Mobile developer Mad Finger Games sets the stage for its action-FPS Dead Trigger in this way:
“The world has collapsed. In 2012 modern civilization is coming to an end. Global economics have been disrupted, money has lost its value. People have risen against the ignorant politicians who were just lining their pockets—and they didn’t spare any of them.”
Is this fiction? Doesn’t seem like it—at least not entirely.
Perhaps in concert with the game’s social commentary about the economy and the diminishing value of money, Mad Finger boss Marek Rabas feels that “piracy cannot be stopped” and has subsequently made Dead Trigger free to play on iOS. Last week the game went free-to-play on Android while the developer bemoaned the high rate of piracy the game has suffered.
Rabas took a stance against platform holders Google and Apple’s lack of support.
“Games are always stolen, there is not much we can do about it,” he said.
Many smaller developers have found good fortunes with the freemium model. When there is a lack of exposure and a game developer is just trying to get out in front of customers as much as possible, selecting the free-to-play option tends to work better, especially if married with the implementation of in-app purchases.
Ed Oswald of Beta News had this to say about the concept:
“In conversations with small developers, I have found in nearly every case that this move not only increased downloads, but also made the game more profitable overall. The developer reels you in by allowing you to play the game for free, but you stay and end up purchasing something while you’re playing to make the gaming experience more enjoyable.”
This lines up perfectly with Dead Trigger, which may now be free-to-play but still features in-app purchases. Players can pay for immediate access to in-game currency and better equipment with which to slay zombies. Players can still enjoy Dead Trigger without making in-game purchases, but spending an extra buck or two might grant an edge in facing the undead horde.
Perhaps most perplexing is the community’s overreaction to the inclusion of in-app purchases. ExtremeTech made a point of showcasing a trio of one-star reviews of the game, all judging the game negatively because of the feature.
It’s an unfortunate situation. Mad Finger is only trying to keep their product financially solvent in the face of illegal activities outside their control, and critics are lashing out at the consequences. Maybe the pirates can be stopped, or at least slowed. Maybe developers can find a way to make free games more fun. If nothing changes, critics and gamers will have to start accepting the changing face of mobile gaming.
Whatever the answers to these questions are, the fact remains that Dead Trigger adopted the free-to-play model directly due to the high piracy it suffered. Perhaps this will influence future Mad Finger titles and even calm the players down long enough to check out an otherwise excellent mobile action shooter, which you can download right here.