Chinese hackers have admitted defeat in their attempt to pirate a new video game release and warned that increasingly sophisticated software could wipe out piracy in the gaming industry altogether.
Piracy is highly damaging to the video game industry. In 2014, total revenue lost due to pirated games was approximately $74 billion and almost 2.5 billion pirated games were downloaded, according to research released last year by Tru Optik.
But this trend may be set to change. Streaming website TorrentFreak reported last week that the founder of Chinese pirating forum 3DM has admitted in a blog post that they were unable to pirate the game Just Cause 3, released in December.
"The last stage is too difficult and Jun nearly gave up, but last Wednesday I encouraged him to continue," the founder, known by her internet handle "Phoenix", said.
"I still believe that this game can be compromised. But according to current trends in the development of encryption technology, in two years' time I'm afraid there will be no free games to play in the world," she added.
Even if the game is eventually pirated, it will have taken 3DM more than a month to do so. Most games are hacked and released by pirates within days, if not hours, of a game's release, reducing the game's initial sales window.
One reason for their difficultly is that the game uses anti-tampering technology by Austrian company Denuvo, which protects any Digital Rights Management system (a common anti-piracy measure) a game has.
"Our Anti-Tamper software helps to secure software and harden DRM systems for software such as games or business software," Reinhard Blaukovitsch, chief executive and co-founder of Denuvo, to CNBC via email.
Blaukovitsch was skeptical the technology would put an end to piracy, but it would help.
"We have a realistic view and do not claim that our software will withstand all cracking attempts and wipe out piracy in the future," he said.
"Especially in the games business, we focus on helping publishers to secure the initial sales window of their games – thus delaying piracy."
However, does delaying piracy actually lead to increased sales? In 2012, Marcin Iwinski, chief executive of Polish game developer CD Projekt Red, argued that pirated games do not represent lost revenue.
"It really puzzles me how serious software companies can consider each pirated copy to be a lost sale," said Iwinski in an interview with Forbes.
"Gamers download (pirate copies) because it's easy, fast, and, frankly, costs nothing. If they like the game and they start investing the time, some of them will go and buy it."