Smart phone piracy; what can you do to prevent it?

Ratrod’s president Pat Toulouse was recently interviewed for a Gamasutra article about smartphone piracy.

Pat discussed the different ways piracy can be prevented or at least reduced in order to gain more sales or limit the illegal distribution of your titles.

The article was written by Paul Hyman for Gamasutra which interviewed several developers regarding the issue.

Gamasutra Article:

Pat Toulouse wasn’t part of Nigrin’s informal survey. If he had been, Nigrin would have learned that Toulouse is adamant about aggressively attacking the piracy that he claims affects around 90 percent of iOS titles and over 95 percent of those on the Android platform.

Toulouse is president and founder of Ottawa, Canada-based Ratrod Studio (Hockey Fight Pro), which develops games for iOS, Android, and other platforms.

“For indie developers or smaller studios that are working around the clock to make a good quality title, this can put you out of business if you don’t adapt your game plan quickly enough,” he says, adding that pirated versions of games start appearing as early as 12 hours after their official launch in their respective app stores.

Toulouse reveals that, in order to detect illegal installations, Ratrod has developed detection tools that are being implemented in all its games that check for specific files and codes and verify if they have been modified.

“Our detection methods are very accurate,” he says, “and the data is then sent to our servers which keep everything on record. It allows us to determine the piracy rates per device, OS version, and country, and also keeps track of device UUIDs, IP addresses, play sessions, and conversion rates.”

Toulouse recognizes that the number of pirated installations doesn’t necessarily represent the amount of sales lost since, he says, a large number of users might not have ended up paying for the game, as evidenced by the very low conversion rate data observed from pirates-to-paying customers — 0.025 percent.

“But it certainly gives you an idea of how serious the problem is and why it’s important to keep it in consideration for your future projects,” he notes.

His best suggestions to other developers are these: keep the price of your app low since the pricier the app, the more people will be encouraged to find and download a pirated version. The heavier your app, the harder and more time-consuming it is to download, the more temptation there is. Finally, updating your game once in a while with new features, content, or bug fixes can also help reduce piracy rates.

He also recommends setting a Google Alert of your app name, which will automatically send you a daily notice with a list of all the web sites mentioning your game. You can then file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) form to request removal of the files off the various servers, since they are hosting a pirated version of your game.

Toulouse considers his anti-piracy efforts to be successful ones, although he accepts the reality that piracy is inherently unstoppable.

“But it can certainly be reduced,” he says. “By adapting different strategies, we managed to trim our piracy rates by more than 15 percent over the past year. Considering a total amount of downloads ranging in the millions, 15 percent represents thousands of dollars in additional sales. That’s surely a good enough reason to continue to monitor the situation closely and adapt our business model accordingly.”

Click HERE to read the original article from Gamasutra.