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Video game piracy is not as high as reported, study says

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A study of BitTorrent video game file-sharing revealed that piracy may not be as high as anti-piracy outlets suggest.

The study was held by three academics from Aalborg University, University of Waterloo and Copenhagen Business School. Research was conducted by analyzing 12.6 million users and 173 games across 14 gaming platforms, including Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and Windows PC, over the course of three months from 2010 to 2011. According to the team's findings, the ten most commonly pirated games are equal to about 41.8 percent of all game pirating, and that games with high review scores were more likely to be downloaded illegally.

The top 10 games included Darksiders, Call of Duty: Black Ops, StarCraft 2 and The Sims 3: Late Night. Countries more commonly seen pirating were Romania, Croatia, Hungary, Greece and Portugal.

The study's overview section notes that industry data reported is "potentially biased, partially due to the interest of the industry to reduce piracy," which lends itself to an overestimation of the problem. The Entertainment Software Association claimed that more than 10 million downloads of 200 games were tracked in December 2009, while TorrentFreak reportedly listed 18.14 million downloads through BitTorrent for Windows PC in 2010 and another 5.34 million in console games.

The full study is available here.