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.