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Study Links Game Piracy To Critics' Review Scores

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the if-you-pan-it-they-will-come dept.

Piracy 199

An anonymous reader writes "A new study (abstract) published at the annual ACM Foundations of Digital Games conference by researchers from Copenhagen Business School and the University of Waterloo explores the magnitude of game piracy on public BitTorrent trackers. The researchers tracked 173 new game releases over a three-month period and found that these were downloaded by 12.7 million unique peers. They further show that the number of downloads on BitTorrent can be predicted by the scores of game reviewers. Overall the current paper gives a seemingly robust overview of the state of game piracy on BitTorrent. Although the results may not be all that surprising, it's certainly refreshing to see a decent report on BitTorrent statistics every now and then."

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Piracy and indie games (1, Interesting)

zget (2395308) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983530)

As can be seen from the table below, the most downloaded games are all major commercial titles.

If the piracy is directly linked to review scores, it means that people just want the games for free and aren't that much interested in trying them out before actually buying them. Such argument would hold more water if it was said that game piracy is linked to overall sales, but here it's saying that the better reviews and comments from people games get, the more they are pirated too. The most sad thing is when people pirate indie games

Re:Piracy and indie games (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36983628)

They never said that "piracy is directly linked to review scores", they simply observed that the number of unique peers in the observed game torrents was positively correlated with the logarithm of review scores.

Layman translation: Games with higher view scores also tend to be more pirated IF the 173 games tracked fairly represent the totality of games releases and pirating.

Also of note is that they only scoured "public trackers", which isn't where the majority of pirating takes place (number of bits transferred-wise).

So, (as happens to be true for every single statistical study I've personally seen come through the media) this has been taken out of context and then re-worded to sound like a more serious connection was found/reported that is actually the case. /math is my passion

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36984128)

So, you claim "math is your passion" yet you seem to be under the impression that in any statistical study, if the sample size isn't "everything ever" then any results derived from the study are taken out of context?

Re:Piracy and indie games (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36984316)

I don't know where you're getting that from. He clearly stated that "searching public trackers only" is just one piece of the pie, and he's right.

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984848)

Well I'd say it is also shame. I mean who would want to get busted for sharing "Kane&Lynch II: Dog Days"? it would be like being grabbed for a Uwe Boll movie! To be fair I actually bought Kane&Lynch II (Shut up! It was only $4 with shipping!) but I sure as hell wouldn't want to share the thing. Once I added the patch that removed the stupid as hell "Jap porn" pixelation crap from the titties and the head shots (You have a game where every other word is fuck, and the whole goal is to slaughter in masse, and you care about a little blood and titties? WTF?) I figure it was worth the $4.

And since TFA doesn't seem to be loading for me ATM I have a question: Is there any comparisons in TFA between DRM and piracy? because as we saw with Spore if you take the Goatse pic as the blueprint on how to treat your customers it WILL come back to bite you in the ass. As a PC repairman I've seen first hand what some of the nastier DRM can do** So I can understand those that really want to play a game simply bypassing the bullshit. So any comparisons of DRM VS piracy? Because I bet the nastier DRM games get snatched more than the easier ones.

**-Protip: do NOT install a Starforce game on an X64 OS! Not only does it cause all kinds of glitches because it tries to jam 32 bit code into a 64 bit kernel but the uninstaller does NOT work on X64! the only way to remove is to boot into another install and remove it manually or hope you have a system restore before you put that crap in!

Re:Piracy and indie games (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36983660)

As can be seen from the table below, the most downloaded games are all major commercial titles.

If the piracy is directly linked to review scores, it means that people just want the games for free and aren't that much interested in trying them out before actually buying them. Such argument would hold more water if it was said that game piracy is linked to overall sales, but here it's saying that the better reviews and comments from people games get, the more they are pirated too. The most sad thing is when people pirate indie games

This is a completely illogical, irrational, arbitrary, random statement with no basis in anything and for which you didn't even attempt to provide an argument for. But carry on.

Re:Piracy and indie games (2, Informative)

zget (2395308) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983690)

What other arguments would you like to see than this study?

Maybe World of Goo [arstechnica.com] is a good example. A great indie game that got great reviews. Still 90% of people pirated it while it didn't even cost that much. Later they even offered pay-what-you-want model, but still the piracy rate is the same. Another indie game [slashdot.org] also had 90% piracy. It's just the norm, it has nothing to do with how good the game is. People just rather pirate than buy, if they can. I'm not surprised companies are looking for DRM methods, even if just to keep the piracy out for a little bit during the first few weeks so that people who want to play it buy it because they cant pirate it.

Re:Piracy and indie games (4, Insightful)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983796)

I'm not surprised companies are looking for DRM methods, even if just to keep the piracy out for a little bit during the first few weeks so that people who want to play it buy it because they cant pirate it.

Are you serious? A few weeks? You're as deluded as the software publishers who punish their paying customers with DRM.

Re:Piracy and indie games (3, Informative)

zget (2395308) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983832)

Most do fail in that, you're right, but there has been cases where the DRM haven't been broken within a whole year.

However, what is even better for game companies is to make the game only playable online, or integrate so much gameplay online (co-op etc) that it makes no sense to pirate. That is s where it's been heavily went recently and those slashdot users and everyone who rather have single-player experience should support the companies who still make good single player games. Otherwise everything will be online games soon.

Re:Piracy and indie games (-1, Troll)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984060)

> Later they even offered pay-what-you-want model, but still the piracy rate is the same.

This statement makes no sense to me. I can understand how this statement could make sense to someone who views copyright as a right to control, but I view copyright as a temporary usufruct granted the creator, with a goal which is to enable him to generate income from his creations. Once the creator has made his work available for free, I personally wouldn't view it as piracy if I somehow obtain his work via an alternative method rather than taking his direct offer to give it to me for free.

Of course, I also don't view it as piracy if I download a digital version of music I've bought in the past. Or if I download a cracked ebook to lend to a friend after buying a DRM protected one. My guess is that more and more consumers will look at things this way, no matter what the **AAs and their ilk think about it.

Re:Piracy and indie games (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36984252)

Copyright is an exclusive right to reproduce and distribute something. Any reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work by someone who is not the rights holder is an infringement of the copyright.

So yes, downloading World of Goo from Pirate Bay, is in fact piracy even if the developer no longer charges for the game.

You are right that most people ignore copyright, but there's a difference between "everyone does it" and "it's not illegal", see: speeding, drugs, prohibition, skipping school, etc.

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985884)

Skipping school is illegal? Talk about a criminalised society.

Re:Piracy and indie games (2)

Yamioni (2424602) | more than 3 years ago | (#36986292)

It is, but it is hardly ever prosecuted except in cases where it is a repetitive problem. Also, it is usually the parents that get in trouble for it. Which is the way it should be. If you can't be responsible for your kids, don't have them in the first place. Only in cases where parents can prove due diligence are when the kids are actually punished, usually with juvenile detention.

Disclaimer: This is all from personal experience (I was a good kid, but knew others that weren't), so as always YMMV.

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | more than 3 years ago | (#36986144)

I just wanted to point out that in terms of speeding, drugs and skipping school, not everyone does those things. In fact relative to the general population I believe most people disprove of these activities, which is why they're illegal... That being said I'm not sure skipping school is so much illegal, but generally frowned upon. Also there's speeding, like 5 MPH over the limit, which no one cares about and is rarely enforced and then there's speeding, like 20 MPH over the speed limit, which people do recognize as dangerous and is enforced. I'm also assuming you mean illegal drugs and not something like Tylenol.

Prohibition on the other hand was a law put into place by a small vocal minority who knew the right people, or at least knew how to intimidate the right people. It's not an activity and it was repealed precisely because everyone (being most adults) ignored it and drank in secret anyway. Similar to how copyright is a law, but most people (most people I know anyway) ignore it and copy and download content in secret anyway. By "in secret" I mean people don't go bragging to the cops they do it, but may be quite open to discussing it with peers. IMHO it's only a matter of time before someone removes that law because it's broken and only a small vocal group wants it kept around.

Re:Piracy and indie games (4, Interesting)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984278)

Here's a question for you—not that I necessarily disagree with your viewpoint—at what point do you consider an amount of money you've paid to access to something sufficient to reacquire it through any means you wish? I.e., if you were charged ten cents for access to an extremely DRMed e-book, would you still feel like you had the right to 'pirate' it and lend it to a friend?

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984624)

Yes, DRM is literally the worst thing for consumer freedom since company stores.

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985164)

Changing the question a little: in the case of such a heavily DRMed e-book, you probably wouldn't be paying for the right to possess a copy of the data to do with as you please, but only a license to read it, perhaps even just a few times, like the DVD and VHS rentals of yesteryear. What do you feel is a fair pricing model for different levels of access (where the lowest is "no access" and the highest is "a complete licence to edit and exhibit the content") to an e-book/movie/album, and at what point would you feel uncomfortable violating the terms of this pricing model?

Alternatively, how should artists and distributors (if applicable) be reimbursed for their work?

Re:Piracy and indie games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36985590)

You're debating with a member of the "mine mine mine" club. They refuse to accept that teams of people put sweat and days of their lives into creations such as games, books, movies and feel their tireless effort was all in hopes to appease this club. There is no cost that can justify their entitlement. Any rational person would agree to a $0.10 for limited use, $10 for full access pricing model but the MMM club members look at it and go "Well he got full access with his purchase, why can't *I* get full access for my purchase?!" all the while realizing he went cheap.

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985920)

Not the person you're asking, but personally, if the terms are rental terms because of DRM, I expect rental pricing, or pricing less than the cost of buying the thing, reading/playing/watching it, and then selling it used.

So typically I buy PSN titles, but only if they're $5 or less. One recent exception was Assassin's Creed II for $9.99, because that was cheaper than buying it, playing it, and selling it on used.

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

registrationssucks (2352628) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985956)

Here's a question for youâ"not that I necessarily disagree with your viewpointâ"at what point do you consider an amount of money you've paid to access to something sufficient to reacquire it through any means you wish? I.e., if you were charged ten cents for access to an extremely DRMed e-book, would you still feel like you had the right to 'pirate' it and lend it to a friend?

Riddle me this:

- Does the privacy agreement give the company a blank check to abuse my information (within the law)? Most privacy agreements lie by saying "we value your privacy" and then explain how they will do anything, within the law, to abuse this information.

- Does the company track my reading or viewing habits? What is done with that information?

- Does the purchase immunize me - to some extent, but explicitly so - from lawsuits related to the IP of that specific content? If not, what the hell am I purchasing?

- What rights does the company retain to refuse my future access to that information? Will I lose my account if I bad mouth them or my account information is not up-to-date or inaccurate?

- Does the company sue its customers or promote legislation I find abhorrent like slavery or copyright time extensions?

- What is the company's view on "fair use" rights and does the DRM interfere with them?

- Can I purchase the item with as much anonymity as a guy with cash at a store?

Re:Piracy and indie games (1, Offtopic)

Zemran (3101) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984200)

Do you honestly believe that DRM helps sales? I do buy games but I will never buy one that I cannot play. I buy certain games and I am happy to buy them but I do not buy one that has DRM until a good crack comes out. What is the good of a game that is crippled? and why would I pay for something that is deliberately made into crap? I do not believe that I am the only one that thinks like me but I am sure that there are far more that do not bother to buy the game in the first place. I buy the game for the manuals etc. but now you often do not even get any thing but a disk, so more and more people cannot see why they would want to buy a broken product with no value added... If the games makers want to get the customers back they need to supply something that is worth buying.

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984570)

I have 30 games in my account on gog.com, and I signed up less than a year ago. I have a CD wallet full of game disks that I've bought. I still occasionally play some games that I bought 10+ years ago, in DOSBox or WINE. The ones without copy protection work fine. The ones with, typically, don't. I therefore will not spend any money on a game that comes with any form of DRM. No compromises, no 'but Steam DRM isn't really that bad,' if you won't sell me your game then I'll spend my money on someone else's product. I don't pirate: there are enough publishers willing to sell me things under terms that I consider acceptable to keep me entertained, so if you release a game with DRM it simple doesn't exist as far as I'm concerned.

So, the question is, are there more people like me than there are people who are forced to buy the game because of DRM? I have no idea. Anecdotally, I've met lots of people who have refused to buy games because of the DRM, but no one who has bought a game because the DRM prevented them from pirating it. I have no idea how representative that is, but DRM costs money and I've yet to see any real evidence that it actually increases sales, so it seems like a bad investment.

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 3 years ago | (#36986160)

Amen, brother (or sister). I don't draw the line at DRM, though; I extend that to online activation schemes as well. Why should a piece of software dial home just to function? It's like buying a car and then having to call some guy's number to have the wheel clamps removed before you can drive it home. We wouldn't put up with it for hardware, so why should we put up with it for software?

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

zget (2395308) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984726)

So a great game is broken and has no value because they don't come with manuals anymore? Usually the information that is in manuals is made into the game. And I can see the response "but the manuals were more personal and had artwork, funny stuff and lots of extra material". No, they all didn't. Some of them did, but just as well some game developers spend time to make the tutorial parts or whatever it is that teaches you the game more fun and interesting these days.

As I now buy 100% of my games from either Steam or Good Old Games, I don't exactly want to read the manual on my computer screen. They can just as well integrate it into the game. It's not more unfinished or broken product because of that, that's only in your mind. Hell, you could just as well say that a game is unfinished if it doesn't completely simulate the universe and beyond. There is always something you could add.

Re:Piracy and indie games - Trust in reviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36984140)

I've found that reviews these days can't be trusted, they gloss over serious flaws in games, hype up things as if they were paid adverts (most are), and ultimately don't tell you much are.

If a game gets a terrible score I don't forsee people pirating it, because it's probably actually terrible.

If a game gets a really high score people are going to be suspicious of the reviews, and rightly so in many cases, and the game will turn out to be NOT worth buying (that applies to so many AAA titles today it's not even funny)

If a game gets an average score, with a balanced review, it's generally trusted. No need to pirate, flaws are usually pointed out, you know what you're getting, a decision to buy it or not can be made.

The last game big commercial release I played which I would consider to be more than average, deserved of the high review scores and worth buying was San Andreas, and that was on the previous generation!

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36984362)

If the piracy is directly linked to review scores, it means that people just want the games for free and aren't that much interested in trying them out before actually buying them. Such argument would hold more water if it was said that game piracy is linked to overall sales, but here it's saying that the better reviews and comments from people games get, the more they are pirated too. The most sad thing is when people pirate indie games

Uhm.. what are you smoking?

If a game gets bad scores people will think it is crap and will avoid it at all costs.
If a game gets good scores poeple will be interested in it.

Now, if you had actually went out and bought some games of your own instead of just trolling you would have known that good scores is not the same as a good game. I can fully understand why someone would like to try a game before buying it.
It is also unlikely that people are willing to try all games just to see if one of them is good.
This fully explains the positive correlation between good reviews and piracy with the intent to try before buy.

So really, you are either trolling or don't know enough about the subject.

hrrrm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36984486)

actually what it says to me is that people look at what others say then dl if its seen to be interesting , then if its cool some might buy.
YOUR analogy is like , OH ya fred said its cool , ( off goes to download then never buys or donates ) WHICH is false. AND you've nickle and dimed kids soooooooo much the past ten years for gf cards and hard ware and internet and with caps and such and gay laws that even indie games will now be subject to this affect. I won't waste ANY money on crap. AND trust me ive dled and deleted probably 3 times as much as i have kept. I'm cheap and picky and im not rich enough to store all things.

Re:Piracy and indie games (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985314)

There is no honor among thieves. The indie games are being pirated too. They're just not popular enough to show in the numbers.

Re:Piracy and indie games (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985502)

There is no honor among thieves.

Too bad the article is about copyright infringement.

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985456)

If the piracy is directly linked to review scores, it means that people just want the games for free and aren't that much interested in trying them out before actually buying them.

How did you come to this conclusion? Perhaps they want to try out these games because they've seen the reviews for them. It's quite difficult to accurately guess peoples' feelings and thoughts.

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985716)

"If the piracy is directly linked to review scores, it means that people just want the games for free and aren't that much interested in trying them out before actually buying them."

The opposite is true, so many games are rehashes of old tropes or are half-baked on release, therefore people check the game out to see if anything has changed. You can use numbers to lie about anything but for many of us with all the DRM, half-baked releases, etc, we now live in an era of a "true" free market. We get to decide whether dev/pub screwing us gets paid.

Re:Piracy and indie games (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#36986056)

"If the piracy is directly linked to review scores, it means that people just want the games for free and aren't that much interested in trying them out before actually buying them. "

Maybe they're legitimate customers who can't get past the DRM.
/sarcasm

Wait... what? (1)

Wolfling1 (1808594) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983556)

How is a tautology even vaguely newsworthy?

Re:Wait... what? (5, Funny)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983638)

Because someone will, or already has, misinterpreted the correlation to mean that more torrent downloads leads to higher game reviews. So as you can see, piracy is really good for the game industry!

Bring back the ppirates (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983678)

Better game scores. Combating global warming [wikipedia.org] . We should all be pirates

Re:Wait... what? (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983984)

Because someone will, or already has, misinterpreted the correlation to mean that more torrent downloads leads to higher game reviews. So as you can see, piracy is really good for the game industry!

Tomorrow, mainstream news websites will report that game reviewers boost downloads.
Next week, talkshows will discuss the financial consequences for the gaming industry of allowing websites to review games.
Next month, politicians will consider banning game reviewers.

Re:Wait... what? (4, Informative)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983792)

It's not a tautology. It's just incredibly obvious that better-reviewed games would be downloaded more on BitTorrent.

[To be clear a tautology is something that is by definition true, like "a blue horse is blue" or "if a and b are rational numbers, then ab is rational". Usually the former example--which is essentially an error of redundancy--is the type "tautology" refers to in common speech, while the latter is used in formal logic.]

Re:Wait... what? (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984088)

The second example is true, but it is not a tautology. The statement "a is a rational number or a is not a rational number" would be a tautology. The difference is that when you translate the statement into a formal logic a tautology is always true because of the syntax e.g "A v !A" where-as the example that you give depends on the behaviour of the predicate is-rational. So although "R(a) ^ R(b) -> R(ab)" is true for some predicates R, it is not true over all possible predicates R.

Re:Wait... what? (1)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984108)

It's not a tautology. It's just incredibly obvious that better-reviewed games would be downloaded more on BitTorrent.

[To be clear a tautology is something that is by definition true, like ... "if a and b are rational numbers, then ab is rational".

That's not a tautology. That's a mathematical consequence. Tautology is a repetition of meaning. "a and b are rational" has a different meaning than "ab is rational", even though one can be shown to always imply the second. Otherwise you could say that the entirety of provable mathematics is tautologous.

Re:Wait... what? (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985670)

Your second example adds additional meaning and information (because it is a mathematical extrapolation) and therefore is not a tautology. A tautological statement adds no new meaning, value, or understanding.

Deus Ex (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36983590)

This is really nothing new, a good example is Deus Ex: Human revolution, the 10-hour leaked demo (everyone has their suspicions the devs leaked it on purpose) has done amazing things for the game. Deus Ex: 2 was a horrible failure of a game, but after the 10hour leak they've seen an increase in pre-orders and the developers have pushed up the release date. This isn't the first game we've seen this happen with over the years, there have also been studies showing people who pirate music are more likely to buy it after.

Re:Deus Ex (1)

Elbart (1233584) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983998)

This is really nothing new, a good example is Deus Ex: Human revolution, the 10-hour leaked demo (everyone has their suspicions the devs leaked it on purpose) has done amazing things for the game.

Wasn't a Steam-account from an Italian game-journalist phished to get access? Plus Square filed a lawsuit to get Valve to surrender the access-logs.

Deus Ex: 2 was a horrible failure of a game, but after the 10hour leak they've seen an increase in pre-orders and the developers have pushed up the release date.

[citation needed] First time I read that.

Let me get this straight... (5, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983616)

The more higher rated a game is, the more people download it on BT?

Is that it? What an unexpected result.

Higher rated -> More people want to play it -> More people buy it OR More people download it

Simple.

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983746)

Not quite that simple. There are a couple of games in the top ten with low review scores but are from popular franchises - Tron and Star Wars. There's also at least one, Two Worlds 2, that had a staggered release with a gap of several months between territories.

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

Caesar Tjalbo (1010523) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984374)

Not quite that simple. There are a couple of games in the top ten with low review scores but are from popular franchises - Tron and Star Wars.

To me that's still simple: many people want to play $Star_wars_game regardless of the score.

You're right though: we don't see a relatively small title in the top 10 because of its high rating and the top 10 isn't ordered by rating (better score, more downloads). The highest rated game (Mass Effect 2) didn't make it in the top 10.

The authors mention something about the moment to start tracking piracy for a given title, with some attention to the difficulties of determining that moment. The authors also mention that they see widely varying torrent activity per title. The authors claim to see a correlation between torrent-activity/-peers and review score. However, I can't find anything in their report (only skimmed the text) about if something is seen when availability as torrent is noticed and the moment review data becomes available. That would make the conclusion more solid imho: if a title would be available for some time and show a considerable spike in sharing right after a highly positive review is published but not when it gets a medium score.

Re:Let me get this straight... (2)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984034)

I'd like to see them look at the correlation between a game having DRM (or the severity of the DRM) and the amount of copies pirated.

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984478)

That sample is a bit small for a good correlation but the game listed at the top is an add on for a game with very light DRM. Well, light in comparison to most games. To add myself to your data: It is something I would never download. The game was very good and DRM was light.

This sounds like something that would be a good /. poll.

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985092)

Wait, mandatory worse-than-WGA activation is now "very light" "unintrusive" DRM? If that's not a slippery slope, I don't know what is.

I'm not ever going to install an uncracked game with a rootkit anywhere near a computer I care about. Steam might do less damage than SecuROM, but it still sits there with administrative rights to do things beyond your back.

Re:Let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36985242)

Fallout:New Vegas is not an add on to Fallout 3 and uses different DRM (Steam vs Securom diskcheck)

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985156)

I kinda think there would be not much of a correlation. At least not 'til you also take sales into account.

Don't forget that there are also a lot of crappy games with severe DRM that ain't even worth the time needed to download them, let alone crack their DRM. Considering that there are about as many good as crappy games, I'd guess that just looking at DRM and copying will result in a gauss bell. Because DRM has little if any influence in copying.

I'd like to take a closer look at the factors review score, DRM, sales and copying. No, I wouldn't let the review scores out of this even though we'd expect a better review score lead to more sales and copies, but there were quite a few games with stellar reviews that sold only a few 100k copies. If you normalize along the review score and then look at the correlations between DRM, sales and copies, I'd guess we might eventually gain some insight into whether DRM affects copying, and in what extent.

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36984124)

It would have been more interesting if they would compare the ratio of the number of downloads vs. sold copies to review score...

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984578)

What it shows me is that if the game is free, people will trust the review implicitly and get the game purely on the reviewers opinion. If the game costs money, people are more likely to wait and see the reaction from the gaming community before buying.

Again, nothing we didn't already know.

Re:Let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36984788)

It's not necessarily obvious at all. For example, I'm far more likely to just go to the store and pay money for an album or a game I KNOW I'M GOING TO LIKE. If there is any doubt I'm more likely to look for ways to get a free test drive.

Better games are more popular (1)

pep939 (1957678) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983634)

Great news...

IEA !! LET'S ALL STOP BUYING AND STEAL INSTEAD !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36983652)

This way, we can ensure good confidence in the torrent stats !! Who's with me !!

TOGA !! TOGA !!

Re:IEA !! LET'S ALL STOP BUYING AND STEAL INSTEAD (2, Insightful)

MadJo (674225) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983688)

What's this stealing thing you're talking about.

Re:IEA !! LET'S ALL STOP BUYING AND STEAL INSTEAD (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36983834)

It's like the story of Robin Hood where you take ("steal") from the rich and give to the poor (the "thieves"). More common day it's called "They owes me!", and, "They make a lot of money so won't notice.", and, "FU Man! I take what I can!", and this classic, "My boss stole my GPL!", only that's sort or pe/reverse.

Re:IEA !! LET'S ALL STOP BUYING AND STEAL INSTEAD (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985190)

You think that's bad? In German, it's called a "Raubkopie" (robbed copy). Know what a Raubkopie really is? If I go into a store and hold a clerk at gunpoint to create a copy of a CD, then take the copied CD without paying.

In other words, there's no problem with "Raubkopien". I've never heard of anything like this happening, ever.

Nothing to see here (1)

Kohlrabi82 (1672654) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983676)

When I first read the title I assumed that they found out that games with lower scores get pirated more. This would have made perfect sense to me, since I understand the idea of "try before you buy", especially for games which are reported to be flawed in some ways. Then I saw that they didn't weigh the amount of pirated copies by the sales of the specific game, which then only shows that good games are popular.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

lazlo (15906) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985682)

I'm right with you there, that's kind of what I was interested in as well. I could definitely imaging a pirate feeling more justified in downloading a game they expected to be crappy.

But it really is a shame, they have the piracy data (or at least their estimation of it), and the sales data is reasonably freely available, all they need to do is see if sales or piracy has a tighter correlation to reviews, and it could be fascinating.

Same for movies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36983684)

A lot of movies can be found on torrent sites. Would you like to download every single movie you've never heard of? you look up imdb.com and if it has a score of 6.5 or over in your relevant age and gender group you might give it a go.

Look at any torrent site and you might find a few obscure games you've never heard of. Quick stop in your trusted game review site might tell you if it's a waste of time.

Ultimately I think this goes to show that crap movies, software, games etc will not be had for free! let alone for a price. Sometimes you'd see an amazing review and find out you completely disagree. In a clothing store, you can buy a shirt, try it on and return it for a refund if you don't like it. Why can I not get a refund if I did not like a movie? I cannot be forced to pay for something I'm not sure I'll ultimately like. Judge a movie by it's cover?

Instead many people employ a different system. FIRST get it for free and SECOND if you think it's worth money, you pay. I'm not arguing morality, legality etc. Logically, this system is very handy.

Conclusion (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36983694)

The best way to fight piracy is to make shitty games

Already been tried (3, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983750)

The music and movie industries have already tried that tack, and it doesn't seem to be working.

NEWS: Review Scores Positively Influence Demand (3, Informative)

sarkeizen (106737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983722)

...and in other news water is wet.

I guess companies should continue to buy or otherwise influence reviews.

I just skimmed the actual study [openarchive.cbs.dk] and it doesn't really provide much more info. It does make the claim that their methods are closer to the true number of pirated copies and refreshingly that these are not necessarily correlated with lost sales. However it's conclusions aren't all that interesting. My guess? This was more about their measurement techniques and the outcome was tacked on so it could get published (or have a chance of getting published)

You're too kind (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36984750)

Actually, not even that. Here's what it should be:

"NEWS: Good games are both highly reviewed and heavily downloaded."

I see nothing in the article that would hint to causality. Especially with only 10% of the variance in downloads linked to scores - wouldn't you expect at least that much association just from both variables being linked to game quality?

It could have been interesting to show that reviews lead to a temporal spike in downloads. Of course, that would require reviews to be published after games ship, which often isn't the case.

Popularity is not equivalent to quality. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36983744)

There are allot of pirated titles with massive popularity but its only for a short limited time. When people see its garbage they stop sharing and the torrent plumets fast while forums and IM chats fill up with bad reviews/experiences.

Strange conclusion looking at their own stats (4, Interesting)

beef3k (551086) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983800)

Looking at the table presented in the article, their conclusion seems a bit odd...

Fallout: New Vegas - Downloads: 962,793 Avg. rating: 83.7
TRON Evolution - Downloads: 496,349 Avg. rating: 59.5
Starcraft 2 - Downloads: 420,138 Avg. rating: 89.5

"Metacritic Scores explain 10% of the variance in the unique peers per game on BitTorrent,”. I guess the remaining 90% is just noise then...?

Re:Strange conclusion looking at their own stats (4, Informative)

paziek (1329929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984076)

Yes, they ignored the fact, that Starcraft 2 pirated version is just campaing mode, while the most important one for this game - multiplayer - is only for legal copies.
Fallout doesn't have multiplayer part, so if you pirate, then you get 100% of the game.

Re:Strange conclusion looking at their own stats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36984938)

Also, Starcraft 2 is from Blizzard, a company known to make good and solid games.
Fallout is from Bethesda, a company that is known to make games that crashes your computer every now and then, may or may not work on your computer at all and can possibly require a reinstallation of your operating system.

Or to sum it up; If you buy a game from Blizzard without trying it first you are still likely to be satisfied. If you buy a game from Bethesda before trying it first you are probably insane and mentally unstable.

Re:Strange conclusion looking at their own stats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36986004)

You're forgetting private servers.

Explanation is not so simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36983806)

Modern big budget games also have budget for grooming the major game reviewers (PCGamer UK I am looking at you) to give nice scores.
However, most gamers realize this and when they see a ludicrously high score they will be put off because they assume the reviewer must have been bribed in some way; hence they will download the game instead, expecting it, most of the time it is accurate, to be crap.

What about the hype? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36983808)

Given that more hyped games generally get higher review scores *regardless*, and more hyped games are more likely to be pirated just because there are more people who want to play them, I'd hardly say that a correlation like this can be used to say anything conclusive.

of course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36983810)

Who would pirate a bad game?

Were they really surprised? (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983816)

Better game gets downloaded more, well duh.

researchers from Copenhagen Business School (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36983850)

researchers from Copenhagen Business School and the University of Waterloo

Did they use any the data from GGOTD?
See here's the thing, researchers are all full of shit. Who's payin them?

And why are they consistantly and frequently (like on a schedule) spewing out propaganda seed stories to later be leveraged into more and more web crackdowns isp rule changes, and fucking snoop laws, bandwidth caps and royalty arguments.

Meanwhile one thing that is consistant is the bigger your company or corporation the less likely it is to follow any fucking law or pay any taxes, instead of snooping and searching and destroying the open web, cops ought to be shortening the freedom of those running these TBTF banks and corporations and companies who don't pay any fucking tax or follow any laws anyway.

Or are we headed to a completely lawless society at odds with government?

These researchers don't even have their eyes open, but I will bet they get their money to talk smack from somewhere corrupt if you only follow the trail. Note how colleges don't like to talk about the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, neither do teachers, or your local tv station. Seems to me there could be a profitable career in leveraging 5th grade math and semi-automatic weapons to audit the biggest criminals and officials at the top of the fucking ongoing ponzi. but everytime some propaganda seed story like this comes out, it's another hit to public freedom.

Not at all surprising (1)

ripdajacker (1167101) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983852)

I thought it was obvious that the better games got downloaded more.

If someone linked the number of downloads with number of purchases I wouldn't be surprised if they were following the same curve.

Of course this brings us to consider... (1)

E.I.A (2303368) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983856)

..how they got the information in the first place. It is obviously impossible that they are analyzing IPs in their research. And of course, this study certainly didn't involve the sharing of such information by ISPs, various websites, and trackers. Hmm. "these IP's visited wikipedia to examine reviews of certain products, then were later observed downloading them on bittorrent." By the way, this could a be great way to find worthy cinema as well; just look at Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic reviews on wikipedia, then torrent the films of your choice. - Decreases the chances of wasting your time to download bad films.

both correlate with the quality of the game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36983870)

tell news.

Breaking news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36983892)

Most people are weak-minded!

Question about method... (1)

mat catastrophe (105256) | more than 3 years ago | (#36983956)

How do you count downloads on bittorrent? At best, you can get a sketchy number of peers and seeds but how does that translate to actual downloads?

Also, how do those download numbers stack up against actual sales? Is there a method to determine what portion of these downloads represent actual loss for the companies (copies that were only pirated) versus what is essentially pre-sale test drives?

Re:Question about method... (1)

Tukz (664339) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984026)

Also, how do those download numbers stack up against actual sales? Is there a method to determine what portion of these downloads represent actual loss for the companies (copies that were only pirated) versus what is essentially pre-sale test drives?

Or people who just can't play the game because of DRM crap and use a pirated version to play their paid for game.

Re:Question about method... (1)

Garwulf (708651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36986378)

As I mentioned in another reply, Tweakguides did some research on this, and crunched the numbers. The article (which is long, but worth reading), is here: http://www.tweakguides.com/Piracy_1.html [tweakguides.com]

To answer your question, they found that the DRM only had a negative impact on piracy, and that was when it was successful. Lack of DRM (or light DRM) showed absolutely no impact on piracy rates whatsoever. So, either the people who are pirating to get away from DRM are an insignificant minority, or it's just an excuse.

Now, with PC game piracy at a rate of around 10 to 12 pirate downloads per copy sold (both download and disc), the highest percentage of illegal downloads that can be accounted for by people downloading pirate copies to circumvent the DRM on copies they bought is 10% (1/10), and that's assuming that no copies sold match up with a pirate copy downloaded first (eg. somebody downloads the game, tries it, and decides to buy it). So that's a basic rough estimate based on the numbers I've got.

Re:Question about method... (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984584)

They probably explain in their paper, yes?

The easiest way is probably to hack a BitTorrent client to act like it's downloading the game but never actually download data -- acquire peers through all the normal means, contact them, ask for their piece bitmap, and then choke off the connection. You can even recontact the peer multiple times to watch their piece bitmap fill in, though it's probably a reasonable assumption that every non-seed person in the swarm will eventually finish the download.

Re:Question about method... (1)

Garwulf (708651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36986190)

Tweakguides did some research on this, and crunched the numbers. The article (which is very long, but very worth reading), is here: http://www.tweakguides.com/Piracy_1.html [tweakguides.com]

As far as methodology goes, I think that's covered here: http://www.tweakguides.com/Piracy_4.html [tweakguides.com]

But, in brief, for the console market, the numbers for a popular game (they used Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2) in the console market was 1 pirated copy for every six copies sold. For the PC game market over the same period, it was 10 to 12 pirated copies downloaded for every legitimate copy sold (both download and CD/DVD).

Loss is a bit more complicated, but measurable. The most measurable part is the freeloader effect - pirate copies using authentication servers and technical support (and some of the supporting data is the number of copies authenticating on the servers vs. numbers sold, which can be over 10:1 at times), and that's costs of time, server bandwidth, etc.

As far as lost sales, that requires an understanding of the game market. You have hard core fans, who will buy the game no matter what - that's a small core of guaranteed sales. You have hardcore pirates, who will never pay for the game, so there's no point in even trying to market to them. The lost sales take place in a third group - call them "casual gamers." This group is interested in playing the game, but they aren't particular on how they get it. So, if they can't download it, they'll buy it. Most of the sales for a game tend to be in this third group. So, the longer the piracy can be held off, the more sales occur in this group. Zero day piracy wipes any sales from this group off the map.

Now, again, this makes it very difficult to measure exact numbers of lost sales, but you can get a sense through trends. So, if a game had 400,000 sales with piracy held off for two weeks, and the sequel to that game had 50,000 sales with zero-day piracy, you can draw some general conclusions about lost sales, as well as the sizes of the various market groups.

Re:Question about method... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36986270)

you can draw some general conclusions about lost sales

Not really. They're two different games and two different scenarios. All you can do is make assumptions.

Bad summary (2)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984122)

They further show that the number of downloads on BitTorrent can be predicted by the scores of game reviewers.

Since the link is blocked at work, it would be nice if the summary actually included what the link was. I assume higher reviews correlate to higher piracy. Which is another way of saying popular games are pirated more than unpopular games, which is another way of saying popular games are popular, which ultimately says fuck all.

How is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36984150)

Good games get pirated more than crap games. WHAT A SHOCK. I'd of never of guessed.

Correlation is not prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36984338)

The researchers appear to use appropriate language, but the article introduces the idea that downloads can be predicted from metacritic scores. Sorry, but accounting for 10% of the variance does not get you to anything like a prediction. As beef3k pointed out above, SC2 got less than half the dl's of the lower rated Fallout.

So we can say that game rating is an important factor in download volume, but without identifying a few more factors, it's useless for predicting downloads. Rating might be the most important factor, BTW, but from this article we have no idea whether or not other factors were identified or if any other single factor accounts for similar (or greater) variance.

Re:Correlation is not prediction (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984680)

But with Starcraft you don't get the full game, with Fallout you do. With Starcraft all you get is the campaign mode, which really isn't much fun. You don't have access to multiplayer which is the entire reason why you play Starcraft (to get pwned by Koreans). On the other hand, with Fallout, a pirated game is missing nothing but the DRM.

What about sales? (1)

khr (708262) | more than 3 years ago | (#36984734)

This would be more interesting if it was also correlated with sales... Some things that aren't answered by the numbers in the article could indicate that a well reviewed game has higher sales, too. For instance, what if pirated downloads of those were a smaller percentage of sales than with less well reviewed games?

Just showing the review scores and the number of downloads is too far from a complete picture...

Total Sales Leads to Piracy!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36984950)

Seriously, didn't they take some time to look at total sales for each of the games on there top ten.

Fall Out New Vegas: as of November 8, 2010 the game has shipped 5 million copies worldwide.
Darksiders: reached the 500,000 sales mark in its first two weeks
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit: On February 1 2011, on EA's financial result report of Q3 2010 was it mentioned that the game has sold more than 5 million units.
NBA 2k11: Since its release, the game has sold more than 5 million units worldwide.
TRON Evolution: NO DATA FOUND though it probably sold for crap, however buzz from the franchise tie in probably accounts more for download rate.
Call of Duty Black Ops: 13.7 million copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops had been sold in the United States alone.
Starcraft 2: As of December 2010, the game has sold nearly 4.5 million units
Star Wars Force Unleashed 2: No Data Found, though probably on this list because its star wars.
Two Worlds II: Most Likely caused by staggered release dates.
The Sims3: Late Night: Its the sims no duh it's popular.

So basically this study say, popularity = downloads not lost sales. Even at only 4.5 million units sold that is still $225 Million Gross from Sales I don't think that piracy has drastically cut into the bottom line of most of these games. Next thing you know someone in the industry is going to say total units sold correlates to higher piracy rates, and try to ban games selling to much.

Why I agree. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36985100)

The higher rated a game is, the more I at least want to try it to see if it's any good.
I often pirate games because very few companies these days seem to provide an adequate demo.
If the game can hold my attention for more than an hour and I enjoy it? I go buy it, these people deserve my money. (Fallout 3 was the last example of such)
If I find it just repulsing, mis-advertised, or just can't hold my attention for an hour? I delete it, and I've saved myself some money. (The Last Remnant, just, ugh.)

The obvious solution (1)

iteyoidar (972700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985206)

Rather than developing expensive DRM solutions, publishers can cut piracy rates tremendously by ensuring their games get low review scores. Everyone knows that game sales are based mostly on hype, and ever pirated copy is a Lost Sale, so it follows that a game with a high hype to review score ratio will actually outsell a hyped game that also has high review scores.

Re:The obvious solution (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36986332)

What we need to do is use all of our resources to go after people who potentially cause a loss of potential profit. This is clearly a good use of our resources and money, so we should get as many FBI agents and policeman involved as possible (as well as politicians who rush through new laws because of how important these potential losses are).

Ironic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36985234)

Publishers pay for good reviews, only to have them pirated more as a consequence.

Lesson: don't artificially inflate your game's review score as it arouses suspicion and encourages people to 'try before they buy'.

Re:Ironic. (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36986148)

I suppose now they'll try to add their payola expenditures to civil suits for piracy.

In other news... (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985276)

In other news, shitwater brand bottled water will be changing their names...The CEO attributed the decision to a recent study showing that people care about the quality of products.

DRM now = Don't Rate Me! (1)

webbiedave (1631473) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985368)

Those who review games without permission will be hauled into court (all records sealed, of course).

If correlation were causation... (1)

Qatz (1209584) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985574)

If correlation were causation, then that would mean that good reviews cause piracy. Which also would mean they found the root of their piracy problems. The easiest fix would be to get bad reviews. To do this just make really bad games. And BAM people will stop pirating them.

Am I missing something? (1)

s4ndm4n (1361751) | more than 3 years ago | (#36985894)

How is this study even useful? Am I missing something? I mean of course, I can't imagine pirating a game that has a 4 out of 10 stars in reviews any faster than I'd purchase it!
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