World of Goo
creator 2D Boy estimates that in the month since the game's launch, the piracy rate for the game's PC version is approximately 90 percent.
After widespread media reports propagating the high number, the developer followed up on its official site
with further details, elaborating on how it generated the number -- and admitting that "it’s a very rough estimate and the measurements are flawed."
2D Boy says it recorded high scores sent to the server and the IP from whence they come, divided its total sales by the total number of unique IPs it recorded, and thus arrived at the 90 percent number.
According to the developer, the actual piracy rate may in fact be lower than that estimate, however, as the methodology doesn't account for multiple machine installs or dynamic IP addresses that periodically change.
But similarly, says 2D Boy, there are factors that could potentially raise the estimate: multiple installations from behind the same firewall, like in an office environment, would only register as one, and not all consumers opt to allow their scores to be submitted to the server.
"For simplicity’s sake, we just assumed those would balance out," the developer wrote, "so take take the 90 percent as a rough estimate."
2D Boy cited a Gamasutra analysis column written by Reflexive Entertainment marketing director Russell Carroll regarding piracy of Reflexive's Ricochet Infinity
, which found a 92 percent piracy rate
for that game based on a similar methodology.
"One thing that really jumped out at me was his estimate that preventing 1000 piracy attempts results in only a single additional sale," 2D Boy wrote.
"This supports our intuitive assessment that people who pirate our game aren’t people who would have purchased it had they not been able to get it without paying."
Finally, the developer also noticed that there was little difference in outcome for both Ricochet Infinity
and World of Goo
-- even though the former shipped with DRM, and the latter without it.
"We can’t draw any conclusions based on two data points, but I’m hoping that others will release information about piracy rates so that everyone could see if DRM is the waste of time and money that we think it is," the developer said.