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We hear a lot of multi-billion dollar making publishers hit the public forums and whine like little brats about how much potential sales revenue they lost to piracy. However, what they don't talk about is the fact that piracy for 2011 was actually down in comparison to 2010.
Not too long ago TorrentFreak revealed that Crysis 2 was the most pirated game of 2011, with nearly four million illegal downloads tracked for the multi-platform title. Crysis 2 was accompanied by other unsurprising entries, including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Super Mario Galaxy, Battlefield 3, and even Gears of War 3 for the Xbox 360. Yep, no console was safe from the pirates.
However, according to RegHardware.com, TorrentFreak states that all those illegal downloads were trumped by the software piracy that took place in 2010. Figurative comparisons weren't released (and should we expect top-notch marketing data from a torrent site?) but many conclude that the rise in digital distribution and favorable sales from e-tailers like Steam, GamersGate, Direct2Drive and even EA's revamped service Origin (once known as EA Link) helped curb some piracy by offering top-notch service at affordable prices.
If the above is true then that would coincide with what Good Old Games' director Guillaume Rambourg mentioned about combating piracy with competition, as opposed to combating piracy by harming consumers with clunky DRM models and intrusive security measures. Nevertheless, since there are no hard figures to conclude that digital distribution actually had an effect on software piracy throughout 2011 there's no way to tell if pirates simply seemed less interested in pirating games as much as they did in 2010 or if they simply found some other means of pirating instead of using torrents.
Regardless, Steam registration and use has been on the rise according to their stats, and the more people buy the less multi-billion dollar publishers have a reason to whine. Heck, maybe with the increase in digital distribution sales CEOs can now buy that gold bidet to match their platinum-lined golden toilet.