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'One in five console gamers is a pirate'

Or so Macrovision claims in a new study showing that 21 per cent of Xbox and PS2 gamers are using illegal software.

A new study conducted by California-based firm Macrovision claims that one in five Xbox and PS2 gamers is using pirated software - but that three quarters of them would have paid for the games if they hadn't been available for free.

The company - which is a provider of anti-piracy solutions, so it does admittedly have something of a vested interest in the findings - surveyed 6000 console game players during February for the study.

Other notable statistics include the claim that 43 per cent of the pirates in the survey acquire over 15 games per year, while almost three quarters - 74 per cent - get their games from online services such as peer to peer networks, with only 21 per cent copied from friends.

64 per cent of those who play pirated games, meanwhile, use a chipped console to do so - with the remainder presumably taking advantage of the ability to mod consoles such as the Xbox without the use of a physical chip.

No statistics were provided, however, on how many people with modded consoles do not play pirate games - which would have been interesting to see, given the strong community of homebrew developers that has sprung up around both the Xbox and PS2.

"The prevalence of high-speed Internet, and the availability of pirated games on websites and peer-to-peer networks, have made downloading pirated games relatively easy and widespread," according to Macrovision executive vice president Steve Weinstein. "Game piracy will increase rapidly over the coming months and years as gamers hone their downloading methods and behaviours," he warned.