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What do torrents statistics, for PC Games, look like?

by James Grimshaw on 10/21/10 08:32:00 pm   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

There is always that moment of “strange silence” in the cinema. You know when they tell you it’s illegal to use a camera or recording device. Making you feel like a criminal, you even glance around and wonder if anyone is doing it or more importantly if someone suspects you are!

What is the likelihood of seeing someone trying to record a movie in the cinema?

If you did see someone, with a real long trench coat and a big bulge in the front, what would you do?

  • Would you think pirate or unibomber?
  • Stand up and question him?
  • Report him to the cinema attendants?
  • Leave him alone and the get the hell out of there!!!

The thing is, no one really knows how big the piracy problem is and everyone is afraid to ask. Some people even think that statistics are made up or even over exaggerated! TorrentFreak.com releases the most downloaded torrents for each year, all of them illegal. But I have never seen the original results these statistics come from, not saying that they are made up. What I am saying is we need better measurements, to know where results have come from.

In fact combating Piracy is a big problem because it is too secretive. Even the business and anti-piracy organisations are secretive about their statistics. Of course pirates are very happy with this situation because having no data immediately undermines the results. Plus Pirates with good reason don’t loudly announce any illegal activities. But you can’t fight this problem unless you know what you are dealing with! It almost becomes a catch 22 situation. You need the results to fight piracy, but piracy is secretive so there are no results!

I am a big fan of the PC platform and it’s only now I realise that Piracy is destroying it. Having been exposed to a lot of piracy, I even personally sided with the pirate thought process. It seemed so obvious that Piracy would not directly mean one sale. Who could argue with that!? However all these excuses, was not the question I should be asking, what I should have asked is: How many sales is piracy taking away!

All too often we are justifying the means, and not addressing the cause. So with that in mind, it is still question I cannot answer myself, but WarFace is setting out to find out! For the past month, WarFace has been watching the legal torrents of PC Games. We have included some popular games from the end of 2009 and the titles from 2010. The reason is so we can roughly calculate the number of losses, and more importantly the recoup sales that could be made.

You can see the titles that are being watched: http://www.warfaceaps.com/titles.php

The chart for all the illegal downloads: http://www.warfaceaps.com/amline.php?size=med

With the results, we have estimated recoup values: www.warfaceaps.com/files/TorrentResults-estimatedsales.pdf

If you look at the results on pages 2 and 3 (of TorrentResults-estimatedsales.pdf) you can see the estimated recoup in sales from the current piracy market. I have supplied three percentages, 10, 60, and 90. Now I am not saying that any particular figure is right, but what I am saying is look at the numbers these figures produce.

First I have arranged the percentages into three name categories. These percentages coincide with the side of the fence you lie with. If you are Pro pirate then you are more likely to believe that only 10% of all illegal downloads would end in a sale. Conservative has a recoup value of 60%, and Pro-Publisher is a recoup sales of 90% from the piracy market.

  Pro-Pirate Conservative Pro-Publisher
34.99 € 5,262 € 31,573 € 47,360
44.99 € 6,766 € 40,597 € 60,895

 

From this table you can see the estimated losses per day. So if we take the lowest possible value, a Pro-Pirate opinion, for a €34.99 game. We can make some calculations as to the recoup value from piracy sales. So for the shelf life of a PC game, roughly 6 months (182 Days, we’ll forget about the half day!), this gives us a recoup value of €957,684.

Oh an in this case, if you are wondering what the opposite end of this 10% recoup. The 90% that doesn’t generate sales is approximately €8,619,156. (I am not stating that this is a loss figure!) But it is hard to dismiss, that over 6 months, the average recoup could be just under a million per game.

These figures change as the results are updated which you can download here:  (Located in the Excel spreadsheet, under the last two tabs “Sum Up” and “Sum Up – Calc”.) www.warfaceaps.com/files/TorrentResults.xls

You can also edit the figures in the control tables, in the cells that are highlighted, and use figures that you believe are more accurate, I think you’ll be amaze at the number you get out at the end!

For those that are going to point loop holes in this: To them I say, remember not to be too hung up on the specific numbers, and I encourage active discussion. I might not always be right, but please point it out politely!

First off I have to address that these numbers are all based on the illegal torrents that are currently being downloaded. This gives me a bases in the number that I would expect across the board for PC games, for downloads per day and the cost associated.

Secondly the recoup figures are chosen for a reason, not because I think that’s what it should be. But for easy calculations, 10 and 90 make 100, so people can then turn away and quickly do their own sums, and know the potential losses. For example, some pirates out there might believe the recoup value is 20%, well that’s double, just over €10k per day, per game. And the Conservative estimate was chosen to show the kind of revenues that WarFace claims it will make back.

Some of the top PC game publishers release 10-15 PC games per year, start adding up the figures and you can see they are missing out on huge revenues. I believe “the want” value is the major driving factor for its sales, which sounds really stupid to state the obvious. But this want will also drive the illegal downloads market too, which in turns drives the number of recoup sales we can make from it.

What do illegal torrents and file sharing of PC Games look like?

“A whole lot of money!”


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