A popular zombie shooting FPS for smartphones, Dead Trigger is now available free to download from the Google Play store. The developer, Madfinger Games, previously had the game on sale for a piffling $0.99 (79p) but in the face of mass piracy has decided to just let anyone have the game for free. The iOS version is still $0.99.
Madfinger Games, also developers of the Shadowgun and Samurai mobile games series, issued a statement on its Facebook page to explain the decision. “Regarding price drop. HERE is our statement. The main reason: piracy rate on Android devices, that was unbelievably high.” The company previously thought the bargain basement price tag would prevent mass piracy but it proved not to be the case. “At first we intend to make this game available for as many people as possible - that's why it was for as little as buck. - It was much less than 8$ for SHADOWGUN but on the other hand we didn't dare to provide it for free, since we hadn't got XP with free-to-play format so far. - However, even for one buck, the piracy rate is soooo giant, that we finally decided to provide DEAD TRIGGER for free. Anyway - DEAD TRIGGER is not FREEMIUM, it always was and still remains FREE-TO-PLAY, that means, all players are able to play it without IAP! We stand up for this statement, because all members of our team are playing (and enjoying) DEAD TRIGGER without IAP.” Indeed the developer may still be able to make money though IAP (In App Purchases), with many many more downloads due to its new free price tag it will be interesting to see how that income compares to income from games sales.
This latest episode in the Android piracy saga has annoyed a lot of people who recently bought the Dead Trigger game using their hard earned cash. Writing a one star review on Google Play, a typical buyer, feeling a bit cheated, said “Feel I have wasted money. Now FREE, where’s my £0.75” another said “Seriously?!?! I Pay For This, And Some Time Later, They Just Give This Game Away For Free, Which It Should Have Been In The First Place!!! Last MadFinger Game I'll Ever Purchase!!! FU MadFinger!!!” and most simply of all another annoyed user spat “I want my money back”.
Looking at the other side of the equation, if games developing companies find it less and less rewarding to develop for the Android platform then new software development may decline. There are several examples of Android developers becoming frustrated with the piracy rate of their apps. Appy Entertainment told of the crippling Android piracy rate in October last year. “The piracy rate on Android was 70 to 1 compared to 3 to 1 on iOS”. Another developer thought piracy was too cultivated a word for what is happening on Android, likening the situation more to the lawlessness of the Wild West.
Google’s new Android Jelly Bean 4.1 OS offers App Encryption functions that mean “paid apps are always transferred and stored in encrypted form” tied to a device specific key. Google’s description of App Encryption states “We know you work hard building your apps. We work hard to protect your investment.” However I would say it will be quite a long time before Android Jelly Bean OS and newer devices make up the majority of the Android ecosystem.