Wind-up Kinght developer: Piracy rates on iOS and Android are comparable, China is the main source

by: LucianJuly 30, 2012

Although Wind-up Knight is arguably one of the most entertaining 3D games on Android, piracy has had little effect on the company’s fortunes. In fact the developer behind it says that while on Android the piracy rate is about only 12%, on iOS it’s about 15%, and when it was a paid app on iOS, the piracy rate was as high as 80%.

That seems almost unbelievable to those of us who are constantly fed the message that the Android ecosystem is plagued by piracy because of app sideloading and of the open nature of Android, which allows for easier rooting and such. But iOS, which doesn’t have sideloading and jailbreaking is more of a pain, seems to be plagued by just as much piracy, if not by more.

There could be a good reason for that, too. On Android there are more free apps than on iOS, so piracy should be higher on iOS, all things being equal, because there’s more to pirate (more paid apps). As the Wind-up Knight developer says, the piracy of his app used to be 5 times bigger when Wind-up Knight was a paid app.

There’s also another interesting nugget from his Google+ post. He says that close to 100% of pirates are from China. That’s because in China either they really can’t afford paying for those apps, so they wouldn’t buy them anyway, or they don’t even have access to the Google Play Store, if they buy devices with some no-name forked version of Android. But the apps should still be compatible with those devices, so they pirate them.

This is a very similar issue to the malware one, where the vast majority of Android malware happens with apps that weren’t downloaded from Google Play, but from a Chinese app store or pirate sites. So my suggestion is that in the future when you’ll hear unbelievable horrifying stories about “Android piracy” or “Android malware”, things will probably be better than they make them sound, and those issues will probably be mostly originating from China.

In the mean time, don’t be afraid to get your own copy of Wind-up Knight from the Play Store.

  • Perry Ahern

    That’s very interesting. I’d like to see revised versions of the piracy rate and malware infection reports that account for the China “factor” – stats that show both angles: “with China” and “without China.”

  • Why re-hash the same story but from another developer?

  • Chris Pruett

    I’m glad my tweets were interesting, but I’m afraid the title of this article is putting a few words into my mouth. Based on the single data point I have (Wind-up Knight), we see piracy rates on both iOS and Android as extremely similar–only a few percentage points apart, which is well within the margin of error for this kind of calculation. Furthermore, both rates are quite low, probably because Wind-up Knight is a free game. Rather than casting this as an iOS vs Android argument, the more interesting discussion here is the role of China when calculating “lost revenue,” (which I think is almost zero) and the differences between free apps and paid apps. Both platforms have pirates. Whether or not it matters, and whether or not the platforms are significantly different, is a more interesting question (hint: they are similar and it doesn’t matter).


    • Hey Chris, I’ve changed the title to accurately reflect your position, thank you for the time you took to add to the discussion!

  • Robert

    Thailand is a good place to find iOS/Android piracy as well.

    It’s standard procedure to “buy apps” for your device at a mobile phone shop, which means for 500 baht (around $15) your device will get loaded with a shitload of applications.

    If you are buying the device at a mobile phone shop, not through a mobile provider, you will get this service for free, your phone will come preloaded, on my iPhone it was like 10 pages of mixed applications, including
    games and whatever the shop owner thought could be useful to have. My android phone came out of the box there and I had to tell them several times that i don’t want applications, just give me as it is, i will set up myself.

    Btw, it’s the same when buying computers/notebooks and windows: you can get windows and all the ‘important’ (as decided by the shop) software preinstalled (office, photoshop, etc.)

  • Not surprising..

    Ummm… spell-check? Title reads “Whind-up Kinght developer:…”

  • TA

    Did anyone check the title of this article : “Whind-up Kinght” ?