Android game developer makes title free because of piracy

Aaron Souppouris for The Verge:

Dead Trigger, a zombie FPS for smartphones from the makers of Shadowgun, is now free to download on Android thanks to rampant piracy on the platform. In a statement on Facebook, developer Madfinger Games says that even at $0.99, the piracy rate on Android devices was “unbelievably high.”

Anecdotally, I’ve heard similar stories from other game developers. While piracy on jailbroken iPhones can lead to a loss of income for iOS developers as well, most everyone agrees that the problem isn’t just rampant on Android devices – it’s endemic.

  • Now that sucks. It is devastating to invest that much time for naught.

  • When it’s easier to buy stuff than it is to pirate stuff, people buy stuff. It’s only a buck – why would you not pay?

    The iTunes stores have made paying for decent trusted content, a reliable experience. It is easy to buy content, and you know that content is what you want.

    Yes, it can be bypassed by jailbreaking the target device and fiddling stuff – but it’s a pain to do. What’s more, when the OS of the target device is updated, it then needs to be jailbroken again. (It’s an easy target to say that Android devices generally don’t get OS updates, but I can’t resist. Sorry.)

    Android is a mess. It’s almost like it’s ‘open’, but in all the wrong ways.

    • The purchase experience is the same on both devices.

      Find app Click Buy Agree [Android] or Password [iOS] App installs

      If someone wants to steal, they will. Purchase ease is not a factor.

      • Nerdr

        Piracy is different between devices. It is much harder to load pirate content onto an iphone than an Android device. That’s the kicker here not the buying process.

        I’d also add the average income of an Android user is probably lower too.

        • See my other comment below about loading pirated apps.

          The average income argument is a poor one, same for the average education.

    • Stephan

      Why When its easier to pirate the software then enter your credit card information. If the developers wanted to stop this they could but they would have to close backdoors into the phones as they wont do that the problem will continue on every device no matter if its apple android or windows

  • He’s not suggesting purchase ease is a factor. He’s saying that low quality apps and easy piracy allow people to better rationalize piracy on Android than they do on iOS. Ease of purchase, as you said, is comparable between them. As for the rest, I don’t know Android well enough to comment on how easy it is to pirate. I just thought I’d clarify what he said.

    • Understood. In that case, I agree. Piracy on Android is by far easier since you can just download an APK and install it directly.

      From my understanding of the docs, haven’t done it myself, you can use their licensing service and prevent it but maybe that can be gotten around as well [seeing as APKs are just zip files, in essence].

    • selonmoi

      He said, “When it’s easier to buy stuff than it is to pirate stuff, people buy stuff. It’s only a buck.”

      It is significantly easier to buy an app from Play Store than it is to find a pirated version to sideload. His argument is a mess.

  • Hmmmmmm. The game has a number of in app purchases on iOS, and we’ve been hearing about how the iOS game market is increasingly moving to free to play.

    I’m not surprised to hear that Android has high piracy rates, but that seems to be only part of the story.

  • Hgjhgjhg

    Maybe the game just sucked? Never look for a complex answer to a simple question…

    • Big K

      It really did. Game in question is actually pay-for-play, but that fact is never mentioned on market page nor trailer. Devs gone even so far as mangling screenshots and screencaps in said trailer and hiding shop for first two or three missions so player is not able to request refund when he encounters shop for first time.

      This caused small rage amid gaming community here and I wouldn’t be very surprised if it were actual cause for low sales of game.

      • Yeah – but maybe if Android had a better revenue model and less piracy, then this software wouldn’t have -this- revenue model.

        For me (British user of a non-network-locked original Samsung Galaxy Tab phone, with a slightly flaky Android 2.3.3 and interested in any legal updates that don’t break the thing), as far as I know I can’t pay for apps through the phone; I’d have to register my credit card with Google – and I haven’t done that yet. I’m rather afraid to. I’m afraid of Paypal as well. So basically, software publishers are only earning from me through advertising in their apps.

        As I understand, a app can be deleted for a refund only for fifteen minutes after purchasing, which seriously isn’t enough. If there was a version of the Fitaly on-screen keyboard for Android – which I’d very much like, but isn’t on the cards as a legal version, except with Palm emulation (remember Palm!), or if you make them a nice offer – it takes at least a couple of weeks to learn to use efficiently.

        Rather sadly, I don’t have friends who recommend apps and other accessories for my phone.

        • The revenue model is practically the same as the App Store: 70/30 + in-app purchases. What revenue model changes are needed? :-/

          Also, there isn’t a Galaxy Tab phone. Did you mean one of the S phones?

          Refunds used to be an hour, or so, but developers hated it. 15 minutes was chosen as that is enough time to determine if you like the app/game or not.

          As for providing your credit card, you have to do that with EVERY app store on the planet. Once you do it is easy as pie to pay for apps, easier than iOS because you don’t need a password unless you change your settings to require a pin.

  • trans

    I call Bullshit. There will always be a small contingent of people, usually young people, that get a kick out of pirating. But for the majority of people a reasonable price like a $1 is easy purchase choice and with it you get the added value of security.

    So, I am highly suspect of their claim. I’d need to know more, but I wonder what kind of privacy holes this game opens you up to, and/or it has in game purchases. At the very least, it seems like an easy way to get some press and maybe sell some other titles by giving one away.

    • Sdfs

      I think you shouldn’t have done that since there will always be people that will pay for your game if it is good. Probably your piracy mainly comes from cheap device that sometimes do not even have the Android Market like chinese tablets.

  • This doesn’t make any sense. Rampant piracy as a reason to stop developing for a platform in the future, that would be one thing, but making it free because of rampant piracy? What possible purpose does that serve?

  • Guest

    I don’t see why anyone would say the average income issue isn’t relevant. Apple users are rich and have a proven track record of being willing to spend money on just about anything. Android users will hardly ever buy an app, and that is true even if they don’t bother with pirating.

    • Wrong on so many levels.

    • Ishtiaq

      Apple users are rich? How my bank manager wishes…