As you might know we recently launched a fun new shoot’em up with the team at Bloodirony called Shooting Stars!. You might also know that the state of paid games on mobile is going the way of the dinosaur and it is getting harder and harder to get players to actually buy games, even for the low low price of $0.99.
With Shooting Stars! we went premium at $2.99 on iOS because we believe that there is still a market for premium titles and felt like Shooting Stars! fits that niche. With Android though, one of the harsh realities is we see rampant piracy compared to iOS with our paid titles.
Case in point. We launched Wayward Souls, one of the biggest, best reviewed premium games from Rocketcat Games one year ago to Android. Our analytics show that 11% of all installs of the game have been paid for. 11%. And that is just the installs we are tracking. Some cracked versions might have taken out those reporting tools.
Now we aren’t inferring that we are missing out all that potential revenue because many of those players would probably have never bought the game to begin with. And an argument can be made that having them at least play the game helped generate buzz for potential purchases from friends or new games from us down the road. Regardless, knowing that the game was pirated and played 10x more than purchased from the store stings a bit no matter how you slice it.
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. Not unlike Game Dev Tycoon, we modified the game so that once players hit boss 3, they are confronted with “Premium Funk”, a new boss wave not found in the retailer version. Firstly players must defeat a wave of bosses that have an obscene amount of health. If they do manage to defeat them, then the final boss approaches who has unlimited health. Once players die they are encouraged to check out the full version of the game and help the developers out by purchasing the retail copy.
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. Admittedly it hasn’t been downloaded more than the actual version just yet, but a cracked APK of the store version has already popped up online to counter the fake one.
We don’t think this is an answer to piracy, or that it will be a big motivator to suddenly stop cracking games but instead, we are embracing it as a fun marketing tactic. And hey, if one or two players decide to throw us a couple bucks in the process, then we call that a win.
Shooting Stars! landed on Android July 30th with a 2 week launch sale at $.99 since the Bloodirony Team was at GamesCom and we wanted to do something special for it. We also put the iOS version on sale during this time too just so everyone could grab it for the sale price. The game is on sale only for a couple more days then it will go back up to $2.99.
If you’re curious about how the experiment turns out or want some more info about why we decided to pirate our own game, don’t hesitate to ask. We would love to hear from you!