We’ve got pirates!

Hey everyone :)

First off, we use PinchMedia to track usage on our new game for iPhone and iPod touch, Whack ‘em All. PinchMedia is a fantastic product and has been really great for us to use to track all kinds of metrics related to our app’s usage. They’ve got detailed reports for how many people use your app, for how long, where they’re from, how many crashes they have, etc. It’s also really easy to include in your app. They’ve got great instructions on their site.

Anyway, our download numbers remain about 10 per day even with all of the advertising we’re trying. Well, yesterday our PinchMedia numbers show 400+ new users! We were really excited! Turns out this morning that we only had 12 actual sales (as reported by iTunes Connect on the Apple site). Bummer!!! So, if 400 people are playing and only 12 people paid, something must be up right?

The great guys at PinchMedia, Greg and Jesse (co-founders, CEO and Lead Developer) were gracious enough to troubleshoot the data and found the location of a pirate site letting people download our game for free. So, yesterday, 40 times as many people stole our game than paid for it :(

You have to look at the bright side here, and that is that there is demand for the game ;)

I’ve sent the folks at the pirate site a letter letting them know who we are and asking them to remove the files, we’ll see what happens :)

If anyone is interested in tracking down more sites that have our game for free, please do what you can and let me know. I’m willing to provide free (legit) downloads of our game and would be willing to discus other means of compensation :)

Thanks! :)

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16 Responses to “We’ve got pirates!”

  1. 1
    Matt Antonino:

    i commented – it may have gone to spam cuz it had 2 links in it. check your spam for me. :)

  2. 2

    Thanks Matt! :) Would you like a free copy of the game? :)

  3. 3
    Matt Antonino:

    Don’t have an Iphone. lol

  4. 4

    Well, I owe you a favor :) Let me know when I can repay it! :)

  5. 5

    All I have to say is from Luke 6:42: “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.” Buddy I gotta tell ya – You’ve done the same – what made it wrong when you had it done to you?!?

  6. 6

    Indeed ;) Pirating is a fact of life. Before this I didn’t even know you could pirate iPhone apps!

    This certainly does put pirating into perspective :) The industry average for pirated verses actual sales is currently somewhere around 20%. That’s up for debate as I’ve seen numbers anywhere from less than 10% to as much as 90%. For us, as of today, we’ve got 811 users and only 196 sales ;) So, we’re sitting at 76%.

    I don’t think this will be a problem and may even help us out in the long run. Fewer than 10% of iPhone and iPod touch users have cracked their devices (which is required to play pirated games).

    If you’re reading this and you have or are considering pirating our game, tell your friends about the game and how much fun it is! If you all get a buddy (with a legit device dammit) to buy the game, we come out fine! :)

  7. 7

    I can only assume the pirate site you mention is my own, as it tends to be one of the more trafficked sites in our little community. I didn’t receive a letter from you, though, so I can only assume that, if I’m correct, it went to the gentleman who owns the site’s domain name, or the gentleman who handles our DNS. My personal E-mail isn’t listed anywhere on the site or domain WHOIS.

    Anyway, I’m commenting here because we (meaning, the group of people who support app piracy and sites like mine) often have our intentions twisted or misconstrued. Piracy, as we all know, happens everywhere and is generally a fact of life for any purely digital form of media. It’s something that happens regardless of the efforts made to stop it or what websites get taken down.

    My site was founded on the belief that if you can drive a car before you buy it, try on clothes before you buy them, and.. well.. try out software before you buy it, you should be able to try out iPhone apps before purchasing as well. The ‘About’ page of my website hosts a bit of a tirade of Apple’s choice to not implement a solution for this, but many developers feel that the text there is just an excuse, or rather, a justification for illegal activity. The truth is that I meant every word of that, and there are many people in our community who DO buy the apps that they’ve enjoyed from the site. I won’t put a link here because I’m sure you don’t want that on your blog, but there’s a popular web forum linked from the “Learn More” page of my site, where many of these discussions stand as proof that, while many people do use the site simply for piracy, there is an ever-growing number of us who support (and actively encourage the support of) app developers.

    Our community in general is certainly (and maybe even rightfully) on the receiving end of a multitude of complaints and threats from developers — but for as many of these as we see, there are a number of developers who have thanked us for our cause. As much as I’m sure that sounds like a lie, we’ve had quite a few reports that after a cracked version of an app is offered, sales increase. Too many developers see that 400-900 people daily run the app without having purchased it, assuming that each of those is a lost sale. Anyone familiar with piracy can assure you that isn’t the case. As sad as it is to say, very few of those people would have actually purchased the app in the first place. The benefit comes from these people showing your app to friends and family first-hand, leading those people buy it themselves — an effect pointed out to us by an independent developer of a game targeted at high-school aged children. And of course, the benefit of the sales made to people who bought because they were able to try it. I notice in your post that you went from 10 sales to 12 — a relatively small increase, but an increase nonetheless. The number of people trying the app outside of that proves largely irrelevant.

    You’ll find that much of the community has a very deep respect for good developers, and on a few occasions we’ve had developers join the forum and introduce themselves, just to be greeted by accolades and suggestions of things to put in future versions of their apps to either stymie our common cracking methods or make our cause work for both sides. One developer in particular used our suggestions to have his app switch to an actual demo version upon detection of being cracked. It would allow the users to play 6-10 levels before thanking him for his interest and encouraging him to buy the game. A genius solution to the problem, indeed! While we certainly have the ability the fully crack the game and make it completely playable, it was decided that, out of respect to the developer, we’d leave the game in that form. It’s worked out well for both sides.

    Some developers opt to put a free “Lite” version of the game on the Apple Store in order to facilitate this kind of demo, but it’s limited only to the regions where the iTunes Store is accessible.. as a result, even free apps get cracked so that iPod/iPhone users worldwide can use the games. This isn’t mentioned on my site yet, but it’s another very large issue that adds fuel to what we do.

    My intention of this overly-long post isn’t necessarily to sway your feelings about who we are or what we do, but more to assure you that we do have respect for developers such as yourself and are always willing to offer tips on an app format that can give you monetary return regardless of piracy.

    Best Wishes,

  8. 8
    jrtb » A conversation with an iPhone pirate:

    [...] more on this story, check the comments in my previous post about this and the comments on this post below. [...]

  9. 9

    Thanks Kyek! I assume this is you?

    I can appreciate your cause and would very much welcome any advice you might have about an app format that can give us a monetary return regardless of piracy! Its also on my list to check out your site. I’ll create an account there shortly and introduce myself :)

    Thanks! :)

  10. 10

    That is indeed me :) I didn’t mean to mislead you, though — hackulo.us isn’t my site, appulo.us is. Even though the two names are very similar, they’re two different sites owned and operated by two different people. I am an admin on Hackulous, though.

    Looking forward to seeing you there! I’m sure people will be flooding you with ideas when you introduce yourself :) The crowd there tends to be very receptive to developers, especially when they’re as polite as you!

  11. 11

    Yep. Unlike many have assumed we are not bad people and we do not do everything in our power to gun you down. It’s all simply because of Apples unreasonable sales tactic.

    Keep you friends closer but your “enemies” closer. Because after all we are the leading end of unsatisfied customers who have most of the answers on how to make it better :)

  12. 12

    @Kyek and most_uniQue: So of course you block users from countries that do have App Store from downloading cracked versions of apps that have a free preview versions available.. Oh wait, you don’t. There goes your argument.

  13. 13

    What’s funny to see is that the hacker (kyek) has a big fat donations button at the top of his profile page (link above) and is almost at his $300 target for January.
    Effing wanker. Wants to make money of his piracy community efforts, but seems to think developers don’t deserve the same! I get at least one Google alert every few days for yet another download site for my products.
    You pirates are all just a bunch of thieves.

  14. 14

    First, the donations are to run the site, secondly, we aren’t all thieves, I’m not going to entertain the thought that everyone that uses cracked apps even has the intention of buying. However, many of us do (including myself). Pirating is a part of digital media, and in the end, it usually ends up making the developer money. This is a prime example. I get the feeling that Whack em’ All made more money off all of this publicity than James would have otherwise. In fact, because of James’ reasonable, realistic response to all of this, I am going to buy Whack em’ All.

    In order for pirating to slow down the rules need to change. I think that pirating will never be completely wiped out, because there will always be people too cheap to pay, and a hacker that is willing to crack/steal the media. But the major cooperation’s (and the government’s) response to pirating will only fuel the fire. Until they are willing to change, pirating will continue and rise. With more reasonable pricing and more trials, pirating will go down.

  15. 15

    Thanks for the support Skaman34! :)

  16. 16

    I bet google will open goostore really soon for their G2 phone ;)
    Then appstore will no longer exist hehehhe
    and again, a new battle is awaken :D
    Im just daydreaming

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