Gamemaker says Asian pirates win by 10 to 1

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 June, 2003, 12:00am

Japanese video gamemaker Capcom blames rampant software piracy for hindering its Asian expansion and says it keeps its Hong Kong office operating only to show its commitment to the market.

The company said it did not bring games pirates to court because it was too costly and time consuming. 'Any kind of legal action can easily cost up to US$1 million,' Capcom's Asia chief executive Shunzo Ito said.

He said Capcom kept its Hong Kong office open just to show it was committed to the Asian market.

'The Asian video gaming market is suffering from the illegal production of pirated video games,' Mr Ito said. 'For every original game produced and sold, there will also be 10 pirated copies that are sold in the market.' Market watchers estimate that the global video gaming industry lost more than US$3 billion last year in sales due to piracy. Mr Ito said it was impossible to estimate how much Capcom had lost.

Late last month, Japanese gamemaker Nintendo won a court judgment against Hong Kong-based Lik Sang International for selling devices which allowed users to copy its games and upload them onto the Internet. Lik Sang was ordered to pay interim damages of $5 million. Mr Ito said the judgment was 'very supportive to us'. Due to China's reputation as a major markets for pirated software, game giants such as Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony Corp have avoided it or delayed product launches.

The companies have been seeking co-operation from Chinese trademark authorities in conducting raids since the new World Trade Organisation member began taking intellectual property protection more seriously.