Thursday, October 1, 2009

Our Pirate Game is Getting Owned by App Store Pirates!

When we launched our first iPhone app iCombat several months ago we found an incredible rate of piracy, with almost 60% of total users using cracked copies 30 days in (80+% during the first 7 days). The piracy issue and how we chose to deal with it became such a big topic at the time (see Gizmodo post here) that we eventually decided to make our second title, Silver Skull, a pirate game - literally.

We thought creating an app where the player is the pirate would be clever somehow but one thing we didn't quite consider was that this game too would be cracked! Of course it seems obvious that it would be but when we saw the spike in Pinch Media unique users last week we were surprised. Had we been covered in a major blog, been featured in iTunes or maybe been tweeted about by Ashton Kutcher? Hardly. Our pirate themed game had been pirated, how ironic.

The frustrating thing this time is that, unlike with the iCombat release that enjoyed strong press at launch, Silver Skull has been covered less and so pirated users, if we calculate as the difference between iTunes sales and Pinch Media usage statistics, comprise a disproportionate percentage of our users.

Early stats about how pirates are owning our new app:
  • 85% of current users are using cracked copies (1 week after going live)
  • 7 of the top 10 entries in Google when searching under "Silver Skull iPhone" are links to cracked sites
  • 15+ tweets in the last 7 days linking to cracked copies in Twitter
  • 15x jump in unique users when the first cracked copies went live(off of a small base though)
  • Rapid sampling of game.  Usage analytics tell us that most of these pirated users don't play deep into the game.
Why we are not that concerned that our app has been pirated:
  • Rate of piracy declines rapidly. iCombat showed us that piracy rates trail off the more time the game is live (dropped to below 50% after 3 months).  Since pirates are very early adopters, they tend to cycle through apps quickly.  Novelty is the rush not free. 
  • Piracy boosted paid sales. Our sales nearly doubled in the days following the release of the cracked version.
  • Any attention is better than no attention.  It has become increasingly difficult to get noticed in the app store so having users, any users, is better than nothing (see our full post on this here). 
  • Lite version is going live soon.  This should deflate much of the push to pirate as again, pirates are more focused on sampling, not long term usage.

No comments:

Post a Comment