Developers reveal high piracy statistics for popular Android apps

Andy Boxall

In App Development

February 6, 2015

Google Play

The developers behind two popular Android apps have spoken out about piracy, and revealed some very depressing statistics. Today Calendar Pro costs £4/$6 through the Google Play store, but the developer says a massive 85% of the installations haven’t been paid for, and have been pirated.

Even worse, Monument Valley, is a £2.50/$4 app with up to 500,000 downloads recorded through Google’s Play Store, of which just 5% are legitimate installations says the development studio Ustwo.

In an interview, the developer of Today Calendar Pro, Jack Underwood, was surprisingly pragmatic about the situation, saying:

“Fighting piracy in a traditional way is a waste of time in my eyes, software will get cracked anyway. The majority of people who pirate my apps wouldn’t have bought them, so it’s not as if I’m losing 85% of my revenue. In any event, I’d rather spend that time making Today more awesome.”

Monument Valley producer Dan Gray has a similar outlook, telling Re/Code in an interview:

“We made a decision in the past not to implement piracy protection on Android. It usually gets cracked in a day or two anyway. We can’t respond to it in any way. The best way I like to think about it is, the majority of those users probably wouldn’t have bought the game anyway. So it’s not like we’re losing revenue. And, some of those users have recommended the game to friends who maybe aren’t as tech-savvy as they are. It’s essentially free marketing.”

Underwood isn’t relying on piracy protection either, but has installed some annoying surprises for those who use a pirated version of the app. Pirate-themed events will begin to pop-up with increasing regularity, perhaps prompting the pirate to buy the official version.

Piracy on Android isn’t a new problem. Back in 2013, app analytics told one developer he had sold eight official copies of his game through the Play Store, but 2462 pirated versions were being played around the world, after just three days on sale. Apple’s app store isn’t as badly affected, with Ustwo saying the iOS piracy rate for Monument Valley is 60%.