iOS piracy?

So - this is 100% off-topic for Codea, but I have questions for iOS devs, and I know aside from TLL, there’s a lot of others lurking around.

There’s this:

Apparently this game launched, and they found most of the users were using a pirated version - so much so that it overwhelmed their servers, and their response was basically to pull the game, refund the money, and be done with it. Bravo to them for refunding the money ($4.99), but I can’t help but wonder - was that the only choice? I am also wondering - I’m jailbroken, and I have nothing pirated, nor would I - it’s not why I jailbreak. Everyone I know (to be fair, all old men) are in the same boat - at a buck or two a game, or even $5 or more, the concept of tracking down a pirated version and installing it and worrying about a trojan or such is simply insane. Hell - I wouldn’t do it for any app (Anything more expensive than say $20 would be a work thing, I’d make them pay :slight_smile: )

So - on the “what could they do” - is there a way, given an app store sale, to confirm that a given app connecting to a server is legit? I would think a watermark or GUID generated on app sale would do the trick - you could allow the first one in with a given device ID, and then deny anyone coming in with the same GUID. Or - maybe not, as I (for example) often put the same thing on both my iphone and ipad. But - is there no other option?

I used to play World of Warcraft (for years - got bored eventually) - and one of the things I was really impressed with was that since you didn’t buy the game from them, but rather paid for an account monthly (and could only log in one at a time), piracy wasn’t really an issue. I would think the same could happen today - maybe an app activation on first run or such. Dunno - I’ll just be horrified/stunned if there’s not some anti-piracy best practice that could be done on an iOS device…

The piracy rate for paid apps on iOS is pretty high — I’ve heard up to 80% or so.

The down side for pirates is they don’t get updates immediately, they have to deal with a jailbroken device (i.e. no iOS updates until they are jailbroken).

Battle Dungeon probably would have been better served by an In-App Subscription through Apple. $5 for 6 months to a year of playtime, automatically recurring. This would be impossible to pirate since the validation would happen entirely between their server and Apple’s.

/boggle - 80%?!?!? Holy crap.

I… I don’t see how that could be. Cydia’s estimate in 2009 was 10% of ios devices were jailbroken, and I suspect that’s high, especially now as there’s no ios6 jailbreak in public. So you’re about 10 to 1 jailbroken versus normal.

But 80% implies 4 of 5 instances of a paid app are pirated - by that 1/10th of the ios-using populace, as they’re the only ones who can run them. This implies for every paid app someone buys, there are 40 pirated apps out there - this seems nutty, especially given the very low cost of most apps at 99 cents.


I didn’t realize apple had a subscription model other than for magazines - I’ve never seen that in any of the games I do play. Of course - I tend to avoid IAP, so maybe I just missed it.

whoa, i never knew the figure was so high, i believed it was only that high for Cydia.
I was a pirate till i realised how bad it actually was to be a pirate, i deleteb 2/3 of my library (mostly programming books) got rid of 3/4 of my apps both from app store and Cydia and vowed never to pirate again no matter how small or big.

I’m very surprised it’s that high - especially for the reasons Bortels gave. I would have thought that without any new jailbreaks it would have almost dropped to nothing.

I haven’t seen Battle Dungeon, BUT in my experience the majority of dev’s who complain about high piracy rates usually use it to hide very poor app sales, an 80% piracy rate for a game doesn’t actually amount to much if you only managed to ship 20 copies. You never seem to hear Rovio complaining about piracy.

Given the price of most apps and the dangers of infected malware in pirated versions (oh yeah, that guy who spread that illegal copy of the game is REALLY the one I want to trust with my phone, contact details, bank accounts etc), anyone who installs pirated software these days must want their head examining.

I can understand the argument about “try before you buy” but developers can easily smash this argument by simply releasing all apps for free and having a “sensible” single IAP to unlock the whole game. Kinda what Bortels suggested with WOW.

.@TechDojo I agree, complaining about the piracy rate is not worthwhile, and not good for anyone. If someone uses a pirated copy of Codea I hope that some day they might buy it — but far more than that I hope they like it and enjoy using it.

Just did a bit of reading on the piracy stats. I now have a huge pinch of salt ready by my computer for the next time I read about such things.

.@Simeon have you got any figures relating to piracy rates for Codea? If used correctly piracy can actually be beneficial to a company (especially when it’s starting out) as at the end of the day pirated or not, it’s still YOUR company name and YOUR game that’s being spread for you - almost like a free distribution medium.

.@Andrew_Stacey - Can you provide some links, I could do with a good laugh. The whole “every copy lost to Piracy equates to a direct loss of earnings per copy to the Publisher” is complete BULL, I’m not saying some companies don’t suffer and could potentially make MORE cash if Piracy didn’t happen, it’s just that these day’s Piracy (and the potential for it) is just part of the landscape and if you want to play in the garden you have to learn how best to use the terrain to your own advantage - make the Pirates your friends and let them do your marketing and distribution for you!

.@TechDojo I just searched for “iOS piracy rate” and read the first few hits and followed a few links. It’s interesting reading to see where the pirates are and why those places are particular hotbeds of piracy.

.@TechDojo I don’t have the stats, but I hold exactly the same view as you about this issue.

.@Andrew_Stacey with one of our first games we did have the stats, and it was about 70% - 80%. It didn’t bother us though because it was still people playing our game. Which was great.

.@Simeon How do you get those stats? I’m curious as to how you estimate pirated copies. I’m also curious as to whether the geographical distribution matches what I read from those articles.

.@Andrew_Stacey the way we got them with our first game was simply by looking at the total number of users who had played (via analytics) versus the number of sales that Apple said we had made. The discrepancy was fairly significant, as I mentioned.

I’m not sure on geographical distribution — this was in 2009. I seem to recall the US still having the largest number of players.

As I said though, it wasn’t an issue for us and we saw it as a benefit more than anything.

There’s a link to an interview done with Hunted Cow.

“If someone uses a pirated copy of Codea I hope that some day they might buy it — but far more than that I hope they like it and enjoy using it.”

this, honestly, is what i did. the app grabbed my attention something fierce, but ten dollars for me was a lot to risk on a potential ripoff. if not for the fact that i was able to give codea a 45-minute test run i probably never would have bought it.

of course, most people that use a pirated copy of something do it out of a sense that they are entitled to entertainment, which is unjustifiable.

I’m a bit baffled why Piracy is so pervasive on iOS to be honest. I agree with @TechDojo, The price point for apps is often fairly reasonable in comparison to games and apps on other platforms with a lot of exceptionally good ‘free’ stuff out there if your prepared to do some digging.

The user review system often means the ‘better’ apps bubble to the top of the pile and its fairly self regulating in this way to prevent people ‘generally’ not getting ripped off with total rubbish, not to mention Apples rigorous ‘review’ process. Hence, I’m surprised by @KMEB s argument that the possibility of being ripped off is a motivation - although maybe this is more likely on the dreaded Android Market.

Do you have to have a jailbroken iPad to run hooky-apps? If this is the case, I’d be interested to know as a percentage of iPad users how many actually have the nous and inclination to jailbreak their device - seems like an awful lot of effort to go to for a bunch of apps costing a few dollars or a couple of pints of beer!

Maybe I’m missing something here! :slight_smile:


it isnt always such a big risk, but a ten dollar app, especially one that sounds like something apple would never allow, was something worth investigating beforehand.

i also am not making a “pro-piracy” argument. the primary motivation for piracy is generally just wanting a free lunch, i just decided to take advantage of a theives’ framework.

If you do some background reading (search “ios piracy rate”) then you’ll see that the picture is quite complicated. A large part of the piracy can be laid at the door of those who cannot buy the apps legally.

@ Andrew_Stacey… Um. “those who cannot buy the apps legally” ??

Like customers in repressed regimes? Or those without credit cards linked to a kosher iTunes account? that sort of thing?

.@andymac3d: jailbreak their device - seems like an awful lot of effort.
on ios5.1 it was really no effort to jailbreak, and it was a must for me because of Big Brother unlegitimate restriction to managing my own files.

@Jmv38 - I see your point although, it’s never occurred to me personally to do it to mine so far as I can work around the problem for the most part - hence, the naively in my question, as well as some of the implications of going ‘off-piste’ (so to speak!) with Apple which probably would deter the majority of users.