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UKIE: Games piracy "4:1 against legitimate sales"

Publisher body's "conservative" estimate puts equivalent retail cost of £1.45bn; hopes to conduct "scientific" research into piracy

Publisher body UK Interactive Entertainment estimates that for every one game sold at retail four games are pirated.

And in a bid to further understand the damage of piracy to legitimate game sales, director general Michael Rawlinson told GamesIndustry.biz that UKIE plans to commission thorough research into the problem.

"Based on information received from a number of publishers we have estimates of games piracy running at between 4:1 against legitimate sales," said Rawlinson.

Trying to clear up reports from BBC Newsbeat that High Street retail lost £1.45 billion in 2010 due to piracy, Rawlinson said UKIE took a conservative guess with that figure - the equivalent of console software sales in the UK last year.

However, Rawlinson did not clarify which console formats were included in the estimates, or whether it included PC games software, and made clear that the number was not necessarily a direct loss to the industry.

"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 billion. We did not say this was the loss to industry," offered Rawlinson.

"What is clear is people who 'share' games via P2P networks or buy illegal copies are not buying the real product, and this reduces retailer sales. It can provide the consumer with a sub-standard product and money paid to illegal traders does not flow back to the creative."

"In turn, investors see higher risks/lower returns, and this in turn will undermine confidence in the sector and lower the amount of money invested, reducing the developer's chance to create new products."

Rawlinson admitted that estimates of the real cost of piracy are difficult, but research it commissions will look at the issues in greater depth to calculate the damage.

"We intend to 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 - how much would these people have bought and paid for."

"My position is clear, there can be no justification of unauthorised 'sharing' or pirate sales, and the industry should never support or condone this on the basis of any potential or perceived 'marketing' upside."

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Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.

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