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‘Spore’ Most Pirated Game Of 2008

December 10, 2008

The TorrentFreak weblog has named Will Wright’s evolutionary epic video game “Spore” the most pirated PC game of 2008.

The site used BitTorrent data, the peer-to-peer sharing protocol, to compile a list of the 10 most downloaded PC games in 2008.

Since Spore’s release in September 2008, there have been at least 1.7 million illegal downloads, according to the site. The game’s maker, Electronic Arts (EA), said it sold nearly 2m copies of the game.

The Sims 2, Will Wright’s other big-selling title, came in second on the list with 1,150,000 copies downloaded.

Spore’s Digital Rights Management (DRM) software, which came in for considerable criticism when the game was released, was one of the reasons the game was so prolifically pirated, TorrentFreak said.

DRM (Digital Rights Management) limits customers to only three activations after the game is installed, preventing legitimate Spore customers from having free use of the game and effectively killing the second-hand market.

However, within 10 days of the games launch, more than half a million people had downloaded a pirated version that emerged less than 24 hours after the game shipped.

A “DRM-lite” version was then launched by EA allowing an unlimited number of installations, but the public relations damage was considerable.

But pirating games is inevitable, according to freelance games journalist Paul Pressley.

“The best [games publishers] can do is come up with measures that stem piracy as much as they can, without impeding legitimate customers.”

He said the PC market is getting smaller in terms of single-player games and publishers do overstate the problem.

“The majority of their sales are console-based, which makes piracy much harder and while pirates will take a small percentage of their sales, the majority of people will buy a legitimate copy of the game,” he said.

Online games like World of Warcraft have more than 11 million subscribers worldwide, and Warhammer Online shifted more than 1.2 million units in the first few weeks after its launch.

The online games require an active subscription rather than a legitimate copy of the game to play.

But with the increase of pirating, game developers are now withdrawing or scaling back on creating new PC titles. And with a seemingly watertight subscription model for online gaming, pirates could eventually sink the concept of the single-player PC gaming experience.

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