UKIE says original estimate of 1:1 ratio was “conservative”, promises scientific research into effect of piracy on sales.
Trade body UKIE estimates that the ratio of games that are pirated to those that are legitimately purchased is as much as 4:1.
UKIE released the figures in clarification of comments that appeared in a BBC Newsbeat article last week, claiming piracy cost the UK videogame industry an eyebrow-raising £1.45 billion in 2010.
That was based on the £1.45 billion grossed by software sales in the UK last year, and a UKIE estimate that for each game purchased legitimately, one was pirated.
“When people play a pirated game that money goes to a criminal, not to the industry,” UKIE director general Michael Rawlinson told the BBC. “That takes away jobs from young developers and graphic designers, so it actually stifles creativity and stops new games coming out.”
Clarifying his comments, Rawlinson told GI.biz that the figure was based on a conservative estimate, and that UKIE actually believes the figure is closer to 4:1. “We took a conservative position of saying if this is only 1:1 across all titles it would have a retail equivalent value of £1.45 million,” he said. "We did not say this was the loss to industry.”
“What is clear is that people who share games via P2P networks or buy illegal copies are not buying the real product, and this reduces retailer sales. In turn, investors see higher risks and lower returns, and this will undermine confidence in the sector and lower the amount of money invested, reducing the developer’s chance to create new products.”
The notion that piracy equals lost sales has long been a cause of debate and may never be proven, but Rawlinson says UKIE will “commission research that will endeavour to measure what is happening in the download/illegal sales arena in a more scientific way, but it will always be difficult to translate illegal sharing and downloads and pirate sales to a loss of legitimate sales and therefore the real effect on industry.”