Hello, and welcome to Dev Talk, a new weekly iFanzine feature in which I ask a panel of indie game developers their opinion on a topic or current hot-button issue related to the games industry.
This week I posed the following question: “Is piracy still a big issue for mobile game developers?”
Here’s what the devs had to say…
Outside of China, we don’t particularly believe or find piracy to be that much of an issue. We believe that ultimately customers take the path of least resistance to get what they want (similar to how pirated Game of Thrones is in Australia — it’s easier to access), and games are no different. If a player goes to great lengths to pirate one of our games it ultimately means they either don’t have the money to buy the title in the first place, or they live in a country where buying over the internet with a credit card is incredibly difficult (like China). In both cases, those who pirated the game wouldn’t have purchased it anyway. At least now they may talk to others about how much they enjoyed our games!
Free-to-play games usually monetize through ads, microtransactions or subscriptions, which has really made piracy a non-issue. It’s still a problem for premium games, but I feel like people who pirate mobile games probably wouldn’t have bought the game otherwise. The app stores, Apple’s in particular, have done a great job of making paying easier and more convenient than pirating. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when Chinese publishers start pushing premium harder in mainland China.
Piracy is still a huge issue for both premium games and free games — it hurts developers. With one of our recent games I found out that piracy was at least 80% — possibly higher — on iOS alone. It’s one of the reasons we did a free version on Android.
Most mobile games have turned to the F2P model because of piracy. Piracy is still an issue for premium games. We’ve been bitten by this significantly because we release premium games with no DRM. The Google dashboard shows several times as many players using the game features than have legally bought our games. I’m not certain the problem is as big on iOS though. I come across pirated copies for Android far more often.
I’m not sure there is a straight answer for this, I think every developer treats the issue differently. As a studio we’re aware of piracy and where we can we get our lawyers to take down sites offering free version of our games. But piracy doesn’t infest our thinking. We understand it as part of the background, the natural course of things, something you have to live with.
We have no grand strategies in place to stop piracy and we don’t let it affect the games we make much.
Yes totally. Out latest game, Warhammer Quest 2, was released on Android recently. Within an hour of launch, multiple sites popped up with free copies. It seems to have become an expected part of the industry now, and probably contributes to smaller devs with tight margins going out of business.
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