While we would never endorse piracy, it’s fair to say that the best games get downloaded more than others. In fact, games that are well pirated generally mirror their performance in the retail world – so in the absence of reliable sales figures, we look towards the download counts.
It’s with great pleasure that I hereby introduce you to the top 10 most pirated games of all time.
1.– 4.27 million downloads, Nov 2010
The most recent addition to the incredibly successful Call of Duty series, which began way-back in 2003, originally based on the Quake III arena engine. Arguably the best multiplayer FPS available today – it’s the most played game I’ve personally owned for sure. Black Ops is the standard by which other FPS games are judged, and frankly there are so few that come even close. Why is it so good, then? The multiplayer has been tweaked and developed so much over the years that a 10 minute game is likely to release more adrenaline into your body than most people will experience in a year *. With an incredible degree of customisation, fantastic array of weapons and constant reward mechanisms, it’s a formula that’s likely to keep this game on top – at least until October 22nd, when the next instalment of Battlefield is released!
* Officially made up factoid.
2.– 4.1 million downloads, Nov 2009
To be honest, there isn’t all that much to differentiate this and Black Ops, other than it was produced by a different studio and was slightly less developed in the levelling-up / rewards tweaks. Gameplay was very similar, and multiplayer was fantastic, but the sequel to this fork of the franchise has ended in lengthy legal disputes resulting in Modern Warfare 3 being jointly developed by two studios that are completely new to the franchise. Will it result in slow painful death of the series? Doubtful, but only time will tell.
3. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – 3.96 million downloads, Mar 2010
Another FPS, Battlefield tends to take a wider look at gameplay, rather than focussing on upfront and personal combat. To that effect, Battlefields strong point has always been the inclusion of vehicles, and game objectives are based on area capture and hold rather than straight out kills. Instead of customising various aspects of your soldier, you pick a base class – such as medic – and build up from there. Emphasis is given to having a varied team and being able to work together utilising the different skills. Battlefield 3, due out October this year promises not only the most incredible graphics seen in an FPS yet, but also a breathtaking damage system that will buildings crumble around as they are shot to pieces Definitely worth checking out if you think the straight-up finger-twitching combat of Call of Duty will be a little too much for you.
4. Mafia 2 – 3.55 million downloads, Aug 2010
Mafia seems to have completely passed me by, so I’ve had to refer to external sources for this one I’m afraid. With obvious narrative content, the gameplay centres around a simple mix of shooting, driving, and close combat – though it isn’t particular outstanding in any of them. Facing a variety of critical reviews, the worst being from Eurgamer thant give it a 4/10. 2KGames refuses to release the actual sales figures though, so your guess is as good as mine as to how commercially successful this game really was.
5. Mass Effect 2 – 3.24 million downloads, Jan 2010
A unique game in so many ways, the Mass Effect titles are science-fiction open-world RPGs, with a smattering of FPS thrown in for funsies. A completely new IP, the original game was flawed but presented a strong storyline, the likes of which no other game in this list can parallel. Mass Effect 2 fixed those shortcomings and showed fans what a fantastic game it really could be when given the chance to shine. Not for everyone perhaps, but a star quality game that will be remembered in gaming history.
6. Sims 3 – 3.2 million downloads, June 2009
Though appealing to a somewhat different audience than the rest of the games here, The Sims has undoubtedly been one of the most influential games of the decade. It’s hard to describe it even as a game really – it’s more like an elaborate virtual dolls house. The latest iteration takes your Sim out of the confines of the family home, and let’s them travel to various locations around the city. The sheer level of freedom allows the game to appeal to a wide variety of people – wether they be attracted to making a dream home version of themselves, or perhaps living out an alter-ego fantasy.
7. Starcraft 2 – 3.12 downloads, Jul 2010
The most eagerly anticipated sequel, ever – Starcraft is a pure top-down strategy game with a truly epic following of fanboys – though personally I was always a Command and Conquer kind of guy. Starcraft 2 ignored any evolutions the strategy genre has seen, and chose to take the whole experience to a level of epic retro, with fantastically better graphics and gameplay that’s just as addictive as is always was.
8. Prototype – 2.35 million downloads – Jun 2009
Finally, an original IP in the top 10! An open world game GTA-style with an intriguing storyline and varied missions. For many, the strength of this game lay in the fact you could drive a tank around and throw cars – others liked the unique gameplay opportunities offered by being able to take the shape of other characters in the game. If you merged with a soldier, for example, you could declare someone an enemy combatant and have them taken down, or even call in a limited number of aircraft. Certainly one I’ve added to my LoveFilm rental list.
9. Need for Speed: Shift – 2.1 million downloads, Sep 2009
Taking the series back to it’s racing roots, NFS:Shift represents a midway point between racing realism from the likes of Grand Turismo and joyriding arcade nonsense of BurnOut. Is it the best racing game out there? I doubt it, but that didn’t stop millions of people downloading it to see what all the fuss was about.
10. Street Fighter IV – 1.85 million downloads, July 2009
An arcade classic, Street Fighter IV brought vastly improved graphics and not a lot else in my experience. Cue the hate-mails – I’m sure the underlying button mashing techniques were tweaked, but it felt the same to me.
Personally, I was sad to see not a single Grand Theft Auto game make it into the top 10, despite GTA4 breaking the Guinness World Records for “highest grossing video game in 24 hours” in May 2008. Are there any games you think were a glaring omission here? Don’t forget to check out all our other regular gaming articles too.
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