While the old 1 pirated copy = 1 lost sale math is certainly suspect, there haven’t been a lot of long term studies on what piracy actually does to sales. One pirate group is taking research into their own hands.
As of today, the start of the Chinese New Year, the asiatic group 3DM will be suspending all cracks of single-player games for at least one year as they wait “to see if genuine sales have grown,”. This is the same group which recently speculated that the . The Denuvo Anti-Tamper technology that led to this supposition is still as-yet-broken, but there’s no indication if this particular difficulty has contributed to 3DM’s suspension of its efforts.
The real question is how 3DM intends to see the sales effects in any meaningful way. Market forces are weird, wild things, and regardless of how PC game sales go over the next year, I don’t see any way for folks to conclusively determine what is or isn’t a result of piracy, especially given that hard data on digital sales is rarely made available publicly.
While obtrusive DRM often gets real sketchy, straight-up theft probably isn’t the right answer, though opponents are likely right that the increasing obtrusive DRM leads to more pirated copies. GOG.com seems to be having great success with its DRM-free sales, but Steam has hit even greater heights with its streamlined, integrated digital rights solutions. It’s a super-messy topic, and one I don’t expect 3DM’s sudden abstention to solve.