Sports Interactive's Miles Jacobson recently gave a London Games Conference presentation on the piracy of Football Manager 2013. The figures he quotes may well be enough to wipe the shout off the mouth of their faceless manager man. According to Jacobson, over 10 million unique IPs have been reported as using an unregistered copy of the game. That's despite FM2013 having not been cracked until over six months after its initial release last year.
Their figures are a result of the fact that the cracked version of FM2013 'called home', reporting to Sports Interactive just how many people were running the game. The most prominent pirates were located in China, Turkey and Portugal, with the Chinese accounting for 3.2 million illegal downloads. Jacobson's figures also reveal that only 18% of those copies were played five times or more.
Refreshingly, Jacobson didn't resort to claiming that one pirate copy equated to one lost sale. He did, however, break down the figures in a slightly speculative way. "We believe that Football Manager 2013 enjoyed an uplift of 144,000 units prior to the crack and lost a potential 32,000 extra sales post-crack," explained the conclusion. "Therefore, the difference between the game never being cracked and being cracked on day one can be calculated as 176,000 in unit sales or, in financial terms, a potential variance of $3,700,000 in net revenue."
As always, it's hard to be sure how accurate these numbers are, even if SI's methodology seems more based in reality than most. But does the system take Dynamic IPs into account, or can a single pirate be calling from multiple addresses? And how much of the sales decline after the crack is a natural result of a six-month old game not selling as well as before?