Jul 23 AT 2:24 PM Dustin Earley 65 Comments

Dead Trigger’s price change due to “unbelievably high” piracy rates


Madfinger’s decision to move their popular zombie shooter game Dead Trigger from $0.99 to free was met with both cheers and jeers. Anyone looking to download the game for free from Google Play couldn’t have been more happy. Those who had already purchased the game felt like they had been cheated, which Madfinger could certainly sympathize with.

According to a Facebook post from Dead Trigger’s developers Madfinger Games, the main reason Dead Trigger went from $0.99 to free was due to “unbelievably high” piracy rates on Android devices:

Regarding price drop. HERE is our statement. The main reason: piracy rate on Android devices, that was unbelievably high. 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.Madfinger GamesDevelopers of Dead Trigger

As unfortunate as this is for Madfinger, it’s even worse for Android as a whole.

When big name game developers like Madfinger go as far as completely giving up on charging money for a game because piracy rates are so out of control on Android, it’s going to cause a stir. Developers aren’t going to hear about Madfinger’s piracy troubles and decide to release high-quality games for free. They’ll either pump games full of ads (on top of offering in-app purchases) or ditch Android for iOS.

Side loading apps on Android devices certainly has its advantages. But the time has come for Google to implement some sort of free or low cost verification process for certain types of apps if they want developers to remain interested in their platform. Let’s hope this whole mess gets sorted out before the impact really starts to show.

In the meantime, go enjoy Dead Trigger for free. It’ll only take one level to really appreciate the work Madfinger put into the game.


Via: DroidDog

Source: Facebook

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • LukeT32

    Sucks for the Dev/Android community… but works out well for me since I had never heard of this game until today. Downloading now. :)

  • JLM

    what about PC games… don’t you think piracy rates are also very high for these ?

    • Dustin Earley

      Which is why developers have been so quick to adopt Steam. And why most indie-PC game developers have made the move to consoles as well.

      • mike

        you can pirate steam games just as easy

        • Dustin Earley

          You don’t think Steam’s ease of use has cut down on piracy at all?

          • erikiksaz

            I’m not 100% convinced that steam alone cut down on piracy. I believe that piracy has slightly gone downhill due to the games requiring one serial key per account. This doesn’t matter for single player gaming, but mostly for massive multiplayer games like the Call of Duty series.

            I find it disheartening that people aren’t willing to pay a couple-few dollars for a game. Chances are you’ll play the damn thing for at least 30 mins, if not more. Even at minimum wage you’ll only be working for half an hour to pay for the damn game. And this was assuming full price (wasn’t it $5, I forgot, I bought it on release day).

          • Max.Steel

            CoD a massive multiplayer game? Aye…

        • Brett

          ^This I don’t understand the stigma surrounding Android piracy vs. Steam or GOG piracy, I even know of tutorials that show you how to make torrents of your steam games. Seeing more and more of this I only torrent games that are completely unavailable to my region or that use unnecessary security software (SecuROM anyone?) or do not have a way to test the game. If it doesn’t meet any of those criteria and you like the game, than you should show the developer some love and purchase the game at some point in time.

    • macduck

      don’t you see any difference in price between PC and Android games? lets say between $45-50 and $0.99?

    • John in Brisbane

      True, but the android/iOS model is based on eliminating the piracy by 1. charging very low prices but catching most of the users – low cost, broad base etc and 2. having the software/hardware set up so that most ppl wouldn’t even know how to pirate.

  • http://midweststitch.com ajonrichards

    I thought there was some sort of verification process; EZPDF Reader occasionally checks my license. Are licenses not checked through Google but through the vendor, or some 3rd party?

  • Anon

    > But the time has come for Google to implement some sort of free or low cost verification process for certain types of apps if they want developers to remain interested in their platform.

    Please do your research. This functionality already exists[1], the developers in this case have either chosen not to use it, or it has been circumvented via a binary modification of the game’s APK.

    [1] http://developer.android.com/guide/google/play/licensing/index.html

    • Dustin Earley

      I was under the impression that any verification process was handled by either the developer themselves or a third-party. Thank you for the heads up on this.

      I guess the biggest question now is why would developers choose not to include Google’s verification methods and complain about rampant piracy later?

      • Gregg

        Maybe they also didn’t RTFM

      • ericl5112

        They may have used the built in method poorly. With Java, you can decompile the .jar into the actual code of the app (more or less). There are also methods of converting the .apk into a .jar. A developer needs to spend some time hiding that licencing code. It’s not hard to do, and can make the world of difference. Compound that with the fact that decompiling the .jar gives some pretty hard to read code anyway, and you’re pretty secure. Don’t obfuscate your code, and it’s that much easier to crack.

        Now, it’s not all bad. When decompiling a .jar, you have some very wierd code. I had 40 hours of code in an app, when a hard drive wipe to windows 8 combined with my backup hard drive crashing led me to have 0 lines of code and the binary. Even after decompiling, and even being the author, it took a day to make it readable again. If I hadn’t written it, it would have been a lost cause. A little obfuscation goes a long way. If the licence check is not in plain site, it may not be found easily at all.

      • Ken Marshall

        How stupid do you think these devs are? This isnt a herp derp forgot to implement scenario. We are talking hard dollars here not some guys working for the good of the community. Obviously the system provided by Google at present is INNADEQUATE/easily circumvented, hence the rampant/easy piracy.

        What I want to know, does your phone have to be rooted? Because there cant be that many rooted looking at market as a whole. Or is it simply a case of allowing installs from 3rd parties, and installing a pirate APK?

        And yes unbelievable that people are even considering PIRATING… $1 GAMES?!!!!? Pathetic

  • PGJ

    A quick look on Pirate Bay shows that there are thousands of warez for iOS, among them Dead Trigger. So, there certainly seem to be a very lively warez community for iOS as well.

    • http://www.anthonydomanico.com Anthony Domanico

      true, but you can sideload an application on just about any Android device, whereas you have to jailbreak an iPhone/iPad to load a pirated application.

  • fletchtb

    It sucks that even at $1 people feel the need to pirate this software.

  • wicked4u2c

    Let’s analyze this again. Dead Trigger has over 100,000 downloads, how many were free vs paid is unknown. However, Amazing Alex which is a game by Rovio has over 100,000 downloads cost $.99 cents and was released after Dead Trigger.

    If Android piracy was really “unbelievable high” I doubt companies like Rovio would produce any apps for Android. I believe there was an ulterior motive to why they gave it away for free, if anything they pissed a lot of people that had actually bought the game in the first place, read the negative reviews.

    on side note Final Fantasy has over 50,000+ downloads and sells for $15.99!

    • Someone

      I bought the FFIII game…(with my nexus credit). (Though I’ll admit before I did that I looked around for a pirated copy for it. I found one, but you need root and to run a special program…all in all, too complicated so I just bought it…which is exactly how the system should work. I have bought every app I’ve ever wanted, but 16 bucks was too much for using my actual earned money…I just want to point out this is the first time I considered pirating something on Android.)

    • MitchRapp81

      Market download means it was paid – pirated versions come from forums, torrents, newsgroups, etc….

      • http://htcsource.com Nick Gray

        Yes, but app downloads from the market has skyrocketed since the app turned free. There’s no way we can tell how many of those 100,000+ actually paid for the app.

        I was going to point out the success of FFIII as well. I purchased the game on day one and slowly watched as is crossed multiple sales thresholds. If a game is good enough, people will page $16 for it. I’m sure there are a lot of people who have pirated FFIII, but they are probably in the minority.

        • Ken Marshall

          “If a game is good enough” bullshit!
          The best games get the most pirated period unless they have really tough copy protection!

          Its like the lame excuses about “if a movie was good then id pay for it” complete bs as its not like pirate sites are full of crap!

  • GrendelJapan

    Love the community here on A&Me. Good story, but you know there has to be something more to the issue and within 12 comments you get a lot more context on what is obviously a fairly complex issue.

  • http://mihai.discuta-liber.com/ tmihai20

    I haven’t pirated it and I am not pirating Android games. I am not playing games that much, I need a bluetooth controller and I haven’t found one in Romania yet (at a fair price). Yes, piracy is present on any platform, but it’s not fair to blame it for low sales. It never brings anything good. It’s sad that MadFinger Games producers are thinking this way…

    • Derek

      I NEVER used to pirate android apps when there was a 24 hour return policy. Now that its 15 minutes, I pirate everything before I buy it. I’ll download a pirate version use it for a day and if I like it then I’ll buy it so I get updates. If it sucks I uninstall it. 15 minutes just isnt enough time to fully try out an application. That’s utterly ridiculous on Google’s part.

      • Ken Marshall

        I guess for people like you they invented DEMOS??? If all you want to do is try it.. surerly that would suffice? Google play does not do game rentals im afraid. Which other platforms give you refunds off the back of a trial period by the way? Your comment is “utterly ridiculous”

        • Derek

          I’ll give you the perfect example since you want to be a douchebag. Here at work we have an icewarp mail server. I wanted a Caldav sync app. There are several in the play store. But only one of them works properly. I found this out through trial and error. I had to download and try each one to determine if they worked. The last one I tried actually worked. 15 minutes is not enough time to thoroughly try out a piece of software, even on a phone. If it was regular software I could return it to the place of purchase with my receipt. Google’s play store doesnt allow this anymore.

          • http://mihai.discuta-liber.com/ tmihai20

            The man has a point. If only people that pirate apps on Android would do the same as you, then apps would sell better. Most people are just content to use it like that without any remorse.

  • ericl5112

    I have a little trouble feeling sympathetic as an android dev. There are just bucketloads of ways to make pirating an app so much more difficult, without much added work for the developer. Did they try any? I think so, because they can obviously tell when an app is pirated, so you can stop that app from functioning.

    I think this is a press stunt, get more downloads, and more IAP.

    • ericl5112

      I will even put forward one more theory. The DRM on this game was intentionally weak to let people pirate it and not block them from making IAP. It’s a possibility from a technical standpoint, and that’s where they stand to make most of their money.

    • cristian cristiandonose

      Remember that app encryption google anounced this year?

  • kwills88

    Heard a lot of complains about this game, it’s as if mad finger wanted to abuse the whole in app Purchases, you can’t really do much in that game unless you buy stuff

  • rauelius

    Ironically if they never did in app purchases and sold the WHOLE game for $8 there would have been a ton less piracy? How do I know? ShadowGun and RipTide Say Hi.I never hear of those two games going free to play because of piracy. Get rid of the In App Payment system and charge the $8-$10 this awesome game is worth and profit. It’s easy if you don’t let stupidity, selfishness and greed get in the way. MadFinger, I love your games, so have some faith in your fans. I paid for ShadowGun…Twice!! Once for my non-Tegra version(Galaxy Nexus) and AGAIN for the Tegra version when I got a Transformer Prime, i WOULD have been ecstatic to pay $8 for Dead Trigger. Easiest thing to do (few developers seem to have an IQ high enough to do this) is offer a free version with the option of In App Payments, and a Full Pay version with all the In App Purchases already loaded. Fixing this issue is painfully easy once you get your ego out of the way.

    • ericl5112

      “Easiest thing to do (few developers seem to have an IQ high enough to do this) offer a free version with the option of In App Payments, and a Full Pay version with all the In App Purchases already loaded.”

      I take it you’ve never written an app before, nor done game balancing?

      As for your other argument, I wholly disagree. I bet the piracy factor would be a lot higher on an expensive game you can get all the content for, rather than a cheap game that even after pirating you don’t get all the content. Those games probably use better DRM. After all, why spend the effort to protect an app that gets you IAP even from pirates.

      • rauelius

        Cordy’s Devs do this…it’s not hard and painfully easy to implement. But, please prove me wrong, Show me another article where a $5-$10 game was forced to go free to play due to piracy, I’m never wrong, but I hear it’s quite the experience.

        • ericl5112

          Oh, so one game who’s IAP was extra levels iirc (with 4 levels free, buy the rest) rather than in game items that affect game balance is your example? Bravo. Not too intelligent there.

          Have you ever written any apps? I have. I would LOVE to see, in line by line code, exactly how it’s “painfully easy” to implement. Once you’ve done that (which I doubt you will), I then want you to give me a detailed plan on how you would implement an unlock system to provide balance throughout the game. Then, explain to me why pirating an app with IAP makes more sense (save a dollar, still not have the whole game) than pirating a game with no IAP (save $8, have whole game) The reason you can’t do that is because your ideas make no sense. The reason you don’t see $8 games go F2P is because a game dev isn’t going to rip off people who paid $8 with a switch to F2P, which would also cost them time and money to re-balance. Not to mention the massive hurt to their reputation.

          Then, when you realize you are without the skill to do any of those things, I look forward to the either troll-ish post you put in response, or the complete silence of your inability to prove anything.

          • rauelius

            What App have you made? The people who made Whale Trail (an excellent game BTW) have a pay version and a free one with in app payments called Whale Trail Frenzy. I don’t agree with pirating at all, so please don’t put words into my mouth, that is the sign(not that you are) of an unevolved ignorant being.

            “Then, explain to me why pirating an app with IAP makes more sense” – Unevolved Comment (Don’t get defensive, I’m speaking about the comment not the person.)

            Again, show me where a $5-$8 app had to become free due to piracy.

            My “ideas” are just logic. Having a different version for $5-$10 with all the stuff already unlocked, or earned easily would just involve two versions of the game (Like Whale Trail and Whale Trail Frenzy), with slight modifications to the code. Devs already have two versions of games (a free and pay) so, whats so hard about a Free with In App Purchases and a Pay with all the IAP’s already unlocked? It’s all about choice. Do you have a problem with choice? Is free will that scary to you? That may not be the case, but the verbiage you are using leads me to believe that you are weak minded, bear in mind, I’m not saying you are, but being against choice would lead one to that conclusion.

            I don’t write android software, but do PC, and it’s easy to change one part of the code to unlock certain parts of the software. Again easy.

            I got a lot of enjoyment out of Dead Trigger, and didn’t feel the need to buy IAP, but I would have been happier to spend $10 and have access to everything easily.

          • jbstiles1942

            App maker here. While it’s not PAINFULLY easy to implement Rauelius’ idea, it’s doable, and probably worth it. The difference between a free app and pay app are basically the same with certain parts enabled and disabled. This can easily be applied to have an App with IAP for free and one where the IAP stuff is available day one but charge for the game. Thank you for suggesting this and we will implement this in our next title. I love going to boards like this where I can get ingenious ideas like this. Thank you Rauelius.

  • MoSDeeb

    Pirating a $1 game is just sad, but I am curious if there was a trend to these pirated games. Were they mostly localized to countries without having access to the paid market apps?

  • Derek

    How were they determining that piracy rates were high? Was it due to low download volumes? Maybe the game sucks and not that many people wanted it?

    Again, I’d like to see evidence of high piracy rates. That sounds like the recording industry claiming that high piracy rates are killing their sales…no, its just all the garbage product that they put out that does that. And the fact that a popular song can be heard once per hour on the radio until you’re sick of it after three days.

    • http://facebook.com/jestertx2001 Jesse Moreno

      This is exactly my question. Is there a way to ping the Play Store to verify which instance of the app was downloaded and which was sideloaded? If so, things like backup and restore apps are possibly skewing these numbers since restoring apps doesn’t technically count as a download from the Store, yes?

      I won’t pretend like I’m anything more than a power user but this just doesn’t seem to fit too terribly well to me. But good luck to the developers, though. I hope their IAPs increase rightly so now that the app is truly free-to-play.

  • Max.Steel

    What do you expect when you charge for a game and still put in-app purchases. It’s utter BS. Glad, they finally woke up.

  • EyeSeeU

    There are many other things they could have done to increase game purchases and/or discourage people from downloading the pirated version.
    1. They could have implemented the low cost verification process (read comments above)
    2. They could release periodic updates to the app (these don’t reach pirated versions)
    3. They could have continued to sell it, even if it’s only a portion of the people who play it. Tens of thousands of dollars is better than nothing, right? So why did they simply give it away free? Because:
    This whole thing is just a marketing ploy; a way of gaining attention to their game and their name so that future releases will have more success.
    And (possibly):
    To cause a stir against piracy in hopes that Google will establish even more preventive measures which will ultimately only negatively affect people who don’t pirate (much like mp3 DRM which was eventually done away with because it sucked and did nothing to stop mp3 piracy except for limit and annoy people who actually paid for it.)

  • Greg

    I want to see evidence of this piracy they speak of. I personally believe that they originally designed the game for in app purchasing… I question the speed at which it was implemented AND released if it wasn’t designed that way to begin with. After the update I cannot even start the app. If I had known the purpose of the update I would never have installed it. It shows their ethics as a company…they are worse than the people pirating the game to begin with.

    This tactic is called ‘bait and switch’ and is highly illegal in Australia. Poor forethought is not a reason to screw your PAYING customers.

    I will be getting a refund purely out of principle. I hope others do the same and wish them bankruptcy.

    • Greg

      Okay – woah. I overstepped the mark here.

      I didn’t realise it was fremium before it went free, I merely assumed that I paid for it therefore I had everything. No wonder everyone was pirating…what a bad model. There are much better ways to do this.

      Anyway, I take back my claims of bait and switch. I was totally wrong here. They should carefully think their future strategies.

  • Hersh

    I paid my dollar and it runs great on my Nexus 7. PS3 axis controller on its way.

    I used to side load paid apps during the G1 days, but its important to support the developers.

  • BigCiX

    I just downloaded this game. The video looms good as far as graphics.

  • Nathan D.

    “Didn’t see this coming” I was planning to get this later but since it is free might as well get it now and this game is awesome.

  • bambang

    the game look very good, even it doesn’t work on my low end phone, had to play on friends tablet

    it’s sad to see the piracy on droid, but we are have the ability to do it though ( by Root your phone ) give the great chance to do all stuff around it

  • cristian cristiandonose

    Dont know if you guys remember ,but this year at Google I/O they introduced aplication encryption, so it will not take long to secure the apps againts piracy assuming this really works.

  • anywherehome

    good game has good results ;)

  • spazby

    i paid for the game and am very happy with it… so what if the game is free now – I clearly wanted it when i paid for it so people should stop bitching about it.

  • Jorge Vieira

    i bought it for a dollar. and purchased 5 dollars of credits. and then this upadte wipes all that away….im pissed.

  • smeghead68

    Hard to believe that a game less than $1 sees a high piracy rate. Some people are beyond cheap.

    • dan

      the world is big man…. not evryone earns as much as in the west,,.,and we dont give a damn abt orginals r such crap…..piracy cuts down on our costs….

  • dan

    come on wat r u guys…. a bunch of dogooders?…. i will pirate as i have now and alwayz will ….. the word …..the world is a rotten place…. rotten is THE normm……. hence u have so many wesites dedicated 2 piracy….

  • unicronic

    This is not good news. The game was available for such a low price. Google really need to button down the hatches on these issues otherwise developers will always go to iOS first.

    Google has always been behind the curve on the Android Market/Play Store support and enhancement.

    I’m based in Asia and it took WAY TOO LONG for paid support to get here. Still no media purchasing is allowed.

    As long as these USA companies act with such a closed mentality – Netflix, Hulu & many more are all unavailable in Asia – they’re causing more problems than they’re solving.

  • domikenobi

    I bought the game for 1$ and man what a waste of money.
    First you purchase the game to find out you need In App Purchases to have any chance!

    Sorry but this sounds more like a promotional stunt to cover up for a bad game.

  • TheZZ

    Who doesn’t like fremium stuff? IOS is the same, most of people jailbreak their Iphone,Ipad and Ipod. Google should really make summer sales like steam. it will reduces piracy.

  • SGB101

    game is great, the tegra3 version is awesome, and comparing my HOX to the wifes SGS3, i defo know i made the best decision.

  • Keionyan

    I don’t know if I speak up for everyone else but I don’t like buying online that involves a credit card even through a secure channel as paypal or other mediums. If the playstore allowed payments from credit loads for 3rd world countries like my own (Philippines) then I have no problem buying them. Carriers aren’t mainstream here because they cost alot at unstable and unreliable service so we use SIM cards that we put credit loads instead. That way it is much faster and safer for transactions to occur.

  • Holger

    It also doesn’t speak for the developers wanting inapppurchases + money for the App itself. I KNOW it was 1€ only, but still it doesn’t make sense to me buying something, but still missing content in the game. So you pay for something, that I will not be able to play in its full size, since I still have to pay more!?
    Even IF one is able to play through the whole game, a customer feels cheated. I did actually buy the game…played through some levels and then decided to get my money back as soon as I saw EA-methods being used.
    Not that the game was bad, no, not at all! But I can’t support something as opaque as this payment methods. Therefore I must say that this step was just the right thing! Now I can play and then decide to support the Dev-Team by myself (and I do feel more comfortable with this method just because it’s my decision!). I still do wish people would pay more money on good games. I did already spend alot of money in the playstore, and am still willing to do so, but give us customers a chance to not spend our whole money on ONE game! E.g. Final Fantasy…would just cost me 13€! But hell yeah, I don’t have to pay more than those 13€, so ofc Im willing to pay that much! But who knows how much DLC will be available for a game which costs 1€ and makes money by paying for extra-content?!

  • 2noob2banoob

    A lot of people don’t pay for apps not because they don’t want to but because Google Play doesn’t support a payment method they are OK with. I believe all payment options require a credit card or a paid account with some payment service, and a lot of people just don’t have that. The moment GP starts to support automated internet banking (a service called iDeal in the Netherlands, dunno what it’s called in other countries) and makes sure people know, I predict piracywill go down by more than half, possibly even over 90%.