Android piracy is the issue

(In my opinion) Android piracy of (games) is the (biggest) issue (between piracy and discoverability).

Wired ran an op-ed last year about the issue of Android games and piracy. Since then I have spoken privately to several game companies that published simultaneously on iOS and Android.  According to them the numbers are the same: piracy on Android is 80-90% and the revenues on Google Play are a fraction of those on iTunes. And here’s the kick, even completely free apps are pirated.

Discoverability is not a hard problem. It’s just an issue of costs and virality. But pirated games cause greater problems than just loss of revenues. Multiplayer games need to address cheating clients, logs need to be scrubbed because the data coming from pirated games skews the picture. I know of a widely used games analytics company that is not able to remove pirated clients from their logs thus gimping their service.

Poor discoverability is a tax on installs but Android games piracy is a tax on creativity that limits the types of games you can make.

UPDATE: Tim O’Reilly responds

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