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Android Dev Claims Piracy Pushed It To Offer App Free

By - Source: Eurogamer | B 37 comments

"Unbelievably high" piracy has pushed an Android developer to offer its app for free.

Mad Finger Games is now claiming that it was forced to offer its latest Zombie-infested title, Dead Trigger, for free because Android piracy is "unbelievably high." Previously the app was offered for a mere $0.99 on Google Play while also utilizing in-app purchases so that gamers could progress faster.

"At first we intend to make this game available for as many people as possible - that's why it was for as little as buck," the company said on Facebook. "It was much less than 8$ for Shadowgun but on the other hand we didn't dare to provide it for free, since we hadn't got XP with free-to-play format so far. However, even for one buck, the piracy rate is soooo giant, that we finally decided to provide Dead Trigger for free."

The in-app purchasing system still exists, but players can complete the game without having to make a purchase, the company said. "All players are able to play it without IAP! We stand up for this statement, because all members of our team are playing (and enjoying) Dead Trigger without IAP."

Is piracy really that rampant on Android? Because of the platform's open-source nature, users can easily install pirated games on their device by simply allowing non-Market apps. Even more, there are apps offered on Google Play that allow users to back up their apps onto a PC, thus making it easy to distribute. There are even social apps listed on Google Play that feature app trading.

Eurogamer reports that Sports Interactive boss Miles Jacobson made a similar complaint earlier this year, saying that pirated copies of Football Manager were being downloaded at a ratio of 9:1, compared to the purchased versions. He pointed out there's no working copy protection on Android, so it's simple to install the pirated app and jump right into the game without having to pay a dime.

"The platform is also very popular in some countries where there's a larger piracy problem than in others," he said. "It's really disappointing that there are so many people out there who love our work, and spend countless hours being entertained by it, but don't think we deserve to get paid for that entertainment. There are no excuses for any form of piracy - if you don't want to pay the price set for a game, don't pay it, and don't play it! Gaming is an entertainment form, it's not a human right."

A study conducted by Yankee Group and Skyhook revealed last year that Apple customers download six times more paid apps than Android consumers. It also showed that Android developers make "much less" money from the sales of paid apps than Apple iOS developers -- 75 of those developers blamed the loss of revenue on "rampant piracy." 53-percent of those developers said Google is "too lax" on its Android Market policies, whereas 27-percent saw Android piracy as a "huge problem."

Currently the iOS version of Dead Trigger still remains as a paid download on iTunes.

 

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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    MoulaZX , July 24, 2012 10:51 AM
    I'd be very happy to pay as much as $10 for a fully fledged decent Android Game. I REFUSE however to play this 'Freemium' bullsh*t a lot of developers seem to be pushing for lately for a game that is pretty cool at first, then you realize after about 30 minutes of play and finishing the tutorials that to make any real further progress you have to pay. So, yea sure $0.99 to buy it, but over the year just to have any decent amount of fun with it, you might end up laying an extra $50 on top? What a joke. I'd happily pirate their crap day in and day out, if this is the future of Android Apps.

    I understand this doesn't solve the piracy issue, but there is no way I'm the only one who is frustrated with this new game model developers are pushing and in turn, turn towards just downloading a cracked version online.

    Thinking out loud for a moment, what if, instead of paying a small fee or just being free, they leave the game free to download then, as the player progresses to different sections of the game, they have to 'unlock' the rest of it by paying the same flat fee, so that in the end the fully unlocked game will cost to the total of say $10-15 for EVERYONE, with no advantages given by the current model of buying in-game currency... And having those unlocks in the form of 'license keys' attached to the Google account the App was downloaded should prevent the piracy... similar to say how when I flash a new ROM on my phone and reinstall "My Backup Pro" on first launch it checks to authenticate the fact I've paid to unlock the full version.
  • 12 Hide
    CaedenV , July 24, 2012 10:48 AM
    last I checked people tend to pirate things that they are curious about, not things that they genuinely want, and want to see more titles of in the future. If my game couldn't sell for $1, then I would be much more concerned about my game being unwanted than I would be about pirates. Besides, they are still making a killing on microtransactions, otherwise they would not bother to dev the game to begin with.
  • 11 Hide
    the_krasno , July 24, 2012 10:56 AM
    I pirated a lot of games. My steam game library has over 200 titles. I buy the things I want, I pirate the things I want to check out.
Other Comments
    Display all 37 comments.
  • 12 Hide
    CaedenV , July 24, 2012 10:48 AM
    last I checked people tend to pirate things that they are curious about, not things that they genuinely want, and want to see more titles of in the future. If my game couldn't sell for $1, then I would be much more concerned about my game being unwanted than I would be about pirates. Besides, they are still making a killing on microtransactions, otherwise they would not bother to dev the game to begin with.
  • -1 Hide
    garrick , July 24, 2012 10:50 AM
    why not have ads and generate revenue that way?
  • 12 Hide
    MoulaZX , July 24, 2012 10:51 AM
    I'd be very happy to pay as much as $10 for a fully fledged decent Android Game. I REFUSE however to play this 'Freemium' bullsh*t a lot of developers seem to be pushing for lately for a game that is pretty cool at first, then you realize after about 30 minutes of play and finishing the tutorials that to make any real further progress you have to pay. So, yea sure $0.99 to buy it, but over the year just to have any decent amount of fun with it, you might end up laying an extra $50 on top? What a joke. I'd happily pirate their crap day in and day out, if this is the future of Android Apps.

    I understand this doesn't solve the piracy issue, but there is no way I'm the only one who is frustrated with this new game model developers are pushing and in turn, turn towards just downloading a cracked version online.

    Thinking out loud for a moment, what if, instead of paying a small fee or just being free, they leave the game free to download then, as the player progresses to different sections of the game, they have to 'unlock' the rest of it by paying the same flat fee, so that in the end the fully unlocked game will cost to the total of say $10-15 for EVERYONE, with no advantages given by the current model of buying in-game currency... And having those unlocks in the form of 'license keys' attached to the Google account the App was downloaded should prevent the piracy... similar to say how when I flash a new ROM on my phone and reinstall "My Backup Pro" on first launch it checks to authenticate the fact I've paid to unlock the full version.
  • 2 Hide
    IndignantSkeptic , July 24, 2012 10:51 AM
    Looks like the entertainment paid for by advertisers business model is the only way to go, but even that might be under threat because I heard some people even telling others about getting certain software to block ads. That's just really low.
  • 11 Hide
    the_krasno , July 24, 2012 10:56 AM
    I pirated a lot of games. My steam game library has over 200 titles. I buy the things I want, I pirate the things I want to check out.
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , July 24, 2012 11:37 AM
    it's a misunderstanding, people don't buy most apps/games because they suck. good things are just really rare these days, but if i see a good game like deus ex 3 or portal 2 i buy them immediately because they're great and because i want to support the developers and show them that their product is popular.
    many millions think like me and don't just buy stuff because it's available, so some developers got the wrong idea of making fast money by releasing useless apps/games.
    it's not piracy, it's common sense
  • -2 Hide
    hokkdawg , July 24, 2012 11:59 AM
    Dear Board of Directors:

    We have taken your XX million dollars and have not produced a quality product to date that will give you a return on your investment.

    But for realz, it's not our fault! Everybody pirates our game! Blame android! Keep giving our software company money, we can't face facts that our people SUCK at writing cool games!

    Sincerely,
    Management of Mad Finger Games

    P.S. We don't want to go get real jobs, it's not our fault our product got pirated.
  • 2 Hide
    doomtomb , July 24, 2012 12:04 PM
    CaedenVlast I checked people tend to pirate things that they are curious about, not things that they genuinely want, and want to see more titles of in the future. If my game couldn't sell for $1, then I would be much more concerned about my game being unwanted than I would be about pirates. Besides, they are still making a killing on microtransactions, otherwise they would not bother to dev the game to begin with.

    You are so wrong. Thats why there are demos of games. If you pirate the whole game then whats stopping you from playing through it all with never paying?
  • 3 Hide
    aggroboy , July 24, 2012 12:15 PM
    CaedenVlast I checked people tend to pirate things that they are curious about, not things that they genuinely want, and want to see more titles of in the future. If my game couldn't sell for $1, then I would be much more concerned about my game being unwanted than I would be about pirates. Besides, they are still making a killing on microtransactions, otherwise they would not bother to dev the game to begin with.

    Do you have any data on human purchasing behaviour and piracy, or are you making all this up?
  • 4 Hide
    Parrdacc , July 24, 2012 12:16 PM
    Okay, I do not play a lot of games on Android or even the Apple iOS, when I had one. The real truth is most of the apps/games are just plain junk, garbage, and sewage made just to get your money. This goes for both Android and Apple. If you take all the current apps/games out there for both; more than half of them are worthless. So pay $.99 only to find out it reeks. No thanks and that my friends is why most people "pirate". They will pay for the good stuff, I have and I am sure countless others have as well after we have put on the knee highs and rubber gloves and waded through all the crab first.

    The problem is not the consumer, but the developers. They need to realize the consumer is no longer forced to buy something just cause it is the only way. Technology has allowed for the consumer to know the true quality of a product now and they will not pay for junk. They will pay for quality though and that is the next problem. Dev's are so used to the old model that has been around for decades in which they develop something then turn around and sell it for whatever sum of money and people will just buy it. Sorry no longer. Wake up. Quality and usefulness, not quality "and/or" usefulness", are what will make you money.
  • 1 Hide
    nhat11 , July 24, 2012 12:39 PM
    So if the same game gets released on 2 different platforms one on droid, the other on the ipad and the ipad version does better (same pricing too and same exact game and performance). What factors made the ipad version sell better than the droid version?
  • 3 Hide
    classzero , July 24, 2012 12:44 PM
    I see that Toms has become a haven for pirates!
  • 5 Hide
    teh_chem , July 24, 2012 1:00 PM
    Quote: "A study conducted by Yankee Group and Skyhook revealed last year that Apple customers download six times more paid apps than Android consumers. It also showed that Android developers make "much less" money from the sales of paid apps than Apple iOS developers -- 75 of those developers blamed the loss of revenue on "rampant piracy." 53-percent of those developers said Google is "too lax" on its Android Market policies, whereas 27-percent saw Android piracy as a "huge problem.""

    I don't believe these numbers actually indicate what's going on. I have an ipod touch, and don't really peruse the app market much (mainly just use it for watching netflix), and I was surprised to see that there really aren't any free apps worth much of anything in the Apple iOS store. Maybe a handful of free versions of games that are ad-sponsored versions of paid games. Contrasted with the Android store that has an overwhelmingly large number of free (and also bad, but that's beside the fact) apps. It is only logical to assume that iOS users would buy more apps--there are more apps that are not free in the apple app store.

    I use an android phone and an android tablet, and I honestly didn't even know that piracy was a problem. When I find an app worth buying, I buy it. If it looks like crap, I don't buy it (and usually there's a legit free alternative to some extent--in terms of "productivity" apps and the like). To be honest, until this article, I didn't even know there were ways to get paid apps without paying.

    Here's the thing--if a game is $0.99, and the dev is complaining that they are not getting the revenue they were expecting and that it's due to piracy, I honestly refuse to believe that the game would otherwise have done well. $0.99 is a throw-away purchase. If the game looked to be any good at all, people would buy it. If it wasn't, they won't. It's not like we're talking about a $100 game here. Most people don't think twice to buy a $0.99 game.

    This all just reeks as an excuse for not producing the product they thought would net money. SOOOOO many other games and apps are extremely successful despite this "rampant piracy." Explain that.

    nhat11So if the same game gets released on 2 different platforms one on droid, the other on the ipad and the ipad version does better (same pricing too and same exact game and performance). What factors made the ipad version sell better than the droid version?

    I would honestly say it's due to an entirely different userbase. What you really need to see is the general distribution of who buys similar games on similar platforms. Like I mentioned, there have been extraordinarily successful similar games on Android, which lends some weight to the quality of the game being the problem, not the ability to pirate it.
  • 2 Hide
    mayne92 , July 24, 2012 1:16 PM
    CaedenVlast I checked people tend to pirate things that they are curious about, not things that they genuinely want, and want to see more titles of in the future. If my game couldn't sell for $1, then I would be much more concerned about my game being unwanted than I would be about pirates. Besides, they are still making a killing on microtransactions, otherwise they would not bother to dev the game to begin with.

    Piracy is more of a scapegoat than anything for companies. They see users using their software and automatically make claim that those are lost revenues when in reality (IMHO) not everybody who pirates were actually going to buy the software. I agree, software companies make a killing off of in-app purchases because really you can't be competitive unless you play every day for a year like in most games I played. Simply is no fun.
  • 2 Hide
    cafsentrygnome , July 24, 2012 1:28 PM
    i think part of the problem is that when you go to buy an app you get asked for a credit card. what if you don't have one, cant get one or don't want one? well you cant pay for it can you. With iOS on the other hand you can go to the local shop or post office and buy an iTunes card and put some credit on your account, just like a prepaid phone. why are there not google cards? and if there is why have i never seen them?
  • 1 Hide
    AndrewMD , July 24, 2012 1:29 PM
    This is not the first time developers have stated this problem. Android community is based on mostly free phones. The community of Android users are divided by people that want an Android based phone and the other half that got one because it was free and offered similar services to comparable to other smart phones. It is this later half that also believes it is okay to get software for free or have an entitlement that it should be free.

  • 1 Hide
    alidan , July 24, 2012 2:05 PM
    aggroboyDo you have any data on human purchasing behaviour and piracy, or are you making all this up?


    simple. i know a crap ton of people who pirate first, buy if they like.
    really with todays entertainment, try before you buy is the way to go, not saying piracy, but renting, or anything that you can do to see whatever it is before you buy.

    people who pirate a game or anything, and never buy it but finish it, would never have bought it in the first place, and this is YEARS of anecdotal evidence, and people talking candidly about it.

    i many not have used every word above the way it was meant to... im really tired right now.

  • -1 Hide
    cptnjarhead , July 24, 2012 3:20 PM
    "Gaming is an entertainment form, it's not a human right"

    yes and nether is healthcare, but people people still believe that it is!
    pirating is stealing.. period!
  • 1 Hide
    f-14 , July 24, 2012 5:31 PM
    MoulaZXI'd be very happy to pay as much as $10 for a fully fledged decent Android Game. I REFUSE however to play this 'Freemium' bullsh*t a lot of developers seem to be pushing for lately for a game that is pretty cool at first, then you realize after about 30 minutes of play and finishing the tutorials that to make any real further progress you have to pay. So, yea sure $0.99 to buy it, but over the year just to have any decent amount of fun with it, you might end up laying an extra $50 on top? What a joke. I'd happily pirate their crap day in and day out, if this is the future of Android Apps.I understand this doesn't solve the piracy issue, but there is no way I'm the only one who is frustrated with this new game model developers are pushing and in turn, turn towards just downloading a cracked version online.Thinking out loud for a moment, what if, instead of paying a small fee or just being free, they leave the game free to download then, as the player progresses to different sections of the game, they have to 'unlock' the rest of it by paying the same flat fee, so that in the end the fully unlocked game will cost to the total of say $10-15 for EVERYONE, with no advantages given by the current model of buying in-game currency... And having those unlocks in the form of 'license keys' attached to the Google account the App was downloaded should prevent the piracy... similar to say how when I flash a new ROM on my phone and reinstall "My Backup Pro" on first launch it checks to authenticate the fact I've paid to unlock the full version.

    i feel the same way.
    i whole heartedly agree, the idea is right on, the app should included the first 3 maps or so, and inorder to get the rest of the game you have to buy it and the app dev will provide the rest in a d/l.
    just like the trial cds retail stores have or used to have until developers realized their POS console games were crippling their (pc) sales.
  • -3 Hide
    eddieroolz , July 24, 2012 5:45 PM
    One would be crazy to develop for Android with the expectation of an income. That simply doesn't happen on Android.
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