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Posted Monday, June 14, 2004

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"52 PER CENT OF GAMERS ADMIT TO PIRACY" Extensive Macrovision survey offers insight into gamer attitude; Presentation at ELSPA Games Summit reveals extent of problem and new anti-piracy solutions

Friday 11 June 2004, London/... Over half of the 2,219 PC gamer respondents to a recent survey have recently downloaded pirated software: that's the conclusion of a wide-reaching poll conducted by the copy protection experts Macrovision (Nasdaq: MVSN). And whilst estimates on the impact of packaged software piracy suggest a figure of $3 billion worldwide (source: Electronic Software Association), Macrovision believes the rise in high-speed Internet file sharing – which currently isn't taken into account in the ESA estimate – pushes the figure substantially higher.

Macrovision conducted a survey across a number of popular gaming sites. Of the 2,219 PC gamers quizzed, 52 per cent admitted to obtaining cracked software while 33 per cent of those reported acquiring 'ISO' files – essentially full CD images with copy protection hacked out. Alarmingly, 15 per cent of respondents admitted to acquiring 15 or more pirated games within the last two years.

As a follow-up to the survey, Macrovision has published a White Paper which offers insights to typical hacking methods and presented potential solutions in a special presentation entitled 'The Changing Face of Piracy and its Strategic Implications' which ran at ELSPA's Games Summit on June 9th.

Based on the survey results, Macrovision estimated that for every four weeks a game's copy protection remains effective for a highly desired title, significant revenue could be generated at retail as users become frustrated with waiting for 'free' working versions, and instead opt to buy a legitimate copy. Two-thirds of those that admitted using pirated software claimed they were not patient enough to wait six weeks after release before buying a legitimate copy.

Diligent use of Macrovision's sophisticated SafeDisc® copy protection technology combined with its Security API (application program interface) can extend the time it takes to break a game's security. The firm is using its Hacker University and SafeDisc Developer Program to offer inventive ways of frustrating the hackers at several stages. And with every week the game's code remains secure, publishers and developers can reap significantly more income for that title – up to $1,500,000 dollars for a title selling 1,000,000 units worldwide during the first month( ).

"The results of this survey highlight the economic impact of slowing hackers down by even a day," says Martin Brooker, Director of Sales, Macrovision Europe. "As the world's leading copy protection experts, we want to draw attention to the benefits of integrating security measures into game code – something which is both easy and efficient using our SafeDisc technology. And when you can generate significant additional revenues by investing a small amount of developer time to protect code properly, we think it's important that publishers choose the most robust and flexible security available."

The Hacker University was held on June 9th at Le Meridien Hotel, Piccadilly, London, as part of the two-day Games Summit conference, organised by the Entertainment and Leisure Publishers Association (ELSPA).

Note (1): The incremental retail sales potential is estimated based on a popular title selling at 1,000,000 units, with an estimated 20% or 200,000 black market units representing incremental segment of users who acquire illegal copies online. The recent survey indicated that 25% of pirate game users would have purchased legitimate copies if unable to obtain free working hacks within the first 4 weeks of a desired title. This would represent 50,000 incremental unit sales potential for the game. With an ASP of $30 per unit, at 50,000 units, this represents $1,500,000 of incremental sales potential.