Gamasutra is featuring an interesting article about piracy of casual games. Starting from the mind-boggling statistic that 92% of Reflexive's Ricochet Infinity games are pirated, Russell Carroll then examines the impact of anti-piracy measures on the number of people buying the game. His conclusion: for every thousand pirated copies prevented, only one of those becomes a paying customer. Damn.
Pirates Steal Software, Not Sales
Carroll ultimately states, "a pirated copy is more like the loss of a download than the loss of a sale." This is congruent with my experience of piracy: pirates take games they would not buy (and some they would). The value of having the pirate play the game is not taken into account, and often, once the pirate can afford games, he will buy those games that are worth it (much like all of those college kids that download a bunch of music then end up buying the CDs with songs they really liked).