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The Sims 3 pirated 180,000 times in four days

Ahead of its release, piracy rates for The Sims 3 are outpacing those of Spore, the most pirated game of 2008

A pre-release version of EA's The Sims 3 has been illegally downloaded over 180,000 times in four days, according to reports.

The download estimate was provided by research firm BigChampagne, which specialises in monitoring file sharing, according to Bloomberg.

The numbers, if accurate, are outpacing those of Spore, which saw 500,000 copies downloaded in its first ten days before being named the most pirated game of 2008 at an estimated 1.7 million downloads.

According to Electronic Arts, the version of the game being downloaded is not the final product.

"The pirated version is a buggy, pre-final build of the game," EA's Holly Rockwood told Bloomberg. "It’s not the full game. Half the world - an entire city - is missing from the pirated copy."

The Sims 3 is not scheduled for retail release until June 2. The pirated version of the game appeared online starting May 18, over two weeks before its scheduled availability.

In March, EA announced that The Sims 3 would not use Digital Rights Management to prevent piracy, after receiving heavy criticism for its use on Spore.

According to statistics released by TorrentFreak.com, The Sims 2 - originally released in 2004 - was the second most-pirated game of 2008, with a reported 1.15 million copies downloaded illegally.

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