True state of PC piracy revealed by Sports Interactive

Football Manager

10.1m people have illegally downloaded Football Manager 2013 to date. That’s the brow-activating statistic quoted by Sports Interactive boss Miles Jacobson at the London Games Conference this year.

Sports Interactive have been able to track the numbers with a degree of unusual accuracy. When the game was cracked on May 12 this year, a quirk of the process meant the dev team were able to track the IP address of every player who downloaded it.

Of those 10.1m downloads, 3.2 came from China. Another 1.05m came from Turkey, and a further 781,785 from Portugal.

Italy followed close behind with 547,000 illegal copies downloaded throughout the country – and one, funnily enough, in the Vatican.

Intriguingly, 18% of those who downloaded the game illegally turned out to be real fans – playing the game five times or more.

Jacobson doesn’t subscribe to the peculiar industry theory that a pirated game equals a lost sale (“That would be ridiculous to think”). But based on a notable drop in Football Mananger 2013 activations over the summer, he estimated that piracy had cost Sports Interactive some 176,000 lost sales.

That’s not a number to be sneered at, even for developers as successful as SI. Those sales would have accounted for just 1.74% of illegal downloaders, but meant an extra $3.7m in revenue – which Jacobson says he would have spent on new hires.

Jacobson offered no solutions. “Crackers are going to crack and people will download,” he concluded. But he hoped the data would help publishers and developers understand that the problem of piracy is a real one.

Our Tim’s conversation with a developer about PC port delays would suggest they’re already listening. Should they be? What’s your take on this?

Thanks, MCV.