Home Gaming Piracy might actually help games sales, one EU study finds

Piracy might actually help games sales, one EU study finds

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Does piracy actually help games sales

For the longest time now its been pretty much accepted that piracy is terrible in any industry, and videogames are no exception. Developers have explained how stolen copies have cost them millions in sales, while others have argued pirated copies aren’t directly taking away from legitimate sales. The idea here is that greater exposure of a game can only help drive its more legal sales, and a new EU study seems to back that up with some data.

A 306 page document chronicling the effect of piracy across several mediums in the EU has found that while piracy seems to negatively affect both films and books, videogames are the exception where it seems that illegitimate copies help drive up interest in a game, converting to better legal sales. The study goes so far to suggest that for every 100 games illegally downloaded, players obtain 24 more games legally as a result. The author continues by suggesting that illegal playing of games and the streaming of them has a good conversion rate, often getting pirates to drop cash on some purchases to get access to new features (with the rise of so many socially connected online titles, this isn’t a surprise).

But there’s a catch. The study was conducted in a personal manner, which involved questions to participants which could have elicited lying. Although care was taken to not directly ask whether a participant was illegally obtaining digital content (and several calculations were used when it was clear this figure was being skewed), it doesn’t hide the fact that this regularly occurred throughout. So much so that the study attaches a pretty large 45% margin of error to its findings, which can make many of the figures seem like complete noise.

Still, this is one of the deepest looks into this discussion outside of social rhetoric yet, so while its findings may be up for question as to their accuracy, the questions it poses are still curious. There’s no doubt that a piracy-free industry would be the best – one where consumers of games purchase the content that so many people have poured work and money into. But it’s certainly a more nuanced issue with the prevalence of good word finding its way around, and this study serves to only amplify that idea.

Last Updated: September 27, 2017

25 Comments

  1. People pirate because they cannot trust the hype and trailers shown by the developers….. Bring out a good game and good word will be given out about it, therefore boosting sales because a friends word is stronger than the developers word.

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief

      September 27, 2017 at 11:48

      Heed the CDPR approach!

      Reply

    • BakedBagel

      September 27, 2017 at 13:06

      It doesn’t help when outlets who report on these products don’t disclose that they are being paid to promote.

      The entire system of marketing in games goes hand in hand with shady deals where the end user doesn’t know if the opinion they are reading is genuine.

      Lets not even begin on the justification for paying (in some cases upwards of triple the price for release) retarded DLC and Season Pass’s.

      Be like CDPR and let your games sell themselves. Users dont trust jack shit if the product cant sell itself.

      Reply

    • Magoo

      September 27, 2017 at 13:14

      People pirate for many other reasons.

      Reply

      • BakedBagel

        September 27, 2017 at 13:20

        I pirate because asking R1k plus for a game that could very well be utter trash is a pretty dumb financial decision.

        Reply

    • geel slang

      September 27, 2017 at 13:23

      No, people pirate because then its free

      Reply

  2. Admiral Chief

    September 27, 2017 at 11:47

    You know what drives up piracy? Expensive mediocre overhyped overmilked games

    Reply

  3. Skittle

    September 27, 2017 at 12:12

    Demos should make a come back. Most people don’t want to throw R700 at a game they might not enjoy.

    Reply

    • HairyEwok

      September 27, 2017 at 12:16

      People will argue that Steam has that refund policy, but then again the most guilty developers do not use Steam as a marketing platform.

      Reply

      • Magoo

        September 27, 2017 at 13:15

        *cough* EA *cough*

        Reply

    • BakedBagel

      September 27, 2017 at 13:09

      and let the user see promises broken before their eyes LOL

      I really do hope they make a comeback.

      Im really wondering what a 10min demo would have done to Andromeda. And if people knew what the hell they where buying into.

      Reply

    • Matthew Holliday

      September 27, 2017 at 13:18

      Well demos might be so 2002, but open betas and free weekends seem to be quite common now.
      Destiny 2, Overwatch and I think that new WW2 CoD game(maybe that was a closed beta? cant remember) have had open betas/free weekends in the past month.

      Overwatches free weekend just befor release is what convinced me to buy their game.
      I’d probably have bought Destiny 2 if the download wouldnt have taken me most of the weekend.

      Reply

      • HairyEwok

        September 27, 2017 at 13:20

        Open Beta’s and Free Weekends work for other countries but for us specifically its a bit of a problem (like you said Destiny 2 took forever to download), not everyone can afford a fast internet connection, but everyone can afford to pay R40 and buy a CD/DVD-ROM…. RIP PC FORMAT and NAG

        Reply

        • Matthew Holliday

          September 27, 2017 at 13:25

          And not everyone has access to fast internet.
          Im stuck on 4mb, theyv been digging fibre all around for months, but have yet to even start my area.
          My friends in town download 60gb games in the time it takes me to download a driver.

          Reply

          • HairyEwok

            September 27, 2017 at 13:27

            I feel your pain, 6meg here with the power of a 2meg line because of “line quality” issues. Been bitching for months and still nothing has been remotely fixed or improved.

          • Matthew Holliday

            September 27, 2017 at 13:29

            “Line quality” has been the go to excuse since they introduced 1-10mb ADSL.
            How on earth have they been using that excuse without doing anything about it for TEN YEARS?

  4. Magoo

    September 27, 2017 at 13:13

    Wot?!

    A 45% margin for error is basically 5% more accurate than a blunt guess.

    Reply

  5. Matthew Holliday

    September 27, 2017 at 13:35

    With the current state of the gaming scene, it sorta makes sense.
    Games cost nearly R1000 and alot of people have very little trust in developers and reviews/hype.
    And with the need for always online, DLC, day one patches etc, pirating is a convenient way to check the worth.

    I want to play a game now, I dont want to wait 3 months to get objective reviews and have time for the hype to wear off, befor risking buying a game.
    Case in point, the new Assassins creed game, all media sites are waxing lyrical about it, but then they did the same for Syndicate, saying it was a fresh take on the series, so I bought it. and still havent finished it because booooring.
    Do I risk the biscuit and buy it? do I wait? or do I pirate it and see if its worth it for myself?
    Personally, Im willing to throw money at the game, even pre-ordering on occasion, but the amount of regret Ive had from doing that recently, hurts.

    I havent pirated a game in years, not since Ive had an actual income and didnt have to ask myself what to spend my pocket money on when mommy and daddy wouldnt buy my games for me, but that regret has lead to me asking myself some questions of an ethical nature.

    Reply

    • BakedBagel

      September 27, 2017 at 13:44

      After the release reviews i tend trust alot more than anything, written or ” leaked ” before release. Anything before release is fluff. Its gotten to the point that if i dont see the game being played real time on a stream, i couldn’t care less.

      I will never forget The Watch Dogs bullshit about E3 textures found in the game files.

      That was literal fraud. Why advertise your product with bullshit?

      Reply

      • Matthew Holliday

        September 27, 2017 at 13:51

        Even the first reviews that come out after release I dont trust anymore.
        you need to wait weeks, sometimes months befor someone says “Oh the hypes died down? yeah that game was terribad”

        Reply

  6. retroFuture

    October 4, 2017 at 10:20

    “There’s no doubt that a piracy-free industry would be the best”
    I disagree.
    Without piracy there’d be no emulation. Obscure games from defunct publishers would be lost to history. Would it be wrong if pirates ripped and distributed copies of the Silent Hill PT demo that Konami unceremoniously ripped from the PSN store?

    Reply

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