Apple’s laxed approach to piracy on its mobile iOS platform is attracting the ire of some developers. Of note, GAMEized, maker of FingerKick, noted that its $0.99 game was pirated by 91% of those who played the game. What’s puzzling is that Apple allows players of pirated games to still tap into its Game Center service, which is seen as an Xbox Live rival on Windows Phone for social gaming, despite the fact that iOS can check for pirated apps.
“Most bewildering of all is that even with all their rhetoric chastising piracy and intellectual property theft, Apple apparently has no functional counter-piracy safeguards in place on their Game Center — essentially permitting users to play pirated software on their Game Center without fear of reprisals or consequence,” GAMEized published on its website.
Though FingerKick has sold over 1,500 copies, its makers claim that an additional 15,950 copies have been pirated.
There are a few factors that may be related to piracy in the past on Apple’s iOS platform, including the lack of demos available for game titles, a lack of a refund policy, and no trialware. It’s unclear why Apple isn’t being more pro-active with the issue of piracy on its platform, though one possible explanation would be that turning a blind eye to the situation may help to grow the platform, attract hackers and underground developers, and attract users. By having a more ‘lenient’ overall approach, Apple may be sacrificing game sales now in order to lure users into its ecosystem. Once in, it may be hard for users to switch to a rival platform given the content, accessories, and other purchases that are made in the ecosystem.
Though Apple does not condone nor allow pirated apps to run on the iOS platform, users who jailbreak their devices can install hacks that would allow pirated apps to install via iTunes. While jailkbreaking is deemed legal by the revised Digital Millennium Copyright Act, pirating mobile software is not legal. Jailbreaking, which sometimes is mistakenly tied to piracy, is more than the ability to pirate software. The process of jailbreaking can be an instrumental step in devising hacks and modifications to the iOS software platform that is not yet enabled by default by Apple, such as the ability to run multiple user profiles. In the past, jailbreaking hacks that enabled multiple Exchange ActiveSync accounts, customized homescreen backgrounds, and more have been seen adopted by Apple in subsequent iOS releases.