App developers are fighting what seems like a losing battle against software pirates, but some of them are finding new ways to deter users from downloading their latest titles illegally.
Noodlecake, the publisher behind games like Super Stickman Golf and Mikey Shorts, has created the ultimate troll for those who choose not to pay for its newest game: a pirate version that’s impossible to beat.
Piracy is a far greater problem on Android, thanks to the ability to download apps from third-party sources and install them manually — but there are pirate app stores for those with jailbroken iOS devices, too. Unfortunately, Noodlecake found this out the hard way.
The company published Wayward Souls, of the biggest and best-reviewed games from Rocketcat Games, one year ago on Android, and according to its analytics data, only 11 percent of players actually paid for the game. The rest of them downloaded it illegally.
“With all that in mind, we decided it would be fun to get ahead of this trend by pirating our own version of Shooting Stars! as a bit of a marketing experiment,” says Noodlecake in a blog post.
Alongside the regular version of the game, Noodlecake created a version specifically for pirates. It offers exactly the same experience until players get to the third boss, at which point they must defeat a wave of enemies that have “an obscene amount of health.”
If they do manage to get past this bit, the pirates will then encounter “Daft Premium,” a boss with unlimited health that doesn’t appear in the retail version of the game. It’s time to give up at this point, because it’s literally impossible to beat him.
Once the player is defeated by Daft Premium, they are encouraged to check out the full game, which is normally priced at $2.99, but can currently be had on Android and iOS for just 99 cents.
“We distributed the APK days before the Android launch to a number of Torrent sites and direct download forums and watched as our torrents started seeding soon after,” Noodlecake describes.
It’s a terrific troll, and it comforts me to think that many pirates will have gotten to the third boss and received the beating they deserve. But sadly, while this was a fun experiment, it isn’t a solution to the piracy problem.
Soon after Shooting Stars! was released, a cracked version of the full game was made available online, and users have begun downloading it. It doesn’t have as many downloads as the pirate version yet, but it will certainly surpass it in time.