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Chris Pruett (developer of Windup Knight) tweets:

Lotta press about Android piracy lately. For the record, our piracy rate [on Windup Knight] is about 12% on Android and about 15% on iOS. When Wind-up Knight for iOS was a paid app, the piracy rate was more like 80%. For both Android and iOS, close to 100% of our pirate users are in China . Those users can't buy things on Android anyway.

I think piracy is, as always, a red herring. You can't stop it, but as long as it's slightly arduous, it's not a lot of lost sales. Because a huge number of people who pirate software would never buy it in a million years. You aren't losing a sale to them. Piracy starts to matter only when pirate users can cost you money in other ways, e.g. network bandwidth and server cost. Yet another reason to be a free app in today's mobile marketplace. 

[Jack: This is an edited version of a series of 10 tweets by c_pruett on twitter. I copy-and-pasted them together, and also bolded the statistics. Here's Chris's first tweet of the original tweet series:
https://twitter.com/c_pruett/status/229439668150734848
]
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58 comments
 
You can link directly to tweets by clicking on the time that the tweet was posted. That'll get you to the URL for that specific tweet.
 
Thanks Daniel Cormier ! I saw the time was a link, but didn't guess that it was a perma-link. I have edited my original post to include a perma-link.
 
How do you calculate the piracy rate?
 
+Andrew M They check online for torrents of their game and compare the number of times each torrent has been downloaded to their own sales.
I don't actually know if that's true or not, I just made it up. Point being, there's probably many ways they can check.
 
Someone once asked me if I was worried about something I wrote being pirated.  My response was that I'd be more worried if something I wrote was bad enough that people wouldn't even want to steal it. 

(I know the difference between theft and infringement, but you get the point).
 
+Andrew M they use various analytic tools, the simplest way to do this is to send the device unique identifier when the game is started and then count the number of uniques. That gives you the total number of devices. You have the actual sales figures, so you can count how many of the installs are pirated (total - legit).
 
We have heard this before but it isn't ever loud enough. Share this often and rt/reshare. We need to drowned out the theory crafting lawyers busy convincing governments to pay their salaries.
 
No need to make an app completely free. Dead trigger was priced on the market for 99 US cents. In my country this is the equivalent of about one chocolate. So why would anyone pirate it? Except if they dont have access to the android market. Which is the case for a lot of custom chinese versions of android.
 
I have a crappy iPad. Jobs is dead, why is Apple still pursuing law suits and software killing strategies?
 
None of the companies claiming that Android piracy killed their business have the guts to post numbers. :) I figure because it isn't true.
 
+Bogdan Sladaru using that method would make it look like I pirated all my stuff twice, since I have 3 android devices running the same software.
 
I thought that the whole Idea of Android and Java was to let people get back into low costs Programming...
 
+Bradley Uffner its a similar but different method used. Rather than UID (which might be part of the encryption, depends) the app goes through a verification method. Therr are several ways, one wgere the app store itself verifies the app for it to launch, or something where the app queries the server with the activation, which both verifies and logs the device

Im assuming its most likely the second case. The pirated version would most likely have the activation/verification part checked and ignore the logging bit or what not because the scene group that releases the fastest, is the best xD. So thats the most likey bit

Also, for mobile, if said app has its logging patched, the device or app store could probably scan the system for installed programs and then notify the server w/ programs installed. Thats another possible method
 
Apple spend a lot of money discrediting android and samsung. But apple aside - it is more expensive to develop for android not because iOS is superior. iOS developers have to deal at most 2 devices: the phone and the tablet. As a android dev you have 2 deal with much more form factors.
 
+John Ciubuc isn't the second method precisely what mojang are having dumb patent issues with lately ?
 
Investors need a scapegoat. Any publicly traded corporation won't come out and say "our stuff was terrible [for the price]." It just won't ever happen.
 
Hi Google and apple. Do anything to bring all of your stores (apps/games/books/what ever) to every country. Some people have to pirate to consume some content.
 
iOS piracy is something I haven't heard of, but Android privacy is definitely something that people complain about. It is heartening to see that Android's rates aren't that bad relatively.
 
"a huge number of people who pirate software would never buy it"

DING DING DING DING
 
+Sean Cahill I spend money on software when I feel I get good value out of it. sometimes I regret it (Diablo 3) and sometimes I get so much more than I hoped for (Disgaea)
 
+Maverick DeCero Disgaea just turned out to be my "thing" I /still/ play them :D

However I pirated it initially. Because I'm very tired of not being sure something is enjoyable BEFORE paying. (I'm looking at you blizzard)
 
+Andrew M A far more accurate way to track piracy is to add tracking to your app. Have one metric assigned to run the first time the app opens and runs. Compare the number of installs to the number sold. Easy!
 
Google needs to bring out a system of gift cards/Play store credit which can be more easily distributed worldwide for people without CC's. Carrier billing depends on carrier, but gift cards doesn't.
 
+Sean Cahill that's a flawed argument... company A makes something you don't like and won't refund. So you screw company B who made something you did?  That's pretty backwards wouldn't you say?

I'm pretty much in favor of letting us try the software and then pay if we appreciate it. Worked for NIN's album afterall.
 
So basically, you're a thief with the attitude of a 12 year old. ok.
 
Some software like ms office and adobe need some better price breaks for disabled and elderly. They are the standard but not affordable
 
I don't think the discussion should be about whether there is more pirates on iOS or Android. There are a lot on both. The discussion should be a lot more about the reasons, why people do it, why they consider it normal (have no moral problem with it) and don't even mind acknowledging it.

See, we are a small team of programmers. We have recently launched an app, where there's more cracked installs a day than downloads of our free 31-day trial. The app functionality does not permit other business model than paid + trial (you barely use the UI).
Certainly, the numbers are not huge yet - we have barely started to market the app. While this does underline, that the app is noteworthy, it steered bigger interest in the shady circles than among the regular users.

Now, how do we know? Recently, one of the cracked versions out in the wild contains a bug, which renders the app half useless. It keep crashing, and we receive the crash reports (with logs) from the users (the user has to manually send the crash!). The exception points at the code the cracker added :)
And this is just ONE of the MANY cracked version of the app out there!

People that we get the reports from are not only from countries, where they can not buy apps. They are not only young kids that don't have payment cards. In fact, it's quite the opposite  - we get to find out a lot about many of them because of the linked g+ profiles!
Retired biker, young doctor, Computer science student, Android developer, Strategist... just to name a few fascinating examples.

...and therefore I think the more we talk about piracy the better - we need to acknowledge it exists. I am not talking about the lost revenue here - certainly, not all the users would buy it. May be not 1%. But that does not make it less important. We need the people (all of them, not just pirates), why apps cost money (in-app purchases or paid). Are you not sick of 3-star comments on the market - "I love this app, 5* if it were free"...

...enough said. Thank you for reading.
 
I am a programmer but my app serve our internal customers. I can write android apps but have not don't anything "real". How do you make money from this game?
 
+Sean Cahill cellphones and tablets are stupid? Thanks for giving me a laugh. Its nice to see unique points of view which go against the norm!

Grabbing somebodys work without paying for it when its something worth paying for is wrong.

I prefer the pay for it upfront method rather than in app purchases so hope developers arent put off by the dead trigger debacle.
 
+Maverick DeCero A demo is for free. I don't want you to blindly pay without trying. That's why we have demos and trials. Yet, you prefer to steal the full version to "try it", and not pay for it. That is your false logic. And yes, that is what a thief is.
 
+Maverick DeCero Get the demo or the trial!
Besides, do you crack the apps yourself? Or do you trust your "community" to add whatever shit they want into the app? Do you need to get burned first? Do you ask for support of an app you cracked before you paid? Why don't you use the demos first?
Tell me more about your moral grounds and false pretenses...
 
I think the piracy thing on Android is way to seriously overblown. Frankly, it's bullshit. Piracy is still there though. Seriously guys, pay for the apps (if you can) 
 
+Andries Spies With desktop computers and tons of other devices you have to deal with different form factors as well. iOS only deals with two, but that causes issues. If you have used an iPhone app on an iPad you'd know what I mean. It is an awful experience, and now Apple is trapped in those two forms. Android offers flexibility. iOS to Android is like the old web to the modern web.
 
+Nick Felker have you seriously never heard of Cedia? It is a whole pirated store for jail broken iPhones...

Wait, Do you even have a smartphone?
 
+Maverick DeCero That, IMHO, is a reasonable use of piracy. I think it'd count as in accordance with the Wheaton Rule.
 
The problem with piracy is that there isn't a good solution for it, on one hand, some people pirate because they can, which is an argument for stronger DRM, but on the other hand, DRM generally only hurts people who pay for stuff. For example, I can't skip the Ads on a blu ray or transfer my blu ray I own to my tablet, whereas someone who steals it and gets it for free has no such restrictions. 

I think what really needs to happen is developers need to acknowledge that some people won't pay for their products no matter what and try to find ways to encourage people to play without having to pay or pirate the content (In app purchases / online focused game play sort of work for example) 
 
Honestly things are so cheap. .99 cents for a game, 1.99 for an app? And I can charge it to my phone carrier account? I'm surprised I don't have more but I have to set limits or my wife will wonder why my 200$ phone bill is 350$ this month.
 
It's so refreshing to see a gamedev like Chris tell it like it is. Piracy is just the de facto excuse trotted out for the games industry to do something to screw their honest customers. I'm sick of it.
 
As someone who is about to port a game to iOS for sale... this is good to hear.  To be honest, I never really saw piracy as much of a threat though.
 
Finally, someone says something realistic.  I think piracy is actually a good thing.  When I was a student I had no cash, and I know lots of people pirated.  But now I can afford to buy games on my phone, it is actually easier for me to buy it via Google (or Steam) than to pirate, so, why would I bother?

If only it was easier to watch US tv shows and movies. I would definitely pay €25 per month for all the (English) film/tv I could eat (so long as I didn't need silverlight (lovefilm.de) or otherwise stupid DRM to access it).
 
+Kirk Bateman , TBH most if not all PC games suffer from that issue, even most apps such as photoshop and stuff are having that issue. the thing is, is that piracy truthfully hurts the industry by a very very very little amount. Most people who pirate the game do so because they wouldn't beable to get it in the first place, or have the money to purchase it. 

There are also others that buy the legit game, and then pirate it inorder to have the DRM of that game removed because it's absolute BS.

Lastly there are those that pirate to see if the game truly is worth the money, like having a fully featured demo more or less. If you got the real demo, all the excitied bits of the game might only be what they show in the demo, and the actual game could be boring as hell aside from what was in the demo, so why spend money on that?

So overall, "pirating" doesn't hurt games at all, infact you could say that it helps the gaming industry because the game spreads more, and those that pirated the game might tell their friends how fun the game is, and their friends go buy it. If he didn't pirate the game, his friends wouldn't know. And since he pirated in the first place, he wouldn't have bought it anyways, so basically it's free adveritsing for the game company lol.
 
League of Legends:  Try pirate that game :P
 
You make a good point. I already use Proguard and was considering making apps more tamper-proof, but I think it's a better use of time to work more on the app's features. And if pirates in fact would never be legitimate customers, there's still a plus - more people use your app and if they tell some of there non-pirate friends, you scored yourself more customers.
 
The best "solution" to piracy is making it as easy as possible for people that like/value your creation to give you money.  The end.

Google expanding Wallet to more countries helps, but it ignores the other side of the equation.  As an android developer, what is my legal responsibility for taking money from someone in another state/country?  The sales tax, etc is still up to the individual developers instead of being handled by google.  AFAIK, Apple handles this for the developers by the dev effectively licensing their app to Apple as a reseller.  Android developers should be getting the same for our 30% until the world comes up with sane commerce laws and probably a single currency.  Maybe I'm unnecessarily worrying about this, but Google is a massive company and would probably do devs a lot of favors by completely abstracting away world governments and commerce.  They have the resources, small devs not so much.

Devs should be spending as much time as possible making awesome apps.

Software (which will include apps, movies, books, music, etc) should be DRM free if I "own" it.  Everything else is a rental.  I wish ebooks could be rented for $2-5 dollars for 30 days, but if I "buy" the book I should be able to do whatever I want with it on my personal devices, etc.  That doesn't include copyright infringement buy transferring the book to everyone on the internet.  The larger problem seems to be that the content industry still believes in selling scarcity instead of selling content/services.  I'm paying you to get me a quality product with the least hassle.  Every hoop you make me jump through to give you money pushes someone closer to pirating or ignoring your software all together.

This is probably too much rambling.
 
My opinion is that the economics for mobile games are so unfavorable that it's almost impossible for game developers to make money. The market is saturated with mostly low quality titles, it's too difficult for users to discover good games, and the games are priced too low for anyone but the biggest developers to make a profit.

Since no one's making money, piracy is the easiest scapegoat.
 
Consider removing Chinese users from the piracy statistics, as there is no pay-method available in china and piracy is legal there, so alternative stores with pirated apps are even pre-installed on official Android devices.
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