Developer frustrated that Apple grants Game Center support to pirated iOS apps

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A game developer victimized by piracy via "jailbroken" iOS devices has expressed frustration that Apple's Game Center service is apparently fully functional for users who run stolen software.



GAMEized, the maker of the 99-cent iPhone and iPad game FingerKicks (iTunes link), told their story in a post on their official site this week. The tale of rampant piracy, highlighted Friday by TechCrunch, reveals that FingerKicks was pirated by 91 percent of those who have played it.



The developer discovered this because those who have stolen the game apparently still have their high scores posted on Apple's Game Center service for iOS. While the soccer-themed game has reportedly sold 1,163 legitimate copies, the developer said at least 15,950 pirated copies have been logged on Game Center.



The number of users who stole the application was helped by the fact that one illicit piracy service showcased FingerKicks as a "featured" game on its main page.



Frustrated by the situation, the developer has publicly questioned why Apple does not at the very least bar users with pirated software from utilizing the Game Center service. A Game Center account is tied to the same Apple ID used to purchase content from the App Store.



"Most bewildering of all is that even with all their rhetoric chastising piracy and intellectual property theft, Apple apparently has no functional counter-piracy safeguards in place on their Game Center -- essentially permitting users to play pirated software on their Game Center without fear of reprisals or consequence," GAMEized's Luis Fonseca wrote.







Despite frustration with what was characterized as a "humiliating piracy problem," the developer also added that they are fans of Apple's products and platforms, as evidenced by the fact that their game is exclusively available on iOS.



Users can install pirated software on iOS devices by "jailbreaking" the operating system. Jailbreaking is a warranty voiding process that exploits security holes in iOS in order to allow users to run unauthorized software.



While jailbreaking is legal and can be used for legitimate purposes such as custom themes and modifications to iOS, it can also be used for illegal purposes such as stealing applications from Apple's official App Store. For its part, Apple has warned users not to jailbreak, citing security risks.



The stigma of piracy connected to jailbreaking is not lost on the hackers who work to find the exploits in iOS. The latest browser-based jailbreak released earlier this month even pleads with users: "Please don't use this for piracy."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 145
    addicted44addicted44 Posts: 821member
    Same Devs will make an uproar when Apple tries to lock down and prevent jailbreaking, or tightens App Store policies to prevent piracy.



    Can you imagine the uproar when Jailbroken devices' GameCenter games don't work.
  • Reply 2 of 145
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post


    Same Devs will make an uproar when Apple tries to lock down and prevent jailbreaking, or tightens App Store policies to prevent piracy.



    Can you imagine the uproar when Jailbroken devices' GameCenter games don't work.



    There is a difference between a jailbroken device and a stolen app. I don't think Apple should disable Game Center if your device is jailbroken, but fully support Apple is disallowing Game Center if you haven't purchased the app via the App Store.
  • Reply 3 of 145
    katastroffkatastroff Posts: 103member
    I built an App. I have counter-measures and tracking for piracy embedded into the App. I have stats.



    1 out of 10 users paid for it. (it's actually 9.17%)



    It's the devs responsibility to add these measures. This is a well known fact.
  • Reply 4 of 145
    timuscatimusca Posts: 120member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post


    Same Devs will make an uproar when Apple tries to lock down and prevent jailbreaking, or tightens App Store policies to prevent piracy.



    Can you imagine the uproar when Jailbroken devices' GameCenter games don't work.



    The dev isn't requesting that GameCenter stops working on jailbroken phones. He's requesting that GameCenter not work *only* on *pirated* games (which coincidentally is only possible on jailbroken phones).



    Don't confuse the two.
  • Reply 5 of 145
    katastroffkatastroff Posts: 103member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TimUSCA View Post


    The dev isn't requesting that GameCenter stops working on jailbroken phones. He's requesting that GameCenter not work *only* on *pirated* games (which coincidentally is only possible on jailbroken phones).



    Don't confuse the two.



    Apple can't tell which games are pirated.
  • Reply 6 of 145
    boogabooga Posts: 1,076member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    A Game Center account is tied to the same Apple ID used to purchase content from the App Store.



    This is not true. Apple allows people to put purchased apps on up to 10 devices. For example, I buy all my kids games through my account. However, each device can have its own Game Center account that is not tied to the account that purchased the game, so each kid can have their own high scores.
  • Reply 7 of 145
    djintxdjintx Posts: 454member
    So let's see...



    It has been noted by countless devs and other tech blogs/pundits that it can be very difficult to distinguish your app and set it apart, so sales often suffer. And this has been such a problem, that even Apple has publicly stated it doesn't work well and are actively trying to improve app discovery.



    So what if a clever dev , tired of waiting for Apple to improve this, made a complaint about their app being pirated? And what if it were interestingly timed because it is a soccer themed game during the World Cup? I bet it would get a lot of attention from the tech blogs, and therefore a lot of clicks from curious users. I'm betting it would even cause a spike in sales. And of course this Dev would never have to really prove that anything happened, just act peeved and complain about the unfairness and that Apple needs to fix their game center. Then, you just sort of let it fade to black, counting up all the extra app sales.



    Interesting.
  • Reply 8 of 145
    hohlecowhohlecow Posts: 50member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by katastroff View Post


    Apple can't tell which games are pirated.



    If I, as a developer, can tell that my app is pirated, surely Apple can.
  • Reply 9 of 145
    timuscatimusca Posts: 120member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by katastroff View Post


    Apple can't tell which games are pirated.



    I know. I was simply clarifying what the dev was requesting from Apple.
  • Reply 10 of 145
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by katastroff View Post


    Apple can't tell which games are pirated.



    Read the article and think before posting. You're incorrect.
  • Reply 11 of 145
    timuscatimusca Posts: 120member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hohlecow View Post


    If I, as a developer, can tell that my app is pirated, surely Apple can.



    You can tell that your app has been pirated, but you can't tell which ones were pirated.
  • Reply 12 of 145
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Even if Apple could do this, and I'm not sure whether their existing technical limitations would permit it, Apple won't. To do so would degrade the consumer's experience in favour of the developer, and while Apple values developers, it values consumers more.



    It was exactly the same thing back in iPod days. The recording industry complained that the iPod was a tool for pirates, and they hated the fact that CD rips could be put on it - they wanted it to be iTunes only. Apple told them to get stuffed, because to do what they wanted would have damaged the consumer experience. Apple would rather that 10 pirates enjoy a free game than 1 genuine user suffers inconvenience, which is why their DRM is invariably lightweight and non-intrusive.
  • Reply 13 of 145
    gwydiongwydion Posts: 1,067member
    If I buy the app with my iTunes account and my wife play it with her game center account. How can Apple know if it's pirated or not?
  • Reply 14 of 145
    katastroffkatastroff Posts: 103member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Matthew Yohe View Post


    Read the article and think before posting. You're incorrect.



    no I'm not. Apple's implementation at present does not work. the jailbroken phones + cracked apps bypass the iTunes copy-protection scheme. It ends up running like a perfectly legitimate app.



    Your comment is trollish at best.
  • Reply 15 of 145
    katastroffkatastroff Posts: 103member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hohlecow View Post


    If I, as a developer, can tell that my app is pirated, surely Apple can.



    Apple's copy-protestion is bypassed. The only way I can tell is by writing a subroutine in the app that does extra checks. And making sure no one knows exactly what I'm doing.



    Every dev that has piracy-deterent measures implement them differently. If there were a standard, (there is) it would be (is) broken.
  • Reply 16 of 145
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,330member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post


    Same Devs will make an uproar when Apple tries to lock down and prevent jailbreaking, or tightens App Store policies to prevent piracy.



    Can you imagine the uproar when Jailbroken devices' GameCenter games don't work.



    No, I can't. Only those who benefit will howl. And since most of those who jailbreak CLAIM they don't do it to pirate, even though most do, what are they going to say? Hey, let us use our illegally obtained software?
  • Reply 17 of 145
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by katastroff View Post


    no I'm not. Apple's implementation at present does not work. the jailbroken phones + cracked apps bypass the iTunes copy-protection scheme. It ends up running like a perfectly legitimate app.



    Your comment is trollish at best.



    Actually, you are wrong. Apple can and does check which apps have been purchased, this happens if a cracked app is updated through the AppStore. A prompt comes up to ask the user to purchase the app as it hasn't previously been purchased.



    It would be quite simple to therefore also perform this check when gamecenter is launched, or just display stats for purchased apps in GC.
  • Reply 18 of 145
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Ultimately this piracy is bad for jailbreakers, because the jailbreaking exception to the DMCA isn't perpetual, it's subject to review every few years. If jail-breaking ceases to be something that is required for legal purposes like network unlocking, and is primarily used for illegal purposes such as game piracy, the exception may not be renewed.



    This is apple's logical solution to piracy on iOS- keep fighting against jail-breaking.
  • Reply 19 of 145
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,330member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DJinTX View Post


    So let's see...



    It has been noted by countless devs and other tech blogs/pundits that it can be very difficult to distinguish your app and set it apart, so sales often suffer. And this has been such a problem, that even Apple has publicly stated it doesn't work well and are actively trying to improve app discovery.



    So what if a clever dev , tired of waiting for Apple to improve this, made a complaint about their app being pirated? And what if it were interestingly timed because it is a soccer themed game during the World Cup? I bet it would get a lot of attention from the tech blogs, and therefore a lot of clicks from curious users. I'm betting it would even cause a spike in sales. And of course this Dev would never have to really prove that anything happened, just act peeved and complain about the unfairness and that Apple needs to fix their game center. Then, you just sort of let it fade to black, counting up all the extra app sales.



    Interesting.



    BS. It's been shown for years now that many apps are pirated, and the often pirated versions have as much as 90% of the users with the pirated versions. I would imagine that if timing is such that sales should peak during a specific period, such as when soccer is popular in the US, as now, when the finals approach, the developer would be frustrated that the big chance of making sales is lost because of pirating.



    It would be good if there was a way of putting some code that couldn't be stripped out into an app so that it could be known that it wasn't bought legitimately, so that Gamecenter wouldn't allow it.
  • Reply 20 of 145
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addicted44 View Post


    Same Devs will make an uproar when Apple tries to lock down and prevent jailbreaking, or tightens App Store policies to prevent piracy.



    Can you imagine the uproar when Jailbroken devices' GameCenter games don't work.



    What a ridiculous thing to say.



    Who cares if a bunch of criminals don't have Game Centre? There is no good, legitimate reason to jailbreak your phone. If you do so to get "freedom" then you shouldn't get your nose out of joint if you are denied access to a paid service that you "freed" yourself from.
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