About piracy …

As you probably already know it , i developed a game named Tales of Pocoro on Android.

This game is quite good, and most people liked it. I made it from scratch using Java, the Android framework and Open GL. It has been a lot of work to design everything, to create my own game framework, to code the game, to test, to debug etc… It took months of my spare time and, even if i never intended to make a living out of it, i expected at least a bit of money.

When the game is launched, a little anonymous stat is sent to my server to record things like how many people play, who finished the game, where are people blocked…
The sent stat line is almost unique per player. and my file has now more than 12.000 lines. Minus the demo player and irrevelant lines it’s around 10.000 people playing the full version.

android_version|android_locale|device_manufacturer|device_model|device_display|game_unique_id|game_firstlaunch|game_version|game_progress_easy|game_progress_normal|game_progress_hard|game_random_easy|game_random_normal|game_randomprogress_hard|game_cheater_level|game_cheater_solution|game_lowperf|game_fullscreen|game_character|game_sound|game_music|current_date|
7|English|HTC|HTC Hero|ERE27|0-1894685651|Fri May 13 20:13:52 UTC 2011|1.0.3|70|0|0|1|0|0|false|false|true|false|people_hero_man_3|true|true|Fri May 20 12:27:44 UTC 2011|

Now, the terrifying truth. I really sold ONLY 300 copies of this game. I earned around 1.5€/$ for each. So for now i earned 450€. It is less than what i spent in Android devices to test this game.
I should have earned around 15.000€ if piracy did not exist. ( yeah it’s a BIG shortcut, i know )

I’m not a money guy. I earn enough to make my little family live and that is enough for me. Game development is a hobby, something i do because i love that really much ( it’s almost a curse )
But this huge difference between what i earned and what i should have earned is still a real pain for me, and i’m really thinking about stopping development on Android and try something different.

At the very least i must think of a different way to sell my games. It’s already too late for Tales of Pocoro as it is available on many pirate sites.
Daniel Cook has been someone who inspires me a lot since I stumble upon lostgarden.com. And maybe I’ll follow the decision he made some time ago to create games for browsers.

What do you think of it ? We are talking about it right here : https://plus.google.com/u/0/103548521283875874904/posts/K7aJjjUjKwq

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  1. #1 by Nashella on July 21, 2011 - 10:50 am

    Hey, did you finally check the licence of the graphical resources you used ? If not, it’s kind of piracy too, no?
    It may be even worse, because you make money with the work of somebody else… ;)

    • #2 by monsieurmax on July 21, 2011 - 10:57 am

      As i haven’t got the money to buy graphical resources, i only chose free graphical resources with a convenient license.
      Every content of the game is clean and not pirated and I even bought some of them when nothing was available for free.

      I keep track of everything i find, and you can even found some info about the resources in the ingame “About” section.

      • #3 by Nashella on July 21, 2011 - 11:06 am

        yeah I checked the “about” section (in the demo :p ) and found nothing about the characters graphical resources
        ( http://www.famitsu.com/freegame/tool/chibi/index1.html )
        When we talked about it some months ago you didn’t know what was the licence for them, and I’m quite interested if they are free for commercial use.

    • #4 by monsieurmax on July 21, 2011 - 11:21 am

      At the time i sent a mail to them to know and asked around.

      Many people have used this tool in their RPG games ( using Maker or not ) and some of them confirmed that the tool was free as well as the produced ressources.
      What was forbidden is to link the tool outside of the original site.

      However, i did not have an answer from the site owner since then and just forgot, so i’m gonna email them again.
      Thanks for reminding me this, i’ll get back to you once they had replied ( hopefully ).

      • #5 by Justme8800 on July 26, 2011 - 8:17 am

        I’m no lawyer, but I do happen to know some Japanese. I’m afraid I’m not cheering anyone up by translating this. :(

        This text is from the page that Nashella linked to:
        ※本ツールで作成した画像は、弊社製品『ツクールシリーズ』においてのみご利用可能です。その他の、自作ソフトやツール、ホームページの装飾などでのご利用はご遠慮ください。
        (ただし、ツクールで制作した作品をホームページで紹介する場合は、この限りではありません)

        In English:
        Images made with this tool are only for use with our “Maker Series” line of products. Please refrain from using them for other things, such as homebrew software or web graphics. (Although, web sites promoting games made with Maker are OK.)

        Seems depressingly plain enough to me. Either that clause just got added recently, or “many people” were wrong. I wonder why they posted the tool online, rather than including it with their software… could be for people with older versions, maybe.

        Sorry. If you don’t want to let this post go public yet, I’d understand.

        ~Justme8800

      • #6 by monsieurmax on July 26, 2011 - 8:35 am

        Thanks for mentionning this. That’s quite annoying indeed.
        During all that time i was quite sure that i did have the right to use those generated resources in my game.

        I’m gonna put some new resources to replace those, it’s no big deal.
        I feel much more concerned about having used some protected content.

        Thanks for the translation, the automated ones i got were not that good, and even meaning the opposite.

  2. #7 by Justme8800 on July 25, 2011 - 7:37 am

    First of all, thanks for making Tales of Pocoro. While it wasn’t monetarily worth your while to make, I hope you can find some consolation in knowing that it was very much worth my while to play. It’s one of the best games on my phone, and that is really saying something. It’s unfortunate that it didn’t hit it big; the ways of the Market are fickle and defy logic. To the detriment of both the users and developers, the success of an app is more luck than quality.

    That said, when it comes to piracy, do not succumb to the fallacies of publishing executives. Pirates are jerks and should be scorned, but they aren’t lost sales. If piracy “did not exist,” Pocoro would still have sold about the same amount. Pirates steal precisely because it doesn’t cost them anything, there is no way they would be paying for all that warez if it weren’t free. That 15,000 number is positively mythical, you couldn’t wring more than 50 euros from those wretches if their lives depended on it.

    This is why DRM is, in pricipal, such a silly idea. I can promise you that no one is going to look at a game and say “oh look, it has DRM! What a feature, I can’t wait to buy it!” Even if the DRM is 100% uncrackable, it won’t increase sales one bit. All it gets you is the satisfaction that no one is touching the game without your blessing. Though, if the DRM causes any issues, it can hurt sales.

    While piracy may make things seem bleak, it really isn’t that big of a factor. Which is good, because unfortunately there isn’t much we can do about it. So there are 9,700 miserable basement feeders out there who download everything they can get their mitts on at the pirate bay. Big whoop. Don’t let it get to you, and cheer up! You have at least 300 fans out there, right?

    ~Justme8800

    P.S. Keep making cool games, I’m looking forward to the next one!

    • #8 by monsieurmax on July 25, 2011 - 7:58 am

      Thanks for this comment Cordell :)

      I knew that saying that 10k pirates = 10k sales was a big shortcut and totally wrong. But the goal of this post was to make a bit of noise around. It works quite a bit indeed.
      What you said, reminds me an interesting article :“Love your pirates”. It’s a different point of view, but still worth thinking about it.

      You’re totally right about DRMs, and i didn’t even think of using such system on my games. However, it seems that the best way for a developer to protect a bit its games, and maybe make a little bit more of money by preventing piracy, is the in-app billing going along with a freemium system.
      For Tales of Pocoro ( even if it’s too late for this game ) it would have been, for example, a free game with ads during the loading screen ( and extended loading time ) and only the easy levels. To unlock other difficulties, remove the ads, get a “skip level” system or unlock characters and random levels, it’d have been through in-app billing.
      It’s not something i like myself. It makes things more complicated to code and to play.
      However, adding this system, plus a social layer such as scoreloop on it could have been a great way to finish and polish the game.
      Maybe i’ll do this for a sequel of Tales of Pocoro ( nothing is planned, other projects are planned before ).

      Thanks again for your enthusisatic comment, it cheers me up ( a bit :P )

  3. #9 by James A. Langbridge on July 28, 2011 - 9:27 am

    Bien le bonjour,

    Just a quick message to say I’m sorry for what you are going through. I’m an old-school dev, who was there during the days of the Amiga and Atari wars, and I’ve seen games change like mad. I still really believe in Indie games, and I have much more fun playing Indie than I do playing triple-A games. I’ve done one or two PD games for the Amiga, and after having gone into embedded systems and all sorts of weird and wonderful gizmos, I’m really thinking about doing the same as you are doing, having fun, lettings others have fun, and in all contrast, not asking much in return. 2 Euros? Come on, skip the dessert or the coffee, and you’ve got yourself a game! I’m all for Open Source, and I’ve done a bit of OS development, but come on, and the end of the day, you still have to eat. So here I am, thinking about making a tiny game or two, and just wondering how people could possibly want to pirate something this honest… (I came from the link in Android France, and I think it just sums everything up perfectly).

    I agree with Justme8800, except now its 301 :-)

  4. #10 by Bernard Segonnes on November 28, 2012 - 3:21 pm

    Hi,

    I am an Android developper since the begining (2007). I’ve put my 1st app (MultiReader) on several Markets, and Google Play when available. It’s then hard to keep track of download/purchases.

    In 2012 I have a total of around 1200 purchases on Google Play : a total of 2000€ after 4 years of developpement/several versions (at night). But my stats shows me 59939 different users (both demo and paid versions). I’ve also noticed changes in the sales : the 1-3 first years, I sometimes reached 100€/month, but now the Market is so big, an no visibility for newly updated Apps. : my sales are now only 15€/month (even if the number of devices & countries expanded)

    My 2nd app (DrawIt!), is free + ads : downloads have started quikly for a week or two, but I had no time to provide additionnal content (the app. check for new content each time it’s launched).

    I’m also disapointed with so litte gain, but I’ll continue to improve those Apps & their marketing. In the hope to someday live with those revenues :-)

  1. Le piratage tue | Android-France

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