At the London Games Conference which took place last night, Sports Interactive’s Miles Jacobson detailed the impact of PC piracy on the super popular Football Manager series and the numbers make for some interesting reading.
According to Jacobson, who uses the Football Manager 2013 release as the example, the game remained uncracked for a total of 191 days which resulted in a sales increase of 4.9% which would equate to $886,000. Quite a chunk of change I think you’ll agree.
Tracking the pirated version of FM 2013 they discovered that around 10,000,000 unique IP addresses were running a dodgy copy. Digging deeper into the IP addresses they also discovered that 18% of these went on to play the game five times or more.
How did that impact the rate at which legitimate copies were activated? The activation rate fell by 17% once the crack became available. Running the numbers, Sports Interactive believe that 1.74% of the illegal downloaders would have actually purchased the game if that crack had not been made available.
In sales terms, when the crack was not available, there was an uplift of 144,000 units and a loss of 32, 000 when the crack appeared on the scene. If the crack had never surfaced that would mean that there would have been 176,000 in unit sales. As they point out that’s “a potential variance of $3,700,000 in net revenue”. That’s a large sum that I’m sure SI would rather have banked to improve and grow their business.
Now let’s do some finger pointing and look at the worst offenders for piracy. This table was produced by SI based on the data they gathered.
Top 10 territories for piracy
Legitimate activation in the post-crack period
Legitimate Activations by territory
Piracy is always going to be a problem, it’s been an issue for game developers for decades and it’s not going to go away. There simply has be a better understanding of the impact that lost sales has on a game developer and look the best way to tackle it.