Call of Duty: Black Ops has picked up another title for its popularity, but this is one that Activision won't be too thrilled about hearing about - it is the most pirated game of 2010.
With legit copies of the game being shipped to around 18 million homes (including 5.6 million in the first 24 hours of its release), you would be forgiven for thinking that most people interested in the title had gone out and purchased it.But figures released by TorrentFreak (from several sources, including reports from all public BitTorrent trackers) show that the game has been illegally downloaded 5.2 million times; with 4.27 million for the PC version and 930,000 on the Xbox 360.
This puts Black Ops well over a million downloads ahead of its closest "rival" Battlefield: Bad Company 2, which was downloaded 3.96 million times for the PC. Third place in the PC chart went to Mafia 2 (3.55 million), fourth was Mass Effect 2 (3.24 million) and fifth was Starcraft II (3.12 million).
The PC numbers are well ahead of the Xbox 360 figures, due to the ease of pirating games on this platform, although Microsoft and the relevant publishers won't be pleased that over a million people downloaded pirated Xbox 360 versions of Dante's Inferno (1.28 million), Alan Wake (1.14 million) and Red Dead Redemption (1.06 million) and almost a million downloaded a pirate copy of Halo: Reach.
On the Wii, Super Mario Galaxy 2 (1.47 million) led the illegal download counter, ahead of Wii Party (1.22 million), Donkey Kong Country Returns (920,000), Kirby's Epic Yarn (880,000) and Red Steel 2 (850,000).
The games industry will be please however that the level of piracy isn't anywhere near that of the movie industry. TorrentFreak recently reported that Avatar was illegally downloaded 16.58 million times in 2010, with five other movies all being downloaded more than 8 million times (Kick-Ass, Inception, Shutter Island, Iron Man 2 and Clash of the Titans).
With the government and ISPs trying to put into place measures to reduce copyright issues online, it appears that they've got a fight on their hands. There be plenty of pirates out on those online seas, ooh-arr.