Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Friday, January 22, 2010

Piracy & Marketing

A recent study  by 24/7 Wall Street states that $450 million dollars have been lost by iPhone app developers due to piracy. Analysis by Ars Technica finds some of their assumptions questionable, and not really backed up by hard data.

Here's my own take: Piracy (whether of iPhone apps, books, music, video, software, or whatnot) is beyond the scope of a small publisher's ability to stop. You can certainly buy commercial solutions for many types of media that offer some form of copy protection, but all of those can (and are) circumvented by pirates. So, in accordance with my most basic marketing dictum, "If you can't fix it, feature it." Figure out a way to use the fact of piracy to your advantage. For instance, some iPhone developers can detect when a pirated copy contacts their servers, and then treat it as a trial version (allowing a limited number of free uses before shutting down its access). Publishers of game books often give away free PDFs of their rules to encourage purchase of their books; some include a PDF of their books with the purchase, for the convenience of the buyer. Some musicians rely on their performances to make money, and see the mp3 files as a form of advertising. Solutions vary depending on the media involved; your answer might be different.

The bottom line is that your business has to adapt to the conditions of the marketplace and reality, unless you have to power to change the market itself (which only the largest businesses can attempt). Piracy exists; find a way to turn it to your advantage, or at least to minimize the losses, without annoying your paying customers. That's part of marketing's job... finding opportunities where others see problems.

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