As developers with many years in business we know that piracy is unavoidable. Sure, every developer knows that Android is the mobile platforms with more piracy. It’s open nature and the little diligence that Google put into protecting the developers has made it piracy heaven.
When planning the launch of our last game Ninja Joe, we decided to launch a paid version in iOS, Windows Phone, Windows 8 and Blackberry and a free ad-supported version in Android. We were expecting lots of pirate sites to distribute our game in the next days after we published in Android. Sure it happened! But they were distributing our ad-supported version, so no problem.
But recently we discovered another kind of piracy:
Some pirates uploaded our game to other Android stores, like this http://www.anzhi.com/soft_
Ok, that is impersonation, that is more serious, they can sell our game in those stores and make money with our work. But to some degree we were expecting something like that to happen in obscure Asian stores. Something like that would not happen in well-respected stores like Google Play, right?
Yesterday we shockingly discovered that:
Some pirate uploaded our game to … Google Play! WTF!
It is really irritating to see how easily the pirate could upload our game using his own account. It would be trivial for Google to include some simple checks in their system:
- The name is almost the same: Ninja Joe VS Ninja Joe Super (the pirate version).
- The domain is almost the same: com.amnesiagames.ninjajoe.
- The screenshots ARE THE SAME. Is it so difficult to check if the same image is already uploaded for another game???!!!!
- The apk files are the same. This is REALLY annoying. This is an obvious check. (we uploaded a new version since, the pirate still hasn’t “updated” his version).
- The website of the developer is not working. ARE you checking anything at all???
- The same pirate uploaded other 72 pirated versions of other games. Ok, some behavior checking wouldn’t be bad either, don’t you think?
We reported this to Google today. Let’s see how much do they take to act on it. It would be so much easier for everyone (including Google) if they put some obvious anti-copycats checks when uploading apps.
EDIT: After writing this report we:
1) emailed the pirate.
2) reported the copycat using and Android handset and the report option
3) filled a copyright reporting form at google
Guess what was faster? …The pirate! He deleted the copycat entry at Google Play in a matter of hours.
So far the only thing we got back from Google was an automated email saying that “Due to the hight volume of claim we receive … we’ll answer you only if your claim is valid y viable” (liberal translation from the spanish email).
Conclusion: they put a lot of effort in OTHER areas, NOT in helping developers protect their property. It seems so negligent to me, that the only explanation is that they don’t act properly because the whole piracy business gives them more downloads and number of apps in their store. Bad practice.
Google sent us an email saying that the could not find the pirate content. I replied; you were too slow, the pirate took it down first. Can’t you see his history? You coudl see how many pirate copies he submitted. Also I sent them a summary of the trivial checks they should be doing.
by Alejandro Woywood – CEO of AmnesiaGames