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.

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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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