Android Developers Find Way to Fight Game Piracy

Stephen Yagielowicz

Piracy is a big topic for adult website operators and content owners today, but it is a problem faced by all segments of the digital media industry — including the video game crowd, which is currently coping with a rash of Android game piracy and “sharing” — eased by the informality of Android’s distribution channel, which trains users to be able to download apps wherever they may find them.

It is a distribution model in stark contrast to the strictness of Apple’s App Store and the regulated release of iOS apps.

While the Android game market has differences and similarities to the adult market, the situation for merchants is the same: “free” is a cultural problem.

This situation is reportedly driving many developers to favor iOS over Android, despite the size of the Android market, although the adult arena will doubtlessly seduce sexy stalwarts for the Open Source platform, due to those same lax standards.

According to Madfinger Games’ Anna Porizkova, piracy isn’t limited to the Android platform or caused by flexibility in its distribution channels.

“To us, piracy is a general contemporary problem,” Porizkova stated. “It is so easy to get a pirated copy everywhere for free that people don’t even think about buying it.”

Porizkova explains that this is a common problem that all developers must deal with.

“This is the norm nowadays,” she stated. “It’s normal not to pay for anything you can have for free and nobody cares.”

The company reports that the piracy rate for its Shadowgun title reached 90 percent, decreasing to 80 percent after a few months, steadily falling to an average of 78 percent. This high rate of theft forced Madfinger to drop the game’s price from $8 to $5, stating in the process that “there was no effective way of defending against piracy.”

In an attempt to mitigate the problem of piracy, Madfinger adopted the free-to-play business model — a move echoed throughout adult by the rise in ad-supported free sites. While the company understands the vast appeal of free-to-play, and the profitability of in-app purchases and upsells, it is taking a wait-and-see approach before committing to the free model beyond its next release.

Regardless of the challenges, Madfinger will still pursue both iOS and Android users, stating that Android is as important as iOS, with both platforms having pros and cons.

“As for development issues, there are no differences between these platforms. We do not prefer one of them to the other,” Porizkova concluded, noting that “The Android install base is so big that it can’t be cold-shouldered by developers — especially when using the Unity engine makes this process considerably easier.”

While the Android game market has differences and similarities to the adult market, the situation for merchants is the same: “free” is a cultural problem, not a technological issue that can be solved with a bit of code or a change in price point.