Gaming targets file-sharers, PC partners (!)


Oh, melancholy game publishers. Your industry is so wildly successful that it’s practically printing money. And yet, like your brethren in the music and film industries, you’re also pointing to piracy on file-sharing networks like BitTorrent as a source of lost sales — and you’re looking to clamp down.

Fair enough. Now, how to go about doing it?

Last week, a confab of five major game publishers decided to go after file sharers in the U.K. The publishers — most notably Atari, but also local notables Codemasters, Reality Pump, Techland and Topware Interactive — are hoping to curb piracy of their titles by going after specific violators.

Up to 25,000 U.K. residents may be targeted in the sweep, according to their legal reps. And that’s really only a slim percentage of all the folks breaking the rules. The Times of London cited statistics from file-sharing tracker Peerland that found that one popular game, Battlefield 1942, was downloaded by almost 1.5 million people within seven days.

According to this piece and many others, as many as six million people in Britain — approximately one out of ten residents! — have illegally downloaded copyrighted content (a stat whose origin is unclear, although it’s been tossed around since early this year.)

All scary numbers, to be sure. But let’s not forget how the RIAA’s similar efforts in the U.S. played out: they completely ended file sharing piracy as we know it. Oh, wait — no, they didn’t.

Not at least as far as I can tell, that is. Movies, albums and television shows are still appearing on the file-sharing networks the day they debut — if not well in advance.

Not surprisingly, not everyone in the games industry is on board with the lawsuit strategy. Peter Moore — a key figure in the histories of the Sega Dreamcast, the Microsoft Xbox and Xbox 360, and now at EA Sports — took quite a different position, admitting that while piracy is a concern, the legal approach Atari and its cohorts are pursuing may not be the best way to go about combating it.

> “I’m not a huge fan of trying to punish your consumer,” Moore told Eurogamer. “Albeit these people have clearly stolen intellectual property, I think there are better ways of resolving this within our power as developers and publishers.”

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