Illegally downloaded games ‘up 20% in five years’

Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 3

The number of illegally downloaded video games has gone up nearly 20% in the last five years.

Figures from research firm Envisional also suggest the top five games from 2010 were pirated online almost a million times.

Industry executives are worried these figures mean a generation of people will expect to get games for free.

But some gamers dispute industry claims about how much of a problem online piracy is.

Illegal ‘testing’

Newsbeat met Sam who illegally downloads around 100 titles a year and ends up buying around 50 of them.

“I buy games because I’ve pirated them, if I don’t get to try them I never would have bothered picking them up.”

Sam, who didn’t want to give his surname, says he’s not put off by the threat of being fined or sent to prison.

“I’ve never been fined. I’ve been doing this since I was 14 and I’m now 23.

“Games that I enjoy I purchase, ones that I don’t enjoy I delete.”

The video games industry says all piracy is theft and the answer lies in offering fairly-priced alternatives to illegal downloads.

Andy Payne, chairman of the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE), believes it’s something the industry is already doing.

“You can be playing that game every single day for a year.

“Look at Fifa, Modern Warfare, Black Ops, those games people are playing all the time. That’s great value.”

Earlier this year video game executives told Newsbeat online piracy cost the industry hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds.

However, UKIE is reluctant to give a similar estimate for either, saying it is nearly impossible to get an accurate figure.

It is keen though to emphasise that big blockbuster titles can cost millions of pounds to produce.

“Two hundred, 250 people sat in a studio for two years building the latest Modern Warfare 3,” says Andy Payne.

“This costs real money.”