In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the developer of the popular zombie first person shooter Dead Trigger has announced that it has made its game completely free on Android with no in-app purchases as a result of what it calls the “unbelievably high” piracy rate on Android despite a previous price drop to $0.99. Below, the statement in full:
Regarding price drop. HERE is our statement. The main reason: piracy rate on Android devices, that was unbelievably high. At first we intend to make this game available for as many people as possible – that’s why it was for as little as buck. – It was much less than 8$ 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.
The game itself is also available on iOS for the previous $0.99 rate, but at issue is the elephant in the room regarding Android and the relative ease of premium application piracy, which Google has only begun to address on the latest Android update in Jelly Bean with paid app encryption support in order to stem the piracy problem, but it still does little to ease the mounting concerns of indie developers. This news also has implications for the much-hyped Ouya console, as it’s also Android-based and the news of developer Madfinger Games latest move is sure to give developers more to worry about when it comes to both supporting and making a living on Android.
If a game like Dead Trigger is forced to go from premium to free, it says more about the lack of protection for developers being provided by Google and the lack of respect by users for the work that such developers put into Android development, since the majority of devices are still on Android Gingerbread and the paid app encryption functionality is only supported on Jelly Bean. There should be no reason that developers should have to eliminate the main revenue stream for a game just to head off piracy, but it’s Google’s responsibility to deal with this issue head on instead of just adding another feature which the majority of its devices won’t support, it’s simply not enough.
What the Dead Trigger situation also demonstrates is that no matter how hard you try to placate the audience while simultaneously keeping an eye on your own well-being, for many, it isn’t enough unless it’s completely free. Unfortunately, the free to play model on Android doesn’t help indie developers and actually does more harm to them than good in the long run.