Game developer Butterscotch Shenanigans sees 95% piracy rate on Android

May 15, 2013

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Everyone knows the piracy happens in the software world. Smartphones are certainly no exception, particularly on the Android platform where you don't have to buy from an official application store. One Android game developer has recently offered up some details that highlight the struggles game developers face with app piracy.

Developers Butterscotch Shenanigans, who developed the games Towelfight 2 and Quadropus Rampage, recently admitted that they had seen over 34,000 pirated copies of their first game on the Android operating system. By comparison, the number of pirated versions of their game on the iOS platform numbered only a little over 2400.

According to the developers, 95% of users who played their game on Android used an unofficial pirated copy. The game the developers are talking about is Towelfight 2 and it released at the same time for Android and iPhone users and $.99 on each platform. While 95% of Android players pirated the game, only 5% on the iPhone pirated.

Obviously, you can't assume that every developer faces the same sort of massive piracy problems as Butterscotch Shenanigans. However, you can bet now a number of developers are facing the same challenge. Butterscotch will be switching to a freemium model moving forward with free to download games supported by ads and presumably in game purchases.

The developers say that it's freemium title will be beatable solely by meeting goals in the game and by paying for access. Interestingly, the developers will also reduce the price for gamers who made progress in the free version of the game to begin with.

SOURCE: SlashGear

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  • Andy_in_Indy

    If they can recognize pirated versions, why can’t they block them?
    Also, given how easy it was to find a place to download the apk, I have trouble believing they are actually trying to do anything to block piracy.

    • We get the numbers after-the-fact from our analytics by comparing our unique users to our sales. We can’t tell *who* is pirating, just how many. So far, we get at least 2-3 alerts every day that our game has been posted on additional piracy sites. There are thousands of copies of it out there, and only two of us. We used Google Licensing, which was circumvented within 1 hour of the game’s launch.

      Simply put, we don’t have the resources to go up against thousands of people who have way more time and resources than us. We just want to make games.

      • Anthony820

        I don’t mean to trivialize the piracy and in no way am I defending it; however, if you had a 50% piracy rate on IOS, doesn’t that mean your actual sales were similar? If my math is correct, and I’m sure it’s not, you only had about 700 more sales on iOS. Which, also, seems about par for the course for dual release apps, yes? I guess what I’m getting at is, while the piracy rate was high, did it have a 95% impact on actual sales? If you only had 4800 total copies played on iOS (pirated & bought) I think it’s sort of a leap to insinuate you would’ve sold 36,000 copies on Android.

      • A very good point! We never assumed that our pirates were lost sales. We figure they would either pirate or not pay for the game, which is why we are moving to a freemium model.

        At least with a freemium game, we have a chance (albeit small) of earning some kind of revenue from people who pick up the game for free. If people want free games, then we have to find a way to work within that framework.

  • Quick correction — We had about a 50% piracy rate on iOS, not 5%. Thanks!

  • Matthew Green

    I usually dislike the freemium model for games, but its pretty clear that its the best way for developers to make money on their games. Its such a shame.

  • I hope Google game center and cloud saves can help with piracy prevention.

  • I grew up pirating just about everything, but I can’t pirate a $.99 app with a clear conscience from a small company. If I can give a bartender more than that for taking five seconds to pour me a beer, I can sure as hell give a developer a buck for all the time they’ve invested in their app. I don’t believe in DRM, complex antipiracy schemes, or free apps with ridiculous amounts of IAPs, but I do believe in educating people about the impact of piracy, and letting them make their own moral decision whether to be an asshole or not.

  • SuperMario7

    This is why smartphone gaming sucks, no one pays for anything , so we end up with freemium junk from big companies like Gameloft and EA. Right now on iOS, they have stuff like PC ports of the Walking Dead, The World Ends With You Remix which is the best thing Square Enix have done in some years, we don’t even get Fifa 13 on Android, we’re also missing out on brilliant indie games from the likes of Simogo. The Android situation is better these days, but with the user base on Android, we should have infinitely better game selection than iOS, but it’s not the case. The sad fact is Apple with it’s small user base still generates more revenue for developers in one quarter than what Android manages in a whole year.

    Why don’t devs do what Capcom did with Ghost Trick on iOS? release the game as a free app so it gives users a taste and then charge a 1 one off IAP for the full game, it’s a far better alternative than going freemium. I want quality games on Android, not leftover scraps from iOS or freemium junk

  • Krel Adam

    Android developers should implement a one time verification fee when you first open the app. It could detect if the app is legitimate. If not then it should disable it.