Video Game Piracy On The Rise, Will Cost The Industry As Much As It Makes

Video game piracy has been around since video games were first introduced into the home. Some of you may remember the days of bootleg cassettes, the rise of file sharing websites and even console game piracy on some systems. One thing has remained clear since then, piracy has always been around and will always be around and whilst some may condemn those that pirate games illegally there are always others who will downplay the act of piracy and the impact it has on the industry.

Last month a report from Arxan Technologies, an applications security company, showed that gamers pirate almost as much as they legitimately pay for. Tru Optic research states that the total revenue lost to pirated games was approximately $74.1 billion in 2014 whilst the global video game industry only bought in $83.6 billion in revenue last year. It’s a shocking revelation and shows just how big of an impact piracy is having. It’s no wonder that we’ve seen companies try to counter this through DRM and new revenue models such as free to play and online subscriptions.


The number of pirated games is expected to rise this year as well with Arxan estimating that a total of 31,000 paid games will be hacked and made available to users for free. This is more than double the amount of games that were pirated in 2012. In fact Video games is now the second most pirated category ahead of Movies, TV shows, Music and Adult content in terms of revenue.

Hundreds of millions of Internet users worldwide are easily able to find and access websites that distribute pirated content. Many of these sites survive based on Ad revenue (i.e., advertisers are paying to promote their products and services on these sites), while others charge users a fee or request donations from their users. The largest piracy websites generated more than $200 million in advertising-driven revenues in 2014.


It’s clear that piracy is here to stay, and whilst some users may buy a game legitimately after playing a pirated copy, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the majority have no intention of purchasing the game in order to support the developers and publishers. This isn’t the only threat posed by video game piracy, other threats include users being able to cheat in game or bypass certain in game policies.

Piracy is always a hot topic and some companies have chosen to rule with an iron fist by clamping down on piracy through DRM, others have changed their business model to incorporate free to play and in game micro transactions and some have an open mind to piracy and believe that it can actually boost the sales of their games.

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A passionate gamer with a love for Koei Tecmo's Musou games. I also enjoy following and analysing the Games Industry.


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