The study analysed questionnaire responses from 217 frequent gamers, to provide the following statistics:
- Teenage criminals: nearly 80% of respondents had illegally pirated at some stage in their life - among the 15 to 18 age group, this rises to over 84%
- Can't wait, won't wait: 72% of respondents would pirate if they had to wait for a game to be released in the UK
- Safety in numbers: 65% of respondents pirate because they feel their chances of getting caught are low
- Plain sailing: 80% feel it's easy to download videogames
- Try before you buy: 58% don't buy a game that they have downloaded, disproving the theory that most 'try before they buy'
The major players in the games industry suffer huge financial losses through such piracy. In 2004, videogame piracy was estimated to cost the industry almost $5 billion. Efforts to minimise piracy have, to date, met with only marginal success.
"This study shows very clearly the drivers behind videogame piracy", Alex Dodge explains: "Most respondents who have and will continue to illegally download games are young males, between 15 and 19 years old. They feel videogames are too expensive and resent the long wait for many games released in the US or in Asia before the UK. With a high level of computer literacy, it's easy for them to find a game online and download it. Their friends all do it and why shouldn't they?"
"However, the study also shows that these gamers know they are doing wrong - and understand that the more they pirate, the greater harm they are doing to an industry they would like to support.
"The majority of pirates seem to be teenagers, who are costing the manufacturers billions each year." Alex comments: "The message to manufacturers is clear: to minimise illegal downloading, ensure worldwide product releases, lower prices, and make it harder to pirate. Finally, work on a 'piracy education programme' to engender a feeling amongst the young gaming community that piracy is wrong. The alternative is to continue to suffer crippling piracy levels from teenage 'console criminals' gaming in their bedrooms."