Piracy on Android, how to combat it?.
A few days ago we commented here that MadFinger decided to lower the price of Dead Trigger from 0.99 euros to zero due to the high piracy they suffered. Normally their games cost more money, 4.99 euros, but this time they wanted to put a very competitive price to avoid the temptations of piracy.
This strategy did not work. We can look for the causes in the hidden costs of this application, with in-game purchases, which had bad press (in fact we made a negative review here), but it is also true that there have been very good reviews. So I don’t think that’s the main cause.
Piracy is fought with good prices, right?
I have always believed that the best deterrent to combat piracy is good prices. Throwing down prices makes you sell more and you can even earn more money than with high prices, due to the volume. The cost of the product must be such that the time wasted in obtaining the pirated copy is not worth it.
Steam, the video game store app for PC, offers us a good example that lowering prices makes people buy. In sales periods, like the one we are in, connected users are multiplied by four, which means that low prices attract buyers.
In the case of Dead Trigger, the price of 0.99 euros is really very low. In fact, in Android we will only see lower prices when the developers put it at 0.99 cents and the rest of the currencies leave them in automatic conversion. The next step is to give away the game (which is what they have done at MadFinger, since they hope to get money for purchases within the application). That is, 0.99 is not attractive enough for Android users.
Ease of purchase
To avoid piracy it is essential that the purchase is very simple. It cannot be more complicated to buy than to hack, since users tend to look for the easy way. In this aspect, the store applications are a great advantage.
In the specific case of Google Play, the purchase is very simple. We simply navigate to the application that we want to download, we give it to buy, we authorize and that’s it. The difference with the free app download process is minimal.
But to keep it simple, it is essential to have a credit card, of course. And we must bear in mind that younger people do not usually have it and do have an Android mobile. Faced with the impossibility of buying, what it does is hack. Google should work more on this aspect, create prepaid cards (in the style of iTunes) and also reach more agreements with operators for monthly invoice payment.
Ease of hacking
Avoiding piracy is impossible. That is, if someone wants to hack, they will get it. The only thing that can be done is to put obstacles so that piracy is tedious and thus incline people to pay to avoid the inconvenience. This strategy, combined with low prices, can be very effective.
On Android, piracy is quite simple. Just download the apk, run it and it is installed. It can be done directly from the phone, without the need for a computer, or making patches or anything similar to what was normal on a PC. Google did not think about this when it designed the Android system and now it is paying for it.
Copy protection mechanisms are talked about from time to time, but it’s still pretty easy to hack on Android. To attract developers and for people to buy more, Google should work on this aspect. Full protection is impossible but some difficulty can be added.
Piracy as a neural process
On the subject of piracy there is also something intrinsic in our brain. If something can be free, no matter how difficult it is to obtain it and no matter how cheap the product is, I want it for free. And this is more pronounced when obtaining the free product does not leave others without the possibility of having said product (that is, pirating a digital product is not the same as stealing a material product, since the cost of having another identical digital product is zero).
There are many studies that indicate that the zero price is irresistible. If we put two products of very different quality, one cheap and bad and another somewhat more expensive and good, most of the people are inclined towards the expensive one. However, if we put the bad product for free, almost everyone goes for the free one. It is something that we have in the brain as a species and avoiding it requires a dose of critical, anti-instinct, very important thinking.
But we have to reflect about what’s behind a product: a company or freelance developer putting out good products, possibly launching the next Android bombshell if their work is paid adequately. And if not, maybe the ideas remain in the pipeline or go to other platforms where they usually pay more.
The problem of piracy on Android is surely unsolvable in the short term. But things can be done by to get better. Putting prices low is a must, but this, as we have seen with MadFinger, is not enough. There are other aspects to work.
Google has to improve payment methods, introducing improvements that are not limited to credit cards so as not to exclude anyone. It also has to improve its anti-piracy systems, so that it is always more comfortable to buy than to search for the apk in some remote forum.
And finally, advanced Android users have to evangelize, explaining that paying a euro for an application is less than our monthly spending in tips, and if we leave tips in a bar when really all they have done is do their job well, why not do it to a software developer to our Android?
In Engadget Android | Dead Trigger is updated, now for free, with new weapons, new zombies and more fun | Madfinger will reward those who paid for Dead Trigger in the next update | The milonga of the pirate and the programmer