Another Developer Slams Google Over Android Piracy

Last week, developer Madfinger Games said that it made its recent zombie FPS, Dead Trigger, a free-to-play game because of the "unbelievably high" piracy on Android. It was originally priced at a mere $0.99, a price point thought low enough to attract business. But the ratio of pirated versions outnumbered the paid copies, so the company decided to offer it for free. Either way, the developer will still make money thanks to in-game purchases.

As if striking a nerve, another developer has come forth, saying that there's no money to be made on the Android platform because of the rampant piracy issue. He even goes so far as to saying that Android is designed for piracy from the ground up because users can simply enable non-Market apps, copy the apk file onto the device, install it, and then run it without any kind of DRM. Thus, pirating Android apps is easy because the platform was built with an open mentality.

"You can say what you like about handset share, or first-party/carrier development: that’s only one piece of the puzzle," writes Matt Gemmell, an iOS developer. "Another piece is community contributions to the OS codebase. On the first point, iOS devices are doing just fine. On the second, a closed OS has only strengthened the brand, cohesion of direction, integration, usability and design standard of the product."

The third factor, he says, is the software ecosystem. It’s about whether or not, when the user picks up the handset and decides he/she wants to do something, there’s an app for that. "To have apps, you need developers. To have developers, you need enthusiasm and an investment of time and talent. Enthusiasm and effort can be driven by many motivations, but the most reliable and consistent of those is money. Yes, there it is: the m-word. It’s not a dirty word. You wouldn’t have your shiny handset without it, not because you wouldn’t have been able to afford it, but because it wouldn’t exist," he adds.

He says that in order for 3rd-party developers to get paid, the operating system needs to be locked down. Just like in real life, closing the door and locking it helps make sure thieves don't walk in and steal money. Bad behavior must be more difficult than good behavior - and good behavior means paying for the software.

"Open is an ideal, like true democracy, that’s warm and comforting but also impossible in a practical sense. It’s self-limiting," he says. "You’re spending today to pay for tomorrow, and we all know how that usually turns out. I want the futuristic, liberal, socialized utopia as much as you do, but I acknowledge that what we actually get is the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Capitalism wins, and it’ll drown you in the process if you stand in the way."

To read the full piracy rant, head here. Ultimately this iOS developer concludes that closed is better for business.

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  • Kami3k
    Most apps suck anyway. And guess who are the people complaining!

    That's right folks, the same people making those crappy apps!
  • sylvez
    As an Android user (and lover) the first thought that ran through my mind was 'shut up and stop whining' but we can cover our ears and sing 'lalalalalalala' all we want he does make sense.
    A completely closed system like Apple is definitely not the way, but Google needs to make installing external apps a little bit harder. This can also weed out those peeps who just download everything off the net without thinking and running on their phones and then crying when something bad happens to their phone.
  • _Cosmin_
    Don`t think like Sony! Preventing people to do what they want with their hardware is not the solution!
  • Vorador2
    Customer freedom is evil, true democracy is fake, rampant capitalism FTW, yadda yadda yadda. What an idiot. Guys like them deserve to be booted out of business altogether if you treat your customers like your enemies.

    It also reads like they're too lazy to develop an anti-piracy system on their own, and want it given to them. Also they seem to fall in the mistake of thinking that a pirated copy equals to a lost sale, something that it is not true at all.

    Sideloading, who they think is the biggest problem, for me is a godsend. I can make individual backups of apps with data, change my ROM and then load them back the way they were.
  • "A closed platform like iOS is the only way developers can make money on a mobile platform." really guys......... really ? Six guns and dead trigger, with their in-game cash shop items, are making more money than they ever did pay2play. I promise.

    Just like Microsoft and Windows. No money for developers there. This site obviously makes no money from the tons of users on pirated software visiting it. Fml, this is stupid and the person who wrote this article is worse off
  • You suck at writing un-biased articles. If you do the actual research on where the piracy is coming from, you will see that most of it comes from China where they can't legally purchase apps. Not only that but Google has even supplied a solution for developers that are whining about this android Piracy problem.
    "The Google Play Licensing service is primarily intended for paid applications that wish to verify that the current user did in fact pay for the application on Google Play."

    That comes from the official page for the Android Application Licensing service. It's a digital-rights-management platform provided by Google. It's real, it exists, and it doesn't really fit the narrative that Android is built for piracy.

    Sure, this doesn't change the fact that piracy is a problem on the OS, but a viable solution is available. Perhaps Gemmell should be asking his Android counterparts why they don't use the tools available to them to fight this age-old issue with all software."
  • hannibal
    The problem may be that developers abandon android platform, and that would mean hard time to get any programs to Android devices.
    Hmm.. In long run it would kill Android devices.
  • megahustler
    I'm consistently disappointed with the low number of available programs for my Windows 7 PC.

    Until now, I didn't realize it's because I can just get software from anywhere and not just from a Microsoft App Store that sells only Microsoft approved programs.
  • tului
    They don't need to make installing external apks harder. They need to make installing pirated apks harder.
  • tobalaz
    Wow, people pirate on iOS all the time, it's called jailbreaking, it exists, its easy to do and I know just as many people with jailbroken iPhones/ iPod touches/ iPads as I do with rooted Android phones and tablets, and you know what, they don't pay for squat.
    The people that are bitching are the guys that can afford to pay Apple to put their apps on market, not the little guy who develops a "free app" that does just as much or more as the paid app.
    I have an Android phone and love it, I don't have to pirate jack because the thousands upon thousands of free apps and games available, again, some just as good or better than a paid app.
    You want to make money on Android?
    Release your app twice, one free and add supported and one add free with a price tag, most users will pay to remove the ads if they like the app, and that way it can be tried without purchase that still leaves a purchase route open unlike where the only way to try a purchase only app is to side load it on the phone/ tablet, by then, they already have it and you just lost a potential sale.
    You want to make money on a game? Micro transactions. Everyone is already nickle and dimming us to death with DLC on the games we paid $60 for on a console, so a free game where we purchase a few boosts or items works and we're happy about it because if we enjoy the game, we can pay, again, giving us the opportunity to get our feet wet and see if we want to continue to play.
    People are lazy, they will suffer add supported apps if its a quick install without any work on their part, some people will hack in an app, but not as many as these "poor developers" would have us believe.
    Face it, Google made its money with ADDS, they designed their FREE OS around ADDS. It's NOT iOS, and you're a damn fool if you think the same business model is going to work on both Android and iOS. You're behind times just like the people that screamed iTunes was going to kill CD sales and AVI and MP4 was going to kill DVDs.