Arrrrrdroid – How Android Apps are Susceptible to Piracy!

Posted on July 26th, 2012 by

If you are an avid gamer or just enjoy downloading and playing the latest games on your Android device then you would have seen the big app news of the last week – Madfinger Games has dropped the price of its popular Dead Trigger Game from $0.99 to a big fat zero. The reason for this was the “Unbelievably high” piracy rates. The following was posted on Madfinger Games’ Facebook page:

“The main reason: piracy rate on Android devices, that was unbelievably high. At first we intend to make this game available for as many people as possible – that’s why it was for as little as buck. – It was much less than 8$ for SHADOWGUN but on the other hand we didn’t dare to provide it for free, since we hadn’t got XP with free-to-play format so far. – However, even for one buck, the piracy rate is soooo giant, that we finally decided to provide DEAD TRIGGER for free. Anyway – DEAD TRIGGER is not FREEMIUM, it always was and still remains FREE-TO-PLAY, that means, all players are able to play it without IAP! We stand up for this statement, because all members of our team are playing (and enjoying) DEAD TRIGGER without IAP”.

Unfortunately piracy is not new to Android and other games have been sunk in the past too. Back in April, Sports Interactive announced that its recently released Football Manager Handheld game had an equally high piracy rate with only one sale for every nine illegal downloads. As a result, SI announced that unless Football Manager Handheld reached its targets, unlikely with this high rate of piracy, they would not be releasing another game for Android.

A study was carried out in September 2011 by an analyst firm in the US called Yankee group. 75 Android developers were questioned about the issue of piracy in Android. Only 27% said that it was a big problem, 26% said that it was a problem but not such a big one. This meant that a massive 47% did not find it a problem. Despite this, however, a third of those developers questions, believed that piracy had cost them in excess of $10,000 in revenues with another 32% admitted that piracy increased their support costs for the apps and games. Sadly, these numbers will only increase.


Some of you might be saying that the recently released Jelly Bean OS gives developers a way to encrypt their apps on a per-device system. The only issue with this is that this will only truly be implemented when Android 4.1 is used by a large amount of people and this could take up to 18 to 24 months to achieve so this is not a viable solution at all.

The issue here goes back to a basic Android premise – Android is an open source market and thus both developers and end users have come to expect certain things from the Android ecosphere. For developers, a lot of the restrictions placed by iOS are not there and for end users, the fact those the majority of apps are free is a major aspect of the growing numbers turning to Android.

This is by no means a justification of piracy at all. All it does is highlight the struggle that Android developers undergo when trying to make money from their apps. It is this struggle that makes us, here at StartApp, do what we do in order to allow Android developers to sail the Android seas, happy in the knowledge that their apps are making money with our search based monetization system and free from dangers of piracy!

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