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App Store Developer Speaks Out On Game Piracy 762

Posted by Soulskill
from the arr-me-hearties dept.
theguythatwrotethisthing sends in a write-up of his experience releasing an iPhone game on the App Store. By using a software flag to distinguish between high scores submitted by pirates and those submitted by users who purchased the game, the piracy rate is estimated at around 80% during the first week after release. Since a common excuse for piracy is "try before you buy," they also looked at the related iPhone DeviceIDs to see how many of the pirates went on to purchase the game. None of them did.
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App Store Developer Speaks Out On Game Piracy

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:17AM (#29855037)

    Harrr!

    • Re:First pirate! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Frosty Piss (770223) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @06:18AM (#29855237)
      The "try before you buy" excuse that people give as a reason to pirate (very popular here at Slashdot) has always been a steaming pile of bullshit, as is the tale that PirateBay is primarily used for legitimate torrent downloads. Pure bullshit. Honestly, it's difficult to take people that say these things seriously.

      But of course, information wants to be free as in beer at a frat party. Stallman says so.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        All this example shows is that the system works. They tried. It sucked. They didn't buy.

        • Re:First pirate! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by telchine (719345) * on Saturday October 24, 2009 @07:11AM (#29855421)

          I think it's a biased sample. It only counts those that have submitted a high score.

          I'd have thought that if an honest person liked the game, they'll buy it before the stage where they start getting good at it and start submitting high scores.

          I think the sample here is selecting only those that have gone past the point where an honest person would buy the game.

      • by WoLpH (699064)

        It might be bullshit for most people, but I know multiple persons that will buy (including myself) after trying the game if we like it.

        However... if it's a crappy game that's $20 for 2-3 hours of fun, than I won't buy it. If it's a game that offers days of fun and is well built. Than I'll buy it.

        So my question here, how crappy is his game?

      • right and wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

        by aepervius (535155)
        This is probably not a story of 100% being a pirate or anything, but mostly a landscape of lighter and darker grays.When I started buying game, i bought a lot. Why ? Despite good reviews, a lot of them ended up being utter crap, or with a lot of bugs. So I started "pirating" them game to check them up, then if they were crap I would not buy them. But nowadays ANOTHER problem has cropped up. The game is very very very short. So while I try the game I already finish it in the afternoon. Should I buy it since
      • Re:First pirate! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Gadget_Guy (627405) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @07:31AM (#29855483)

        When I was a pennyless student, I pirated software because collecting titles was the goal. We all did it. When I started earning money of my own, I would buy anything that lasted on my computer for more than a week. (And back in those days, it wasn't as easy to finish a game as it is now)

        The theory was that if I got more than a week's value out of something then it was worth keeping. See - try before you buy.

        After a while, I got more money, but had less time. I started to buy games (in big spending sprees) only to find later that I had never even installed the game once. I am currently going through my backlog of titles - 107 in total, some of which I have to run in DOSBox! If a pirate is someone who plays a game without buying it, what is the name for someone who buys a game without playing it?

        On second thoughts, maybe I don't want to know the answer.

      • Re:First pirate! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @07:57AM (#29855607) Journal

        >>>The "try before you buy" excuse that people give as a reason to pirate (very popular here at Slashdot) has always been a steaming pile of bullshit
        >>>

        No it isn't. Just because I downloaded 90210 or an iPhone App doesn't mean I don't use the "try before buy" model. If I don't buy 80% of what I download, it's because 80% of it is shit. (Or worse: "99% of any genre is trash"-Isaac Asimov). BUT if it's good then I will buy it. Just take a gander of what's on my shelf:

        - Star Trek TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY, ENT
        - Babylon 5
        - Earth Final Conflict (seasons 1 and 4)
        - BSG complete collection
        - Stargate SG1 complete
        - Stargate SGA complete
        - Red Dwarf complete
        - All in the Family 1,2,3,4,5
        - Random movies: Gone with the Wind, Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, the Abbott & Costello Collection, .....
        - random music: Greatest Hits of 1980, 1981, ..., 1999. Depeche Mode GH, R.E.M. GH, and on and on and on
        - Random games: About 100 Atari titles, ~50 SNES titles, ~50 N64 titles, and literally hundreds of PS1/PS2/Gamecube discs.
        - and on and on and on

        Yes I "try before buy" a lot of stuff off the net. And a big chunk of it is trash so I don't buy that trash. This is Not a bullshit approach to consumerism, but a SMART approach to consumerism because it keeps ME wealthy, and it keeps YOU the bastard corporation from sucking away all my dollars. (Of course you then beg politicians for 2000 billion dollar bailouts, but that's a separate issue.)

  • by amRadioHed (463061) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:18AM (#29855041)

    But seriously, I think the app store really needs to give you a trial period before you have to pay for apps. So many of the programs out there are crap, I'm not willing to pay for 5 programs just to find one that does what I want.

    • by palegray.net (1195047) <{philip.paradis} {at} {palegray.net}> on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:25AM (#29855057) Homepage Journal
      If an app is good, you should be able to find independently written positive reviews for it. There's always the score provided in the app store, too. I release most of my code under BSD/GPL licenses, but I absolutely require people to abide by the terms as I own the copyrights. There's no excuse for violating the rights of others, regardless of how little faith you might have in "so many of the programs" available for purchase. If you've got that little faith in the app store, maybe you shouldn't bother with it in the first place.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vivaelamor (1418031)

        To sum it up then, 'play by our rules or you're a bad person'?

        I won't write an essay of why ownership of copyright is arbitrary and I won't explain why there are differences between your rights as given by law and your rights as given by mutual need because that gets discussed a lot already. I will say that not doing something ineffectual because someone has convinced you it is morally wrong is a blight on peoples capacity to make those decisions for themselves and a counter-intuitive to achieve mutual goal

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Or, maybe the pirates are only after free stuffz, and the try before you buy ideology is just something they (we) have learned to say in order to justify pirating.

      Now that I think about it, why would I pay for something I can get for free?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Now that I think about it, why would I pay for something I can get for free?

        To recognise and reward the effort put in by the developer for something that was useful or fun for you.

      • If you delete it after 24 hours then it's ok. Al Gore made sure to include that law when inventing the internet.
    • Yeah amazingly absolutely no thieves thought it was good yet people who bought the game have liked it and his sales are increasing thanks in part to word of mouth.
    • by Haeleth (414428) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @07:51AM (#29855575) Journal

      You don't tend to get a high score unless you play the game. Why were all these people playing the game if it sucked?

  • by mikael_j (106439) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:23AM (#29855051)

    It seems strange to me considering the pricing and how much more convenient it is (at least IMO) to just use the App store. In fact, all the apps I've got on my iPhone are from the App store and were either free there or I paid for them.

    That's not to say I'm fervently anti-piracy, I'll admit that I've downloaded a fair amount of movies, music and software in my life but it's almost always been because it was too expensive, not yet released where I live or simply much more convenient to do so.

    As an example, a piece large expensive "professional" software that I want to use at home for fun or some minor non-commercial purpose isn't something I'm about to pony up $300 or whatever it costs for (I try to use open source when there is a good alternative), I've also downloaded games simply because I wasn't willing to pay full price to play it once for a few hours with a friend or two and then never play again. As for music and movies it tends to be a combination of pricing ($20 for an album I've never heard that probably only has a handful of good songs?), convenience (DRM) and it simply not being available where I live yet (woohoo, ordering Region 1 DVDs from the US). But a $4 iPhone game that can be downloaded in a minute at the click of a button? That seems pointless to me...

    /Mikael

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JonathanBoyd (644397)

      Sounds like you're just making excuses to justify yourself.

      If something's expensive, why do you feel the right to watch it/listen to it/use it, when others have to pay? Isn't it more ethical to just not pay? As for convenience, that's no excuse at all, it's just laziness. Given the ease of legally downloading these days, it's even less of an excuse. As for pirating professional software for 'fun' or 'non-commercial' use, if you don't need all the features, then why not get a more limited program that does w

      • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:54AM (#29855151) Homepage Journal

        >>As for convenience, that's no excuse at all, it's just laziness. Given the ease of legally downloading these days, it's even less of an excuse.

        When I bought MATLAB, it came in the mail nearly 9 months after I began the process to buy it. We had licensed some MATLAB code that we needed to pay a yearly royalty fee on it, so this delay would have cost me XX,000 dollars had I not had access to computer labs with MATLAB on it to run and debug the code on it.

        The best part is? When they finally mailed it out to us, 6 months after billing my company / me thousands of dollars for it, they forgot to put the software in the box. Sure, it had a packing slip that said the CD should be in there, but nothing was inside the box but a manual. Their online download system is a POS as well.

      • by ivucica (1001089)
        I don't use it, but if I wanted to, I would not be able to, so I'll ask: are prices for 3ds max fair? That's abuse of monopoly if you ask me. Autodesk is going around buying any piece of modelling software that's worth anything, and then charging ridiculous prices. So it would not surprise me if the piracy of 3ds max is be enormous.
      • by discord5 (798235) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @09:21AM (#29856071)

        As for convenience, that's no excuse at all, it's just laziness. Given the ease of legally downloading these days, it's even less of an excuse.

        Here are a few examples of convenience:

        • Legally bought version of MathCAD (1300€ - license for 1 PC). The user has to wait 3 weeks for the package to arrive, and then installs it on his computer. The license manager fails in a spectacular way, resulting in the user uninstalling the application and installing it on another computer. The license however has already been tied to the computer he originally installed it on, and is now no longer valid for another computer. After 3 weeks of contacting the company we've still not made any progress. The user has in the meantime acquired other means to do his work in far less time and far less hassle (although legally not that quite nice). Convenient indeed.
        • Aforementioned user needed to use a software package developed by a partner to finish a project. This package came with a licensing product that installs itself and binds itself to port 8080, where you can conveniently upload a key that the software producer generates for you based on your MAC address (of all things). The licensing software contained a bug which made it freak out on computers with two network cards (which is default on many desktops these days). The result was a lot of mails going back and forth between the partner and us, where we were eventually told to wait until the 3rd party copyright protection library fixed their bug. After 2 weeks of waiting the user searched for a crack and applied it and finished his project. 2 months after the deadline a bugfix was issued.
        • An uncle of mine decided to use iTunes for his music needs. I can only applaud him for abandoning his luddite ways and converting to digital era. He decides to purchase about 300$ worth of jazz music, so he can put them on an mp3 player and enjoy his music without his wife complaining about the noise (a fervent music hater). He's convinced by his friends to buy something else than an iPod, which unfortunately cannot play iTunes DRM'ed format. He is now a big fan of various p2p services that allow him to download entire jazz cds for free, and the words "iTunes" and "scam" are mentioned in the same sentence. Sadly I am unable to change his mind on the subject.
        • My perfectly legally purchases copy of windows XP is currently in the process of reminding me that I might be running counterfeit software. I've decided not to bother with it at the time and give windows 7 (legally purchased, currently en route to me via snail mail) a try. I'm sure that if I google a bit I'll find enough ways to disable WGA until the next update.

        I'm sure that anyone here can come up with more examples that disprove that piracy is far more convenient these days than buying a legal copy in many instances. I'm not saying that piracy is ok, because it really isn't, but when it comes to convenience it stands undefeated in most cases. The two users I named beside myself are both the typical Joe Sixpack which slashdot likes to shun, and both of them have found their way to the pirated good on their own, and managed to find this approach much more convenient that the correct way of doing things.

        I believe that says a lot about the current state of affairs of copyright protection, and I personally long back for the days where the only thing that harassed me was a serial number on the inside of a box. In the case of software I find it inexcusable that when you've paid a considerable amount of money for a piece of software that you're being treated like a thief. In the case of iTunes... Well, despite that my uncle should've bought the correct piece of hardware, his mp3 player works very well and he's quite satisfied with it regretting the money he spent on a format he can only listen to on his computer.

        The more we decide to burden legitimate users with hassles, the more likely it will be they will turn into pirates, which will result in lost s

    • by BorgDrone (64343) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:33AM (#29855095) Homepage

      (..) I've downloaded a fair amount of movies, music and software in my life but it's almost always been because it was too expensive, not yet released where I live or simply much more convenient to do so. (...) But a $4 iPhone game that can be downloaded in a minute at the click of a button? That seems pointless to me...

      Same here, I've spent more money on software in the year I've had my iPhone than in the decade before that. If I can buy a great game like Monkey Island for a few euro's it's not even worth the effort to pirate it.

      I would happily pay an honest price for (on-demand) movies and series if only it was as convenient as buying app-store apps and if it would actually be available over here. For example: the new Stargate series, it'll be years before it's on TV here, and they'll probably mess up the order (I have no clue why they do this, but they can's seem to ever show any series in the correct order over here), stop halfway through a season, broadcast it at random times, etc. It's almost as if they don't want people to follow the series.

      • by kalidasa (577403)
        In the US, you can download the episodes straight to your iPhone, $1.99 for standard def, the morning after the air. I just downloaded episode 5 a minute ago (but in high def to a computer at $2.99). The series is very obviously patterning its visual and dramatic style, and some of the character development, after BSG.
      • by Carthag (643047) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @06:10AM (#29855209) Homepage

        For example: the new Stargate series, it'll be years before it's on TV here, and they'll probably mess up the order (I have no clue why they do this, but they can's seem to ever show any series in the correct order over here), stop halfway through a season, broadcast it at random times, etc. It's almost as if they don't want people to follow the series.

        Easy; it's filler, the content being commercials.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        Or you could do as I do; wait until it's off the air, then buy the series on DVD. Eventually broadcast TV and even movie theaters will both go the way of the dodo (movie theaters first though) and then the consumers will pay the prices directly, without advertising. For me, it's worth it. Direct-to-DVD movies often make more money, whether by percentage of gross or simply by numbers, because the cost of a theatrical release is enormous. The argument is made that if we don't watch shows on commercial televis

    • That's not to say I'm fervently anti-piracy, I'll admit that I've downloaded a fair amount of movies, music and software in my life but it's almost always been because it was too expensive, not yet released where I live or simply much more convenient to do so.

      As an example, a piece large expensive "professional" software that I want to use at home for fun or some minor non-commercial purpose isn't something I'm about to pony up $300 or whatever it costs for....

      So what would you pay for a movie, a song or a copy of "professional" software? All of these cost corporations/people time and money. Would you only pay $10 for a copy of some software that took $25m to develop or a movie with a $100m budget? Why do you only stop at things you can anonymously download and create a perfect copy of?

      Cue car analogy:
      I don't think a 2009 Ford Mustang is worth $20,000, does that mean I should be able to go out and "download" (read: steal) one from a car dealer's lot? In both c

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 24, 2009 @07:38AM (#29855519)

      What is available at iTunes and the App Store depends on where you live.

      Here in Brazil, there is no iTunes. The App Store sucks too and nothing is available in it due to restrictions I don't understand.

      Hence, tpb and Cydia.

  • flagged? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ash.D.Giles (1278606) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:26AM (#29855063)
    How exactly do you set a software flag to determine whether it's pirated or not?
  • by Veggiesama (1203068) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:27AM (#29855065)

    One interesting note is that the most pirate scores are submitted for Story level, then Rounds, then survival. This is the same order that the game types show up in our menus. This may point out that Pirates generally have a lower attention span – they quickly move on to the next game.

    There's a really good reason why pirated scores are submitted in that order, and I would tell you, but there's a shiny red ball outside and I gotta catch it.

    BRB

  • have they ruled out the reason why they haven't sold any to those pirates is because...they aren't really pirates but people who despise the App Store and it's restrictions?

    Of course, due to the terms and conditions that the developer signed with Apple, they can't release it on Cydia as a pay-ware.
    (if it was good and if it was on Cydia for a reasonable price, I have no problems opening up my wallet)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Veggiesama (1203068)

      have they ruled out the reason why they haven't sold any to those pirates is because...they aren't really pirates but people who despise the App Store and it's restrictions?

      Are you suggesting that these so-called pirates are actually peaceful protesters performing civil disobedience? MLK Jr. would be so proud!

    • by Tridus (79566) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @08:42AM (#29855831) Homepage

      Wait... so you bought an iPhone despite not liking the terms and conditions that you agreed to when buying the iPhone? So you go out and pirate some independent developers game as a means of getting back at Apple for those terms that you voluntarily agreed to... and this somehow makes you not a pirate?

      This is quite possibly the dumbest explanation for piracy I've ever heard.

  • Pirate Flag... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Manip (656104) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:27AM (#29855073)

    Without knowing exactly how this so called "Pirate Flag" works we cannot say that it is recording correct data. Frankly an 80% piracy rate seems a little difficult to believe given how most iPhone users I know use their phones (most use stock firmware, since they're still on warranty, and people have spent up to £800 and don't want to 'brick' it).

    Most iPhones owners are happy to use the App' Store and iTunes. That is one of the reasons they purchased the device, to give them access to a huge array of high quality applications.

  • Ads (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ModernGeek (601932) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:28AM (#29855075) Homepage
    If I were this developer, I would display ads to the pirates, be it within the game or on an HTML formatted score board. This would hopefully recoup some of the lost money, and would keep everybody happy. I would be interested in their take on the idea.
  • not surprising. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spire3661 (1038968) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:33AM (#29855091) Journal
    When I did pirate back in the day it was mostly because i simply couldnt afford the things i wanted. Now that I CAN afford to buy the software i need, i NEVER pirate. Those that pirate are rarely going to pay, those that dont pirate usually will pay. Pretty simple really. For me personally,I cant tell you how freakin giddy i was the other day when i bought an mp3 off amazon the other day for $.79. I selected, purchased and downloaded it in the time it took to install itunes so i could do the same thing.
    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Indeed. Back in High School (oh, I had no job either) you would have had a hard time finding anything on the computer that was actually paid for.

      These days, it's the other way around.

    • by stikves (127823)

      Same here. There is absolutely no reason to pirate if you can pay for it.

      And if I don't want to pay for something, it's either not worth it - That also means, it's not worth my time either.

      Or... It's too expensive for the purpose. Then I try to find an open source / trial alternative, or get it through my university.

      This has worked for me for long time now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027)

        There is absolutely no reason to pirate if you can pay for it.

        There are cases in which no individual can reasonably pay for something because one copy would cost tens of billions of dollars. The only way to buy a legitimate copy of, say, Disney's Song of the South would be to buy a controlling interest in the company and then force the company to make and distribute copies of the film on home video.

        Or... It's too expensive for the purpose. Then I try to find an open source / trial alternative

        The article is about video games, and a lot of them don't have a Free alternative. What's the open source alternative to Animal Crossing series? What's the open source alte

  • I work in a communications squadron, and I know at least 15 people with iPhones ---- I only know of one of them that has jailbroken his phone, and that was specifically for the purpose of switching carriers. So.... is my sample unusual because of a higher-than-normal standard of integrity (military personnel)? I mean... these are comm geeks; jailbreaking a phone would be trivial.
    • by DMalic (1118167)
      yeah, I really don't buy this. None of the people I know with iphones have jailbroken them either. They *don't buy the apps*. While it's heartbreaking to see massive numbers of pirated downloads, your game isn't worth four bucks to most. It may not even be worth the time of putting in a credit card number.
    • agreed (Score:3, Interesting)

      by OrangeTide (124937)

      I have roughly the same statistics at work, except it's 40+ iPhones and 2 jailbroken (although 5 others have had them jailbroken in the past, but then went back). Most of them are programmers who buy into the whole free software movement, so you'd think all of them would be jailbroken.

  • Another example (Score:5, Informative)

    by happy (7659) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:46AM (#29855123) Homepage

    I am the iPhone developer for the Notifications app (see http://www.appnotifications.com/ [appnotifications.com]). On the first day my app was published on appulous (that happened very quickly after my app was on the appstore), the piracy rate was 99.3%. On that 99.3% I had about 1% who bought the application after trying it.

    That was in the beginning of September, I now have a total piracy rate of about 50%. My app requires network and connects on my server, therefor my stats are pretty accurate. I think the piracy rate would be way higher than 50% if my app did not have to connect to my server.

    • If you know who the pirates are, then why don't you cripple their "experience"?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by teg (97890)

      How would you know that something is pirated? Do you get the ID from Apple when something is purchased? I've got an iPod Touch now... and I'll get an iPhone soon. When that happens, the two devices will be tied to the same account and use the same apps that I've already purchased. Would that show as piracy for you?

      I also expect that many are sharing an iTunes installation inside the family, to avoid duplicating all the files and get immediate access when someone buys a new album. Not 50% though...

  • An admission... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cybereal (621599) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:47AM (#29855127) Homepage

    I must admit that prior to the days when I had money to throw away on games as I saw fit I truly did pirate a game now and then for the sake of a trial period. I found it effective, but mainly in convincing me not to buy the game. And see, there is this unexpected factor I discovered, actually only recently, that severely impacts this chain of actions...

    Basically it amounts to this: I find, all too often, that many games are not worth playing beyond the amount you normally get in a demo! I have downloaded so many demo games, especially racing or fighting games, on the PlayStation Network or XBOX Live and found that... well that was enough. To spend $60 more dollars simply to add a few levels and get the same experience was not a valuable prospect for me.

    I won't try to claim that any significant portion of these piracy observations can be explained by what I'm describing. I would say it's not without merit though. In these days, there are so many games. I mean, honestly, I think there are more games released in a year than I could humanly play through in their entirety. Even filtering out the disinteresting games I would still never have the time, given work and other responsibilities, to finish anywhere near say, 10% of the releases in a year.

    So to go from trial period to purchase, especially on a game that's likely a shallow me-too on the iPhone... well let's demonstrate the thought process with another nugget: I have downloaded probably 25 different "Light" games and never even tried them before I deleted them because I simply lost all interest.

  • if only 100 people bought it, it's not really enought o pass judement is it.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:53AM (#29855143) Homepage

    the piracy rate is estimated at around 80% during the first week after release. Since a common excuse for piracy is "try before you buy," they also looked at the related iPhone DeviceIDs to see how many of the pirates went on to purchase the game. None of them did.

    Interesting answers to irrelevant questions.

    Here's the money question: How many sales were displaced?

    Suppose we want that information: Can you think of a test which would detect displaced sales?

    • Unfortunately, I can't think of a good way to test for it, but you are right on about the issue. The issue is NOT how many people got a copy without paying. The issue is if it was impossible, how many people would have payed?

      Reason this is important is because it tells you how much it matters to actually try and fight against it. Fighting copyright infringement takes time and money. Also, the more onerous the DRM you introduce, the more you piss off legit customers and thus the less money you make. So the t

  • by Veggiesama (1203068) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @05:56AM (#29855153)

    If you slash the price of the game in half in a few months and re-advertise it (like Steam has been doing with their weekly sales), then you will see another jump in sales. If you cut it down to 1/4, you will get even more sales. Some people think $4 is a good price, but others won't pay more than $2, and still some will wait for the $1 or $0.50 sale.

    Each step allows you to reel in more buyers, because everybody has their own price threshold.

    Games depreciate in value quickly--that's just how it is. Eventually the game won't be worth anything to anyone. Then you should give it out for free, along with a big fat advertisement for your next game. You ARE working on the next game, right?

    Some people wouldn't pay a cent for the game in the first place, and they are the real pirates. You can't negotiate with them, so don't even bother. It's wasted development time to fight them. Even if you somehow make your game unpirate-able, they will just ignore your game and find something else to occupy their time.

    What you CAN do is try to net the would-be pirates who simply have a lower price threshold. Also you might net a few guilt-ridden pirates who think they are "redeeming their sins" by eventually buying the game they pirated, even though it's been a few months since release and the price has dropped significantly in the meantime. You might also pick up a few people who just like thinking they're getting a good deal.

  • Free software (Score:2, Insightful)

    by emanem (1356033)
    Is it free or not?
    Jokes apart, compare this with World of Goo feedback. Given that 80% of WoG players could have a pirated version of the game, still devs don't complain and indeed made a give-us-what-you-want birthday sale.
    And apparently it worked.
    Apparently people want freedom to do what they want with their devices, they want to install what and from where they prefer.
    The app store model is broken...too much control in Apple's hands...people don't like this so the chances that they'll use a pirated v
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027)

      Sony doesn't own [...] the connection used to move data between my host an other players.

      Sony owns the connection used to find other players and, as AC pointed out, is letting you use it at no charge.

  • "they also looked at the related iPhone DeviceIDs to see how many of the pirates went on to purchase the game. None of them did."

    It did not occur to this gentleman this his game.... sucked. Read that again and pretend Mitch Hedburg said it... it will be funny. And that part tooo.
  • It is simple (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wildclaw (15718) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @06:46AM (#29855335)

    To start out with, I would like to mention that I have pirated a lot in my lifetime. I pirated more when I was unemployed and poor, because I had lots of time and less money. I still pirate some, but nowadays I also buy more now that I am earning good money. But anyway, here is my viewpoint of piracy.

    Most of the excuses pirates use are just that, excuses.

    * Try before you buy! It does happen, but rarely.
    * Everything sucks! Then why are you pirating it in the first place?
    * Damn the evil publishers!! You really believe most pirates are like that?

    Want to hear a valid excuse

    * It is free to pirate, so I don't have to worry about money.

    Now, you will here people mention that these games aren't really that expensive. But that misses the point. There is a huge difference between cheap and free, and it affects behavior a lot. When something is free, you can consume it without feeling like you have to get value out of it. And that gains a certain amount of freedom which is very difficult to compete with if you are trying to charge for a product.

    Now, the article in question I actually found was fairly unbiased. It did mention that piracy is high as soon as the game is released. This is not strange at all. As pirates have no restrictions on them in regard to money, they will play whatever they feel like. And the newest thing on the market is simply an easy target.

    This may point out that Pirates generally have a lower attention span they quickly move on to the next game

    This is a nice observation in the article. I would say that it isn't attention span per se. It is just that pirates have a fare wider selection of items to select from. Again, having to do with the freedom I mentioned above.

    The author goes on to discuss ways to combat piracy. And here I want to mention an important thing. If you use piracy protection to fight against piracy, then you are using it wrong. If you use piracy protection to steal customers from a competing product that doesn't have piracy protection then you are doing it right.

    If you fail to understand the difference, it is simple. Pirates buy products too. And they are more likely to buy something if they get value out of it beyond legal ownership. This is why authenticated multi player mode is a very efficient piracy protection mechanism. It gives the pirates something that they want to buy, without providing any negative effects on other customers (who may or may not pirate other products).

    It is the same in other businesses. If a pirate has to decided between buying a CD of one artist, or attending a live performance of another artist, guess what they will choose. Same with DVD vs. movie theater.

    Of course, there are always pirates that won't buy anything. Either because they have no money, or because they intend to use that money for other things. But, those are the kind of pirates that simply aren't worth spending any effort on. At best you can hope that their money habits will change over time, and that you as a developer will be a beneficiary.

  • by Nomen Publicus (1150725) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @06:48AM (#29855343)
    Surely the real question is: How many of the people who are using pirated copies would pay for a copy if the pirated copies were not available?

    This is the RIAA fallacy, presuming that all pirated copies represent lost revenue.

  • What about some more detail?
    Of those users, those who bought it and those who pirated it, how long did they continue playing for? Perhaps the pirates try it (because theres nothing to lose from doing so) and decide it's not worth it... Do any of those pirates come back for more later? You did point out that they seem to have a shorter attention span and quickly move from one game option to the next, perhaps they quickly get bored of the game and don't consider it worth spending money on.

    Incidentally, i woul

  • by foniksonik (573572) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @10:55AM (#29856675) Homepage Journal

    I'm wondering if his methodology is bad. I haven't read TFA as yet but it seems from scanning the posts here that he was comparing the deviceID that purchased with the deviceID that posted the score... in which case, how is he accounting for the fact that users are specifically allowed to share their apps with up to 5 devices?

    I do this all the time between my wife and I. We download games for our kids to play as well as apps and music for ourselves when we find them... then sync up the phones via iTunes (as we are specifically allowed to do) - so that we can share our household purchases between the two phones.

    If you assume a maximum of sharing.... take a sample of 100 downloads, then share it out to 5 people = 500 downloads, using his method you instantly have an 80% pirate rate!!!!

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @11:41AM (#29857003)

    His game didnt sell well because the game "TAP-FU" sucks. Word of mouth traveled fast as soon as it released on Toucharcade.com and others. Many had felt that it had too few levels, and variation to its gameplay. You actually repeat the first level 3 times. Honestly i gave up after the 3rd level so i dont know if there is anything different after. Why? BECAUSE THE GAME IS BORING.

    He says pirates use the excuse of "Try before you buy" but he fails to tell you that he did not provide a trial version version on itunes for people to try before buying. Typically this is known as a "lite" version, that is free on iTunes for people to demo before they buy.

    So his try before you buy statement is incorrect. There was no way to "Try before you buy" his game, unless you pirated it.

    Now what happened, is most people that pirated probably had the same experience as those who paid for it (such as myself).... and that is... IT WASNT WORTH BUYING.

    Lets go back to the fact that there was no Trial version on iTunes. When a paying customer finds out that he bought something he is not satisfied with, and he understands that he cant get a refund due to itunes no return policy... even for $1.99, an unsatisfied customer will spread the word of his dissatisfaction. Multiply that by X amount of early adopters and factor in the great power of word of mouth on the internet.

    The game was bad. I'm sorry. There are PLENTY of game companies that have started up just because of the success of the App Store on iTunes. Many developers have quit their day jobs and have written very succesful apps that have made them a great deal of money. Some as much as $250,000 in two months (Trisms game dev... and others... just google it)

    App developers are making a good deal of money on their Apps. Dont blaim piracy for your poorly designed game that is a rip off of Street Fighters artwork, and a poor attempt at remaking nintendo's Kung-Fu. I admire your efforts to develop the game, and there is potential for it to be good... but there wasnt enough content, the animations were poor, and it lacked finish.

    Pirates may have not paid for it, and they may even continue to play it as you state by your scoreboard data... but that doesnt mean it was worth it to them to buy.

    OF COURSE... piracy is a concern to all developers... however one must have a piece of software worth buying before you start complaining that no one bought it.

    Tap-Fu has 8 reviews on iTunes... and Fieldrunners has 2583 reviews. Granted Fieldrunners has been out for a while now, but it was an instant success that climbed to the top of the iphone app sales list the second it was available. It has made the developer a lot of money, and it is being ported to other platforms...

    Piracy didnt stop Fieldrunners. It faced the same circumstances.... except, it was an incredible game worth buying.

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Saturday October 24, 2009 @03:58PM (#29859073)

    From Toucharcade:

    "Ethan Nicholas is one of the big indie success stories of the App Store. Nicholas quit his job back in January after his tank artillery game iShoot grabbed the #1 spot in the App Store. Nicholas reportedly made over $800,000 within five months."

    This is just one of MANY games that made a crap load of money via legal sales on iTunes. Such games as that include, Trisms, Space Invaders: Infinity Gene, 2 Across, Fieldrunners, Real Racing, Madden, Tiger Woods, Need for Speed, Flight Control, AIM, Baseball Stars, Texas Hold'em, Rock Band, Tap Tap Dance, and MANY MORE....

    These games have made a lot of money in very short time. Trism's made the indie developer, $250,000 in 2 months. 2 Across, also made an indie developer $1800 a DAY in sales. Tap Tap Dance, made $6,927 a week when it launched. Now Tap Tap has several games out, which are HUGE successes for an indie developer on the iphone. You can only imagine how profitable they are now.

    This developers game (Tap-Fu) is bad. Its not a good game. Its not even a complete game. Its missing most of the story mode, as it hasnt been made yet. It has very simple gameplay that really doesnt work well.

    There was no trial version for the game. Many games have free trial versions known as "lite" versions on iTunes. The developer tries to shoot down the idea that warez users tend to try out software, then some possibly buy it.

    Frankly by not providing a free trial version via itunes, he forced people to try out a warezed version.

    I bought Tap-Fu after reading about it on Toucharcade.com. It looked promising, but it fell flat. Its bad. iTunes has a no return policy.... perhaps that forces more people to use warez versions because the proof is that... PEOPLE DO BUY these apps legally... IF they are good and worth it. These companies do make good money selling them. The App store has helped keep the indie developement scene alive. Many people have quit their day jobs to code Apps full time that generate $200,000 in profit in 2 months.

    TAP-Fu was simply not a good game. At least in my opinion

    The fact is, all of those games I mentioned above have made a LOT of money, under the same circumstances as this developer's "Tap-Fu" game. They all faced the "threat" of piracy. The difference is, those other games were worth owning, and Tap-Fu is not. That's the real reason why its not selling well. Not some silly piracy excuse.

    The developers score board data is certainly interesting, but it is not proof of ANYTHING, other than people didnt find his app worth buying. MOST apps arent worth buying, or even installing illegally...

    There are a good handful of ones that are... and they do make money. Lots.

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