Game over? Nintendo calls for U.S. crackdown on countries with rampant game piracy
Nintendo wants the U.S. government to crackdown on nations where piracy of electronic games runs rampant. Specifically, the gaming giant has asked for Brazil, China, Mexico, and Spain to remain or be placed on the US government's copyright policy "Watch List."
The Watch List is maintained by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and, according to Nintendo, "has proven to be a highly effective tool in highlighting those countries that do not provide adequate protection of copyrights and trademarks."
Nintendo feels that Brazil should continue to be on the USTR's Watch List thanks to the country's growing rate of peer-to-peer network piracy. From 2011 to 2012, Nintendo reported, pirate P2P downloads in the country increased by nearly 34 percent, from 718,085 to 960,755.
China not only has weak enforcement of copyrights and trademarks, but it is also the number one exporter of devices that allow others to knock off the company's games, Nintendo claims.
Nintendo also wants Mexico added to the USTR's notorious nations list. Mexican pirates often deal in hard goods sold in large flea markets, it noted.
"Despite occasional raids by authorities, these markets have sold illicit products for decades, with no end in sight," the company said.
Mexico, too, had a big bump in P2P piracy, 183,065 downloads in 2011 to 341,189 in 2012, Nintendo reported. That's an 86 percent jump.
Another source of devices for pirating games is Spain, which is why Nintendo wants that country on the USTR Watch List.
"Spain remains one of the global leaders in the sale and distribution of circumvention devices and for illegal downloads of video games from the Internet," Nintendo wrote. "The Spanish Government has moved slowly to confront Internet piracy."
Nintendo acknowledged in its letter that its own efforts to stem piracy have proven inadequate.
"Despite the operation of Nintendo’s anti-piracy programs in over 40 countries, worldwide piracy of Nintendo video game products remains a chronic problem resulting in huge losses," it wrote.
"In the past few years," the game maker added, "the scope of online piracy for Nintendo has grown dramatically… Every month, tens of thousands of illegal Nintendo game files are detected on the Internet."
Figures tossed around about piracy losses are staggering. In 2011, UKIE—a consortium of UK game publishers—estimated that for every electronic game sold, four were pirated. That same organization pegged global gaming losses at more than $2.1 billion in 2010.
Software piracy losses are always hotly contested figures, however. Critics claim that many people who illegally download a program or game never have any intention of buying it at retail, and a recent study showed that illegal downloaders actually buy more music than people who only buy tunes legally.
Regardless, the financially ailing Nintendo could no doubt use some of the money lost down the pirate rat hole. In a recent setback for the game maker, it had to slash its sales goals for its latest gaming console, the Wii U, to four million units from 5.5 million.