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2012-03-08 11:49
How to find pirated copies of your apps
I was asked how you can find out if there are any pirated copies of your apps around the web.

To be honest - that is quite simply done manuelly by using our good old friend google.

Just search up the name of your apk file. For this to do it is best to give your paid app a well searchable package name to do so. You will maybe find some hosters hosting your files or other sources.

Most of the "known" forums out there were hiding the apk name from search engines, so you also need to search for your game name also.

This way you should be able to find it on the "known" forums.

You can do that once a day or once a week with the search results delivered for that period (you can tell that google, by using ght options on the left side of the google website)

If you are lazy (like me) you can also put up a small script which does this work for you and informs you about new found items, maybe filtered by the "all known" forums.

You can also let google send you a mail, as soon as new search results are found - I've tried that also but was not satisfied because I found that it does not notify always .. did no further investigation about it.

I am thinking about putting up a little service for other developers where they can track their apps .. maybe I'll make an app for that ..

How to react on found pirated copies

To be honest .. you cannot do much about it. Yes, you can register at the "known" boards and report the thread (they will remove it) and yes you can also report the files on the different hosting services, when you found some (they will remove it also).

But that would cause you so much work, that it is better to think about better protection inside your app. You will not be able to stop pirating your app but you will be able to lower it.

For me the most annoying thing was, that there IS a free version available and my games are no big sellers - it's like a backstab and I don't like to be backstabbed.

So, even if you will be able to find most of your pirated copies - stop trying, it does only cost you nerves and time. Better invest it into new updates for your apps. Users get the benefit of automatic updates and new features every time, instead of waiting for a pirated copy and update manually.

You see, most of the users will be lazy too and are much more willing to buy your app, if they get more benefit of it instead of pirating it.

update: a reader of my website just gave me another tip on how to find such copies (thanks to hendrik). If you have a video of your app, then look at the referers. Because the video is linked with the pirated copy you will find some sources in your video stats.
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3 RESPONSES TO "How to find pirated copies of your apps":
2012-04-19 03:20
Well I wouldn't take my word for it, but MoVend seems to be doing everything right and they've been around since late 2010, so there should be no problem!

The key here is that the payments DO go through GPlay and Amazon, it's just that the app gives them a choice. I would imagine that on Kindle they only show the Amazon option, for example.

Might be a good idea to ask them about it, as well as asking amazon and google.

Yeah, slideme seems to have a shaky reputation from what I can gather...

answered by

I have to ask google about it - would like to have an official statement from them .. just in case ;-)
2012-04-19 00:11
Yeah, you make a very valid point...

Well, don't get me wrong, I'm just getting started in the Android space, but from what I've read (including your article) I think in general the 3 main ones are currently Google Play, Amazon and SlideMe.

If you want to do in-app purchases, MoVend allows you to integrate into both Google Play + Amazon. Not only that, even if people download through SlideMe, it looks like they can still buy via PayPal, and then MoVend handles all the payment processing for $30/month. In fact, they do have a free plan that enables purchases through Amazon and Google Play, then for the other options you'd have to be paying the $30/month. So we could start in the free plan, and if the game gets popular, try out the $30/month plan to see if it's worth it.

$30/month might seem high, but if one starts getting bigger hits like your Robo Miner, but they're built with in-app purchases in mind, it might be very easy to make that money back through consumable microtransactions.

So I'm not sure because I haven't tested it yet, but it looks like that would be the universal solution, even in secondary stores!

Just an idea to explore...

answered by

is MoVend approved by google play and amazon? That's important, because they will suspend your game if it is against their ToS - they state, that every payment have to run over THEIR solution - I would clearly wait if there is a serious confirmation from google themselfs before risking any google play ban.

But it's a good information anyway, will investigate that even more ;-)

I don't know if slideme is that important - sure, they show downloads, but these downloads does not reflect in ad impressions, so some ppl find that a little bit strange..
2012-04-18 03:40
Hahaha great tip at the end!!

Well my view on piracy is don't even bother on fighting it... especially on Android!! We're living in a new culture that doesn't like being charged up-front for something. It's not universal, of course, but most people who ARE willing to pay for everything are using an iPhone ;)

But now that we have advertising networks and in-app purchases, I think that's a waaay better method of monetizing our apps! That way, piracy works FOR us, not against us. The more people that download the app (even if it's through piracy), the more money we'll make.

Not only from the ads clicked on by the pirates (they'll want to click if they're ads for other games! Then if the game looks good in the store, they'll download it if it's free, or they'll turn to google to find the pirated version, but you'll get the click regardless), but you also get tons of free advertising on pirate forums!! XD

Anyway, controversial topic, everyone has a different opinion. I'm just glad we now have more monetization options than just selling the app up-front!

answered by

I really don't like DRM - especially when it leads to app errors or keeping legit players from playing it.

You are absoutely right, that the best approach is to use as or in-game-purchases but the problem with that is, that you have to stick with ONE store (or have a bunch of different versions and implementations, because the different stores do not allow the system of another store and so on.

So if you want to deliver to more stores you currently have to stick to ad-supported versions. But to be honest - I think I will do exactly that with future games. google play is by far the only store at the moment you need (for sucessful games).

Robo Miner is different - it is already released on different stores .. not easy to un-do that :-)
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