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Developer Drops Game Price To $0 Citing Android Piracy 433

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the step-two-still-unknown dept.
hypnosec writes with news of a curious way of fighting piracy. From the article: "Android based devices are being activated at the rate of million a day and users are downloading apps and games at a rate never seen before. Despite these promising stats, developers of Android based games and apps are not really keen on porting games and apps that have been successful on iOS to Android. Why? Rampant piracy on Android! Madfinger Games has joined the long list of developers who have recently turned their paid Android based game, Dead Trigger, to a free one. Originally priced at $0.99 on Play Store, the first person shooter game is now available for free . The iOS version of the game still costs $0.99 and hasn't been made free." Zero-cost, but certainly not Free Software; one has to wonder whether Open Source games with a "donation" build in the store would do better than proprietary games with upfront costs.
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Developer Drops Game Price To $0 Citing Android Piracy

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Monday July 23, 2012 @04:56PM (#40741713)

    From Google:

    From Jelly Bean and forward, paid apps in Google Play are encrypted with a device-specific key before they are delivered and stored on the device. We know you work hard building your apps. We work hard to protect your investment.

    Well in about 5+ years, when developers can abandon earlier versions, that should really help out a lot.

    And they wonder why iOS stays on top. It's not just because of numbers of hipness, you know. It's also because, for developers, it means not having to deal with Google's sloppy, haphazard approach in Android to everything the Apple does so professionally in iOS (especially when it comes to the App Store vs. the Android Marketplace). This is just another example.

    • by Annirak (181684) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:00PM (#40741785)

      I need a +1 cranky mod option.

    • by Tr3vin (1220548) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:00PM (#40741797)
      Yes, because there is no piracy on iOS.
      • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:11PM (#40741947)

        The article mentions the piracy rate for iOS, the rate is orders of magnitude smaller.

        Everyone expects some piracy, but when 90+% of your "sales" are piracy you cannot support any app - especially so if there is any server component, or any support load at all.

        • by Dunbal (464142) * on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:25PM (#40742185)
          If random people with illegitimate copies are allowed to use your servers to patch or for gameplay, then you are doing it wrong.
          • by LifesABeach (234436) on Monday July 23, 2012 @06:10PM (#40742669)
            I was thinking along the lines of, "My app doesn't suck, people are pirating it!" One has to love the irony.
          • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday July 23, 2012 @06:42PM (#40743011)

            People must be F'in cheap if they aren't willing to spend 99 cents. If I see a Kindle book for 99 cents I just grab it; I'm not wasting time trying to find a free pirate version. (shrug). So much for the "We would buy your product if it were cheap enough" excuse. It's been officially debunked.

            • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday July 23, 2012 @07:49PM (#40743645) Journal

              People must be F'in cheap if they aren't willing to spend 99 cents.

               
              To you it may be merely 99 cents but to someone in India it may mean the income of half a day of laborious work
               

              • by PixetaledPikachu (1007305) on Monday July 23, 2012 @09:51PM (#40744647)

                People must be F'in cheap if they aren't willing to spend 99 cents.

                To you it may be merely 99 cents but to someone in India it may mean the income of half a day of laborious work

                Something is inherently wrong with the society when a person with USD2 a day income is even considering to spend half of his daily income on fruit ninja

                • by rjstanford (69735) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @07:21AM (#40747291) Homepage Journal

                  Although an amazingly large number of people in the US will happily spend half their annual income on a car that far outstrips their needs - often spreading that payment out over half a decade or more to do so. People aren't logical.

            • by hairyfeet (841228)

              But the problem is they are marketing it wrong. Look at it THIS way, do you think anybody would have bought the "I Am Rich!" app on Android? they did on iOS. whether the Apple people want to admit it or not a LOT of the appeal is fashion and the ability to feel superior. Nothing wrong with that, Nike makes a mint off of Air Jordans that way and so do many other top brands.

              But a good reason why you'll see less piracy on iOS is it ruins the whole effect. It would be like having Air Jordans held together with

          • by icebike (68054) * on Monday July 23, 2012 @06:53PM (#40743117)

            If random people with illegitimate copies are allowed to use your servers to patch or for gameplay, then you are doing it wrong.

            Or, you are doing it INTENTIONALLY.

            The game in question supports In-App-Purchases, and in fact, to play the game to conclusion, most users will spend more money
            for in-app-purchase of weapons etc than the game's initial purchase price. The game calls home.

            These purchases can't (yet) be hacked like the reported hacking of IOS in-app purchases. [zdnet.com]

            Its widely suspected that this was Madfinger Games monetization plan all along.

            They planned to release at 99 cents, gain a quick couple hundred thousand downloads, recovering all of their development costs. (This isn't their first game, and they already had their game engine in the can from earlier games).

            Then, magnanimously, when it became clear that you needed to make in-app-purchases, they planned to make it free.

            They go so much flack for making it free after charging about a quarter of a million people 99 cents, that they decided to play the victim card.

            But ALL THE TIME their game had been calling home for authorization at install, and ALL THE TIME they had allowed these pirated installs because they were intending to make their money on In-App-Purchases, and really didn't give a rip about piracy.

            Its a suckers play, and most of the mainstream press as well as bloggers who should know better are falling for it.

        • by poetmatt (793785) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:35PM (#40742315) Journal

          usually if you want to claim that nobody's paying for your app you usually want to look at why. In this case, it's being a jackass dev and trying to force customers to pay for things in-game along with a paid app.

          Is it that hard to figure out that your fans aren't as stupid as you'd like to treat them?

        • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:41PM (#40742409)

          The article mentions the piracy rate for iOS, the rate is orders of magnitude smaller.

          Unless you're reading a different "the article" than I did, no it doesn't. It doesn't say anything about the piracy rate on iOS and the word "magnitude" does not appear in the article text. The only claim it makes in terms of numbers, for either platform, is this paragraph:

          If we go by piracy ratio, developers have come up with some rather starling figures. Korea based com2uS has said that some games have seen piracy rate as high as 90%. Appy Entertainment have seen piracy to the ratio of 70:1 i.e. for every 70 illegal installs, there in only one genuine purchase.

          Also, if the piracy rate on iOS was in fact "orders of magnitude" smaller, with "orders" being plural, then that would assume a worst-case piracy rate of 0.9%. Various statistics floating around, like these [mtiks.com], show iOS piracy rates between 25% - 75% for various types of apps. Various developers, when they actually disclose these numbers, refer to worst-case rates at between 50% to 90%.

          In other words, you're talking out of your ass. I guess you're strictly correct, though. The iOS piracy rate is zero "orders of magnitude" smaller than the Android piracy rate. So yeah, it's orders of magnitude smaller. Zero orders. It's also zero orders larger.

      • by myurr (468709)

        Not only that but there's a relatively simple solution with today's tools. Allow people to play the game for a bit for free but then make a single in app purchase to play it through to completion. As long as you're very up front about this then you're effectively giving people a free trial, and putting a block on piracy. I'm sure it's not a fool proof block, just look at the problems on iOS right now, but hopefully it's at least another step that doesn't harm genuine users but makes it a bit more difficu

        • by P-niiice (1703362) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:21PM (#40742123)
          Hyep, that would get cracked in about 43 seconds. Android crackers have cracked pretty much all in-app protections. We even have apps that crack other apps and remove ads from them.
          • by pegasustonans (589396) on Monday July 23, 2012 @06:12PM (#40742685)

            Hyep, that would get cracked in about 43 seconds. Android crackers have cracked pretty much all in-app protections. We even have apps that crack other apps and remove ads from them.

            Cracking apps is unnecessary. You can block almost all ads with a properly updated hosts file.

            It's an elegant solution, which illustrates the difference between an open platform and a closed one.

        • by nahdude812 (88157) * on Monday July 23, 2012 @06:18PM (#40742749) Homepage

          I won't do in-app purchases even for free apps, and even for apps I would have gladly paid several dollars for retail. The reason is simple: If I restore my phone, get a new phone, or even just uninstall and reinstall, I lose credit for that IAP.

          IAP's need to be replayable for me to be willing to invest in them. I don't want to have to re-pay for your app each time I upgrade something or make room on my device. Some apps handle IAP replaying cleanly. Most do not. I'm not a gambling man, so if your model is IAP for a non-transient purchase, count me out.

          Of course I'm the very small minority, so...

          • by cbo100 (770453) on Monday July 23, 2012 @07:01PM (#40743185) Homepage

            I won't do in-app purchases even for free apps, and even for apps I would have gladly paid several dollars for retail. The reason is simple: If I restore my phone, get a new phone, or even just uninstall and reinstall, I lose credit for that IAP.

            What? iOS handles this just fine. Got a new phone? Restore your backup from iCloud, most apps will just keep the purchases enabled. If you uninstall and reinstall the app then you just use "restore In App Purchases" button and they all re-appear.

          • by Corporate T00l (244210) on Monday July 23, 2012 @07:04PM (#40743217) Journal

            Are IAPs really that transient on Android? I must admit that I don't currently own any Android devices, but on my iOS devices, in-app purchases apply at the iTunes account level and are not only persistent, but also apply (without any extra purchase) to all instances of that app across different devices set to the same account. The iOS behavior where purchases are tied to your account and not to any particular device has made buying both apps and upgrades much more appealing to me than I originally thought would be the case.

      • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:17PM (#40742057) Homepage

        I've owned both, and a quick google search looks to overwhelmingly confirm my suspicions. iOS sales outnumber Android sales 9:1. Android apps on both platforms are pirated 2,300% more often for the Android version vs the iOS version. Meanwhile, Android users (by percentage) are consistently years behind on system software, so there's little reason to expect any of this to change soon.

        Of course, the list goes on. Let's not make stupid excuses for a bad market experience just because, as users, we like Android better.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by johnlcallaway (165670)

      It's also because, for developers, it means not having to deal with Google's open, flexible approach in Android to everything the Apple controls with an iron fist in iOS (especially when it comes to the App Store vs. the Android Marketplace).

      There .. fixed that for you.

    • by mlts (1038732) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:38PM (#40742353)

      The only thing keeping iOS apps from being pirated is the "jail" system. JB an iPhone, slap on a certain app [1] via adding a shady repo to Cydia, and start leeching.

      Android is not built with just keeping people away from root as the single source of protection. Apps have the LVL functions to check if they are legit or not. In Jelly Bean, apps are encrypted per device and mounted via a loopback filesystem on the fly.

      The reason why iOS apps have a less pirate rate is because in some countries where piracy is rampant, Android is available on the inexpensive devices. Where piracy goes, malware goes, so that is why we heard about malware running loose in Asian markets before it ever reared its head on US or European shores. iOS tends to be on more expensive phones [2], so generally people who can afford the phone can generally afford apps.

      All and all, it isn't the OS that is the issue here. Android has a more robust security mechanism than iOS. However, Apple does a lot of work in being the gatekeeper, and ensuring their walls are high and stay high (especially with the fact that on newer iDevices that one can't save SHSH blobs on, all jailbreaks can be just one restore away from being gone and gone for good until a new one is made after Apple does an iOS update.)

      [1]: The Dev Team and most people who use JB functionality abhor the pirates, because there are a lot of legit uses for a jailbroken device and pirating attacks the JB ecosystem as a whole. If they could block the pirate apps, they would, but there will be someone who would "jailbreak the jailbreak", so it would be pointless.

      [2]: Expensive on a world basis. Just taking price comparisons in the US is different because in a lot of places, phones are not subsidized, so the user has to pay the entire cost. That is why the low end Huwei and ZTE phones are extremely popular.

  • Just wondering (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23, 2012 @04:58PM (#40741755)

    one has to wonder whether Open Source games with a "donation" build in the store would do better than proprietary games with upfront costs.

    Wonder all you want, the answer is no.

    • Re:Just wondering (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dattaway (3088) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:14PM (#40742001) Homepage Journal

      Sure would be nice to have a "tip jar" donation button. *click* *click* *click* I sure would be sending quarters by the dozens...concept has been around for decades...

  • by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:02PM (#40741825)
    • That's about getting free in-app purchases not downloading paid apps for free.

    • by bhlowe (1803290) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:15PM (#40742019)
      That wasn't said-- but comparatively, Android users are MORE UNETHICAL and SPEND LESS MONEY*. Part of that is Apple users have more disposable income.. but also jailbreaking is not widespread. Most jailbreaks on newer hardware are tethered, meaning you need to be near your computer if you want to restart your phone for any reason--not worth it for most. *Disclaimer, not all Android users are cheap, bastards of low moral character. Some restrictions apply.
  • Sad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sez Zero (586611) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:03PM (#40741833) Journal
    The number of "I want my dollar back" post at that Facebook link is really sad.
    • Re:Sad (Score:5, Informative)

      by Vintermann (400722) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:08PM (#40741907) Homepage

      Sometimes it's appropriate. I bought Early Bird for Android. Later they made it free, which I'm OK with. What's not OK is making the free version (which I was automatically "upgraded" to) have intrusive ads.

    • The game was worth more than $1 anyway but their reactions just show why, imo, mobile gaming is bound to die. People expect something for nothing and maybe that's fine when you're making pacman clones but the effort put into mobile games is going to reach the same as full games at some point and continuing to expect free games or even $1 games that are worth playing is just not going to happen.

      I certainly wouldn't want to gamble my personal finances on it.
  • could have had activation as in app purchase. but stats show people are more likely to download and pirate a game that has an upfront cost(so you get wider circulation).

    they got in-app purchases afaik in the game. that's why they're doing this free giveaway. and no they're not giving in-game gold to those who paid for it.

  • *Correction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by redemtionboy (890616) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:04PM (#40741853)

    Developer drops game price to $0, failing to cite that it was a really shitty game that charged for upgrades.

    • by spoco2 (322835)

      Exactly, exactly, exactly.

      I uninstalled this terrible money grabbing game as soon as I got to the store and found all the 'money' I'd collected in game was worth next to nothing, but I could get credits for weapons and other useful things if I just went and completed things on some websites, or I could just pay real money to get in game credits.

      A horrible system, and nothing to do with piracy, all to do with a game designed PURELY to pull money out of people to progress.

      Make a good game, charge up front and

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:05PM (#40741871) Homepage Journal

    Reports today indicate a small developer you've never heard of, has altered how they will finance a product you've never heard of. The pricing cited factors commonly referenced in the field the product competes in, but no supporting data was provided. Tune in at 11 for detailed analysis about how free products differ from open source ones, with a panelist who barely understands economics or copyright law.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      Specifically went out of my way to side load the Amazon Store on my Android phone so I could buy a certain ad-ware-free version of a particular game. The Android market only had the free version and I found the ads quite annoying.

      Of course everyone's heard about this game.

      Never heard of the one with the whiney developer.

    • by arkhan_jg (618674)

      Well this particular app looks like a standard freemium app - in order to progress, you have to buy in-app purchases to get decent weapons and equipment. They start you out with a proper gun, then take it away on the third level - but of course, you can buy it back with real money. And they had the gall to charge a fee for the game in the first place? Not to mention in game ads for their other games, plus the usual obnoxious pop ups to get you to 'get free gold'.

      Frankly its a rip off even now it's 'free'. A

  • As in, executables that run in a browser (e.g. spoon.net). Less piracy. At this point, there's no way I'd mess with a phone app, or an old fashioned installible. Either one will be pirated by a bunch of giggling teenage basement hackers in seconds.

    Yes, I could go broke by releasing my stuff as open source instead. You first.

    • by bky1701 (979071)
      "Less piracy. At this point, there's no way I'd mess with a phone app, or an old fashioned installible."

      At no point have I ever, nor do I ever intend to, depends upon programs which I do not control. The "we control your data" model is bound for a big crash as soon as it causes a billion dollar lawsuit.
      • They just want to take away what remaining ownership you have over the software. That's all. Is that so bad?

        • "They" just want to take away what remaining ownership I have over the software I've written. That's all. Is that so bad?

          Yes, if you're in business, it is. If I made cars, you wouldn't get them for free either.

          • What does that have to do with anything? Cars have little to do with the subject of copyright and the like!

            "They" just want to take away what remaining ownership I have over the software I've written.

            I don't believe you own the copy someone bought. The one on someone else's hard drive. Well, it's a good thing I can refrain from using things I think are garbage (like "The Cloud," where I lose all local access to the data, but that really only works for games).

      • There's controlling your data and controlling your application. It's quite possible to make a web app that stores files locally. I control the app. You control your data.

        • by bky1701 (979071)
          Yeah, and what do I do with the data if it is only readable by your program? What if I need to access it without internet? I am not at all interested in this new scam.
          • And I wouldn't blame you if that was the case. Look, there's no reason to do that. It pisses people off and there are pretty standard formats for most things. There's also no reason to save data to "the cloud" either. Who needs that kind of liability? I'd rather you save it locally, in RTF or csv, preferably.

  • I'm glad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:08PM (#40741911)

    I don't know about you guys, but many I know say things like this to me, "Hey you're a programmer. You should develop an iPhone or Android app and make a lot of money!"

    When I try to explain to them the reality, I just get trite responses back or their eyes glaze over.

    There's plenty of demand for your product when it's free. Like when you help them with their computer problems (for free) and they say, "You should do this for a living!"

  • your game just sucks
    • Re:It's not piracy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@corUUUnell.edu minus threevowels> on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:28PM (#40742225) Homepage

      Dead Trigger is fun until you reach the point where it pushes you to buy ingame cash with real money.

      TFA leaves out a critical aspect of Dead Trigger - It was one of the only examples of a "freemium" game that relied HEAVILY on in-app purchases, which also had an initial purchase price.

      Note that they're not citing any piracy problems with their more expensive (but not "freemium" in their payment structure) games.

      The way the article is written, it makes it sound like the developer is hurting and this has dropped their revenues to zero - which is bullshit. 90% of Dead Trigger's revenue was from IAPs to begin with. Dropping the purchase price to zero helps them by exposing more users to their IAP push.

  • Information wants to be free. Why should programmers get a pass when musicians and moviemakers don't?

  • by dmesg0 (1342071) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:22PM (#40742127)

    1. Create a game with in-app-purchases, but sell it for 1$ instead of for 0$
    2. Drop the price to 0 and get free advertisement on Slashdot
    3. Profit! (from in-app-purchases)

    But where's the ??? part?

     

  • Gimmick? (Score:4, Informative)

    by DaFallus (805248) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:24PM (#40742173)
    This developer is shady. Check the reviews for this game on Google Play [google.com]. Apparently you can't get very far in the game without buying weapons/upgrades that cost real money. There are a fair number of complaints from people spending $5 for in-game credits, not receiving the credits, and getting no response from the developers.
  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:36PM (#40742333) Homepage

    Madfinger Games has joined the long list of developers who have recently turned their paid Android based game, Dead Trigger, to a free one.

    Just how many developers have written this one game, then? Oh, and it should be "into a free one."

    The iOS version of the game still costs $0.99 and hasn't been made free.

    Thanks for clarifying that, because when you said it still costs $0.99 I thought it might also be free.

  • by Suddenly_Dead (656421) on Monday July 23, 2012 @05:54PM (#40742523)

    One thing I've noticed, which may or may not be affecting how little Android app developers are getting for their apps, is that the Google Play store is useless for discovering new apps. Totally useless. They display ads for a small number of high-profile apps, most of which would get a bunch of purchases regardless, and they rarely cycle those ads out. There's "Editor's Choice" apps, but those are the same high-profile apps and again are rarely added to. Otherwise, the only methods of discovery are looking at the top lists (which rarely change), or searching.

    Most of the apps I have installed I had to discover elsewhere, including some terrific games (even terrific free games, which you'd think cheap Android users would really go for) which only have on the order of 1000 or so downloads at most, making them totally invisible as far as a user browsing the store is concerned.

  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tridus (79566) on Monday July 23, 2012 @06:46PM (#40743053) Homepage

    "Zero-cost, but certainly not Free Software; one has to wonder whether Open Source games with a "donation" build in the store would do better than proprietary games with upfront costs."

    Seriously? $0.99 is too much so they pirate it, but if you open source it they'll give you money instead of just playing the free version?

    Not a chance. These people are just cheap. They'll take the cheap option. Open source is not some magic fairy dust that is going to fix that.

  • Rubbish.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by anomaly256 (1243020) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @12:39AM (#40745599)
    Who pirates a 99cent game? I'm betting no one. More likely, they just realised they could get more revenue per install with an ad-supported + spyware model and knew Apple wouldn't let them put spyware in the app store. Lets do a quick test... android market.. dead trigger.. permissions.. Oh look, "READ PHONE STATE AND IDENTITY - Allows the app to access the phone features of the device. An app with this permission can determine the phone number and serial number of this phone, whether a call is active, the number that call is connected to and the like." and "RETRIEVE RUNNING APPS - Allows the app to retrieve information about currently and recently running tasks. Malicious apps may discover private information about other apps." and "AUTOMATICALLY START AT BOOT Allows the app to have itself started as soon as the system has finished booting. This can make it take longer to start the tablet and allow the app to slow down the overall tablet by always running. Allows the app to have itself started as soon as the system has finished booting. This can make it take longer to start the phone and allow the app to slow down the overall phone by always running." ...... Yep, nothing suss here, a FRACKIN VIDEO GAME totally needs those permissions.

    Keep your 'free' crap. And next time, at least TRY to mask your dishonesty a bit better. This bullshit isn't fooling anyone.

Brain fried -- Core dumped

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