Video game piracy increase in UK risks industry meltdown

By Chris Cook - Nov 14, 2011

Piracy is a crime that occurs all too often these days. The industry most affected by it at the moment is films but music and games piracy is on the rise and not far behind. The latest research has found that video games piracy in the UK has increased by 20% since 2006 which has some people worried for the future of the industry.

The research was found by the firm Envisional who claims that the top five games last year were illegally downloaded nearly one million times from the internet, an increase of 20% from last year. According to the trade group UKIE, illegal downloads are costing the games industry a billion pounds each year, a figure that if not addressed could lead to companies closing down and perhaps even an industry meltdown. They also claimed the figures showed ‘that for every game that is sold, four will have been pirated.’

The research also found that since 2006 Films and TV show piracy has increased 30% while music album saw a decrease. While there is no official explanation as to why music piracy is on the decrease, Develop points out that a rise in ‘convenient music streaming services, such as Spotify, could be a key factor.’

Claims that every copy of a pirated game being downloaded equals a sale lost have caused arguments amongst both those who are against the crime and those who defend it. This is because when a pirated game is downloaded there is no evidence that suggests that had that game not been free and available it would have been bought instead. At the same time some people use illegal downloading as a means of testing a game they are unsure about, therefore a copy of a pirated download could in fact lead to a purchase that may not have happened otherwise.

What are your thoughts on video game piracy?

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  • Dynasty2021

    Video game piracy should be illegal, no doubt, but some games will be successful as a result of ‘piracy’.

    Deus Ex Human Revolution is a prime example.  It was ‘leaked’, albeit only the press version which was about a 3rd of the game but fully working and playable, and the developers said it worked out for them as their pre-orders shot through the roof after the leak.

    Because they werent releasing a demo or beta, people were unsure about the game as Deus Ex is ancient and widely loved, so they were worried about the new game screwing up that legacy.  Turns out, it didnt, it wasnt another console port so people bought it.

    And I dont think the problem with piracy is the gamers.  around 900,000 people downloaded games in 2010.  On average, thats around £30 million in potential revenue.  Thats alot, yeah.  But bug all in the industry, especially in a year like this one.  It’s pocket change. 

    And devs are whining about piracy, yet do nothing to combat it.  Punkbuster helps against cheaters.  Helps.  That is all.

    Give people incentive to buy.  Pre-order bonuses are 99% of the time pointless and rarely sweet.  Patch problems quicker.  Nerf what everyone is crying out to be nerfed.  Improve your online distribution.  Why charge MORE for buying online than a retail copy from a store?  Even cheaper to get that same copy from an online shop like Amazon.  Digital prices are just as much as in-store prices, so why should we buy from your online store when the retail copy runs in the same way after installing (we get the updates etc in the same way), yet we paid £5 less?

    The way to combat piracy is to improve your services, re-think your pricing and give incentives.