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Android Released game with Play Licensing; APK up on 20+ websites. Is Licensing 100% useless?

Discussion in 'Game Design, Development And Publishing' started by SIG., Oct 11, 2019.

  1. SIG.

    SIG. Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2019
    Posts:
    35
    I know that all DRM can be cracked and that Play Licensing is "light" DRM, but I didn't expect this. I released my game on Monday, announced it on Tuesday, and the APK is up on 23 piracy sites three days later.

    Is there any reason at all to bother with Play Licensing? @Andrey I know your team uses it... is there any benefit?
     
  2. woodsmoke

    woodsmoke Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2016
    Posts:
    317
    I can imagine that people who use piracy sites are a minority. Not sure though. But the people who do probably wouldn't have gotten the game if they had to pay for it. I wouldn't worry about those people.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
  3. cgPixel

    cgPixel Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2016
    Posts:
    63
    If not even large publishers or developers can protect their software, you might want to focus on honest customers in the first place.
    All of my (paid/freemium) apps have been pirated a few days after release, I potentially "lost" over $30.000+ (that I know of).

    I just don't give a f*ck, most of them wouldn't have bought my apps anyway.

    PS:
    iOS/App Store has less problems with piracy than android.
     
  4. sitebender

    sitebender Member

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    Sep 13, 2016
    Posts:
    835
    You can't stop piracy. Even reporting it to their domain hosts for such a thing, they don't care. Lots of the games on piracy websites are just viruses or packed with viruses.
     
  5. Yal

    Yal GMC Memer GMC Elder

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2016
    Posts:
    3,881
    "DRM Free" is a selling point these days, because people have had so many bad experiences with them. Likewise, some games get a lot of hate for having DRMs that have particularly bad reputation:

    upload_2019-10-11_17-50-9.png

    If you think it's too much work to implement DRM, and you don't feel like there's enough benefits: don't do it. It's just going to give you a few days of protection against pirates at most, and if you're not very high-profile, chances are the revenue loss for 1 day isn't going to be in proportion to licensing fees and the time spent implementing it.
     
  6. SIG.

    SIG. Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2019
    Posts:
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    I appreciate the responses. I do understand the usual conversations around piracy and DRM.

    My question is specifically for people with a better technical understanding than me regarding this piece of technology: Is Google Play Licensing, as implemented in GMS2, utterly worthless, or does it provide any technological benefit against piracy?
     
  7. SIG.

    SIG. Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2019
    Posts:
    35
    After reading Google's explanation of how licensing works and doing some further tests, I'm concluding that it's not useless.

    If licensing is enabled, then the game tries to connect to Google's servers and query whether the user of the device ever purchased (or, if free, simply downloaded) the game from Google Play. If there's no internet, then the game prompts you to connect every few seconds, making it unplayable. If the device's active user account (i.e., the Google account set as the device owner) has never downloaded the game from Google Play, it does the same thing. If, however, the device owner ever purchased the game from Google Play, then the license is considered valid henceforth and there's no nagging.

    I was initially a bit thrown off by the fact that (1) my APK was sprayed across a bunch of sketchy internet sites, and (2) I was able to download a couple APKs and play my game using them. I now understand that (1) at least in many cases, the APK wasn't altered, and (2) I was able to play my game because my phone's user account had previously downloaded the game from Google Play. When I created and used a brand new Google account, I was appropriately nagged.

    Of course, I'm not downloading every one of the APKs that appear to be on the internet, but I'm satisfied for now that the licensing works. I believe that anyone who downloads it from those sites won't be able to play the game. Whether that's good or bad depends on your opinion on how to respond to piracy.
     
  8. Andrey

    Andrey Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2016
    Posts:
    284
    The GPL does not provide protection against piracy. There are programs that easily bypass this protection in one click.
    But this license will be needed for Google Play Pass.
     
    SIG. likes this.

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