Jul 22, 2013
I’ve ranted a lot about piracy and the benefits of Android’s openness recently. However, a recent revelation from developer Lucky Frame seems to underscore how bad the problem is: their new game Gentlemen! had 8 paid downloads with 2,462 pirated copies downloaded as of this past Friday, a couple days after release. Ouch.
Now, my initial reaction is that this is a disgusting thing, that Android gamers need to support original paid content on the platform. But I think there’s other factors in play here besides “Android users are filthy pirates.”
Consider the “8 copies” number and the nature of Gentlemen!: it’s a same-device multiplayer game for tablets only, priced at $4.99. Yeah, that’s not exactly a recipe for success on Android. Paid apps can sell on Android, but this kind of app seems like a hard sell.
I’d all but guarantee that the game’s pirated downloads were almost automatic by nature, from a community that probably just pirated the game because, hey, new release. The 30000% piracy rate is unsustainable.
The release wasn’t a serious endeavor, it seems: the game was built in Unity, and it was kind of released on Android just because it was possible. So, this isn’t a story of heartbreak, thankfully. Though I wouldn’t blame Lucky Frame if they decided to skip Android in the future.
What this does underscore that the Android market is different. Yes, Android’s technical nature makes it easier to pirate apps versus iOS, so it’s likely that Android apps will always have a higher piracy rate. But maybe it’s different in that certain games just won’t sell as well on Android, either. Thanks to Apple’s marketing, an iPad feels like a ‘concept’ as much as it does a product, and Android just doesn’t have that in quite the same way. So marketing for ‘tablets’ isn’t going to feel the same. Especially at a $4.99 price point, a tough sell on any mobile platform.
So sure, would I like to see piracy rates not be so bad for developers launching on Android? Sure. Would I like to see games from creative developers like Lucky Frame succeed on Android? Sure. But some realism needs to be considered when looking at why a game may or may not be doing so well.