Fishlabs' game email distribution model to use simple copy protection
While we loved this Gordian Knot approach to a seemingly intractable problem, we couldn't help but wonder whether piracy was a threat with all those game files zooming around the internet.
We promised you an update, and so Fishlabs CEO Michael Schade has filled us in on what turns out to be a remarkably relaxed approach to anti-piracy. "We made the conscious decision not to use any expensive and technically involved copy protection on our games," he said.
"Instead, each mobile game we send will be flagged beforehand with a watermark. This will enable us to trace any illicit copies of our mobile games back to the originator. Furthermore, we constantly update our games and give comprehensive tech support which is, of course, not for users of illegal copies.
"Also," he went on, "this is probably the first time that fragmentation is doing something good. Whereas a MP3 file runs on any device, a mobile game does not. So getting the right build of a game for a particular phone is much more difficult. Even if it works you can never be sure if the illegal copy works fine trough the whole game or, even worse, makes your phone crash. With all that hassle of finding the correct build and the uncertainty about whether it runs and the lack of support it's probably not worth saving 5 or £5."
It's true that the low price of mobile games works massively in the strategy's favour. Unless you're a fool, the risk of installing malicious code should prove too great for the benefits of piracy to outweigh the fairly negligible cost, and at a fiver we're hoping consumers will have the good sense to stick with legitimate copies.
"We will see how it goes," Schade added, "but we believe this will help also first time users to get into mobile games. Actually finding high-quality mobile games on the internet is way easier than through operators. Browsing through a games catalogue on a website is faster and comes with better navigation and consumers get a much better impression of the game by screenshots or in-game trailers than just picking a game by title."
This is what gets us excited, of course. Being mobile game journalists, we're used to installing code ourselves, and we can vouch for the convenience of this over the delivery method most of you have to rely on. This decision by Fishlabs to furnish consumers with the same convenience is fairly bold, but if it works out it could make life better for everybody. Except the operators, obviously.