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iPhone Game Piracy "the Rule Rather Than the Exception" 268

An anonymous reader writes "Many game developers don't think of the iPhone as being a system which has extensive game piracy. But recent comments by developers and analysts have shown otherwise, and Gamasutra speaks to multiple parties to evaluate the size of the problem and whether there's anything that can be done about it. Quoting: 'Greg Yardley confirms that getting ripped off by pirates is the rule rather than the exception. Yardley is co-founder and CEO of Manhattan-based Pinch Media, a company that provides analytic software for iPhone games. ... "What we've determined is that over 60% of iPhone applications have definitively been pirated based on our checks," he reveals, "and the number is probably higher than that." While it's impossible to estimate how much money developers are losing, it involves more than the price of the game, he says. "What developers lose is not necessarily the sale," he explains, "because I don't believe pirates would have bought the game if they hadn't stolen it. But when there is a back-end infrastructure associated with a game, that is an ongoing incremental cost that becomes a straight loss for the developer."'"
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iPhone Game Piracy "the Rule Rather Than the Exception"

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  • by Archfeld ( 6757 ) * <> on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:02PM (#30180536) Journal

    "Yardley is co-founder and CEO of Manhattan-based Pinch Media, a company that provides analytic software for iPhone games...."

    I'm sure reporting greater pirating numbers is in Mr. Yardley's financial interest as well. Not to say there isn't pirating going on but when the entity reporting the pirating number derives a living from said numbers I tend to be a bit skeptical. It is like the RIAA's number's, there has to be some basis for truth in them, but you can rest assured they are massaged and slanted to show the greatest impact to the paying customer...


  • by Serious Callers Only ( 1022605 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:10PM (#30180616)

    Can't we get someone who's [sic motherfucker] first language is English to proof-read these things?

    It's whose, motherfucker, not who's.

    Brought to you by the department of abusive language correction.

  • by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:19PM (#30180668) Homepage Journal
    TFAs were scant on details. How is it that they can identify which instances of apps were pirated and yet still be unable to put in a decent kill switch* ? Are iPhone games that easy to crack? Do iPhone games use a ubiquitous piracy control scheme where you crack one, you crack all? Are there that many bored or unemployed crackers who would go through the trouble to crack a $2 game?

    *Not that I condone that sort of thing, but people are used to that kind of control on mobile platforms anyway.
  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:22PM (#30180700)

    The statement means exactly what it says. 60% of apps have been pirated at least once. TFA says

    When an application is pirated, an average of 34% of all installs are cracked -- in other words, about half of legitimate paid downloads.

    To date, Pinch Analytics has received data from approximately 4.0 million jailbroken devices. About 38%, or around a million and a half of those, have used a pirated application.

    (Of the phones that are Jailbroken and running software that they instrument, they indicate 38% were determined to be running at least 1 pirated app.)

  • by Interoperable ( 1651953 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:24PM (#30180714)
    No kidding. If an app "should be free" because it clearly took so little effort to develop, then I encourage would-be-pirates people to simply write it themselves. If they don't have the ability to write it but want to use it, then it is worth something to them.
  • Shhhh, (Score:5, Informative)

    by Icegryphon ( 715550 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @09:37PM (#30180816)

    he explains, "because I don't believe pirates would have bought the game if they hadn't stolen it...."

    Don't tell the MPAA or RIAA that.
    They will get all uppity in your shit!

  • by Francis ( 5885 ) on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:09PM (#30181084) Homepage

    The way the numbers are reported is a bit misleading. “Of paid apps that use Pinch Media’s services, 60% have been pirated. Of those pirated apps, 34% of all installs are the pirated version.” This means that maybe only 20% of installs are pirated. Those numbers are actually really good for software.

    The way the first picture is reported is also misleading. It’s titled, “Application Piracy is Global” and then it shows a graph of jailbroken iphones. Jailbreaking is not the same as pirating. Jailbreaking is what you need to unbind an iphone from the app store, and the first step to unlocking an iphone. Since iPhones are were not sold in China until just recently, almost all their iPhones have to be imported from other carriers, so it is no surprise that an abnormally high percentage in China are jailbroken.

    Judging from the graph, it appears that roughly 10-15% of all iphones have been jailbroken. “About 38% [of jailbroken iphones] have used a pirated application.” “34% of all installs are cracked” This means that roughly 4-6% of iphone users have ever used a pirated application. And yet somehow, those 4-6% of iphones account for 34% of all installs? I’m a bit skeptical.

    “Pirated apps on jailbroken iPhones crash more, which may be why they’re used less.” I’m really skeptical about this interpretation. That graph is really really zoomed in. Crash rates for pirated applications appear to crash only 0.5%-1.3% more sessions than a regular app. That’s fairly rare. That’s like one in every 80 to 200 sessions results in an “extra” crash.

    This blog post is either really poorly written or the author has an intentional bias that they want to express.

    On a related note, I hope this gets more app developers to make “lite” versions of their software so people can try them out. The conversion numbers are much better than the alternative.

  • by johndiii ( 229824 ) * on Friday November 20, 2009 @10:34PM (#30181242) Journal

    Actually, I think that comes to about one third of the 60%, meaning that 20% of all the installs of apps that use Pinch are pirated. I assume that Pinch charges for its library, so they would likely be tracking few, if any, free apps. They may be in some low-priced apps, but probably not that many of those, either. So that 20% may well amount to something like 1% or fewer of all installs. On my phone, free or 99-cent apps comprise roughly 95% of the installed base; I know of only one that uses Pinch (out of 91 installed over the included apps).

    It's also very unlikely that many free apps are pirated. The Gamasutra article suggests that low-priced apps are also pirated, but that article contains only anecdotes, no numbers. Probably not many 99-cent apps either. So his 34% of 60% is likely to be a rather small number by this analysis as well.

    Looking at it another way, let's take the only real numbers that they give: 38% of the four million jailbroken phones have used a pirated app - about a milllion and a half. Assuming that you need a jailbroken phone to run pirated apps, about 15% of extant iPhones can do so. Roughly 5% actually do. So 95% of iPhones do not run pirated apps. Both articles assert that the vast majority of pirated apps are by users who would not buy the application from the app store. I'd have to conclude that piracy is not a significant problem on the iPhone.

    Looking at the developer who said that 96% of his users were pirate installs, the game is either overpriced, uninteresting. or hard to find in the app store. At $6.99, I'm very unlikely to buy any application - especially one that sounds like a storybook for kids. On the other hand, I just paid significantly more than that for an edition of the (concise) OED for my phone. Of course, it's probably close to the cheapest edition of it that one can buy... In any case, given the "pirates wouldn't buy anyway" principle, app store sales are a 95% accurate indicator of the popularity of your application.

    The bottom line is that the numbers that he gives are purely a PR exercise, designed to fuel indignation and scare developers into thinking that their work will be stolen. And incidentally to boost sales for Pinch Media. They do sell a decent library, from what I have read, and the monitoring feature is a valuable capability. But scare tactics, however well-established a strategy in the security industry, tend to work mostly on the uninformed.

  • Android and piracy (Score:3, Informative)

    by chrysalis ( 50680 ) on Saturday November 21, 2009 @07:01AM (#30183276) Homepage

    Well, Android is no better, or even worse.

    Almost every commercial Android application gets immediately cracked. Anyone can freely download them from links posted on public forums you can find with a simple Google search. And as far as I understand, there's even no need to jailbreak the device in order to install Android cracked software.

    This is really bad for developers and I really hope that eventually, Apple and Google will find a solution to prevent this.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard