Piracy of Football Manager 2013 saw more than 10m people illegally download the game since mid-May 2013, Sports Interactive chief Miles Jacobson has revealed, with one copy even being stolen by a user in the Vatican. The title, released for PC in November 2012, was cracked on May 12th, Jacobson said during the London Games Conference 2013, MCV reports, but IP tracking software allowed the studio to monitor exactly where each pirated copy was being downloaded.
The cracked version included what Jacobson described as a “flaw” called Home, which reports IP addresses for each copy. The vast majority of downloads were in China, accounting for 3.2m of the 10.1m overall, followed by Turkey with 1.05m downloads.
Portugal came in third, at 781,785, and then Italy, with 547,000.
While Sports Interactive isn’t suggesting that each of those 10.1m illegal downloads might have represented a legitimate sale had the cracked version not been released, its observations of a decline in activation rates following its May 12th release does indicate the company did lose out on a significant amount of cash. Jacobson estimated there had been around 176,000 missed sales of Football Manager 2013 as a result.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen game developers bake in some piracy-centric code to get a better understanding of how titles are unofficially downloaded – or, indeed, to teach the pirates a lesson. Earlier this year, the coders behind Game Dev Tycoon revealed that they themselves had purposefully released a torrent of their game, but which was sabotaged with self-defeating algorithms that would gradually increase the rate of virtual piracy until losing was unavoidable.
Studio Greenheart Games also lodged some self-reporting code into the pirated version, and calculated that after only a day in the wild, 90-percent of people playing Game Dev Tycoon were using the leak rather than the official game. The proper release was priced at just $7.99, a fraction of the roughly $50 charged for Football Manager.