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Piracy in beta testing.

08-28-2011, 01:41 PM
#1
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Candy Mountain, Charlie!
Posts: 658
Piracy in beta testing.

As most game developers know, the absolute worst thing that could happen to a game is having your game be pirated and distributed during beta testing. C'mon, you think. My game isn't even out yet, and it's already being pirated?
You've given the chance to a few people to test your game ,for free, before it's out, and then one of them turns right around and uploads it onto file sharing sites.
Some examples of this happening are pocket rpg and mini gore.
How do you guys think is the best way to stop this?
Also, I have a proposal, but I'm too lazy to type it up now.

most unknown good game: peril canyon. Most known bad game: NFL

Last edited by steelfires; 08-28-2011 at 01:43 PM.
08-28-2011, 01:58 PM
#2
Put something in the beta that disables it after 5 hours of playing etc.

08-28-2011, 02:00 PM
#3
Piracy is going to happen no matter what. It's frustrating... but pirates will do what pirates will do. Instead of fighting it, the only think I can think of is to work with it.

In the case of a beta test, I can see how it would be very frustrating since they could leak potentially sensitive info before it is time to release it. I guess you could work with it and include a "Feedback" button that will let people quickly shoot you an email with any issues they find. You may end up getting the pirates to assist you in beta testing the product.

Otherwise, the only way around pirating is to go F2P with IAPs. Then, any pirating that goes on only helps with your marketing. But that doesn't exactly work with beta testing.

The good news is that pirates and people who pay for games rarely cross over. So anybody who pirates your game wouldn't have purchased it anyway most likely, and then they just unwittingly serve to advertise your game to others and increase it's marketing power and your reach.

It's a small consolation I know... but it is what it is.
08-28-2011, 02:04 PM
#4
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Candy Mountain, Charlie!
Posts: 658
Ok, I'll type out my proposal now. When people apply for beta Testing, keep a log of everybody who beta tests. Then, if your game is pirated before release, post it on a certain thread. If enough people do it, then eventually you should be able to identify which people show up often in the "pirated" list. Obviously, this would need to be in private dev forum.
Also, the main problem with pirated betas is that many legit buyers have no choice. They have to pirate it if they want the game. If they want to legitly buy the game, they'll get the game a few weeks after the pirates.

most unknown good game: peril canyon. Most known bad game: NFL
08-28-2011, 02:14 PM
#5
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,068
Quote:
Originally Posted by steelfires View Post
Ok, I'll type out my proposal now. When people apply for beta Testing, keep a log of everybody who beta tests. Then, if your game is pirated before release, post it on a certain thread. If enough people do it, then eventually you should be able to identify which people show up often in the "pirated" list. Obviously, this would need to be in private dev forum.
Also, the main problem with pirated betas is that many legit buyers have no choice. They have to pirate it if they want the game. If they want to legitly buy the game, they'll get the game a few weeks after the pirates.
I'm pretty sure there's a thread on the developer-only forum section that lists trustworthy beta testers.

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08-28-2011, 02:35 PM
#6
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Candy Mountain, Charlie!
Posts: 658
No, it's slightly different. Right now, the thread adds to the list beta testers that devs recommend. This thread would compile a list of beta testers that had early access to a game that was uploaded. By cross-referencing, you'll probably be able to find patterns. For ex: a, b, c, and d are beta testers. A dev asks for beta testers and accepts a and b. That game is subsequently uploaded to a file sharing site. Then, another dev asks for beta testers, and b,c, and d are accepted.

This time, the game was uploaded again. Assuming there was only one uploader, the uploader would be b. Repeat this on a larger scale, and it should work well.

most unknown good game: peril canyon. Most known bad game: NFL
08-28-2011, 03:45 PM
#7
Joined: Oct 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 303
The problem, as I see it, is that it's not necessarily beta testers that are the culprits. When "Ground Effect" was released nearly 2 years ago, the first pirated copy was circulated by a TA forum member. Such people just lurk, keeping an eye on the more popular upcoming titles with a view to buying & pirating them minutes after release. Apparently, the kudos is all about doing it first.

Having said that, I tend to agree with Bravado Waffle - a certain section were never going to buy it anyway (rather like going free) so it's not something I lose sleep over.

I think, for those who are really worried, a 'time bomb' is a great idea & probably not too difficult to write into the code.
08-28-2011, 04:52 PM
#8
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Candy Mountain, Charlie!
Posts: 658
The main problem I'm talking about is pirated beta releases. With beta releases, unless your legit customers also pirate it, the pirates get it several weeks before the legit customers. And, while there is a small group that would never have bought your game, the majority of pirates would buy your game if there was no other choice.

most unknown good game: peril canyon. Most known bad game: NFL
08-28-2011, 05:52 PM
#9
Joined: Jun 2010
Posts: 378
Quote:
Originally Posted by steelfires View Post
How do you guys think is the best way to stop this?
I usually do testing in-house. Personally, I don't trust volunteer beta testers that I don't really know. There are some really cool people on this forum that make me think it would be OK to have bigger beta tests, but this thread reminds me of the many reasons why I don't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SethsApps View Post
Put something in the beta that disables it after 5 hours of playing etc.
Surprisingly, that can be done with GameSalad. The new clock attributes could help...

Code:
If game.Clock.Year is greater than 2011.
or game.Clock.Month is greater than 8
pause game
That would load a scene probably a warning scene if the year is greater than 2011 or the month is greater than August. The loaded scene on pause can then include a link to the actual game. (By knowing your iTunes Connect listing, a link can be created ahead of time... or just use redirects on a web server.)

I suppose if the pirates were extra vigilant, that code could be broken... or players could just mess with their clocks... but I think that's a decent deterrent.

Another way would be to require a login. (That's currently beyond GameSalad.) Beta testers would have to go to your web server to activate the game. What's nice about that is you could also use the link to send testing data... which testers are actually testing? How long did they play? How well did they do?

I think that keeping track of your beta testers is important even if you're just an independent developer. If I ever decide to go with a beta test, I think I would likely require lots of personal information... like name, address and phone number. If you don't want to mess with that stuff, then the server based verification makes sense.

Michael Garofalo - App Developer and author of The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook.
08-29-2011, 03:14 AM
#10
Joined: Jun 2011
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 286
Photics, I'm not sure if it would be worth the effort in writing a server based verification system. Unless there is something that can be used off the shelf.

I do like the feedback button idea, although this should be in every game, beta or not. It can save you from getting complaints in the ratings and allows you to have direct 1-to-1 contact with your customer who in turn feels like they have a voice.

What I do think is a good idea is a time limited beta, sure the clock can be changed. But you could use an online time service (esp if your game is an online one).

But with any of these measures, none of them are going to be 100%. It's a part of gaming life unfortunately but at the very least iOS does a better job of combating piracy than other more open mobile platforms.