The comprehensive report on sharing PC games via BitTorrent’s networks reveals some interesting aspects of the “digital piracy” issue. The results are to be published in the “International Journal of Advanced Media and Communication”.
The illegal sharing of digital content (using peer-to-peer technology) has been the catalyst of thousands of debates and media headlines. With one side claiming that online piracy is the death of the American jobs and responsible for billions of dollars lost by the entertainment industry, the other one’s flag reads “freedom of speech”, “internet’s freedom” and “piracy is not theft”. The most epic controversy of the past decade is born, but what we really know about each of the coin’s side proves to be limited.
The report, as mentioned before, focused on game piracy and used open methodologies to gather data that covered a three-month period – between 2010 and 2011. One hundred and seventy three games were included. The results prove to tear down all the myths surrounding online piracy. For example, “shooter” games are not pirates favorite dish, but also children’s games and family games. Moreover, it highlights that the real figure of illegal copies that are being accessed via BitTorrent is under what other reports (the gaming industry’s) claim to be.
Specifics of the report reveal that 12.6 million unique peers (covering more than 250 countries/areas) shared pirated games, including Darksiders, Fallout: New Vegas, NBA 2k11, Call of Duty: Black Ops, TRON Evolution, Starcraft 2, Star Wars the Force Unleashed 2, The Sims 3: Late Night, Two Worlds II, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. Furthermore, of the 173 sampled games, the ten most popular titles drove more than 4 out of every 10 unique peers on BitTorrent, and just 20 of the monitored countries were contributing to more than three-quarters of the total file-sharing activity.
An average of 536,727 unique peers (spread across the globe) sharing the most popular games titles via BitTorrent were acknowledged during the three-month period. The most dedicated unique peers seemed to cover the following territories: Romania, Croatia, Greece, Poland, Ukraine, Italy, Armenia, Serbia, and Portugal.
Another interesting aspect is that mass-media’s positive game reviews drive the most attention on BitTorrent’s networks.
“First and foremost, P2P game piracy is extraordinarily prevalent and geographically distributed [at least it was during the period analyzed]. However, the numbers in our investigation suggest that previously reported magnitudes in game piracy are too high,” Anders Drachen (working for the Department of Communication and Psychology, at Aalborg University and the PLAIT Lab, Northeastern University and Robert Veitch of the Department of IT Management at Copenhagen Business School, in Frederiksberg, Denmark) said.
“It also appears that some common myths are wrong, e.g. that it is only shooters that get pirated, as we see a lot of activity for children’s and family games on BitTorrent for the period we investigated.”