A new joint study by researchers from Aalborg University and the Copenhagen Business School has found that the gaming industry's piracy claims may be exaggerated.
The ESA (Entertainment Software Association), an industry lobby group that represents the industry's voice on the contentious piracy issue, previously noted that in December 2009 alone, there were 10 million illegal downloads of 200 unique games.
But the new study by Professors Anders Drachen and Robert Veitch found that, in the three month monitored by the study, 12.6 million unique users downloaded 173 unique games.
The pair were motivated to produce what they claim are the most objective figures so far for game piracy by the way the industry often exaggerates the piracy problem to further self interests.
The report states: "The data reported by the industry are potentially biased, partially due to the interest of the industry to reduce piracy and thus potentially over-estimate the problem. Also, industry reports often lack methodological transparency".
The study also looked at the types of games being pirated, and found that far from the previously accepted truth that shooters were the most popular type of game, almost all games were nearly equally popular on BitTorrent networks. 18.9% of games pirated were RPGs, compared with 12.7% for third-party shooters.
And despite 173 games being pirated, 42.7% of unique peers were only interested in the the top 10 most popular games, with the European countries of Romania, Croatia, Greece, Portugal and Hungary being the top countries for piracy.