The number of pirated video games has increased by 20% in the last five years, that’s according to research published by internet piracy analysts Envisional. Game publishers are worried that they are potentially losing millions in lost revenue to illegal downloads.
Envisional also claim that the top five most successful games of 2010 were illegally downloaded almost one million times. Unsurprisingly, huge game titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Mafia 2, and Mass Effect 2 constitute the top five most pirated games in recent years, soon to be superseded by respective game sequels like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3.
It’s worth noting though that while the number of pirated games may be increasing, growth within the games industry as a whole is far exceeding this. In a similar five year period to 2011, the average annual growth rate of the games industry was 9.1%, so pirated games as a percentage of overall sales in the industry has actually decreased.
Illegal downloads are often used by gamers as a ‘try before you buy’ process. The onus is on publishers to comply with the market’s demands and provide more game demos and pre-release products so gamers feel confident enough to purchase from the offset.