Page last updated at 08:59 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Spore at top of the piracy charts

Spore screen shot
Developers say piracy is driving them away from making PC titles

Will Wright's evolutionary epic video game - Spore - has been named the most pirated PC game of 2008, according to the TorrentFreak weblog.

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

The site reported 1.7m illegal downloads of Spore since the game was released in September 2008.

Electronic Arts (EA) said it sold nearly 2m copies of the game.

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

TorrentFreak said that 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.

TOP 10 PIRATED GAMES OF 2008

1) Spore
2) The Sims 2
3) Assassins Creed
4) Crysis
5) Command & Conquer 3
6) Call of Duty 4
7) GTA San Andreas
8) Fallout 3
9) Far Cry 2
10) Pro Evolution Soccer 2009

Source: TorrentFreak

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

The hacked version that emerged less than 24 hours after the game shipped came without any DRM, and within 10 days of the games launch, more than half a million people had downloaded a pirated version of the game.

EA subsequently released a "DRM-lite" version that allowed an unlimited number of installations, but the public relations damage was considerable.

Freelance games journalist Paul Pressley told BBC News that pirating games was inevitable.

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

"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.

Conspicuously absent from the list are online-only games.

uTorrent client software screen
Sophisticated client software makes accessing BitTorrent files very simple

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

Unlike single-player games, these require an active subscription - rather than a legitimate copy of the game - to play.

But with game developers withdrawing or scaling back on creating new PC titles and a seemingly watertight subscription model for online gaming, pirates could yet sink the concept of single-player PC gaming below the waterline.

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SEE ALSO
Copyright row dogs Spore release
10 Sep 08 |  Technology
Anti-hack software 'worth $1bn'
20 Jun 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
UK software piracy rate declines
14 May 08 |  Technology

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