Has game piracy hit its plateau? Nintendo marketing manager for the U.K., James Honeywell certainly believes so.
"I think perhaps there's been a 'heyday of piracy' and we've now seen a lot of rules come in to stop it," Honeywell told gaming publication CVG in an interview published today.
Honeywell noted that piracy has been a drain on economies around the world, and countries are starting to realize that by limiting piracy, they can benefit financially.
"There's definitely a step change coming and you see it in various countries around the world," Honeywell told CVG. "People are aware that video games, music, and movies make massive contributions to the economies of countries. They need to make sure they start protecting those things."
Nintendo is also doing its part. The company's 3DS portable-gaming device, which is set to launch in the U.S. on March 27 for $249, is expected to have extremely strong piracy countermeasures in place.
"We can't divulge any technical details on [3DS anti-piracy controls]," Nintendo general manager for the U.K. David Yamton told CVG, "but needless to say this is probably one of our best pieces of equipment in that respect. There are a lot of things we've learned over time to try and improve the security and protection--not only of our IP but of our third-party publishers' IP as well."
Over the past few months, Nintendo has been quite outspoken about its fight against piracy.
In an earnings call with investors in October, Nintendo Chief Executive Satoru Iwata said that his company has a "responsibility" to fight piracy. He specifically mentioned the company's 3DS and its "countermeasures" as key aspects of that battle.
So far, that battle is one that Nintendo has not enjoyed. In 2009, the company's New Super Mario Bros. Wii title was illegally downloaded 1.15 million times, according to data from TorrentFreak. Punch-Out and Wii Sports Resort were also heavily pirated with 950,000 and 920,000 downloads, respectively.
At the end of 2010, things weren't going any better for Nintendo. TorrentFreak revealed last month that Super Mario Galaxy 2 was pirated 1.47 million times last year. Wii Party was downloaded 1.22 million times. Donkey Kong Country Returns rounded out the top three with 920,000 pirated copies.
Call of Duty: Black Ops was the most pirated game of 2010. The PC version alone was illegally downloaded more than 4.27 million times.
Given those figures, Honeywell's claim that piracy is getting past its prime might be a little premature.