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.