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

July 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.