You Might Want to Take a Look at GameLoft’s DRM Policy

One of the great things about Android is that application vendors can distribute their apps outside of the Android market. This is great for people who can’t purchase items directly from the market (due to their device or country), but it seems that the grass isn’t as green on some acres as they are on others.

gameloft-logo-1

One of our frequent tipsters – Dave Loft (a fitting name for the story he submitted) – contacted GameLoft in regards to their DRM policies after they’d finally launched their newest selection of Android games. The result was a very tight-run policy that would be enough to scare anybody away.

Hi!

About the handset, our policy is:

according to our refund policy, once the game is successfully installed, we cannot resend it for any reason, unless you buy it again. One purchase entitles you to one download of the game to one phone number and on one phone model only. If you delete or otherwise remove the game from your phone, or change your handset, you will have to buy it again.

About updates, I’m sorry, I have no information.

Please, visit our site and forum to get the latest info.

Best regards, and please let us know if you have any doubt.

If for any reason your phone gets lost or stolen, if you need to buy a new phone or get your data wiped (due to updates to the firmware), or anything that would compromise the ongoing state of your Android installation, you simply cannot reinstall that game without purchasing it again.

We’re not sure if this is just in regards to games bought on their own online store or if it includes games bought from the market, as well. We’ve contacted Dave to see if he can clear that up for us, but I truly believe GameLoft is taking a turn in the wrong direction with this move. It was great that they decided not to leave Android, but these kinds of policies are the sort of thing that will hurt their business in the long run.

If you’re ok with their DRM policies, then buy away – just make sure you keep that same phone for the rest of your life if you don’t want to pay for the same item over and over.

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  • http://phandroid.com Talton "Phases" Pettigrew

    Bummer, I’m not much of a gamer but was lookin’ forward to exploring what they have. Oh well.

  • John R

    …or at least back up the .apk before a data wipe!

  • Quentyn Kennemer

    @John R that won’t work. They distribute the APK to you anyway, but they’ve designed it so that if you try to reinstall it a second time, or however many other times, the game will fail to launch.

  • http://lettersfromdave.wordpress.com/ daveloft

    It only affects those who purchase from Gameloft’s online store, not from the market.

    Backing up the apk files is no good. I uninstalled a game to save space. I later went back to install the game and was told it was not original. So you only get 1 install even if its the same device.

  • Quentyn Kennemer

    Or so says Dave Loft on his blog and in the email he sent.
    http://lettersfromdave.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/do-not-buy-anything-from-gameloft/

  • z

    gameloft blacklisted!!!!

  • Darkseider

    Well for those that know how to back up the .apk no big deal. For the general public that doesn’t that policy plain ole sucks. There are two things that can possibly happen due to this policy.

    1. Gameloft loses sales and either changes policy or stops making games for Android.

    2. Rampant piracy of Gameloft games due to their draconian DRM policy which in turn will cause #1 to happen.

    In any case it is a self fulfilling prophecy and in the end Gameloft is the only one that is going to suffer. Not the consumer.

  • Fletcher

    Policies like this are only profitable when competition is limited.

  • Memitim

    Good looking out, folks. I was thinking about pulling the trigger on a game that was on the website but not in the market. Bullet dodged.

  • http://lettersfromdave.wordpress.com/ daveloft

    I just uploaded a picture to my blog of the message I get when I tried to run Real Football 2010 after reinstalling the game.

  • http://androidpimps.com Dan Fury

    @Quentyn that is not true, I’ve backupped Gangstar with Titanium Backup and restored it after I updated my handset to Froyo with no problems.

    Of course the refund policies apply to their website only, they cannot dictate how often you download something from the market.

    And no, I don’t think anyone should buy from their website, it feels like a beta test for their games.

  • Imre

    Saving the .apk doesn’t work. I did just that, before refreshing my ROM…. Game installs fine, but refuses to run: not a legitimate copy.

    WASTE!!!

  • Richard

    Well thats good enough for me not to buy anything from Gameloft.

  • Sined

    For all it’s worth (or not worth) their online store which was introduced to curb piracy, is a boatload of fail.

    All of their released have been cracked and are available online.

  • tom

    I wonder if they are aware that people buy new phones once in a while, change phone numbers, and even change carriers. This would NEVER stand up in the PC world. I wonder how long it will be before this blows up in their faces.

  • Alexander

    Thanks for the warning, that’s an automatic “no buy” for Gameloft products.

  • bill

    android is getting to be a ridiculous os…c’mon…Apple had this stuff fivured out from the get go…no excuse for this mess of an os….

  • PeDe7

    they’re shooting themselves in the foot with this unless they release all the same games directly to the Android Market. Otherwise, i’d much rather go else where for gaming and that’ll be easy b/c there’s plenty of competition

  • bill

    android is getting to be a ridiculous os…c’mon…Apple had this stuff figured out from the get go…no excuse for this mess of an os….

  • Furret

    Lol… That’s so stupid it hurts. I’m glad I’m not a fan of mobile gaming. Screw them. Such a manner would never work on any market. I seriously hope people realize, that it violates the common decency of developer-custommer relationship.

  • Steve

    Simple solution, just do not buy from these folks.

  • NRBovee

    14-I really wouldn’t know about cracked software-I buy it. No harm in helping developers keep food on the table.
    But this is a fail-I don’t want to switch ROM’s and find out the game I purchased legally no longer works. I’m not going to steal their s***, I’m just not going to buy it.

  • Matt

    wow, count this company as one I’ll never buy from

  • noirz

    @bill iphone fan boy if u like osx mobile so much what are u doing trolling an android site?

  • http://twitter.com/Deoki Deoki

    @bill:
    Thank God you’re a moron and haven’t read the article just to know that this has nothing to do about Android or Android Market, but Gameloft’s direct selling system.
    They also make games for Apple, you jerk.

  • joe

    Are their games not on Android Market? I don’t see them.

    I’d still buy their games (if i liked them) from the android market since it has a 24 hour refund policy and if you have to wipe your phone (which isn’t too uncommon) you can re-download all your apps

    If they are only selling these games through their website, that’s pretty bad

  • jonathan

    Gamelofts Android Strategy:

    1. Make rush ports of games
    2. When they perform bad, don’t fix. Instead, nerf the graphics and performance across the board to squeeze some more frames per second.
    3. Rush rush rush. Careless errors, like music files appearing in music player. Don’t look back either, keep rushing! Never fix.
    4. Offer games on their website.
    4A. This allows them to be exempt from negative reviews and stars about game quality and glitches.
    4B. This allows them to control refunds that one would opt for after deciding the game is crap.
    4C. This allows them to squeeze more money out of you with their DRM rules.
    5. Either profit, and continue, or fail, and then announce leaving Android because the market isn’t mature and demand isn’t there.

    Screw Gameloft.

  • Phil

    I don’t think they’ll be able to keep this up that long. All it will take is more devs doing good 3D games and selling them in the market to put an end to their practices. At least I hope. Until then though NOVA looks good I won’t be putting my money on it.

  • nom

    Deoki, why did you have to feed the troll. We were doing fine just ignoring it.

  • Oliver

    Anyone who wants to know how to install these “one phone, one time only” gameloft games after they’ve already been installed once… crsnwd4life20@gmail.com

  • tristan

    I don’t know how you can be so DRM strict when you can just backup the apk file… I mean apple you at least have to hack something (jailbreak) to pirate software.

  • CaptBebops

    I do games for a small publisher who is interested in Android but concerned about Google policies. I told him that many of the major game publishers were using Handmark or Handango instead of the Market.

    Product quality aside, I can understand these company’s concerns. Over the years selling registerable products off my web site I still get emails saying “I had to wipe my computer and need a new copy of your program to install.” Often these requests come without ANY information like the registration receipt number so I can check if this is a registered owner. In a few cases since e-seller service offers download insurance and if they bought that they need to contact them not me.

    I have told some of them that if they lost the install disks for a program they bought at a “brick and mortar” store and went to that store with the receipt and requested a new box the store would just laugh at them.

    Some of the outside the Market DRM schemes have problems too. I found some of my customers like to change their SIM card. They lose the program when they do that. I was unaware that the phone memory was on the SIM card as I’m not aware that is the case with US carriers. Of course most people in the US probably don’t ever swap their SIM card. It’s done in other countries to gain access to different services.

    And we’re talking games and apps that cost about the price of a lunch at a fast food place not a $40 or even a $20 product so replacing it does not exactly break the bank.

  • Chaz_UK

    Bollocks! I bought a game from their site earlier (Let’s Golf) and now I find out this? I at least thought you could back up the game assets on the SD card and reinstall.

    I wont think twice about obtaining a cracked copy of the game I paid for if I ever lose it!

    What a load of shit. :(

  • Tony

    I don’t see this as a problem with Android — it’s a problem with GameLoft’s policy. After people realize what is going on, they will boycott/abandon GameLoft and either GameLoft will get out of the Android space or they’ll change their policy.

  • Rota

    Nice one Gameloft, you basically just asked the entire world to just pirate your games.

  • Dave

    If you are rooted, you can do a nandroid backup which basically takes a snapshot of your entire system. You can then restore that backup on a phone if your’s breaks or is stolen.

  • Fish

    Am I crazy, or doesn’t that just make you want to pirate their games out of spite?

  • henry

    Wow, I’ll never buy from them. Thanks for making that such and easy decision, GameLoft!

  • Bavarian Cave Monkey

    Me not like, me stay in Google market, me thinks its fair….lol

  • DannyB

    > One of the great things about Android is that
    > application vendors can distribute their apps
    > outside of the Android market.
    .
    Not on AT&T phones. :-)
    .
    No non-market applications. (Unless you use development tools to install the app.)

  • Vlad

    That’s why I bought their games via market, and when they all turned crap, I returned them back to Gameloft faces!

  • http://www.androidhelpers.com iowa

    So how long do you guys think it’ll take for cracked copies to show up on thepiratebay now lol?

  • http://lettersfromdave.wordpress.com/ daveloft

    I’ve been tipped off to a method on how to reinstall the game. Just install with the phone in airplane mode. Do this where you have WiFi, but make sure you have WiFi disabled at first. If the game needs any files allow the game to enable wifi and it’ll download what it needs to finish the install. Once its done your good to go. Enjoy!

  • lalo

    One of the limitations of the android marketplace is that you cannot release content only to specific handsets; if an application is published it will be available for all the handsets with the version of the OS supported..

    Let say you did an application for Eclair FW 2.0 software; first wave android handsets are at FW 1.5 at maximum (HTC G1). If your application is targeted to 2.0 devices it wont be available to them.. but as soon those 1.5 devices get an upgrade to 2.0 your application that was only done for 2.0 devices say Motorola Droid will also be available for HTC G1… and there is a world of difference between the two handsets performance wise.

    Thats the reason some vendors prefer to sell their app via Handmark and Handango since those have specialized shops that will only sell for an specific handsets

    Seems Gameloft is trying to do the same approach… just their DRM is a bit overboard

    If these handsets get an upgrade

  • steve

    bill im glad you can read the article before making conclusions, you dumb fuck

  • dave

    Is that even legal? If I buy a game, and it stops working, and I delete it to try and fix it (ie delete, tidy up, reinstall), or I have to do a factory reset as part of the upgrade to 2.2, it’s not acceptable that I have to pay again. In the UK perhaps the Sale Of Goods Act comes into play here.

  • s

    honestly most of those gameloft games suck anyway, in my opinion. just one more reason not to get them.

  • mudrock1000

    I like the stuff for the itouch i was just about to buy nova…but guess what/ As a noble jailbreak user I think it’s high and time to stop paying for their stuff. This is pretty ridiculous. Wow…just wouw

  • erth

    Bought a game, clicked _once_ on the download button, and was charged twice (which I didn’t discover until later). Lost connection during download, so I downloaded again, and was charged two times again. All in all, I was charged four times for the same game! Their solution to the problem: I could get 3 other games for “free”.

  • Raon

    I get the problem of wiping the device.
    I send them a mail about that, and they just gave me a new fresh apk.

  • Harbinger

    Well, that’s very draconian of them. And game companies wonder why they keep losing money to pirates.

  • Jon Tseng

    Here’s an interesting one.

    Asphalt 5 seems to have been pulled from Android Marketplace. I notice on my marketplace Downloads section it has also been removed i.e. I cannot reinstall it any longer.

    Look at sections 3 and 7 of the distribution agreement (http://www.android.com/us/developer-distribution-agreement.html), users have right to unlimited reinstalls, even if a dev pulls an app from the market. So what Gameloft has done seems to be in break of the agreement…

    And even if they pull an app from the market cos theres something dodgy about it (which isn’t the case here) users should be entitled to a refund.

    Interesting…