1. Bob101910's Avatar
    I apologize for the terrible writing. I am not a writer, but felt this is an important issue to bring up. I will include the word LINK where I would have included a link if WC forums would have let me.

    I was planning on not releasing anything publically about this problem because of Microsoft acknowledging there is a piracy problem on Windows Phone (couldnt find the article, but WC wrote something about it a couple months ago), but I am sick of seeing new stolen games for the past few months. Today an article was published on Windows Central that featured two of these stolen games. I noticed the problem when it was just a crack and feared the whole dam would burst. The dam is now completely destroyed. I dont think it will be fixed anytime soon if nobody talks about this problem. If anything, I can see them giving up on fixing the Windows Phone 8 marketplace and putting all their attention on Windows 10.
    In case you do not know, probably 8 out of 10 (if not more) new games on Windows Phone in the past few months have been "stolen". Stolen in this context will refer to somebody taking an already existing WP (or other mobile device) game then somehow removing splash screens, removing any credit to the original creators, removing help sections, filling the game with ads to the point where it is nearly unplayable, ads cover title screen or important information such as scoring, publishing their version of the game on the marketplace with a different name/logo, and loading the reviews with "fake" 5 star reviews (paid for, stolen from other games, etc.). This post not including all the stolen Nintendo games that have been on the marketplace for over a year. This post is not including all the clones of big name titles. This post is focusing on other mobile games that are being stolen from mostly small developers that do not have an easy way to fight back. These stolen games are mostly in the New + Rising section of the marketplace, but more and more are getting into Top Free section.

    As a consumer, I have no way to report this to Microsoft. The best thing I can do is contact each publisher individually, so that they can contact Microsoft to dispute the game. There are a few problems with that. One is that stolen games are being released at an alarming rate. At this point MS should probably shut down the marketplace for at least a few days to weed out the stolen ones and put something in place to help prevent future issues. Another problem is that the original game might be difficult to find. If I dont recognize the game from screenshots of games I have played before, then that makes it much harder to find the publisher. In todays article, the original game was not easy to find because it had been unpublished. I had to use Bing to find the original game because it did not show up in WP, IOS, or Android marketplaces. Even if I find the original game and publisher name, there is not always an easy way to contact them. A more recent problem is that many games that have been taken down are now being republished AGAIN with a different name.
    Here is one example of many, Beaver Kickin LINK to Marketplace (Featured on Windows Central last year LINK to WC Article). I have seen this game get stolen multiple times. Previously it was republished as Teddy Bear. Now it is published as Bear Hunter LINK to Marketplace. I wouldnt be surprised if there are other stolen versions of it out there.

    How to avoid being a victim.
    - Check New + Rising section of the marketplace as much as possible for your game. Yes this is impractical, but I have included a few tips below to help find them quickly. Use a Windows Phone to check screenshots. For some reason screenshots dont always show from browser version of the marketplace or you have to click on them when viewing from a browser.
    o What to Look For When Wanting to Know if a Game is Stolen in New+ Rising Section
     100+ 5 star reviews
     Reviews are gibberish (ex: 还&#22909), have nothing to do about the game, mention other games, say they are giving the game anything less than 5 stars, or mention buying something when game is free
    o How to Know if a Game You Downloaded Has Been Stolen [Note: Stolen games have a combination of several of these, just one does not necessarily mean it is a stolen game]

     Ads on every screen
     No information about a developer/publisher anywhere in the app
     No Help section (weird that they would remove this)
     Very poor performance
     Clicking/Tapping any micro-transactions leads to an error message (ex: remove ads, buy new levels, or buy in-game currency)
     Publisher has only published one game

    - Put the name of your game in the description several times. They often do not change the description or forget to change every detail of it. I have found many games because of the original games description being inside of the description (even in screenshots sometimes).
    - Have an easy way for consumers to contact you. Add a website to the store page with a contact section. Even if it just leads to a Twitter or Facebook. Not enough publishers do this.
    - Keep your website updated. If I only find a Twitter or Facebook account for a game that doesnt have any posts since 2013, I dont bother contacting them and others probably wont either.
    Here is what some developers/publishers said when I contacted them and asked for more information about what they did to remove the stolen games and how they feel about the problem. [Note: Originally asked them for comments to use in a previously unannounced article that was cancelled due to Microsoft acknowledging it has a piracy problem, so I am keeping their comments anonymous for now (except for the ones found publically online)]

    Developer Email
    Yeah definitely happy to share my thoughts although in this case there isnt much to tell. Initially I didnt know how to report the issue so I emailed a windows phone developer support address and they were quick to directed me to this page:
    From there you can fill out a form to report the copyright infringement and the whole process was pretty straight forward. It took a bit over a week for the game to get taken down. Overall I was pretty happy with the process although I guess it would have been nice to be notified when it got removed rather than having to check each day to see if its still there. The only email I got from Microsoft was the confirmation that they received the form.

    I did download the fake game to check out what they done. It was an exact clone in every way except they had:
    Replaced my company splash screen
    Removed my credits screen
    Removed the help menu (not sure why)
    Added additional ads
    Added a nag screen every few minutes asking for 5 stars

    Forum post. I am the Facebook guy mentioned. LINK to Forum Post
    Ok, I got an update....a sad one, but an update. Our game has been stolen!

    Before I get to the stolen part, let me tell something else, that happened before we found out the game was stolen.

    Earlier this week I was in contact with Windows Phone Dev support via email, where I explained that we saw massive traffic in our game and no downloads in the Dev Center. Basically the Micosoft guy said, that what was in the Dev Center were the reality and he (of cause) couldn't tell if Google Analytics had some bugs.
    Well, I see he can only talk about Dev Center, but when I tell him multiple times and I can see people are playing our game and we have no downloads, I would say he should kind of look more into it. But so far he didn't.
    Hopefully it will help with this latest information I got.

    Yesterday we were contacted by a guy on our facebook page, saying that he though someone stole our game. It turned out he was right.

    This is our game Memrace:
    LINK to Game

    This is a game called "Golden Miner":
    LINK to Game

    Just by looking at the Windows Phone page, you cannot see that it's our game. If you download you will see it's our game - completely!
    Looking at it on AppAnnie also hint that it's our game:

    Looking at the unnatural amount of wierd reviews this Golden Miner game has, it is clear that the "thief" behind this has bought a lot of fake reviews, which have had his version of the game raise to the top pretty fast (see App Annie) where real people are downloading it.

    The guy who contacted us, also told us that a lot of Windows Phone developers are experiencing this these days, so it seem Microsoft has a huge piracy problem that should be fixed ASAP!
    If it doesn't, let me just say I cannot see why I should up the next version of our game on the Windows Phone Store!

    Next step is that I will tell Microsoft about this and have this stolen version of the game removed - hopefully very very soon!

    Both of the stolen games mentioned in the email and forum post above were removed from the marketplace. Threatening to not release future games on Windows Phone is extreme, yet justified. They have every right to be angry about their games being stolen. Not only are other people making money off of their games, but they are also ruining the reputation of the games. If somebody only knows about Bear Hunter in the example above, when they see the real Beaver Kickin in screenshots or videos, they might only think about the stolen version with horrible performance from the loads of ads. As of today (July 11th, 2015), Bear Hunter is still on the marketplace. It was published on June 22nd, 2015.

    Microsoft needs to do something about this problem sooner than later. Microsoft does get some credit for removing stolen games when asked to by the publisher, but having every developer check daily to see if their game has been stolen is ridiculous.
    RumoredNow and Laura Knotek like this.
    07-11-2015 11:02 AM
  2. RumoredNow's Avatar
    There is a parallel to this from back on May 21st. http://forums.windowscentral.com/gen...ing-store.html

    Thanks for reviving the topic.
    Laura Knotek likes this.
    07-11-2015 12:54 PM

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