iPad Our solution to hacking: Give it Away. Whack 'em All is now FREE.

Discussion in 'iPhone and iPad Games' started by fairlady, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. fairlady

    fairlady Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2008
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    Owner: Fairlady Media
    Raleigh, NC
    You may have read about our recent efforts to explore and reconcile the differences between iPhone game developers and game hackers (see: http://digg.com/apple/Game_Developer_Confronts_iPhone_Software_Cracker).
    Over the past two weeks, we've read hundreds of comments, articles, and forum postings on the many sides of this important issue. Game developers want recognition, revenue, and customer feedback for their products and services. Hackers (and often, customers) want try-before-you-buy mechanisms, higher quality and more accurate advertising of products, reasonable prices, and, of course, free stuff wherever possible. :)

    Fairlady Media has opted to address these issues by releasing a FREE full-featured version of Whack 'em All (http://whackemall.com), which will be supported by ad revenue.

    We will also continue to support a 99-cent version for those customers who wish to have an ad-free version of the game. This new approach is a risk for our small company because typically ad revenue from a single user playing our game will only be a small fraction of what we could have earned from a 99-cent download. We will need to get many, many more downloads to generate enough revenue to continue game development. Plus, if people continue to use the hacked version of the game, then there is still a revenue loss. However, if the new approach works, it will serve as an example of how the needs of developers, hackers, and customers can be met with an alternate business model.

    We continue to seek a response from Apple about these issues and will report back on this site if we are successful. If you or someone you know can point us to a resource within Apple, please let us know.

    Thanks to everyone for your support and for all the great feedback we've gotten, we greatly appreciate it! Please continue to support us by downloading and playing the game if you haven't already. If you have friends with an iPhone or iPod, tell them about our game! If you have any issues with the game, or have additional feedback for us, please let us know.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Dorfdad

    Dorfdad Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2009
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    good luck with the experiment. From what I would guess the hackers will still get the full ad free version and hack it.

    IT will reduce the hit, but won't stop it..
     
  3. fairlady

    fairlady Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2008
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    Owner: Fairlady Media
    Raleigh, NC
    Thanks. :) Right now with the paid version, 50 percent of the users play the hacked version. My husband has continued his conversations with the hacker of our game, and posted those comments on his blog, in case any of you are interested. See: http://www.jrtb.com/blog/

    We're going to continue to track all our numbers and post them on our website so that other devs can benefit from our experiences.
     
  4. 1337brian

    1337brian Well-Known Member

    Oct 12, 2008
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    In My Head
    That's a shame, sorry to hear you guys are forced into this solution, but on the other hand it does seem like a fairly good way to curb the hacking problem...
     
  5. 1337brian

    1337brian Well-Known Member

    Oct 12, 2008
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    FTA - "Also what i’ve heard App Store is a goldmine for Apple. So piracy doesn’t seem to hurt them financelly. Cracking $.99 game doesn’t hurt them at all compared to bigger software piratism"

    What a moron, i guess he fails to see the that the Dev's, not Apple lose when people decide to crack apps...
     
  6. spiffyone

    spiffyone Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
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    I'm sorry that you feel you have to do this, as, quite frankly, having read the hackers "reasons" for doing it, all of it rings false...completely.

    No try before you buy?

    Request the dev make a "lite" version. I mean, honestly...there are lite versions available. iShoot had a lite version, Burning Tires 3D, etc.

    Look, the pirates give a lot of reasons for why they do it, and so do the people who download pirated versions. The real reason they do it, when it is all said and done, is that they want things for the least possible price: "free". That's all it is.

    If the guy had been completely honest with you and himself he would've stated "hey, people don't want to pay for things". Simple as that.

    BTW, that 400 downloads a day, but only 12 legitimate sales goes to show that the whole idea that some have of "I usually buy after I pirate if I like it" isn't totally accurate. I can't speak for the quality of the game myself (not having played or owned it), but, I mean...c'mon. Honestly. A 2% pirate first then buy rate does not go a long way to supporting the idea that those downloading these hacks would buy the legit software after trying.

    The very fact is they want the full game for "free". That's all it boils down to. If they simply wanted to try the game, they could've sent you requests for a "lite" version. That's what quite a few people did and other devs responded with "lite" versions. In this case he ripped your full game and leaked it, violating your rights to returns on your investment. His reasoning is bunk. Complete and utter nonsensical bunk, because he lies. They want it for free. He was pissed off. That's why they do it, that's why he did it, along with the recognition of "releasing" the game (pirates, btw, sometimes used to put credits for their team on games they hacked, as if they deserved credit).

    The pirate in question could have, y'know, sent you a friggin' email or something to request a "lite" version. Instead he rips you off, and you're supposed to be grateful for his advice?

    This ad generated thing was tried with that Space Monkey game. Guess what? They got complaints. Prepare for that to happen with your game.
     
  7. Dorfdad

    Dorfdad Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2009
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    Whats really sad is that when you ask a hacker WHY do they do this, almost always it's about the money. I can almost understand it on a console where your paying 60.00 a pop for crap, but come on most of the iPhone apps are between 1 dollar and 10 dollars.

    Hardly breaking anyone's bank!

    The best thing I can say is make a quality title and your efforts will be rewrded by the masses not the minority!
     
  8. spiffyone

    spiffyone Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
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    And if a dev doesn't respond to requests for a "lite" version, then screw them and don't buy their game.

    But that doesn't mean rip them off. Just don't support them with your dollar. Simple as that.

    But, again, it has very little to nothing to do with "try before you buy". It's "get it for 'free'". That's what it is, and that's the truth. I would have more respect for them if they were honest and honest with themselves most of all.
     
  9. VWXYZ

    VWXYZ Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2009
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    How can people even bother to crack an 0,99 cent app? its pretty pathetic.

    I have so much respect for what so many developers do (both with the iPhone SDK and on the newer consols) but I also have a lot of develepors I don't have much respect for.

    giving me support after launch is a instant way of earning my respect and willing to buy future products.

    releasing something half done and not fixing it is a good way to make me stay away from you.

    Pirates... I don't get them... Maybe its just because they want to see if it really will work and because of the credit they get when they tell their pirate friends "oh yeah! and I got this for free! You know, hacker style!"
     
  10. spiffyone

    spiffyone Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
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    Yeah, or they give you the old "wanted to try before I buy and not potentially waste money on a game I don't like routine".

    Then you point to the free "lite" version, and they know that you know that they're completely full of BS.

    BTW, how many games did this guy leak that had free lite versions? How many games with free lite versions did his "comrades" leak?
     
  11. Dorfdad

    Dorfdad Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2009
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    Well speaking as a former "pirate" I used to do some of this, but saw the light a few years back (especially since I had children)

    I was under the notion that I needed everything or I was missing out on something. So as soon as something came out I bought what I could and pirated a few others, but than I got to the point of becoming a collector and not a player of these games.

    I had 20/30 games I never played sitting there. yeah I was cool I had everything I wanted but enjoyed none of them because I was chasing the next big one.

    I took a look at myself, sold the equipment that did this and decided to be a little more patient and read some reviews, wait for some used copies, or what for a price drop.

    See I thought a good game was only good for a few days after it's release.

    A good game is good 6 months from now, a year from now even. Since than I have been enjoying my games more. I don't feel the pressure to be L33T, and I'm not risking my families survival on some gaming binge.

    Most iPhone developers are just little guys trying to make a name for themselves and they should be supported. EA, UBISOFT, and the other BIG guys mostly care nothing about the games but profit...
     
  12. Modus

    Modus Well-Known Member

    Nov 30, 2008
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    Very well said; great post.
     
  13. Nate5911

    Nate5911 Well-Known Member

    Jan 3, 2009
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    I think this will stop almost all, cracked versions of your game. DLing a cracked app can take quite some time so why wouldn't you just DL the free version in 30 seconds from the appstore.
     
  14. smokin okin

    smokin okin Well-Known Member

    Nov 28, 2008
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    look, your problem isn't the very small, small population of hackers that actually know how to get cracked apps, no offense but your problem is your game. I think you seem to be a great developer with great idea,s but you need to expand your horizon and give things that people actually want, action, adventure, pick up and playability, replay ability, no a meaningless cheap knockoff of a pointless chucky-cheese game, and no offense again, I highly doubt people are going through the trouble and the risk to download Whack 'em All
     
  15. morscata12

    morscata12 Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2008
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    The discourse between you and the hacker was surprisingly civil. Assuming most_uniQue's "motives" were true (and not made up), his complaints against the App Store will go entirely unnoticed by Apple. A game company will only notice the cracked games; underlying motivations will go unheard if they are never explicitly stated.

    "I hope Apple handles this the right way and fixes THEIR problem." ...how will Apple know there is a "problem" if most_uniQue doesn't open a dialog to the company? They may be willing to respond to emails from the developer, but that's still not proactive. Blaming Apple is ridiculous when the hacker isn't even willing to give Apple (or you, for that matter) a chance to "fix the problem" before they illegally put the game up for free download.

    We all know the App Store has *tremendous* flaws, but stealing from individual developers won't make those flaws go away.
     
  16. smokin okin

    smokin okin Well-Known Member

    Nov 28, 2008
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    not only does this tell a lot about yourself as a person, but it shows you know the value of hard work and legitimacy, i feel the same way about iphone games as u did about what u used to do, this changed the way i looked at them
     
  17. Little White Bear Studios

    Little White Bear Studios Well-Known Member

    Aug 27, 2008
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    Guys, I admire your drive to stop the hacking, but I think you're trying to cater to an audience that will never be satisfied. Plus, by your own numbers (correct me if I'm wrong), your game has made less than $200 since its release almost a month ago. The hard truth is, people aren't buying your game. You're not alone. The majority of games on the App Store do not make much money at all. The pirates are not affecting your sales at all. The vast majority of App Store customers are not pirates, nor do they have any contact with pirates. Pirates will never be your potential customers. I have no doubt that there's tens of thousands of pirated copies of my game out there. But I don't consider any of them lost sales. I write them all off as free advertising.

    Now, since your game is having some trouble selling right now, the best option is to make a Lite version. If that still doesn't sell copies, then going ad supported is an excellent option. If that doesn't work, perhaps it's time to make a new game, and roll the dice again. But honestly, trying to get the pirate vote is futile. You're aiming for less than 1% of the entire App Store customer base. Better to attract the other 99% by making your game more attractive to buyers, or making something entirely new.
     
  18. Knight

    Knight Well-Known Member

    Oct 2, 2008
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    Game Developer
    Totally agree with this. You need to stop worrying about pirates and focus on the other 20 million iPhone and iPod Touch users that actually buy stuff. Let Apple worry about pirates.
     
  19. VeiledGames

    VeiledGames Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2008
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    iPhone Developer
    Minneapolis, MN
    I'm going to have to go ahead and agree with the majority here. It seems to me that you're putting the interest of the unsatisfiable hackers about the interests of your potential paying customers.

    If you made a 9.99 game, pirates would complain it is too expensive and hack it.
    If you made a 99. cents game, pirates would complain they can't try it first and hack it.
    If you make a lite version of your game, pirates would complain they want to try the real thing, and hack it.
    If you make a free, ad supported game, pirates would complain about the ads, and hack it.

    There is one thing pirates want, full featured, free games. They don't mind the ads, but they do mind anything that is seen as "lower value" and will hack anything out that makes it not the "full version." They claim that they are trying to give you better business decisions... but they're just justifying their desire to have a full version for free.

    Compare that to a real customer. Someone who looks at your price (9.99, 99 cents, eyeball on some ads), decides if they want it, and buys it or doesn't. They don't view this as an optional part of the transaction, but the transaction itself. They spend the money on your product, if they decide it is worth it to them... or don't if it seems like a bad value. These are your market... these are the people you want to be working with.

    Basing a business model around trying to get on the good side of self-entitled 13 year olds is dangerous to me. Not to say that ad supported can't work (but also, not saying it will work for every app)... Do it because ads are what you think is best for your product... not for some 7th grader who wants to feel like a masked vigilante for consumer rights. No matter what, in his misdirected ignorance, any attempt you make to monetize your work, will seem like an affront to him, and he will try and thwart it.
     
  20. spiffyone

    spiffyone Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
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    I'm sorry...but that's just not really the case.

    The fact is that if people are going to the trouble of downloading something, then they are interested in the product. If they are interested in the product they are, by definition, potential consumers of said product. If they were totally not interested in the product at all they would not go through the time and trouble of downloading the game. Price is not the only thing by which "costs" are measured. Time and effort also factors in to such things.

    That's just basic economics right there.

    And the entire point of interest and generating consumer interest is what marketing itself is all about. Generate interest in a product to get the consumer to buy said product. That's why we're drowned in ads nearly every waking moment of the day.

    Piracy in this case cannot be counted as "free advertisement' as, what, exactly are the returns to you? They've already got the full game for "free". Even if they are interested in future developments from you they are less likely to pay for those future developments than a paying customer of your previous titles. Why? Because those engaging in downloading pirated/hacked software already have the avenues by which they can use to circumvent paying a monetary amount for your product. They've proven themselves unwilling to pay your MSRP for the game. They want your game, no doubt...but at their price ("free"), not your price.

    So piracy isn't really effective advertising at all. It's invalid reasoning for scoffing at piracy, IMHO. You have to see it as loss of potential sales, because, in truth, that's exactly what it is. They've already been proven to be interested in the product (they've gone through the trouble of downloading it). But they can circumvent paying the amount that you specify to satisfy their interest by going the route of getting the pirated version. So, yeah...you have lost a potential consumer. Whether that potential would have ever been actualized is open for debate, but the potential to make a sale was there, and the potential was lost due to piracy. See?

    Everything you stated in your last paragraph, however, I agree with 100%.
     

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