Football Manager dev hopes to stick with Android despite 9:1 piracy rate

"Gaming is an entertainment form, it's not a human right."

Football Manager developer Sports Interactive hopes to stick with Android despite seeing a 9:1 piracy rate on the platform.

Football Manager Handheld launched on Android two weeks ago, and since then has been heavily pirated. In fact, for Sports Interactive boss Miles Jacobson, the piracy rate on Android is the worst he's ever seen.

Why? "For a start, there's no working copy protection on the platform currently, so it's pretty easy for someone to get it working," he told Eurogamer. "The platform is also very popular in some countries where there's a larger piracy problem than in others."

Jacobson said the piracy rate for Football Manager 2009 up until mid-March - the only 100 per cent verified statistics the team has had - was 5:1. "Typically piracy gets worse later into a game's lifecycle," he said, "so this would have ended worse than that, as the Android version likely will too."

He explained that pirated copies impose a burden on Sports Interactive. "There are server costs for downloads of skins, extra customer support and QA costs (because many pirates still ask for customer service), costs of looking into future business models to protect things better, costs associated with taking down links to pirated versions of the game - all these things take time, money and have an opportunity cost too, as that time could be spent doing other things."

Now, Jacobson is faced with the difficult decision of working out whether the project was worthwhile - and whether SI will bother with the Android platform again in the future.

"It hasn't hit the targets we require as yet," he admitted. "I'm still confident it will do over time, but it's really disappointing that there are so many people out there who love our work, and spend countless hours being entertained by it, but don't think we deserve to get paid for that entertainment.

"If it doesn't hit targets, then we won't be doing another one for the platform - that's a simple business decision though for a couple of months' time."

He added: "We certainly hope to continue to support it - there are still lots of honest people out there who want games on their platform of choice, and we want to be able to provide that to them. So hopefully we still can!"

The thorny issue of piracy is one of the constant hot topics in the video game industry. Fans and industry professionals often disagree on the impact of piracy, with some insisting it can benefit sales of a product or franchise over time.

There are no excuses for any form of piracy - if you don't want to pay the price set for a game, don't pay it, and don't play it! Gaming is an entertainment form, it's not a human right.

Jacobson, though, believes piracy means developers don't get paid for their work. "It's simple maths really - games developers are businesses. If they don't get revenue in, they shut down.

"Whilst it's not true that each illegally downloaded game is a lost sale, there is a proportion that are - even if that was as low as 10 per cent, that would make a massive difference for developers and, in many cases, is the difference between a studio or franchise surviving, or not.

"There are no excuses for any form of piracy - if you don't want to pay the price set for a game, don't pay it, and don't play it! Gaming is an entertainment form, it's not a human right."

Eurogamer investigated the issue in September 2011, asking, How Bad is PC Piracy Really?

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About the author

Wesley Yin-Poole

Wesley Yin-Poole

Editor  |  wyp100

Wesley is Eurogamer's editor. He likes news, interviews, and more news. He also likes Street Fighter more than anyone can get him to shut up about it.


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