It’s a good thing, because David Peroutka, director at Android game developer Hexage, says piracy of his apps is through the roof.
To illustrate his point, Peroutka sent along the charts on the right which show piracy of Hexage app Radiant, which has been available for Android since August.
As you can see, in Asia, 97% of the game’s users are playing an illegal copy. In North America, the piracy rate is 43%. In Europe its 70%.
Radiant sells for $2.40, and it has the look and feel of an old Atari game. You control a crude looking space ship shooting aliens.
Radiant was the sixth best selling Android game in June, according to analytics company Distimo. After factoring out Google’s cut, net revenue has been approximately $30,000 for Hexage on Radiant.
While the charts suggest sales could be 3X as big without piracy, Peroutka says “Many people using illegal copies would not buy the apps if they have to pay for them,” but he thinks Google’s piracy protection should help increase sales.
To fight piracy, Google will allow developers to check if the users of an app are licensed to use the app through its servers. Basically, developers can occasionally check in on an app and see if its legal. If it’s not legal, the developer can then zap the app and shut it down.
Apple doesn’t suffer from the piracy problems in the same way. To get a pirated game on the iPhone, a user has to jailbreak the phone. For Android, Peroutka says, “You can download the APK file to your PC, copy it to your handset, and then install it using a file manager. It’s very simple.”
Piracy of Android apps isn’t unique to Radiant. Peroutka says another Hexage game has 20,000 users but only 8,000 users are legit.
Another developer we spoke with recently, reiterated what Peroutka says. Don Lim, general manager at South Korean mobile gaming company Com2Us said piracy and emulators in the Android app store are “very annoying.”
Both Hexage and Com2Us are optimistic Google’s new system will help cut down on piracy.
Another problem is that Google only supports paid apps in 13 countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States.) It needs to fix that fast.
Android is on its way to becoming the biggest smartphone platform in the world. If Google wants to do right by its developers it needs to get piracy under control.
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