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游戏应对盗版问题编辑本段回目录

作者:James Nouch

Sensei Games于去年10月首次在App Store中亮相,即面向苹果的平台发行了《老鼠人》这款游戏。

这是一款2D平台游戏——其角色是源自英国喜剧系列《Modern Toss》,最初以69便士/99美元的价格与玩家初次见面,并且很快地,该工作室意识到应该想办法去突显这款游戏。

有些玩家是通过盗版才注意到《老鼠人》。几乎是在一夜之间,游戏的下载量出现了突飞猛进的增长,而大量盗版的涌现是否会迅速浇灭其联合创始人Gavin Shackell最初的喜悦?

事实证明,盗版并未成为威胁《老鼠人》发展的问题所在,因为游戏开发者采取了与Kleenex(游戏邦注:全球最知名的面巾纸品牌)进行游戏内部广告合作的方法。而为了明确这种合作是如何拯救《老鼠人》,我们访问了Shackell,并请教了他是如何处理应用盗版。

Pocket Gamer:能否跟我们说说《老鼠人》这款游戏及其下载量的发展?

Gavin Shackell:我们还是一家没有多少经验的游戏公司,《老鼠人》是我们面向市场的第一款游戏,它于2012年10月正式问世。

游戏主要是围绕着一个不会说话的小角色展开,他深受着鼻子病痛的折磨,所以总是狂打喷嚏,并会因此摧毁身边各种物体。

sneezeman(from pocketgamer)

sneezeman(from pocketgamer)

我们认为这是一个很棒的游戏理念。其核心便是,这是一款平台游戏,玩家需要通过打喷嚏而向上跳跃。

但是我们所面对的问题是,同一时期有许多应用共同出现在市场上,所以我们很难吸引玩家的注意。

而在游戏发行一周半后,我在观察《老鼠人》于Flurry界面上的属性时发现:“哎呀,游戏的下载量怎么突然出现迅速的上升!”

那时我们的下载量差不多接近了5万,但是奇怪的是,我前晚在我的iTunes帐号上所看到的结果还很糟糕。

你对此有何反应?

我内心的想法是:“太棒了!我们的付出终于得到了回报——应该是出现了一篇非常优秀的评论才推动着下载量的迅速提升。”(笑)

随后我便进行了深入研究。之前的数字真的离5万还很远,但是现在我们却逐渐向这个数字靠近!

再深入挖掘这一数值时,我发现90%的下载是来自于中国。

显然,娱乐产业中的盗版问题已经不是什么新鲜事了——在我的记忆中,盗版问题老早就存在着。我们也知道这一问题不可能很快就消失。

但不管怎么说,90%的下载比例真的有点夸张了(笑)。我曾经在音乐产业待过很长一段时间,所以我对网络并不陌生,我知道它有能力彻底摧毁一种业务。

中国市场巨大的下载比例是源自哪里?

几天后,我发现一个中国网站悄悄地评价了我们的游戏。

之所以说“悄悄”是因为我觉得这像是一个黑客网站,并且在评价后,它还提供了一些建议去帮助读者如何免费获得这款游戏——我认为这一点很有趣。

我们游戏在发行时的定价为69便士/99美元。显然,人们总是喜欢免费获得各种内容,我也发现在我们所面向的产业中,AAA级游戏总是很难通过让玩家预先支付费用而吸引他们的注意。

sneezeman(from pocketgamer)

sneezeman(from pocketgamer)

有趣的是,我们的确从这些中国玩家身上获取了较大的用户留存,但这也在暗示着我们在这一领域有点迷失方向了。

当人们拿到游戏时都会非常欣喜。

所以当看到人们真正喜欢我们的游戏时,这真的是一种很棒的感受,因为我们真的在努力吸引媒体们的注意。不过回想起来,游戏的发行时间其实不是很合理。我们原先计划在夏天发行,但却因为某些原因而导致最终的延误。

在圣诞节前发行游戏并不合适,因为那时候总是会有许多游戏涌现在市场上。不过我也从这款游戏上吸取了相关教训,从而能够更好地应用于接下来的游戏身上,我们所规划的5款游戏中的另外四款将于2013年与大家见面,它们都将会是带有应用内部购买机制的免费游戏。

我们将利用所有的免费应用网站以及其它盈利工具,如Chartboost(游戏邦注:交叉推广工具),将游戏推向广大玩家。因为我们已经创造了一款小有成绩的游戏,所以我知道在市场中突显游戏具有一定的难度。

只有上帝知道发行商所面临的盗版问题,我甚至无法想象10大热门应用所面临的盗版率究竟有多高!

你提到了获取媒体关注的难度,而你们的游戏是否因为与《Modern Toss》合作关系获得瞩目?

《Modern Toss》的确拥有一些忠实观众,并且许多观众也存在于媒体世界中。这的确是一个非常稳定的用户基础,我们的游戏也深受这些忠实观众的喜欢。

所以我们想要尽可能利用这些观众对于《Modern Toss》的喜欢。显然,《Modern Toss》在英国具有很大的影响力——尽管这部电视剧也出现在许多国家的电视屏幕上。

而对于你的问题,我想说的是这部电视剧为我们接触更加传统的媒体开辟了道路。例如我们的游戏便获得英国《T3》杂志的推荐。

而我们所遇到的麻烦则是,一些较年轻的评论者对《Modern Toss》并不熟悉。他们也许只在商店里看过相关产品,所以在看到《老鼠人》时并不会有任何熟悉感。

这是一场战斗,这些评论者每天都会看到上百款应用。所以我们就需要使用任何道具去突显游戏,而不是盲目地发行一款全新的付费应用,除非我们是一家大型发行商。

其实我们应该在一开始便实行免费模式。不过现在我们也正通过添加应用内部购买机制并使用Chartboost等工具去重塑这款游戏。

《老鼠人》的游戏内部广告是与Kleenex维系在一起。这种交易的本性是什么?它又是如何实现的?

我们是在几个月前开始与Kleenex进行交涉,因为这看起来就是一种很棒的合作。如果说有哪两种品牌可以有效地整合在一起,那一定就是Kleenex和“老鼠人”。

sneezeman-title(from pocketgamer)

sneezeman-title(from pocketgamer)

我同样也想测试这两个品牌的合作到底能够擦出怎样的火花,并明确这种合作的重要元素——它们能够以传统方式所不能实现的手段去吸引更多用户的注意。

毕竟,现在的电视,收音机或出版物已不如10年前那般有影响力了。特别是对于像Kleenex这样的大公司来说,他们需要寻找其它更有效的推广方法。

而我们选择与Kleenex合作也是希望凭借该品牌的社交渠道去推广《老鼠人》,并且我们也希望能够基于这次合作而实现我们的目标安装率。

所以,那些盗版安装是否在某种程度上为你们带来了一些帮助?

从Kleenex品牌在全球范围内的影响力来看,的确是这样的。也许这对于英国用户来说起不到关键性的作用,但是如果从全球范围来看就不同了。

当与Kleenex达成合作协议时,我们真的很高兴。尽管我们的业务主要是面向英国市场,但是我们也希望能够利用这一品牌走向世界。

这次的经历对Sensei Games有何影响?

这是一条学习曲线。

它教会了我们创造出真正优秀的游戏需要做些什么,与应该避免什么。如果我们创造了一款全新IP,我们将执行免费模式。

sneezeman(from pocketgamer)

sneezeman(from pocketgamer)

从长远角度来看,这对于我们公司里的所有人来说都非常有帮助,不管是基于数据还是研究。

我们知道自己创造了一款非常出色的游戏,并且许多人都喜欢这款游戏,但是它却在杂乱的市场中迷失了方向。而我们可以通过从新定义活动,并对游戏进行适当调整或重新定位而再次推动它的发展。

你对于盗版行为有何看法,这次的经历是否改变了你原先的看法?

我在音乐产业中待了很长一段时间,我也意识到了对于这种盗版行为而言,强硬的做法并不可行。

我们必须想办法去接纳它,毕竟它已经存在着了。同时我们还需要确保自己的产品能够从这些盗版中获益。例如我们可以在产品中添加基于广告的相关元素。

我始终坚信应该竭力避免所有可能干预用户体验的内容,如随机广告。同时我们还可以使用像Chartboost等工具作为较低调的应用推荐,因为从用户角度来看,他们并不会抗拒这方面的内容。

而我对于盗版的底线则是:适应市场。想办法利用它并从中获利,这才是对自己最有帮助的。

本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译

Why Sneezeman dev Sensei Games chose to ‘embrace’ its 90% piracy rate

by James Nouch

Sensei Games made its App Store debut last Ocotber, launching onto Apple’s platform with Sneezeman: Escape from Planet Sneeze.

The 2D platformer – based on a character from cult British comedy series Modern Toss – made its debut with a 69p/99c price tag, but the studio soon found itself struggling to get the game noticed.

One group of players had noticed Sneezeman, however: pirates. Almost overnight, downloads of the game suddenly skyrocketed, will illegal copies of the game souring co-founder Gavin Shackell’s initial excitement.

However, piracy hasn’t proved to be quite the problem it threatened to be, due in part to the fact that the release sported in-game advertising courtesy of Kleenex. To find out how tissues came to the rescue of Sneezeman, we caught up with Shackell for his take on tackling the app pirates.

Pocket Gamer: Can you tell us a bit about Sneezeman and the download spike you discovered?

Gavin Shackell: We’re a fledgling gaming company that brought our first product -Sneezeman: Escape from Planet Sneeze – to market in October 2012.

It’s basically about a little character – he doesn’t talk – but he has a nasal affliction that causes him to sneeze quite a lot, and usually destroy plenty of objects around him in the process.

Anyway, we figured it’d make quite a good concept for a game. At its core, it’s a platform game in which you sneeze to jump.

The background of the issues we had stem from the sheer quantity and number of apps that are coming to market, and the difficulty to attract visibility.

So, about a week and a half after launch, I was looking at the Sneezeman stats in the Flurry interface, and I was thinking, “crikey, that’s suddenly whizzed up quite significantly.”

We were approaching 50,000 or so downloads – but I was sure that I’d looked at my iTunes account yesterday and we were nowhere near that.

How did you react to that?

I thought, “Fantastic! We’ve obviously got a bonus payday here – we must have had a good review that’s caused the app to shoot up” [laughs].

Then, as I delved into it a bit deeper, I looked at my iTunes account. We were nowhere near 50,000. Just literally nowhere near – we probably had 10 percent of that figure.

Looking a bit closer into it, we realised that about 90 percent of our downloads were coming out of China.

Obviously, everyone knows that piracy in the entertainment industry is not a new thing – it’s been around since, well, as far back as I can remember. And we know it’s not going to disappear any time soon.

But 90 percent of downloads seems to me quite excessive [laughs]. A lot of my background is in the music industry, so I’m no stranger to the internet, in terms of the ways it can damage and harm a business.

What was the source of this surge in Chinese downloads?

A few days later, we discovered a Chinese website that had sort of reviewed the game.

I say “sort of,” because it looked more like a hackers website, and after the review, there was a pretty detailed set of suggestions for how readers could get the game for free – which I found quite entertaining, actually.

Our game launched at 69p/99c. Obviously, people like getting things for free, and I think we’re very much moving towards an industry in which everything but triple-A franchises will find it harder and harder to get users to part with their cash up front.

The interesting thing about it is that we were actually getting really good user retention from those people who had downloaded it in China, which suggested to me that we’ve got lost here, to a degree.

Once people have got the game in their hands, they’re enjoying it.

So in a strange sort of way, it was quite good to see that people actually liked the game, because we’d really struggled to get any sort of media attention. The launch time probably wasn’t ideal, looking back. We’d originally planned to launch in the summer, but delays prevented that.

Just before Christmas probably wasn’t the best time to launch, because there’s just so much noise in the marketplace around that time of year. So, to me, the learnings I will take from this is that, for our next four of five games we have scheduled for 2013, they’ll all be free-to-play games with IAPs.

We’ll be using all of the free app websites, and all of the other monetisation vehicles, such as Chartboost for instance, to put it into users’ hands. Because we know we’ve made a great little game, but this has brought home to me just how hard it is to get visibility out there.

God only knows what kind of piracy issues the major publishers are having. I can’t even imagine the piracy rates the top 10 apps are seeing.

You mentioned the difficulty you had in gaining visibility and media attention. Did the Modern Toss tie-in help you less than you expected?

Modern Toss has some real fans out there, and a lot of them are actually in the media world. It’s definitely got a very solid base, and is very much loved by those that follow it.

We wanted to leverage that love of Modern Toss where we could. Obviously we’re aware that Modern Toss is largely a UK operation – although the TV show was picked up in multiple other countries.

So, to answer your question – yes and no. I think what it did was give us a decent kick-start into more traditional media. For example, we had a strong pickup from T3 magazine (UK).

I think what we suffered from is that some of the younger reviewers might not have been so familiar with Modern Toss. They might have seen their products in stores, but might not have been so familiar with Sneezeman, who only featured in the TV show that went out a few years ago.

It’s a battle, but these guys are wading through hundreds of apps every day. You’ve just got to use every tool at your disposal and not be na?ve about trying to launch a new IP at a paid-for price – unless you’re a major publisher.

In retrospect, we should have gone out for free from the start. But we’re taking steps to adapt the game through further in-app purchases and Chartboost, and we’ll relaunch it from there.

Sneezeman featured in-game advertising from Kleenex, which meant that installs had value as well as sales. What was the nature of this deal and how did it come about?

Basically, we approached Kleenex some months ago, really because it just seemed like a brilliant tie-in. If there was ever two brands that could fit together nicely, it’s Kleenex and Sneezeman.

I also wanted to test how those brand collaborations could work, and deliver something to a major brand that was really significant – in terms of them being able to market to and reach an audience that they might not have been able to through traditional methods.

After all, TV isn’t as impactful as it was 10 years ago. Nor is radio and nor is print. Particularly for a major corporation like Kleenex to see that and want to explore that, was really interesting.

We worked out a deal with them whereby Kleenex UK would promote Sneezeman through their social channels, and we said we’d base this deal on a target of installs we want to reach, and that’s how this deal was structured.

So all those pirated installs were actually a help in some ways?

In terms of the Kleenex brand worldwide, yes. It was obviously of no use to the UK people, but if we look worldwide, then yes.

When Kleenex came on board we were absolutely delighted. Our deal is really just for the UK market – but we’ll be looking closely at installs outside of the UK with the brand and how we can further push the message on a case by case basis.

And how about for Sensei Games?

It’s a learning curve.

It’s taught us a lot about how to build games in the future, and what not to do really. If we’ve got a new IP, moving forward we would always look at a freemium product.

In the long run, it’s useful to all parties, though, in terms of data and research.

It’s shown us we have a really great game that people like playing, and it’s just been lost in the noise. We can refine our campaign and move forward now with a few tweaks to the game and its positioning.

What are your views on piracy, and has this experience changed them at all?

It’s simple – I spent a lot of time in the music industry, and I witnessed how not to deal with piracy.

You have to embrace it, unfortunately, because it’s there. You make sure your product can benefit, even from piracy. You can do this by putting ad-based materials into your product, for instance.

I’m a big believer in avoiding things that interfere with the user experience – such as random ads. But you can use something like Chartboost as an fairly unobtrusive app recommendation, and as a user, that’s not something I object to.

But the bottom line with piracy is: adapt to your market. Use it, and monetise from it, because it’s possible.(source:pocketgamer


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