Piracy is quite a nagging problem in the entertainment industry, whether it’s movies/TV shows, music or video games. But these industries have not been taking this problem lying down. For instance, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has received millions of dollars after attacking Limewire, and movie studios have urged Australian ISP iiNet to warn users against piracy.
Video game companies are no different. They're coming up with new ideas to combat piracy as well, such as cloud gaming, which will allow gaming companies to run their games on strong remote computer servers and stream them to a user's computer. This makes games nearly impossible to steal because they "live in the cloud."
The video game industry is even taking the matter a step further by trying to kill the used game market as well through Sony's PSN Pass and Capcom's one-save game feature.
With piracy running rampant in every direction, researchers from the University of Waterloo, University of Colorado and Copenhagen Business School have conducted a study that looks at the correlation between the number of downloads on BitTorrent and the scores given to these games by video game reviewers. The study aims to provide solid research information on the magnitude and distribution of pirated video games across a variety of titles and genres, since the availability of this information is rare.
The study was led by Anders Drachen, Kevin Bauer and Rob Veitch. Together, they monitored the downloads of 173 new game titles on BitTorrent that were released between late 2010 and early 2011 (a three-month time span).
Of the 173 chosen games, 127 were available on BitTorrent, and these games were downloaded by 12.7 million unique peers in the three-month period. The 10 most downloaded games account for 5.3 million downloads, or 42 percent of the 127 games.
The top ten downloaded video games on BitTorrent in the three-month period were the following: "Fallout: New Vegas" with 962,793 downloads; "Darksiders" with 656,296 downloads; "Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit" with 656,243 downloads; "NBA 2k11" with 545,559 downloads; "TRON Evolution" with 496,349 downloads; "Call of Duty: Black Ops" with 469,864 downloads; "Starcraft 2" with 420,138 downloads; "Star Wars the Force Unleashed 2" with 415,021 downloads; "Two Worlds II" with 388,236 downloads, and "The Sims 3: Late Night" with 356,771 downloads.
The researchers found that higher scores from game reviewers resulted in more downloads from each game. Game reviewers gave the 10 most downloaded games the following average scores: 83.7 for "Fallout: New Vegas"; 82.7 for "Darksiders"; 88 for "Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit"; 86.7 for "NBA 2k11"; 59.5 for TRON Evolution"; 83.8 for "Call of Duty: Black Ops"; 89.5 for "Starcraft 2"; 61 for "Star Wars the Force Unleashed 2"; 73.3 for "Two Worlds II," and 77.5 for "The Sims 3: Late Night."
"The result indicates a statistically significant positive relationship between the number of unique peers and aggregated review scores," said the paper. "Put differently, Metacritic Scores explain 10 percent of the variance in the unique peers per game on BitTorrent."
The researchers are currently looking at other factors that could affect piracy, but did not note what these factors were.
"There are a lot of numbers being pushed in the piracy debate but a lot of them are being critiqued from different sources, and not a lot of them are based on open methodologies," said Drachen. "We were wondering what was actually happening."
The study can be found here.