The UKIE, a major publishing conglomerate in the UK, released an estimate today claiming that pirated games outnumber legitimate sales by a factor of four. That means every time you buy a game, according to UKIE, four people will pirate it.
Speaking to GI.biz, UKIE director Michael Rawlinson said this figure is “Based on information received from a number of publishers,” but didn’t say which platforms or formats were being impacted most. Rawlinson chose instead to give a rote, textbook description what piracy actual is:
“What is clear is people who ‘share’ games via P2P networks or buy illegal copies are not buying the real product, and this reduces retailer sales. It can provide the consumer with a sub-standard product and money paid to illegal traders does not flow back to the creative.”
Brilliant. I suddenly understand completely. He also admitted that trying to estimate how much actual loss this figure represents to the games industry, but the UKIE will be putting more research into the matter soon:
“We intend to commission research that will endeavour to measure what is happening in the download/illegal sales arena in a more scientific way, but it will always be difficult to translate illegal sharing and downloads and pirate sales to a loss of legitimate sales and therefore the real effect on industry – how much would these people have bought and paid for.”
While I don’t condone piracy in the least, I’ve always thought the whole issue was more a symptom of the games industry having no idea how to market their games correctly. Not to mention the whole “a pirated game is not a lost sale” issue, which I won’t even get into here. Still though, I guess more research can never really be a bad thing. Hopefully we get something productive out of all this.