Presented by Denuvo by Irdeto

In 2021, there was an estimated 2.7 billion gamers globally, in a gaming market that is valued at $300+ billion. The opportunity for developers is huge — but so is the temptation for fraudsters looking for ways to take advantage of the revenue that’s pouring into the industry. But according to the recent Denuvo Global Gaming Survey, many developers don’t fully know how cheating, tampering, and piracy has impacted their revenues — or don’t think they’ve been affected at all.

When players recognize cheating in a game, they often simply quit, because after all, there are an endless number of titles available. Engagement then tanks, and so does a game’s reputation — especially when developers’ social media accounts are overrun with complaints and demands that the issues be fixed.

Tampering and piracy, which usually go hand in hand, undermine a game’s sales, player engagement, and retention, particularly in the first few weeks of a game’s release. While PC and mobile operating systems are more vulnerable, consoles can still be hit, especially because so many games have co-op modes and live updates. For free-to-play games and games that offer in-game items, tampering can also directly impact monetization.

When asked to put a hard figure on the revenue loss attributable to cheats and pirates, respondents from companies of every size dramatically underestimated the impact.

Industry perspective varies — especially when it comes to studio size

The Irdeto survey reached out to a wide range of companies of all sizes, device types, and geographic locations, for a look at the reality involving game fraud — from cheating to tampering and piracy, and how developers are protecting themselves and their players.

While only 16% of respondents believe they’ve been entirely unaffected by fraud, nearly 40% simply don’t know to what degree they have been affected; among indie developers, that figure soars to 54%.

But while 71% of PC game makers know they can employ anti-cheat and anti-tamper services, only 38% of mobile developers are aware of these services — and 44% of mobile games developers say they’d look into it, now that they’re aware they have options.

Top security concerns

Across studios and device type, 84% of all respondents are concerned with tampering and piracy; 56% of respondents call it a moderate or major concern. On the other hand, only 39% call cheating an issue.

Indies are especially worried about piracy, because pirated copies have a direct impact on both their top and bottom lines. And while IP theft is a more common issue for larger developers than it is for smaller companies, piracy still takes first place in their list of concerns.

Mobile developers add in-game currency cheats close to the top of their list of threats, as their monetization strategies tend to rely on in-app purchases. Cross-platform developers, which comprise a huge percentage of popular competitive games, unsurprisingly mention PVP cheating as a top issue.

But all three risks present a threat to revenue across every part of the industry.

What’s behind the resistance to anti-cheat tools?

Of those who do use software to prevent cheating and tampering, 93% say they’re satisfied to some extent with the solution, and 50% say that the technology has reduced cheating and tampering.

But that leaves 26% of mobile developers and 46% of PC game makers aware of anti-cheat solutions, but unwilling to use them. Studios making single-player titles don’t have much to worry about, but there’s still the perception that anti-cheat simply won’t solve cheating issues, or that they might be too costly to employ.

A full 46% honestly believe they simply don’t need anti-cheat solutions or anti-tamper software. Many developers also believe that these services are too invasive, interrupt game play, or damage the core gaming experience.

In the end, despite cheating, tampering, and piracy being a stated threat to developer reputation and revenue, too many of them do not know what solutions are available, or, if they do, they are uncertain about their efficacy.

Yet, once sampled, developer satisfaction with products addressing these problems is clear. If providers of anti-cheat and anti-tamper services can tackle this knowledge gap, they can help protect the integrity of games to the benefit of all industry players.

Dig deeper: Get the whole report here.  

Reinhard Blaukovitsch is the founder and Managing Director of Denuvo by Irdeto, the global #1 Application Protection and Anti-Piracy Technology Platform. He is responsible for leading strategy and management of the gaming segment at Irdeto. With a track record of anticipating technology and market trends, Blaukovitsch is dedicated to providing best-in-class solutions for global gaming customers.


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