Only a Tiny Number of Monument Valley Android Installs Were Paid For

Only a Tiny Number of Monument Valley Android Installs Were Paid For

monument valley

While only 5% of Monument Valley installs on Android were paid for, Ustwo Games isn't sweating the pirates.

Ustwo Games, developer of puzzle title Monument Valley, was doing some number crunching when it observed the vast majority of installs for its game went unpaid. Only 5% of Android installs of Monument Valley were paid for.

Producer Dan Gray explained this was merely an observation rather than a complaint, but he also noted not all 95% of the remaining installs were pirated versions. Some people paid for the game and then legitimately installed it on their multiple Android devices, such as on a phone and on a tablet. Gray told Re/code he has no idea the exact number of installs that are legitimate, but he said a small portion of the 95% is made up of people installing the game on multiple devices. Gray noted Ustwo Games did not include the day Monument Valley was available for free on Amazon in its figures.

Interestingly, 60% of iOS installs of Monument Valley were not paid for; while it's still not a great figure, it's less shocking than 95% of unpaid installs on Android.

Even so, that figure isn't unheard of for Android games. In 2013 developer Lucky Frame's Gentlemen! found 144 of 50,030 people had paid for the game on Android. Lucky Frame director Yann Seznec discovered most of the illegitimate copies went to people in Russia and China. In 2012 Mad Finger Games switched its game Dead Trigger to a "freemium" model from its one dollar price point because piracy hurt the games' sales so much that advertising brought in more money than legitimate installs. Mobile app piracy has become so influential that the US Department of Justice convicted two people in March 2014 for committing copyright infringement at a popular Android app piracy website.

This looks grim. Gray doesn't focus on the negativity too much, though.

"The best way I like to think about it is, the majority of those users probably wouldn't have bought the game anyway," Gray told Re/code. "So it's not like we're losing revenue. And, of course, I'm sure 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. When I say we're not complaining about that ratio, that kind of ratio was expected before we made the game and it's not that surprising now that we've released the game. You just roll with the punches."

Source: Ustwo Games (Twitter) via Re/code

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I feel like Monument Valley is another victim of how "broken" the mobile storefronts are and the levels of uncertainty that the mobile market suffers from several problems:

Do I actually feel like I own it when I download or buy it from Google Play and iTunes?

Will it work on my phone (or for some Gingerbread phones, even download correctly)?

And if I do have to get a new phone, will my apps transfer over without difficulty?

Hopefully the middle issue will be solved if Project Ara becomes a success, and thus Gingerbread (and its invalid package files) no longer is the majority of Android versions. But the other two? I don't think Google Play or iTunes can alone resolve that issue. It's going to take an easy-to-use, open-but-filtered storefront that's not exclusive to either platform and offers apps designed in some way that works on any type of phone, as long as actual hardware requirements are met and you've downloaded the necessary software for those apps. That might be what straightens out the mess that's the mobile market.

God forbid you pay a buck or two for a quality product. I guess that's human psychology for you. It's easy to justify stealing if it's only "a couple bucks". People are willing to cheat if it's "only a little bit" but if you increase the value, it makes people more honest less willing to steal. Afterall, you might find a dollar on the street and think "woo hoo free dollar!" but if it's a $50 or a $100, your first thought might at least be "Oh dear, I wonder who dropped this?" followed by possibly asking nearby passersby if it belonged to them before deciding to pocket it.

I would like to mention that this game was free on Amazon's free app of the day a while ago. I don't know whether they are counting those as paid installs, but that was how I picked it up, because the only thing I knew about it was that it was nominated during the Game Awards.

EDIT: they specifically mention that they don't count the amazon installs here: https://twitter.com/ustwogames/status/552137589273415680

Blastinburn:
I would like to mention that this game was free on Amazon's free app of the day a while ago. I don't know whether they are counting those as paid installs, but that was how I picked it up, because the only thing I knew about it was that it was nominated during the Game Awards.

I knew even less but liked the art style. One of the few really good FAoTD I've gotten. I feel they most likely didn't take it into account though.

Now I feel special, but it's very sad to see that so few people paid for it, these are exactly the people who deserve to get paid for their work, unlike tripe like candy crush.

Blastinburn:
I would like to mention that this game was free on Amazon's free app of the day a while ago. I don't know whether they are counting those as paid installs, but that was how I picked it up, because the only thing I knew about it was that it was nominated during the Game Awards.

They mention in the article they don't count those installs.

Dr.Awkward:
I feel like Monument Valley is another victim of how "broken" the mobile storefronts are and the levels of uncertainty that the mobile market suffers from several problems:

Do I actually feel like I own it when I download or buy it from Google Play and iTunes?

Will it work on my phone (or for some Gingerbread phones, even download correctly)?

And if I do have to get a new phone, will my apps transfer over without difficulty?

Hopefully the middle issue will be solved if Project Ara becomes a success, and thus Gingerbread (and its invalid package files) no longer is the majority of Android versions. But the other two? I don't think Google Play or iTunes can alone resolve that issue. It's going to take an easy-to-use, open-but-filtered storefront that's not exclusive to either platform and offers apps designed in some way that works on any type of phone, as long as actual hardware requirements are met and you've downloaded the necessary software for those apps. That might be what straightens out the mess that's the mobile market.

When you buy an app or a game in the App Store (iTunes), it's tied to your account. You're then free to delete and/or redownload the app/game as much as you want on any of your devices associated with your account. Apps that aren't compatible with your hardware or iOS version won't show up the App Store for purchase, so you're always guaranteed to download a working product.

Don't know how this works on Android though, so I can't comment on that.

Blastinburn:
I would like to mention that this game was free on Amazon's free app of the day a while ago. I don't know whether they are counting those as paid installs, but that was how I picked it up, because the only thing I knew about it was that it was nominated during the Game Awards.

It's mentioned in the article:

Gray noted Ustwo Games did not include the day Monument Valley was available for free on Amazon in its figures.

I honestly never really knew that piracy on mobile devices was so bad. I mean, sure, piracy is a thing, and you would be stupid to think that piracy will die down or a product will never be pirated, but 95% of copies weren't paid for? That is a pretty disgusting number. It always puzzled me that people are more than willing to pay a couple of $/£ on a console game/PC game, but aren't willing to do the same for mobile games. Are they somehow lesser?

Finomans:
Now I feel special, but it's very sad to see that so few people paid for it, these are exactly the people who deserve to get paid for their work, unlike tripe like candy crush.

Unfortunately, this is a good example of why the 'whale'-hunting 'free' games dominate and will continue to dominate the mobile market - As long as most of the players aren't paying anyways (and won't pay even a very small amount like $1-$2), you need to milk as much as possible out of the handful that will in order to be profitable.

Laggyteabag:
I honestly never really knew that piracy on mobile devices was so bad. I mean, sure, piracy is a thing, and you would be stupid to think that piracy will die down or a product will never be pirated, but 95% of copies weren't paid for? That is a pretty disgusting number. It always puzzled me that people are more than willing to pay a couple of $/£ on a console game/PC game, but aren't willing to do the same for mobile games. Are they somehow lesser?

Well like the article said quoting the other guy the majority of the pirate installs were coming from places like China and Russia. People around the world may have cell phones, but currency conversion doesn't allow for much spending money on digital products. So they pirate.

Laggyteabag:
I honestly never really knew that piracy on mobile devices was so bad. I mean, sure, piracy is a thing, and you would be stupid to think that piracy will die down or a product will never be pirated, but 95% of copies weren't paid for? That is a pretty disgusting number. It always puzzled me that people are more than willing to pay a couple of $/£ on a console game/PC game, but aren't willing to do the same for mobile games. Are they somehow lesser?

Last I knew a lot of it is because they have such low prices. As a consumer there's not a ton of info about the purchase as you're buying, and the extreme amount of shovelware on the platform lowers expectations. You could spend some time researching it, but it's not really worth it for $1.

It's why you'll often get much better sales figures for selling ads and then unlocking it. Not out of special greed, but a general want as a consumer to not buy sight-unseen so much. Especially given the popularity of that pricing models with other games, it comes to be expected.

The main thing is that you can't even buy the game on Google Play in China. Chinese govt regulations only allow F2P games. And many android phones don't even have Google Play, just go to shady 3rd party 'stores' which are all pirated apps.

You can use Amazon, but then you still need a US billing address, have to do a lot of runaround, and it's just such a major pain in the ass that it's not really worth it.

Other game devs have verified that 99% of their Android installs in China are pirated, but those are sales they never could have made (barring changing Chinese govt policy) so they don't consider those piracy loss. And that figures for just North America are much closer for iOS/Android.

Russians are just being Russians.

Well maybe you should not add rootkits and ad media tracking software with your media.
Im not accusing them of such, but the marketplace generally does, so it has created some mistrust

Why do random bullcrap apps need access to my gps, camera, and microphone? And require me to be logged into google play, And log into the game servers? Its just as ridiculous as gas station and club organizations requiring your address and phone number for"rewards cards".

Id say the safer versions are from the pirates.

But i dont game on android cause they are all crap games, and i wont contribute to this deterioration i.e. mobile game elements in pc games.

Well I paid. I'm gonna count this as my good deed for the day, and use it as an excuse for being a shitty person in other situations.

Welp, my family probably just got lumped into the "Pirates" category, even though we didn't pirate it.
If you've got the Amazon App Store on your phone, Amazon runs "Free App of the Day" type deals, and Monument Valley was up once and we all grabbed it. Essentially, the Free App of the Day is just that, an app that usually costs money is put up for free for an entire day, snag it then and it's yours forever.
Part of that chunk of people who didn't pay for it might have been people who got it for free off of Amazon that day.

Dr. Thrax:
Welp, my family probably just got lumped into the "Pirates" category, even though we didn't pirate it.
If you've got the Amazon App Store on your phone, Amazon runs "Free App of the Day" type deals, and Monument Valley was up once and we all grabbed it. Essentially, the Free App of the Day is just that, an app that usually costs money is put up for free for an entire day, snag it then and it's yours forever.
Part of that chunk of people who didn't pay for it might have been people who got it for free off of Amazon that day.

Again in that article they didn't count the Amazon free game day.

Laggyteabag:
aren't willing to do the same for mobile games. Are they somehow lesser?

Well, others have mentioned some reasons why things aren't actually quite as bad as they sound; not actually being able to buy most games legitimately in China where a large portion of piracy occurs, for example. However, in general, yes, they are lesser. The vast majority of mobile games are utter shit. Even the few vaguely original ones are frequently terrible, and most of the rest are just poor quality rip-offs of already poor quality games. Even many of the better known ones with decent production values are little more than prettied up versions of existing games - just look at Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga. And even the best games are often good for mobile games, not particularly good compared to games on other platforms - much worse graphics, simplistic mechanics and controls, and so on. If you look at reviews for ports from mobile to PC, you'll notice that many of them explicitly say that something that makes a perfectly fun mobile game is simply not worth buying as a port.

This isn't a dig against mobile games, they simply fill a very different niche - simple games you can play on a much less powerful device for a few minutes on the bus. But this leads to a general perception that they are simply not worth as much. When you have a few decent but simple and lightweight games floating in a sea of worthless shit, people are going to be less inclined to pay than they are on platforms that are known for having lots of games worth a lot more than a couple of quid. A PC game that costs £1 is a bargain compared to all those that cost £30 or more, even if it turns out not to be that good. A mobile game that costs £1 is expensive compared to most, and is more than likely not to be that good.

It's somewhat unfortunate, since this is obviously not fair on the developers who put just as much time and effort into creating a game, but as things stand that's the prevailing perception of things - a cheap PC game can be worth paying for even if it's shit, but a cheap mobile game isn't even if it isn't.

This reminds me of when they claimed most people pirated world of goo, based on the fact that there were accesses from more IPs than there were legitimate copies.

Meanwhile in the real world, a lot of people have IPs that change every time they connect to the internet, or every 24 hours.

 

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