pirating iPhone users aka jailbreakers) plus 10% (jailbreakers) / 80% (pirates in software-interested users) * 20% (non-pirates in software-interested users) = 2,5% (amount of non-pirate iPhone users interested in software). But if you think about it most of the pirates would actually lose interest (aka not buy) the software if they couldn't pirate it and thus propably equalize with the amount of interest from non-pirate users. So what is the total amount of interest for software from iPhone users if they cannot pirate: 2,5% (non-pirate users interested in software) / 90% (non-pirate users) = 2,0% (users interested in software) That means only 2% of the total iPhone users are actually interested in the software if they couldn't / wouldn't pirate it. But if only 2% of the 10% pirates would actually buy software if they couldn't pirate it, then that would mean, that only 10% (jailbreakers) * 2% (users interested in software if they couldn't pirate) = 0.2% of all users currently pirate software that they otherwise would buy. That is like - nothing? And it is exactly 10% of the current number of users buying software. So instead of increasing sales by 400% software developers would increase their sales by a "whopping" 10%. What a pitty.

Its only PIRACY if you BOOTLEG and SELL contraband (3, Insightful)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109622)

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.

Be Careful What You Wish For (2, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109652)

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.

Please don't report me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109666)

I pirated Farmville.

How do they identify that your game is pirated? (1)

LatencyKills (1213908) | more than 3 years ago | (#32109706)

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?

I want my pirate hat! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32109708)

I've apparently been pirating games since it was hard to find Commodore 64 games in stores. I don't think it was even called pirating back then. The simple fact of the matter is that you do buy when you can, especially from smaller publishers. But the vast majority of games that get traded end up being effectively "demos" because you don't play them much. That REALLY doesn't translate to direct sales.

If they want real numbers and real sales based on the same sort of effect you get from pirating game companies would have to offer a free or low cost subscription that lets people freely try any of their games for a set period. Demos work fine too but you'd probably require a forum or something to get the kind of "culture" effect you can get from places like Pirate Bay where people stop by and share info about their experiences with a piece of software. And you're kind of working against lousy street cred at that point too, which makes it more difficult. So many companies have spent so much time and energy alienating their audiences with bad advertising and lies about their privacy practices that it sometimes seems like the norm from the consumer point of view. It's really not but the companies that do make such a huge mess of it that it's noticeable.

Oh and lastly... If I've been a pirate all these years, damnit where do I pick up my hat? Yarr!

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