Indie Developer: Piracy Helped Sell My Game

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

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