Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

January 25, 2011 -

Indie developer Daniel Amitay credits piracy with a doubling of sales (thanks to The Escapist). The developer behind the iPhone game "Punch 'Em!" says that his game being pirated ultimately helped double the sales of his game. This is not what you usually hear from game developers about piracy. Punch 'Em! is a 99 cent game that lets users fight each other using the iPhone camera. He was going to write about how the holiday shopping season gave him a big boost in sales until he examined the sales data and found that it was something else driving sales: piracy.

Examining two separate 17-day periods, (Dec. 4 - 20 and Dec. 30 - Jan. 15) he found that the first period was flat, with sales slightly outpacing piracy rates. But in the second time period he found that the piracy rate was 39 percent higher. But as the rate of piracy grew so did the number of sales; he'd found that his sales doubled during the second time period.

"Throughout Punch 'Em!'s paid lifetime, I couldn't raise its sales count in the long term," he said on his blog. "So if thousands of users end up pirating my app, but hundreds buy it as a result of hearing about it from their pirate buddies, why should I cry?"

An earlier version of the game checked to see if it had been cracked and then displayed a message urging the user to purchase it. He felt that this did more harm than good because the conversion rate was zero.

So how did he know that it was piracy that drove sales and not the holiday shopping season?

"My sales increase extended well past Christmas, and is still stable," he said. "My sales increase during Christmas was well beyond the standard 2x [caused by the holidays]. My app increased in rank over the period of time that my app was pirated."

Source: The Escapist, Stray Pixels


Comments

Re: Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

 What I'm wondering is if the game is actually any good?

Re: Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

What kind of chap skate pirates a 99 cent game? Give the game creator his due, miser.

Re: Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

We can't let people tape radio broadcasts at home, who will buy music anymore!?

Re: Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

"So if thousands of users end up pirating my app, but hundreds buy it as a result of hearing about it from their pirate buddies, why should I cry?"

Because you're owed thousands of dollars from the jackasses that stole your game but hey, kudos to you for looking on the bright side.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

Glass half full, meet glass half empty. 

Re: Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

You are 100% missing the point. Nearly all of those people were never going to pay for this app. But the extra exposure gained through the word of mouth generated by those people pirating the app directly lead to more sales.

How do you not understand that in this case piracy=higher sales. In fact if you look at the frequent lists of most pirated games, etc, they are nearly always the highest selling as well. I won't argue cause and effect in those cases, but in this case I think it is pretty clear.

Don't be so short sighted. This guy isn't so high on his horse that he won't stoop down and pick up the extra cash that piracy directly brought him.

Re: Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

"Nearly all of those people were never going to pay for this app."

So?  They still pirated it.  Therefore, each of them owe this guy 99 cents.

"But the extra exposure gained through the word of mouth generated by those people pirating the app directly lead to more sales."

And the same thing would have happened had they bought it instead of pirate it.

"How do you not understand that in this case piracy=higher sales."

Incorrect.  Word of mouch generated higher sales.  Piracy generated less.

"In fact if you look at the frequent lists of most pirated games, etc, they are nearly always the highest selling as well."

Gee, the most popular games are the most frequently pirated?  You don't say?

"Don't be so short sighted. This guy isn't so high on his horse that he won't stoop down and pick up the extra cash that piracy directly brought him."

You seem to have missed the last half of the single sentence I wrote in my original post.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

Some sales from 'pirates' > no sales from people who never saw the game in the first place

Maybe he should just offer to refund all the money from the people who pirated the game? That will make things 'right'!

Re: Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

Refund what money from the people who pirated the game?  To who?

What would make things right is if the people who pirated the game had paid for it instead.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

And if that were this developer's argument, then your comment might actually be relevant.

Re: Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

The relevancy of my comment is not dependent on the developer's argument when I'm referring specifically to something you said and offering up my own opinion on it.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

File sharing is nothing more than a extension of popularity in the modern age, like word of mouth and tape sharing was in the 70s.


I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/cigital-disobedience/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

Word of mouth?  No, it's nothing like that.  Tape sharing?  If you mean loaning a friend your cassette, no.  If you mean giving a friend a copy of your cassette, yes.

 

Andrew Eisen

 
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MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
NeenekoAh yes, because by building something nice they were just asking for people to come push them out. Consequences are protested all the time when other people are implementing them.04/17/2014 - 2:06pm
Matthew Wilsonok than they should not protest when the consequences of that choice occur.04/17/2014 - 1:06pm
NeenekoIf people want tall buildings, plenty of other cities with them. Part of freedom and markets is communities deciding what they do and do not want built in their collective space.04/17/2014 - 12:55pm
Sora-ChanI realize that they have ways getting around it, but one reason might be due to earthquakes.04/17/2014 - 4:42am
Matthew WilsonSF is a tech/ economic/ trade center it should be mostly tail building. this whole problem is because of the lack of tail buildings. How would having tail apartment buildings destroy SF? having tail buildings has not runed other cities around the US/world04/16/2014 - 10:51pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the issue is you can not build upwards anywhere in SF at the moment, and no you would not. You would bring prices to where they should have been before the market distortion. those prices are not economic or socially healthy.04/16/2014 - 10:46pm
ZippyDSMleeYou still wind up pushing people out of the non high rise aeras but tis least damage you can do all things considered.04/16/2014 - 10:26pm
ZippyDSMleeANd by mindlessly building upward you make it like every place else hurting property prices,ect,ect. You'll have to slowly segment the region into aeras where you will never build upward then alow some aeras to build upward.04/16/2014 - 10:25pm
 

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