Digital Game Piracy: Analyzing the Illegal Distribution of Digital Games via BitTorrent

Anders Drachen, Rob Veitch, Kevin Bauer

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

    86 Downloads (Pure)


    The practice of illegally copying and distributing digital games is at the heart of one of the most heated and divisive debates in the international games environment. Despite the substantial interest in game piracy, there is very little objective information available about its magnitude or its distribution across game titles and game genres. This paper presents the first large-scale, open-method analysis of the distribution of digital game titles, which was conducted by monitoring the BitTorrent peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing protocol. The sample includes 173 games and a collection period of three months from late 2010 to early 2011. With a total of 12.6 million unique peers identified, it is the largest examination of game piracy via P2P networks to date. The study provides findings that reveal the magnitude of game piracy, the timefrequency of game torrents, which genres that get pirated the most, and the relationship between aggregated review scores and ESRB-ratings.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 15th International Academic MindTrek Conference : Envisioning Future Media Environments, MindTrek 2011
    EditorsArtur Lugmayr, Heljä Franssila, Christian Safran, Imed Hammouda
    Number of pages8
    Place of PublicationNew York
    PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
    Publication date2011
    ISBN (Print)9781450308168
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    Event15th Academic MindTrek Conference 2011 - Tampere, Finland
    Duration: 29 Sep 201130 Sep 2011
    Conference number: 15


    Conference15th Academic MindTrek Conference 2011
    Internet address


    • Digital games
    • Game piracy
    • BitTorrent
    • Economics of piracy

    Cite this