A few days after the release of their game Gentlemen!, a critically acclaimed two-player 2D action title available on select Android and iOS tablet devices, developer Lucky Frame started to notice something a little odd: the number of online players on the Google Play version of the game was way higher than the eight copies of the game which had been sold through that particular venue. After contacting the analytics company which handled the statistics of their game to confirm the stats, Lucky Frame realized the oddity was the product of piracy. Gentlemen! had sold eight copies on Android devices, but it had been pirated 2,462 times.
According to statistics released in an August 20th Gamasutra article from Lucky Frame’s Yann Seznec, Gentlemen! has been pirated over 340 times for every one copy it has sold on Android devices, being bought 144 and being pirated 50,030 times. Its sales are a bit higher on iOS, at 1,114 as of August 20th. By now, just over a week later, we can only guess that both the piracy and sales numbers have increased.
Whether or not you see this as an injustice or simply a fact of digital life, Lucky Frame is actually taking it all pretty well, saying that the number of people pirating their game who actually continue to play it consistently proves to them just how good the game they’ve made really is.
“Many people assumed that we were really upset about this statistic. In retrospect, talking about the piracy numbers on twitter probably implies that we were unhappy, but in reality the number of pirates just confirmed to us that we made a game that people love to play! The people who are pirating our game are also playing a surprising amount, with really great engagement – these are no casual pirates just downloading because they can. So this confirmed to us that our game design is solid, and that we’ve made a super fun game that people enjoy.” — Yann Seznec
So I guess that’s one way to take the news! Of course, Seznec would have preferred to make a larger profit, but he even notes that he suspects those who pirated his game would never have bought had piracy not been an available option, so he’s definitely not too broken up over the whole ordeal. He points to the markets from which the game is most commonly being pirated, China and Russia—regions which Gentlemen! was not translated for, as an indication that, if not pirated, most of the pirates would not have played Gentlemen! at all.
This is certainly among the less average and less black-and-white piracy incidents, and even the developer’s not too sore about it, so maybe we can use this as a chance for a bit of reflection on the numerous different perspectives, intricacies, consequences, outcomes, and causes of piracy. It’s certainly a complex issue, one which I’m not going to attempt to contend I have a perfect answer to.
Let’s discuss. What are your thoughts on piracy, and why? Does a story like this influence those thoughts in any way? Let’s chat in the comments.