I’ve heard people argue about PC piracy and XBox piracy in the past – saying that PCs are getting hurt badly by piracy, followed by the retort that piracy exists on the XBox as well, but it’s a lot harder and riskier (you have to install a mod-chip, and you risk being locked out of the XBox network).
According to a recent GamesRadar article, the PC version of Modern Warfare 2 was pirated 4.1 million times and sold 270,000 copies. Meanwhile, the XBox 360 version was pirated 970,000 times and sold 6 million copies. That’s a pretty stark contrast. To put it another way, 6% of the people playing Modern Warfare 2 on the PC actually paid for it, while 86% of the people playing the game on the XBox 360 payed for it. Partially as a result of this, Modern Warfare 2 sold 22x better on the XBox than on the PC.
The disparity might be due to a number of factors. Other than the fact that the XBox games are more difficult to pirate, there’s also the fact that Microsoft did a major crackdown on XBox pirates right before the Modern Warfare launch, banning 1 million players – which probably put the fear of god into players considering pirating the game.
This actually reminded me of an article I saw some time ago on a pro-piracy website. They argued that the fact that Modern Warfare 2 was the most pirated game of the year, but still managed to be the best-selling game of the year meant that piracy had no effect on sales. What they neglected to notice, based on these numbers, is that the piracy, the ease of piracy, and the fear of getting caught seems to have played a large role in the disparity in PC vs XBox sales.