Piracy on Android and iOS an interview with MadFinger Games

first_imgNo matter the platform, no matter the content, there are people out there who feel that pirating what they want is the way to go. Sometimes it is because the content is not available in the way they wish to consume it. Sometimes the content is not available for sale in their geographic area or in a time frame that they consider reasonable. It gets justified with statements like this one by Wind-up Knight developer Chris Pruett, who recently wrote that “a huge number of people who pirate software would never buy it in a million years”. For the small Czech Republic based MadFinger Games, app piracy is very real. In fact, it’s something they are forced to deal with every day.The MadFinger backstoryFollowing a brief post on Facebook explaining why the price for Dead Trigger had changed on the Play Store, MadFinger faced a huge wave of press and far more attention than they had intended. The post was just meant as a quick note to explain why the price had changed, and MadFinger found themselves as the new poster child for the software piracy levels on Android. To make matters worse, more than a couple of users took to social networks very unhappy with MadFinger for making the game they just purchased free.During my interview with MadFinger co-founder Marek Rabas, he said that the response to their little Facebook post was overwhelming and demotivating. “It was never our intention to make users upset.” said Rabas when asked how many users were unhappy. In the end, Rabas explained that it was a pretty small group of people that were upset about the decision, but it had to be done. This wasn’t a new maneuver from MadFinger, either. Another title, Shadowgun, was dropped to $1 after the first month the game was on iOS, and on Android it plummeted from $5 to $0.50 very quickly. The only difference with Dead Trigger was that the price drop didn’t stop the pirates.So why drop the price to zero? Does that really stop piracy? Rabas was unable to answer that question, stating that MadFinger hadn’t collected enough information yet to see if piracy had decreased after the drop. “We’re a small firm” he explained “and we had to focus on a game patch first”. Apparently, there was a game save floating around that granted users nearly infinite resources to buy whatever you wanted from the store, and stopping that was a priority for MadFinger.Global piracyThere’s an assumption that the large majority of the software piracy data that is shown includes China. Since you can’t buy apps on Android if you are in China, app piracy is supposed to be significantly higher there. In fact, during my conversation with Marek Rabas he noted that they don’t include China when they look at piracy for their games, because piracy is just as bad on iOS in China. Even though you are able to make app purchases on an iPhone in China, Rabas said that of the thousands of Shadowgun users in China, only 61 people in China have actually paid for the app.While Mr. Rabas was unable to provide me with exact number, he said that the US was home to a “significant portion” of app piracy. On Facebook, MadFinger stated that the Android app piracy for Dead Trigger was much higher than iOS. In fact, Rabas noted that the piracy levels on iOS are even lower than they are for Shadowgun on iOS. Shadowgun, which is also a MadFinger title, has been out for much longer than Dead Trigger, still sees a high piracy rate on iOS as well as Android.In my opinion, Dead Trigger is a much better game than Shadowgun, which could explain why there are fewer people willing to pirate the game on iOS. If they know it is a quality game, perhaps those users have decided it’s worth the $.99 to take out your frustration on the undead horde while waiting in line somewhere. Or perhaps the games aren’t stolen as much on iOS because the users who are pirating apps know that the real savings is pirating once you are inside the game.App Piracy vs In App PiracyDead Trigger is designed to encourage in app purchases. When you start a level, the game will recommend what weapons are best for the mission ahead and the store is filled with items that you can only purchase with gold bricks. After 30 hours of gameplay, I have earned just three of the fifty gold bricks I need for the weapon I want. I could keep playing… or I could spend $0.99 and get a whole pile of gold bricks to load up my character with. MadFinger doesn’t force you to ever spend a dollar once you are in the game, you can absolutely play and enjoy the game with the weapons you earn by mission grinding for cash. It is, however, far more satisfying to play the game with the larger weapons.Dead Trigger may be seeing more sales on iOS when it comes to purchasing the game, but according to MadFinger the in app purchasing setup for iOS is a regular problem. Compared to Android users, Marek Rabas noted that iOS users are significantly more likely to make in app purchases. Android users just don’t make that many IAP’s, at least not for Dead Trigger. Alongside those higher in app purchase levels, Dead Trigger sees significant in app piracy rates for iOS. Rabas commented that Android users hardly ever pirate in app purchases, due largely to Apple’s implementation of IAP being worse than Google’s.“Jelly Bean and iOS 6 will help”Google and Apple have been aware of the piracy issues their platforms face for some time now. Google’s “Bouncer” among other solutions have already started to show some results, and Apple has already noted that iOS 6 will have some new app security features. The biggest place that piracy happens on Android now for MadFinger games is Android 2.3. During my interview with MadFinger, Rabas said that app piracy is far less an issue on Android 4.1. The app encryption features that come along with Android 4.1 are making a big difference for firms like MadFinger.Unfortunately, if any app developer were to limit a game to the most recent version of Android, there would comparably very few people able to play the game. Android 2.3 is still the most common version of Android, and it will likely be some time before that changes. For iOS users, version 6 will be available to almost every Apple product within the next few months, and the app pirates will have to find a new way to get their apps.last_img read more