Dead Trigger was made free due to rampant piracy


We were all shocked when Dead Trigger’s big update last Friday also brought a price drop. The zombie game was made available for free. Those who didn’t want to spend money on it were happy, and those who’d paid for it just recently were rightfully angry. But there’s a third group that isn’t accounted for: the pirates.

We never usually think of them: piracy happens, and it’s a tough thing to stop. Even Apple’s closed guardian is prone to this sort of thing. Unfortunately it’s what drove Madfinger to consider this business model. They’ve confirmed that the game was made free because they were unhappy with the amount of people pirating it.

We’re not sure where they got their stats from, but for them to publicly come out with that suggestion, an action that not many companies care to take, it must be significant. The game introduced in-app purchases to continue monetization.

Many people moaned and groaned at this approach after having experienced the shady business of “freemium” games in the past. I can only think back to my experience with the latest Oregon Trail game. I wasn’t even an hour into the game before I was cut off from doing anything.

Sure, I could load the game up and move my character around, collect virtual coins, etc, but without spending any money there was no way to move forward in a meaningful way. Madfinger wants to reiterate that they are no doing that at all. Whether you’re paying $0.00 or $9.99, you’ll be able to finish the game just as well as anyone else.

Those who pay get the perks, of course, but at least you’re not being forced to pay to continue. It’s an interesting move by the developer. They’d sold at least 100,000 downloads in the Google Play Store at $.99 despite the piracy. Since Google doesn’t report exact values it could have been closer to the 500,000 end of the threshold for all we know.

But this model allows them to attract more downloads, and they’ll possibly attract more dollar signs than they would have otherwise.

They have to support their studio and if this is the only route to go then they’re doing it the best way one can ask short of putting obtrusive ads all over the place. In any case, Dead Trigger is free, and if you don’t want to spend any money you don’t have to. Enjoy it in the Google Play Store. [Facebook]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. I might believe them more if they gave some proof. A FB posting decrying rampant piracy is hard to take seriously.

    1. I really would like to see some numbers.

    2. LOL it din’t sell so well so they blamed it on people pirating it, they only have a little over 100k downloads

  2. Count me among those that are annoyed at having paid for the game. I don’t really care that it went to free afterwards, I felt it was worth more than $1 when I bought it and I still think that on one condition. I greatly dislike the IAP model, and the game had it even before it went to free. Even after paying for it, I get into the game and not two levels in I get my gun taken away and a dollar sign placed over it. Nice.

    1. Really? That’s lame. The developers say you don’t need to buy anything to finish the game, I guess technically that’s true. I just really hate the IAP model.

      1. No. You start off with a very good gun and you lose it. You get a pistol, and your original gun cost a lot. LoL!! There are more guns to choose from as well, though this isn’t a discussion about the game.

  3. See, this doesn’t make sense to me. Plenty of video games have “rampant” piracy, but when’s the last time you saw a AAA PC game go free because of piracy? Something stinks here. ANY sales are better than no sales…

    1. The difference is that PC gamers are willing to pay $60 for a AAA game, and this allows the publishers to make money despite the pirates — while smartphone owners are complaining about paying $1.

      I absolutely hate pay-to-win and microtransactions, but smartphone gamers need to be willing to pay for content. Even $8 is nothing by PC standards. Seriously, it’s less than the cost of a single movie ticket…

      And I say this as something who paid full price for Shadowgun on my D4, and full price again for the Tegra-optimized version on my new Nexus 7. My only complaint is not the price, or even having to pay twice, but that the Tegra version (while looking much better) doesn’t seem quite as responsive.

      1. I used to pirate. But it’s so stupid. I feel that I’m stealing from the community, so I deleted my pirated games and bought them. It’s not that hard to come up with the money. Take your lunch for one day and don’t take the tollway. Saved $10 just from doing that. That allowed me to get at least 3 games every day I did that. LoL!!

      2. You didn’t get it.
        Maybe would you have understood if he compared this to songs instead of PC games: do record labels give away their artists’ work just because there’s a lot of people downloading it illegally?
        I agree with him, that makes no sense, there’s another reason than piracy for Madfinger Games to do that.

  4. Just couldn’t help myself….

    1. More lyk you wanted that Double Cheeseburger from McDonald’s instead of this app. LoL!!

  5. Phandroid, can you set up a poll on this article to see how many readers have pirated this game? I doubt very seriously that >90% of people pirated this game.

    1. IKR!? Oh my gosh, let me pirated a $1 game. No one can be that cheap. LoL!! Or maybe I’m laughing too soon…

      1. A pack of 5 gum costs more

  6. to bad they couldn’t release two versions. I rather buy it for $0.99 than go the IAP route

    1. they had IAP before it went free. I felt I had to pay another 99 cents just to get a second weapon.

      1. Well looks like I won’t be buying anything till it gets sorted out … thanks for the info

  7. I want a refund or some other form of compensation, like bonus content.

    1. I want a refund, forget f2p games

  8. I am a fan of MadFinger, I’ve paid for all their games, but I call BS on this. There are just bucketloads of ways to make pirating an app so much more difficult, without much added work for the developer. Did they try any? I think so, because they can obviously tell when an app is pirated, so they can also stop that app from functioning.

    I think this is a press stunt, get more downloads, and more IAP.

    I will even put forward one more theory. The DRM on this game was intentionally weak to let people pirate it and not block them from making IAP. It’s a possibility from a technical standpoint, and that’s where they stand to make most of their money.

    1. agreed, here’s a novel idea, why not let your game check into the play store to ensure its been purchased? I’ve had plenty of app’s that I’ve purchased perform that function.. you’d think that would be the first step by the developer to try and prevent piracy.

      an APK can be altered to not check into the market, but that’s what updates are for.. and i’m sure it would cut down a lot of this “Rampant piracy” :

      1. Can’t do that or Uniloc will hit you with a patent lawsuit! XD

      2. Developer here! I actually love the idea, however it severely inhibits numerous customers from using your app because it requires an active Internet connection. I, for instance, would not be able to play Dead Trigger on my Nexus 7 during a road trip (without tethering or something).

  9. Yeah glad I paid for a game that they “updated” to include IAP, and then due to the update bricked the game on my Nexus 7.. Nothing quite like buying something just to have it be bricked by an update, while at the same time providing me the privilege of having new ways to be charged in the future. [I look at this as a sign, my nexus 7″ believes this game is crap and no longer wants to run it..] I agree with it and am no longer interested in playing.

  10. Scumbags, I hate F2P games, they always force you into paying for items to progress. Skill and persistence should lead to progress, not cash. That is why I bought the games happily, I always support paid games I like, but to turn it into a F2P game after the fact is just insulting

  11. I’m in the pissed crowd who paid for it. Could I not at least have gotten a bonus for being a legal, purchasing user? a unique in game weapon or something?

  12. Hmmm I would really like to see Madfinger’s sources for this. Anyway as much as I love the Android platform I totally despise the group of users who are always complaining about paying for apps… I really, REALLY hope you people aren’t the same ones that complain about the fact android doesn’t have as many quality games as iOS… This is why! Support your developers people.

  13. Piracy my a**!

    In their statement they say: “we didn’t dare to provide it for free, since we hadn’t got XP with free-to-play format so far.”
    They clearly thought about distributing the game for free from the beginning, but weren’t sure of how much money they’d make with the IAP system, and once they knew how profitable it is, they dropped the buck to have more people installing it and make more money through IAP.

    Could they say that without infuriating early buyers?
    “Thank you so much for paying to beta-test our IAP system!”
    It doesn’t sound that good, better find something else…

  14. Sounds like BS to me too. If your goal is to sell a game to make money, then you continue to sell it even if it is being pirated. Why? To make as much money as you can.

    Just doesn’t make sense.

  15. We should be legally entitled to a refund. I don’t care that it’s only a dollar. I bought all their games. Gameloft didn’t pull this dirty trick. Loved the game but nobody likes being tricked. Seriously, I think this is illegal.

    1. Gameloft does this ALL the time. Never update to a new phone with a different processor. You’ll never get that game back. Google Play Store or not.

  16. Well I paid for it then the next day it became free and also stopped working on my Nexus 7.

    If they dont fix it I will probably side load there games next time.

    1. Might as well it seems. They have no customer loyalty.

    2. Might as well. They don’t seem interested in customer satisfaction.

    3. uninstall and reinstall

  17. Yes. Let me go out and cry that I paid $1 for a game that’s now free. I’m so sad that I had to spend my tollway change just to get this app. -_-

    Everybody who’s complaining about this is cheap and shouldn’t even be buying apps in the market. Really? It’s just $1. Don’t take the tollway for one day; don’t add cheese to your burger; walk that 10 minutes instead of catching the metro bus. Oh my gosh!! LoL!!

    1. It’s the principle, not the value. If you can’t understand that, I can’t help you. But this is a lowsey way to do business. Every businessperson will tell you the same.

      1. Well yea. I can understand your point when thinking about the principle of the matter. The reason why I don’t see why worrying about anything is because of the value. Yea its a dirty move, but don’t sweat too much over it since its so low in price.

        In other words this move won’t make me 2nd guess buying a game from them again. But this is just me and my tolerant ways. LoL!!

  18. sounds like a cop out to me.

  19. It looks fantastic on the NEXUS 7!

  20. Comments here leave a lot to be desired. I paid for it and could care less it went free. As far as in game purchases go, this was the case on day 1. All they’ve done is make an excellent game better.

  21. well well well what an unfortunate turn off events, I was thinking of buying this game and now its free >.> fate is so on my side

  22. I don’t get why they would blame this on piracy? Has everyone forgotten that iOS devices have a special app dedicated to app piracy which is installous? Why do we have to give android a bad rep with piracy whenever iOS devices have a pure dedicated app for all of this?

  23. I just don’t think its right to charge for a game where you have to pay real money for in game features/power ups regardless, they are going to make more money this way. But to turn around and call your customers pirates and thieves? Brilliant marketing!!! :|

  24. IAP is unacceptable. Charge more for a premium title and remove IAP completely and i would be happy. I think IAPs are unethical and greed driven.

  25. “Closed guardian”?

  26. Some countries pirate because they get a “not available in your country” error. Can we really blame them? As far as American sales, most pirates aren’t going to pay for in game purchases. Hell, even most people who buy these games won’t. I’ll pay 10$ for a game-loft game (like the new batman and spiderman games that I paid full price for), but I REFUSE to give even a cent to a ‘freemium” game. Just as the author said, its a shady business model.

  27. do not trust them……something rotten…..never has happened this to a good game

  28. IAP is fine with me as long as the app itself is free. TINY upgrades for a SMALL sum of money (.99) IMO is fair as is. I play League, and I spend a few bucks here and there for incremental upgrades, but the game itself will still be balanced none the less. There’s a freemium game for you.

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