Truth about piracy: some facts

I’ve decided to write this small post after so many discussions on indiegamer forums. Of course this is just my personal experience, but I think that you shouldn’t underestimate it…

Case Study: my game “The Goalkeeper

The game was released in September 2004, and was doing good. Nothing exceptional, but a solid seller. Then, in summer 2005 I found all those articles about piracy, and at same time I discovered the Armadillo protection system.

I decided to implement it in the game. That way, the only way would be either to post the serial (but at same time the real name of the buyer, which is something nobody should do) or make a crack/keygen. Keygen for Armadillo are almost impossible to make (don’t ask me why, but I never saw one), while cracks surely are possible.

So you might say, the piracy problem wasn’t solved. No, you’re wrong, very wrong.

You can’t defeat people that prefer to download a “RazorNFOCrackedGoalkeeperTrial.exe” and install it in their pc at own risk. No, you can’t. But you think that such people would buy your game? NO.

Instead you can “convert” people that may buy it, but first just to be sure they google for “gamename serial” to see if they can get it free. Doing a copy/paste is quite different from downloading an exe from an unknown site, at risk of destroying your whole HD and sending your financial/CC info to some nice guy that will happily steal all your money… 😀

Result: after august 2005, when I applied Armadillo protection, my sales for that game went up by 35% PERMANENTLY. Not just 1-2 month. AT time of writing, after almost 2 years, the increase in sales is still here.

What is the lesson of this story? Fighting hardcore piracy is futile – fighting “casual” piracy can help your business a lot!
Note: I had tried all the various protection schemes before, like fullversion download. I tried that with UBM. Unfortunately, there were a LOT of people complaining that they couldn’t download the complete version from Plimus, and every time I had to put the game online for them to download. This method clearly doesn’t work well if you sell at least 15 copies a month…Â 🙂 Beside that, was trivial for me to find the fullversion on the various bittorrent or rapidshare sites. So fullversion was causing troubles to legit user, and at same time was offering trivial piracy protection.

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