Android comes under fire from game developers on piracy

Dead Trigger developers say the recent price drop of their game in the Google Play Store is because of the "piracy rate on Android devices that was unbelievably high."

Dara Kerr
Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
2 min read
Dead Trigger in Google Play Store recently dropped its price from $0.99 to free because of illegal downloads. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

Madfinger Games recently lowered the price of its Dead Trigger game from $0.99 to free on the Google Play Store. The reason, it announced, was because of the "unbelievably high" amount of illegal downloads on Google's Android devices despite the game's inexpensive price, according to the Guardian.

Here's what Madfinger Games said on its Dead Trigger Facebook page:

Regarding price drop. HERE is our statement. The main reason: piracy rate on Android devices, that was unbelievably high. At first we intend to make this game available for as many people as possible - that's why it was for as little as buck. - It was much less than 8$ for SHADOWGUN but on the other hand we didn't dare to provide it for free, since we hadn't got XP with free-to-play format so far. - However, even for one buck, the piracy rate is soooo giant, that we finally decided to provide DEAD TRIGGER for free.

The version of Dead Trigger on Apple's operating system remains a $0.99 paid game, according to the Guardian.

Madfinger Games is just one of many game developers that is working to combat illegal downloads on Android devices. Other developers that have spoken out include Sports Interactive, Appy Entertainment, and Korean developer com2uS, according to the Guardian. After Sports Interactive launched Football Manager Handheld for Android, its piracy rate was 9:1, which is one game sold for every nine illegally downloaded. Appy Entertainment's FaceFighter Gold had a piracy rate of 70:1 on Android and just 3:1 on iOS.

This comes after news of security researchers testing Google's Bouncer malware detection system for Android apps who managed to submit a benign app and then slowly update it to add malicious functionality. So their app, which started off as a simple SMS blocker, was updated incrementally to access all sorts of data on the device and even to turn the phone into a zombie for use in Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks.

Piracy of Android apps is something Google seems to be paying attention to. Last week it announced that it beefed up its latest Android mobile OS -- Jelly Bean 4.1 -- with new features to divert hackers from installing malware that leads to information leakage, buffer overflows, and memory vulnerabilities.