GAMEized, developer behind the 99c game FingerKicks, has this week published a blog post to its official site, outing its utter frustration with Apple supporting its social leaderboard system Game Center on “jailbroken”, piracy-prone iOS devices.
During using Game Center as a barometer for the worst case sales scenario, founder of GAMEized, Dave Rosen uncovered the revelation that there were actually more players playing FingerKicks than actual recorded app sales. The more shocking news was still to follow though, when the amount of users who had pirated the game became apparent. That figure came in at a staggering 91 percent.
“We submitted the game to Apple and four days later the game was approved and submitted for sale worldwide. Our hearts started racing desperately to know how the game was doing in the stores but Apple only provides data once a day. Waiting (and sneak-peaking the stores) was the only way to monitor the activity.”
The first day’s results were low but promising: 144 purchases for a profit of $97.35, and we felt it was a good start. Even more encouraging, FingerKicks reached the Top 5 in Portugal, where football is the #1 spectator sport! The second day’s results were a little lower, only 115 purchases, but it was a Saturday and we pinned all our hopes on Sunday’s sales. It didn’t disappoint – the numbers climbed back up to a respectable 122 purchases, and we were on our way.
On the following Monday there were over 200 FingerKicks players listed on Apple’s Game Center leaderboards, and it was clear the buzz about the game was out and spreading. By Tuesday morning, the player numbers had climbed to 2,200, then to 3,000 – then to 4,000 and eventually reached as high as 5,000 players.
All good so far … or so Rosen and team thought. In actual fact, the sharp increase in players for the game were not users who had legitimately purchased the game – this was apparent from the amount of sales recorded by iTunes Connect and the overall revenue made – but instead, the sharp rise reflected the amount of users who had jailbroken and pirated the game.
Because Apple only provides app sales data once per day, GAMEized used the Game Center leaderboards as a barometer for how many players had purchased FingerKicks. It was reasonable to assume that 5,000 players meant at least 5,000 sales, and since many customers don’t use Game Center, the actual sales numbers might have been much higher.
It was a bitter disappointment when we discovered that the Game Center numbers weren’t reflected in the iTunesConnect purchase reports. In fact, iTC reported only 160 purchases – a substantially lower number than the number of people actually playing the game.
How is that possible?
Going on to mention methods we’re personally not prepared to mention here, due to having good relationships with dozens of developers currently operating on the App Store, Luís Fonseca, the lead developer for FingerKicks, highlighted that the firm was aware of the methods of jailbreaking available and the piracy which may have been involved – however, the true extent of such app piracy issues blew the team’s initial expectations.
“We’ve always known about iPhone jailbreaking and of people who’d rather steal than pay for someone’s hard work, but we had no idea the extent of this problem and the sheer volume of people who willingly crack existing apps just to save – or steal – 99¢.”
“Most bewildering of all is that even with all their rhetoric chastising piracy and intellectual property theft, Apple apparently has no functional counter-piracy safeguards in place on their Game Center — essentially permitting users to play pirated software on their Game Center without fear of reprisals or consequence,”
In an issue the firm called a “humiliating piracy problem,” GAMEized was quick to make clear that they remain fans of both Apple and the products they create, shown, it says, by the fact that FingerKicks is available exclusively on iOS.
While technically the process of jailbreaking is now legal in the U.S, Apple’s stance on the matter has never changed — jailbreaking removes the security and digital rights management previously put in place to secure iOS, and the removal of it is not only a violation of your warranty, but also Apple’s software EULA.[via AppleInsider]