One iPhone App Developers' Experience With iPhone App Pirates: Not Worth Worrying About

from the focus-on-providing-value dept

Tom was the first of a few to send in this account from the developer of the iPhone game iCombat on his experience with "pirated" versions of the app. Basically, he didn't try to block them, but put in a way to track authorized vs. unauthorized uses, and at a certain level pushed the unauthorized users to a splash page, asking them to purchase the game. His conclusion? Piracy really isn't a huge deal, and probably not worth wasting too much time trying to stop:
  • The goal behind launching an app isn't thwarting pirates, it is getting users and generating sales so leave the "making a point" anti-piracy measures to the big guys. The competition is so fierce to get noticed in the App store that any attention is good attention....
  • In most cases there is not a direct cannibalization of your sales by people using cracked copies - unless you have a high priced niche app the cost is negligible and the market is not zero sum....
  • There is a ton of anger and energy spent thinking about pirates.... this energy should be put into creating better apps and focusing on the top line potential. In my case there are design issues that I should have focused on rather than trying to spoil the pirate's experience.
This is certainly the same general conclusion we've seen in other areas as well. Focusing on "piracy" rather than providing more value for your real customers almost always backfires.

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  • identicon
    headkase, 12 May 2009 @ 2:23pm

    DRM As A Systemic Failure.

    I got into an debate with a person I consider a troll within the domain of piracy. I couldn't stop my rebuttal simply because it previous threads the individual I call the troll just really got under my skin.

    The rebuttal post can be found: Here. And is part of: This Thread.

    Please take that web of issues and improve it if you like!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2009 @ 3:27pm

      Re: DRM As A Systemic Failure.

      But unfortunately, the Business often takes piracy to the extreme, and the DRM debate overcomes the focus of the business instead of creating games, music, content which people *want* to buy.

      But with any system based on "Secrets" such as DRM, the "Secrets" eventually come out, thusly making the business focus more on creating a stronger, more robust DRM.

      This is done by diverting budget from product development to DRM overhead costs. And instead of making games, music, content which people *want* to buy, dev dollars are invested in making DRM stronger, instead of the actual product.

      It's a viscous self-defeating cycle, and over what? A college student who can't afford a game whose retail cost is $60.00, of which there is $25.00 in game development and another $35.00 in fully loaded DRM costs (systems/people/call center for "unlock" services)? Then what? Sue the college student for all the money they don't have?

      Oh vey!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        headkase, 12 May 2009 @ 5:04pm


        We're not even out of our diapers yet. Standardizing your game engines and asset formats and focus on what people actually want to buy: stories. See linked post in the GP for a distribution model. What I like best about it is that with actual usage of assets a common pool of money is distributed. You make a fancy armor and 300 people actually wear it in various realms of this dynamic distribution scheme. These 300 people give a sliver of a monthly subscription they pay to their local node. Major publishers run nodes and they are traversable in the that customers can mix and match any bits from any connection and a flat-rate monthly fee is charged to the customer to use as much as they can pull down through their pipe. As a platform this does not even need to be a general purpose machine. It doesn't need to be a PC it could be a locked-down purely dedicated entertainment device. They can be distributed into different markings for various levels of performance akin to how models of cell-phones are marketed today. Some hackers will physically crack machines to acquire content but most citizens will see the complete multimedia media machine adequate for everything they actually need to do. I'd own a debugging rig just to damn the laws!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 May 2009 @ 3:18pm

    iPhone is a closed system

    Majority of the iPhones are unhacked and cannot install pirated stuff anyways. So what is the point.

    A million years ago I used to have unregistered winzip. After trial period the software still worked albeit with a few irritating stuff (waiting + random placement of "okay" button). Nothing new.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, 13 May 2009 @ 12:21pm

    Piracy in the media

    But as always, the truth is in the middle (piracy is not always bad, or if bad, not something worth worrying about in all cases, but in some cases is very bad and should be fought).
    Unfortunately, the positions taken are always extreme - the attitudes are that is is always bad (causing people to shoot themselves in the foot) or always okay (causing people to bury their heads in the sand).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    chris salcido, 27 Sep 2010 @ 9:45am


    This post is spot on. Anti-piracy measures should be considered presumptuous for most developers. Once the app gets thousands or tens of thousands of sales, then you can start worrying about losing sales to piracy. But if your iphone apps are not yet operating at this level, it's not economical to spend money on anti-piracy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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