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Making pirates feel bad using Android push notifications.

We as developers cannot stop piracy, but we can have fun with it and give the pirates a little something to think about. Here is how we used Android push notifications to tell them of their bad habits.

August 13th was the day when we released Battlestation: Harbinger on Google Play and Apple App Store. Things went better than expected and we were featured by both Apple and Google for the first week. This was truly something else for our small indie team and we were overjoyed.

Watching our own analytics the sales rate looked promising, but we were quickly disheartened when we found out the game had already been cracked and uploaded to a website, where the game was available to download for free. We had to wait to the next day to get the official reports from iTunes and Google Play. To our surprise most of the copies were in fact sold and not pirated! At least in the beginning, soon the pirated copies started growing and after one week we have ended up with a situation seen below:

As you can see from above the majority of players playing Battlestation: Harbinger currently have pirated the game. This was to be expected, it did not come as a surprise to us but it still hurts a little to see all that hard work not being respected. And the game costs a whopping $3.99.

Above is the daily download count of the pirated versions of Battlestation: Harbinger. A nice stable almost 1000 downloads/day! The graph above shows only unlicensed Android installs, the blue line is new installs and the dark blue line the daily total amount of players. If only they were real purchases... Despite of all of this the launch has gone extremely well, especially on Google where we have reached great positions in the top paid categories.

The game is currently sitting at #3 in top paid games in USA when looking at the strategy category and overall in top paid games at place #40. Not bad! This kind of success is really welcome after 4 years of making games and struggling to get by, all we want now is for the game to continue selling enough for us to make more! That has been our dream right from the beginning.

We had implemented Android push notifications to our game, and we saw an opportunity to give players that had pirated the game a little reminder of their bad habits. We sent out a message that can be seen above, stating: "High piracy rate. Please support us! Also you pirates". When clicked the message led the user to our forums where we had more information and us stating that we cannot continue making more Battlestation games if nobody pays for the games. This worked really quite well, of course our paying customers also got this message, but they quickly understood what was going on after going to our forums to read more. They rallied behind us and we really feel that the community will be behind us more from now on.

Additionally to this the daily sales of the game jumped up 15% from the previous day, after being on a somewhat decline for 4 days straight! At least the players pirating the game got a reminder of their bad habits and maybe some of them will think twice in the future. We sure hope so. Shame on you pirates!

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