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Regardless which non-iPhone platform a developer selects, they can expect to face the exact same piracy issues that have become commonplace in the iPhone community.
According to Greg Yardley, over 60 percent of iPhone applications have been pirated, "and the number is probably higher than that." Yardley is co-founder and CEO of Manhattan-based Pinch Media, a company that provides analytic software for iPhone games. "Getting ripped off by pirates is the rule rather than the exception."
Area/Code's Lantz hasn't heard much chatter about the problem outside of the iPhone, but he suspects he will: "I can only imagine that it will be far worse on platforms like Android, because of its open-source nature," he predicts. "Frankly, we haven't given it much thought, but maybe I should be more concerned."
At Gamevil, piracy has become an issue, especially on non-iPhone platforms. "The iPhone is more difficult than any of the mobile platforms to pirate," says Lee. "At least you have to jailbreak the phone to pirate; on the others, jailbreaking isn't necessary... you can just download the game files off the internet and install them."
While Gamevil is aware of its games being pirated, Lee says they have found no solution. "We just live with it," he says.
Michael Pachter expects developers won't be taking such a blasé attitude in the near future. "I expect the problem will get worse, especially since Apple does such a terrible job of protecting digital rights," he explains. "The proof is that developers often see five or six times as many postings on their leaderboards as copies of the game sold. I've heard of piracy rates up to 90 percent. The only games that don't get pirated are free-to-play titles. They're free so why would anyone copy them; what's the point?"
The irony is that, despite the growing piracy and increasing competition, there are few reports of developers being discouraged by the rigors of the mobile marketplace. Gamevil's Lee has heard of several developers taking a "wait-and-see" attitude until the installed base of non-iPhone users grows. But they are in the minority, he says.
Indeed, Pachter's best advice to developers is to jump in with both feet - build games for the iPhone and then port away to all the other platforms.
"You're looking at a potential market for smartphones of probably a billion in the next 10 years," he predicts. "Developers ought to take advantage of the fact that the barriers to entry are low - you can create an iPhone game and then port it inexpensively for $5,000 to $10,000 or less per platform.
"Why would anyone want to build a stand-alone game just for, say, Android? That doesn't make any sense at all," he adds. "It's like making a game specifically for a Dell PC that doesn't work on an HP PC. You might as well make a game for the iPhone and then port it everywhere!"