I had been hearing bits of this on gaming forums for the past few days, but today it was confirmed – iOS online game ‘Battle Dungeon’ has been pulled from the App Store and the online servers shut down due to extreme levels of piracy.
The developers posted about it at their site and on their Facebook page:
Unfortunately we have taken Battle Dungeon down for the forseeable future. This was due to high levels of server load created by large numbers of pirated copies of the game. The high load revealed technical issues which we don’t feel we can fix to the level that our paying customers deserve.
To an extent this is unsurprising – from the moment the app store launched folks started exchanging app files and posting them to file sharing sites. In fact, as I searched for an image for this post I noted the following breakdown in search results for the query ‘battle dungeon iphone’:
– 25% links to articles about the shutdown
– 25% links to the preview and forum discussions on TouchArcade
– 10% links to the official Battle Dungeon site
– 10% links to random other Battle Dungeon posts
– 5% stuff that I have no idea HOW it made the top of the search lists
– 25% blatant links to download the game ‘for free’
Remember, this game costs $5, offers compelling gameplay from a proven developer, won accolades from TouchArcade, and did I mention it was only $5? And we have a quarter of the highest ranked search results coming back with easy ways to pirate the game for free? But the price doesn’t really matter – when it comes to smartphone apps, these are largely $0.99 apps that have tremendous piracy levels.
For many developers the answer has been the move to in-app purchases and a ‘freemium’ model. That way even if someone gets a pirated file, they will need to pay for the full experience.
Of course, that doesn’t work the same for an online game – which leads me to think we are about to see the iOS equivalent of EA’s ‘project $10’ or Sony’s ‘Online Pass’. I see very soon developers will give away a client with very limited (training mode) for single player, with an in-app purchase of $5-$10 for online gameplay.
As a PC gamer I am not surprised by the incredible level of piracy, but I am disappointed. Because I have listened for years to folks rationalize their piracy based on the $50-$60 price being too high … but $0.99 or even $4.99? There is no way to rationalize that one away.