Football Manager Studio Director Criticizes Rampant Android Piracy

Football Manager Studio Director Criticizes Rampant Android Piracy

by April 20, 2012

Sega Published Sim Suffering 9:1 Piracy Ratio, Says Jacobson

If Sega ever hopes to get back on its feet financially, the company has said repeatedly it must focus on publishing to smartphone and mobile platforms.  But to do that successfully, Sega will have to tackle software piracy on the mobile market eating into sales.  If remarks coming from the director of one of its subsidiaries today is any indication, there’s a long way to go, at least on one platform.

“Seeing as people pleaded with us to get FMH onto Android, I’m amazed at how pirated it is,” Sports Interactive director Miles Jacobson Tweeted today, adding that the Football Manager Handheld release on the platform has just crossed 10,000 sold.

For those unaware, FMH is the portable release in the Football Manager series, a long running soccer management sim that is quite popular in Europe.  On consoles and PC at least, Football Manager is also a profitable franchise both for SI and Sega, which publishes the series.  When the move to bring FM to mobile platforms was made, the game’s price point was set about $10 in North America, but it’s a pinch over $11 in the UK. It was released to iOS first, then to Android.

The relatively high price may be why FMH is suffering from such piracy on the latter, where jailbreaks aren’t needed to cheat the system, Jacobson says.  He quoted the game’s Android piracy ratio at nine to one–meaning for every one legitimate, purchased copy sold, there are nine that were obtained illegally.

“And you wonder why developers are so reticent to make games for Android? The pirates could kill it for everyone. Sigh,” Jacobson continued in a series of Tweets.  “Piracy on Android is the worst I’ve seen in my career in games.”

Jacobson compared the 9:1 ratio on Android to a 5:1 piracy ratio for Football Manager 2009 on PC, the last iteration where reliable stats were available.  He also said, despite the lack of concrete statistics, that FMH iOS pales in comparison.

“We don’t know exactly, but we know it’s way lower,” Jacobson said.

There are signs Sega is adjusting to this kind of environment.  The main PC edition of Football Manager 2012, for example, forced users to connect to the Steam platform as a DRM measure.  But also consider Phantasy Star Online 2, not yet confirmed but with many hints of it coming west, adopting a free to play model, with players able to purchase new equipment in-game.  In addition to a PC and Windows edition, a form of the game will be coming to iOS and Android.

In the case of FMH, Jacobson says should a follow up be released in the future, SI may be forced to widely implement DRM measures.

“We’re going to be looking into lots of different systems both internally and with our partners,” Jacobson said.