Released on December 24th, James Bossert’s Whack ‘em All iPhone app – a game that simulates the Whack-a-Mole arcade game – has built up a user base of around 800 players. A figure the developer was quite happy with until he discovered only around 25 per cent of those gamers had actually paid for his game through the App Store.
“The industry average for pirated verses actual sales is currently somewhere around 20 per cent,” Bossert comments on his blog. “That’s up for debate as I’ve seen numbers anywhere from less than 10 per cent to as much as 90 per cent. For us, as of today, we’ve got 811 users and only 196 sales. So, we’re sitting at 76 per cent.”
The developer apparently decided to contact the hacker who broke the security on the game (using a piece of one-click software that removes iPhone app protection) and began freely distributing it through an iPhone piracy forum.
The conversation Bossert held with the hacker has also been published on his blog, and it seems the pirate’s opinion is one of significant magnanimity – seeing himself as a provider of justice and freedom for all.
The problem, the hacker states, is that the App Store doesn’t offer a ‘try before you buy’ system, and having paid for some substandard apps he’s decided to begin distributing other’s work for free. He advises Bossert to take the issue up with Apple.
Bossert has taken the problem in surprisingly good humour, and is, at least, happy that the Whack ‘em All game is growing in popularity – even if most users aren’t paying the 59p for it through the App Store. In an attempt to circumvent the easy and apparently unpunished piracy of iPhone games, Bossert is now considering making his game ad funded and freely available.