In its first week on the market, Will Wright and EA Maxis' heavily anticipated universe-simulator Spore was illegally downloaded through file-sharing sites 500,000 times, a figure that BitTorrent-tracking blog Torrent Freak labeled as record-setting. That said, EA announced that it legally moved 2 million units of the game through September 30, while in tandem revealing that 6 percent of its workforce would be laid off.
As noted by Torrent Freak upon its initial findings in September, despite the game's strong initial legal offering, demand for pirated copies of Spore was "increasing rapidly." The blog now reports that Spore is the single most pirated game of 2008, with an estimated 1.7 million copies being passed around outside of EA's control worldwide since the game launched on September 7.
An oft-cited reason for why culprits chose not to purchase the game was EA's decision to include SecuROM digital-rights management software. According to opponents, SecuROM amounts to spyware or malware, considering that it reportedly monitors computer use to prevent duplication. In a class-action suit filed against EA in September, opponents claimed that once installed, it cannot be removed short of a complete reformatting of a user's hard drive.
With Spore topping Torrent Freak's list of the top pirated games in 2008, Will Wright's previous work--The Sims 2--landed in second, with 1.15 million units illegally swapped. Assassin's Creed--which made its way to file-sharing sites a full two months before its official release, inspiring Ubisoft to file a lawsuit against Optical Experts Manufacturing--scored third with approximately 1.07 million copies.
Crytek's tech-heavy shooter Crysis landed in fourth, with 940,000 copies illegally shared. That number doesn't come as a surprise; Crytek cofounder Cevat Yerli attributed his company's decision to abandon PC exclusivity to rampant piracy of the game.
PC Game Downloads on BitTorrent in 2008
1) Spore / Electronic Arts / 1,700,000
2) The Sims 2 / Electronic Arts / 1,150,000
3) Assassin's Creed / Ubisoft / 1,070,000
4) Crysis / Crytek / 940,000
5) Command & Conquer 3 / Electronic Arts / 860,000
6) Call of Duty 4 / Activision / 830,000
7) Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas / Take-Two / 740,000
8) Fallout 3 / Bethesda Softworks / 645,000
9) Far Cry 2 / Ubisoft / 585,000
10) Pro Evolution Soccer 2009 / Konami / 470,000