Apple’s App Store is a wonderful thing. When it launched in 2008, it opened up a world now home to 450,000 apps and games available to our iOS devices. There was nothing else like it. Never before had it been so easy for customers to discover and download mobile software, and for developers to distribute and sell it.
Developing for the App Store and the iOS platform isn’t without its flaws, however. As one iOS developer has recently learned, one of the biggest downsides to iOS development is piracy.
GAMEized is the team behind a soccer game for iOS called FingerKicks — a simple yet addictive game in which a player attempts to score as many goals as possible within a certain time limit. The app currently has a 4.5 star rating on the App Store and enjoys glowing reviews from fans.
When it first launched, GAMEized were proud of their release and were eagerly anticipating some of that App Store success that you occasionally hear about. However, things got off to a rocky start.
According to Apple’s sales data, FingerKicks’ first day in the App Store only racked up $97 in sales, and day after day that figure slowly decreased. After checking out the Game Center leader boards, however, GAMEized noticed that their game had picked up an impressive 5,000 players during its first weekend, and they couldn’t have been happier. Even at just $0.99, 5,000 sales was sure to bring in a pretty impressive pay check for just a few days in the App Store.
That elation was dampened, however, by Apple’s official sales numbers for that weekend. Despite 5,000 players on Game Center, FingerKicks had only managed 160 App Store downloads. So where had all these players come from?
Well, it seems FingerKicks was on the “featured” page of AppTrackr, a website from Hackulo.us that’s incredibly popular with certain jailbreakers who are keen to get their hands on “cracked” or pirated apps. Using this service and a certain app users can download and install almost any App Store title for free.
After only a short time in the App Store, FingerKicks had attracted over 17,000 players, but it had only collected a “bitterly disappointing” $800 in sales. It seems that despite its popularity with iOS gamers, the sad news for GAMEized is that only around 1 in 20 users were actually paying for the game.
Despite their love for the iOS platform and the App Store, which they declare in a post on their blog, GAMEized feel Apple could do more to prevent software piracy:
Apple apparently has no functional counter-piracy safeguards in place on their Game Center – essentially permitting users to play pirated software on their Game Center without any fear of reprisals or consequence.
I’ve heard a number of App Store success stories that detail the platform’s unique ability to make small-time developers incredibly wealthy in a short space of time, but it’s not often you hear the other side of things. The reality of it is that without any kind of piracy prevention measures in place, it’s incredibly easy to steal iOS software, which has a detrimental affect on many developers.
Should Apple be introducing a system to prevent App Store piracy?