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Android piracy strikes again: Dead Trigger goes free-to-play after “unbelievably high” piracy rates

The popular game Dead Trigger for Android, from MADFINGER Games, the same folks who brought us Shadowgun, has gone free-to-play after a week of being 99c on Google Play. The reason for this sudden price drop? “Unbelievably high” piracy rates according to a Facebook post from the company’s founders.

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.

Despite the fact that Jelly Bean provides a way for developers to encrypt their apps on a per-device level, the implementation will sit largely unused until Android 4.1 hits a critical mass of people, something that if Gingerbread is any indication won’t happen for another 18 to 24 months.

We don’t really talk about the prevalence of Android piracy because it’s both something we don’t take part in, nor something we want to promote. But the core issue here is that Apple has been very effective at eliminating piracy from the vast majority of its devices. Jailbreaking does indeed enable this, and for some it is the only reason to do so, but developers still find it a more profitable venture to create iOS apps than Android ones. Due to Android’s inherently “open” nature, and its ability to sideload applications via a custom .APK file, piraters can edit the file itself, eliminating the server-side license check.

This puts the onus on the developer to earn revenue in other ways, either by displaying distracting in-game advertisements (as in Angry Birds), providing affiliate offers, or relying on in-app purchases. Dead Trigger uses the latter, selling in-game currency for real money in order to unlock weapons and such. Sure, the argument can be made that if you are going to use in-app purchases at all the initial download should be free, but I think Dead Trigger struck a good balance between the two; you didn’t need any IAPs to finish the game, so that initial 99c payment seemed justifiable. Nevertheless, we’re not sure what percentage of the game’s downloads game from pirated versions, but if it was enough to cause MADFINGER to make the game free, it was likely pretty significant.

Source: Facebook
Via: Phandroid

  • BBMan

    More developers should do this.

  • metoo

    There is no money in Android and the costs are incredibly high for developers, relative to other platforms.

  • Kid.Canada

    Yet developers are still sticking around for a $hitty platform while their paid apps get pirated. Not a smart move at all…

  • wjb

    And one third of all Apple apps steal and share personal information without permission. What is the issue here? Piracy? Perhaps leave that to the police. It is not something which is the fault of Android’s coding. But you give credit to Apple for stopping pirating on their devices, not for the good of humanity, but for the good of their own earnings. Perhaps you’d like to honour them with the Nobel Peace Prize too. Rubbish article.

    • Rio

      do you even know what your saying? lol

  • Orillian

    Unfortunately what so many don’t seem to realize is that the bulk of the guys that are pirating your game would NOT have bought it to begin with. Ya it sucks to see usage way higher than sales, but it’s not fully indicative of loss.

    For example, besides piracy you have people like myself that have multiple devices. Three to be exact all with a lot of the same titles on them, and all with the same user account. Mine. So that 3 copies of the game played on three different devices and only one purchase. If their metrics don’t take that into account, I now look like a pirate 2 out of three times.

    Now I don’t know exactly what the company is using to track the pirated copies, but their reaction was a bit extreem. Making the game free seems like the wrong way to react, I see this type of thing and I’m reminded of the 95% pirated rate that the World of Goo guys came out with a couple years back, and they still charged for the game and didn’t do bad with it either.

    I don’t know! Just feels like someone else knee jerking, and people freeking out about piracy a bit more than is deserved. Piracy happens… a lot, but it ultimately is not the root cause of any failure of an application or other media to generate money for the developer. If there is value, people will pay for it.

    O.

  • Handheld Addict

    “Anyway – DEAD TRIGGER is not FREEMIUM, it always was and still remains FREE-TO-PLAY”

    “Dead Trigger uses the latter, selling in-game currency for real money in order to unlock weapons and such. Sure, the argument can be made that if you are going to use in-app purchases at all the initial download should be free”

    Um, to developer MADFINGER: that *IS* “Freemium”.

    Don’t try to BS us that a game that nags for players to shell out $$$ isn’t freemium. That’s the very definition of the term.

    And to Mobilesyrup: HELL YEAH it can be “argued” that a game that expects players to pay money while in-game should be free to begin with. What a rip-off, games that cost to buy, then they try and get more money out of us while we’re playing? Either make it free with in-app purchases or paid with NO IAP.

  • mike

    “Sure, the argument can be made that if you are going to use in-app purchases at all the initial download should be free”

    That should be the only argument

  • android4Life

    The highest rate of growth for Android, worldwide, is occurring in the lower end of the market, aside from the spectacular performance from Samsung. Crime is often more common in lower income groups, so this is just par for the course. We, as developers, know what we are getting into with Android. Those of us that aren’t just in it for money understood this and accepted it from the beginning. If you are just a money grubber, stick to iCrap. If you want to contribute to improving the world, go Android.

  • Apple Sales Guy

    This kind of criminal activity does not happen in our Apple App Store. Apple offers our sincerest condolonces to the developers who have to deal with these kind of issues that exist in other mobile app stores

    • Sean

      Installous

    • 0defaced

      ARE YOU F**KING KIDDING ME???

      Unreal, you’re brainwashed like a Christian….

    • Dalex

      Please don’t feed the troll, just thumbs down his comment and move on.

      As for the story. It’s unfortunate that there is piracy, but its a bit hilarious that Madfinger doesn’t realize that the game is Freemium. And no, no game that has IAPs should cost anything whatsoever.

  • Drew Moreberry

    I have many friends with iPhones. Most of them have their iPhones Jailbroken and they don’t pay for any of their apps.

  • S2556

    I wasn’t going to buy this game but now that its free I will try it out.

  • ABC

    What happened to the reason being that the encryption for paid apps in jelly bean had a bug where certain game assets files could not be deleted .

  • me

    I was planning on buying this game myself once i got a hold of my nexus 7i pre order almost over a month ago. But after reading the reviews of the difficulty to play with out in app purchases disappointed me….if you charge your customersfor the app they don’t expect to continue to be nickled and dimed at every opportunity….this isn’t the apple store anyone remember the reaction to paper camera charging for add on? People were furious…don’t piss off your customers i would pay 2 maybe border line three dollars for this app with no iap

    • metoo

      Shouldn’t you be in class or in the welfare line?

  • metoo

    I love that how the fantards are trying to rationalize their thieving.

    In the end this is a result of one cause: cheap. Android users are cheap. Whether it because they don’t have jobs or their parents are on the dole, they are cheap. The Nexus 7 was released because they are cheap. LG got out of the tablet business because they are cheap. LG, Sony, HTC, Moto, etc are all bleeding to death because they are cheap. Piracy is the norm on Android because they are cheap.

    Anything else is just a poor rationalization.

    • Ron Mexico

      Shouldn’t you be in line for the iPhone 5 already?

  • Mark

    Is there a way we can still pay for it? Like some apps have a free version and a donate version. I would still like to pay $1 for it. I don’t feel right downloading it for free like that from the play store knowing they did that because of piracy. I still want to pay for it.

  • Apple Sales Guy

    Well it’s statistically proven that unhappy people may resort to criminal activity to help alleviate their unhappiness.
    Which is what is the case here. A lot of people are very unhappy with their Android phones, which is why you see them resorting to stealing games and apps.

    With the Iphone, everyone who uses one is very happy, and the Iphone brings joy to their life. Which is why they will happily spend money to legitimately support the developers.

    I guess in a crazy way, we even fighting and stopping crime here at apple. More than just great products
    ;)

    • dstruct2k

      You’re an i***t. The “high” rate of piracy on Android (at least, compared to iOS or Blackberry) is because we only have 1 payment option — Credit card.

      If either/both “gift cards” sold at Walmart/7-11 or direct-to-carrier-billing were implemented on the Play Store, I am convinced that we’d see less piracy than iOS.

  • Mathieu

    Blame it on the user… way to go… NOT

  • Rick Whitley

    Absolutely astounding marketing coup by Madfinger. There is no logic to there decision. Essentially they are saying “because so many people are stealing it we will give up all chance of income by making it free”

    However, as many have pointed out this is really a freemium game.

    But it’s a freemium game that got some major tech blogs to fall for the “Android piracy” hook and now a game that I and so many others would never have even know existed, is on our radar as something to try.

    Hats off Madfinger, well played.

    Mobile Syrup?…..not so much, hope you at least get a cut of the IAP sales.

  • Manny

    I paid a dollar for it, I thought it was a good deal, but it pisses me off that even though I bought the game I still need to pay if I want some of the premium stuff, had I known perhaps I would have worked harder at getting it in other ways.

  • Mark

    First, it’s sad to read that so many people would pirate a game of this calibre that was introduced at a buck or two. I bought the game on release day and felt that on one hand it was an incredible value and perhaps the developer was pricing it so low to make up profits on volume sales…

    But second, I was also not thrilled to find out the game could only be played to its full potential by purchasing in app stuff. I have never liked in-app purchases; I’d rather just buy a game and have all its internal potential unlockable by game play.

    When it went free only a few days after I bought it, I wasn’t upset at having paid for it, but I was thinking in my head “uh oh, the developer is going free but modifying the game to be freemium”.

    I guess my comments are a dual chastizing: first, anyone who pirated this game, you suck. At its core, it is a good game with great graphics and a relatively low mb footprint on your device. Second, I don’t like freemium, I don’t like pay to play, and I don’t like playing with wording, like the developer is doing – it’s not freemium! well, it kind of is. If you extract more $$$ from my pocket for me to complete a game by having upgraded tools to get the job done, its freemium.

  • Sub-Joker

    This game is a fishy… after downloading it I started receiving in the notifications some random ads…. BE AWARE.

  • TouchMyBox

    How is saving 99 cents worth having to seek out and download the game from sub-optimal sources, and then having to keep track of and manually searching, downloading, and installing each update?

    People pirating mobile apps leave me completely puzzled. I guess nobody values their time anymore.

  • Toby

    Funny, we are not making enough money on this game so lets give it away… more like, hey the players that pirated it are spending way more in app than we are making selling it..hmmm maybe there is something to this freemium model…

  • dstruct2k

    The problem with that is the device needs to be running Jellybean. It will probably be at least 2 years before developers can even think about making 4.1 the minimum version of Android for their app unless they intentionally want to limit their market to a handful of devices.

  • dstruct2k

    It should’ve been free in the first place. I’d be willing to bet that the majority of people that pirated it would gladly pay 99¢ for the game — if they could. The Play Store makes it near-impossible for anyone without a credit card to make a purchase of any sort. Why are there not “Google Play Cards” in stores to let people without a credit card make purchases? I’m certain that if they were to do something like that, we’d see more than half of the piracy on Android disappear overnight.

    I’ve tried it out now that it’s free, and I’m impressed, but I can’t help but wonder who thought it would be a good idea to charge an “entry price” to the game, and then continue to charge the user whenever they wished to progress in the game. Sure, you can progress with in-game cash, but it takes 20+ playthroughs of a level to get enough cash for the first assault rifle.

  • Wireless Triggers

    Dead Trigger goes free-to-play after “unbelievably high” piracy rates. Thanks for this post..we really appreciate this and this is very informative for me, thanks again…

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