Finding ways to secure android games better against piracy

Hi everyone!

Recently I released my game on the Google Play store. Since then (i guess everyone does this) I’m looking for sites to willing to review my game and promote my game in that way as well.

While searching for game sites with a android section, I found multiple websites offering the APK and OBB files from my game for free (my game is a paid game in Google Play).
I’m sure other people here must have this same problem.

Other then enabling the Anti-Piracy in the GooglePlay console, I’ve pretty much zero clue on how to fight piracy.

Thus my question: What did you do or how did you secure your (android) game against piracy?

(PS: I’ve almost no C++ skills, I do it all with blueprint <3)

i just checked - was surprised to find my free to play game is being distributed with all the money unlocked.

im not sure there is anything we can do. the 20% of people who want your game and wont support you will find a way to steal anyway - so don’t take away from the 80% that will support you.

that said, if there are any tips anyone else has - would love to hear it

Turn on Play Store anti-piracy.
If that’s not enough: Integrate some kind of account that your servers have control over. When a user uses a receipt, you can verify it with Google, and you can have your client application verify this occasionally, and take away content that’s not actually unlocked.
Now, someone may ship a single receipt for a bunch of accounts. You then have to make sure that you limit the number of accounts and/or times that a receipt can be used – if a receipt is used more than 10x in a year, say, you could stop actually unlocking the content in the phone client.
Then, if your game is really popular, perhaps someone will hack the binary itself to avoid the receipt check. To get around that, you have to put some gameplay on servers that you control, such that if they don’t have a legit phone/device/client/account, they can’t play. This is a lot of work, and requires that you actually keep those servers running, so save that for when you’re selling many millions of dollars per month.

jwatte is essentially correct. It’s a lot of hassle. I’d recommend checking a receipt that comes with Google Anti-Piracy and not fret the rest. Someone will always find a way to steal your app. If it’s enjoyable enough people will buy it.

Another thing you can do is frequent updates. If you rent a server cheap or even free you can have your game check to be latest version; if not don’t allow play. But that’s really only useful in PVP games.

While many pirates are greedy a lot also like to try before buying. I generally won’t even look at a paid app if they don’t have a trial first.

Android OS, like Windows, was designed to be an open environment. Forget about anti-piracy, you can’t win.

I figured the most easy way. if you use Google Play store, to enable the Anti Piracy option in the Game Services as jwatte suggested.
And simply make ingame checks to see if the user is logged in (if not -> either no internet, or not gotten the game from Play store).

That won’t stop piracy. Google Play app itself is cracked in rooted devices to allow users download paid apps for free.
Google don’t care about your game being pirated, they care of Android popularity and piracy helps devices to sell way more than iphones globally.
It’s a little bit harder to do it in Android 5+ because of obb folder changes, but it’s still easy to bypass. Clicking that check-box won’t stop ppl playing your game for free, that’s why most games are free anyway. You need your own servers to check accs and ban pirates from your online games, like Gameloft does.

There’s apk distribution apps which will give away your app for free and you can’t do anything about it.
Unpacking an APK is also easy and removing those checks from your source code then recompiling the game under another keystore key is less than 2 hours work. You can’t protect the code layer which interfaces your game engine code with the OS.

Yup, you cannot win against piracy, due to very simple fact, it is you against hundreds of hackers (if game is popular), even if most of those hacking guys are idiots, one will succeed. No matter what you do to protect game they will find way around it. Also unless you have big ads budget, that piracy is actually raising your sales. They promote your app around.

So instead of making copy protection focus on releasing new small packs every few months, this will force all hacked copies to update if they want new content, and at some point they will buy your game eventually just to get rid of need for constant hacking.