The developer of an iPhone game had a nice surprise when it suddenly saw a surge in users. The game had around ten downloads a day from iTunes, which inexplicably transformed into more than 400 users in a single day. The reason – the game got cracked. Read what happened when the developer confronted the cracker.
Whack ‘em All is a newish game for iPhone and iPod Touch, based on the ‘Whack-a-Mole’ idea. The creators are married couple Constance and James Bossert, who together form Fairlady Media.
James told TorrentFreak “We decided to develop a game for the iPhone while driving one evening and over the next couple of months put Whack ‘em All together in our spare time. Altogether, its taken us about 250 hours to develop the game with about 100 hours worth of graphics work and 150 hours worth of development, bug testing and submitting the app to Apple.”
The game is available for purchase via the iTunes App Store and has steadily been achieving around 10 sales a day. It’s pretty cheap, at just 99 cents.
On January 4th, Fairlady Media got all excited. Suddenly they discovered they had over 400 brand new users in a day, but after checking with iTunes, disappointment set in. Only 12 people had actually purchased the game. It turned out that the surge was down to pirates – someone had cracked the game and offered it for free on the web. While mildly encouraged that there is demand for the game, James told us he decided to confront the person responsible to “try and figure out why there was such a strong market for pirated apps.”
“I’m the developer for Whack ‘em All. I noticed you’re being given credit for cracking Whack ‘em All and making it generally available for free,” he said in his opening email to the cracker. “We (just my wife and I) haven’t even made enough money off of this to pay for the iPhone we had to buy to develop it on. Just yesterday 40 times more people got your version of the app than bought it off the app store!” James told the cracker he was curious about his motives. Surprisingly, the cracker responded:
“As many iPhone and iPod touch owners have discovered, Apple’s iTunes App Store has many flaws which render it useless to the common user,” he replied. “Apple has chosen to allow a multitude of ridiculous, worthless, poorly-represented applications through its ‘strict’ screening process, nearly all written by mediocre programmers with a dream of getting rich quick. Many of these programmers game the reviews system, misrepresent their application in the description, and generally try to swindle the honest buyer.”
The cracker, known as most_uniQue, went on to say that people are fed up with wasting money on these type of applications, so they simply stopped buying them. He then went on to offer a solution. “Apple could quite easily solve this problem by implementing a sort of trial period for each application, but they do not. The user is forced to buy blindly without ever getting to try the application first.”
most_uniQue told James that he became motivated to crack iPhone games after he bought a few that didn’t live up to their marketing hype, feeling he could help others ‘try before they buy’. “To solve this problem either talk to Apple to allow trials,” he said, “or you can release your game on Cydia with ads.”
James told TorrentFreak that he was happy with the extra exposure generated by the cracked copy of the game, while hoping this would translate into cash to be invested in the development of future projects.
The outcome of this exchange? “My goal would be to get a response from Apple about this,” he told us, while going on to reveal that a free, ad-supported version of the game (and future games) is in the planning.