Mobile gaming apps have always been targets of pirate and hacker attacks. What has changed recently, though, is the sophistication of ways in which they bypass, cheat, modify or pirate mobile gaming applications. With mobile game play on the rise, this has an ever-increasing impact on how game developers and publishers lose money.

Want to learn more about it? Read on!

How do cheats get created?

Let’s start by explaining how game cheats get created. Typically, this involves three steps:

  1. Reverse engineering – hackers are using intelligence gathered from code analysis tools to reverse-engineer game binaries exposing valuable code.
  2. Tampering with the game code – hackers are conducting unauthorized code modifications, or they insert malicious code into an application’s binaries, or move it out of the application.
  3. Publishing – hackers repack the game code and upload it to a website that provides hacked apps to interested users. And some of them go as far as repacking stolen intellectual property (IP) and publishing it with a different graphical interface (GUI), as if it was their own product.

What are the common mobile app security threats?

Exploiting unprotected binary code in mobile gaming apps allows hackers to do the following:

  • Piracy – they make unauthorized copies of a mobile gaming app and distribute it for free without your control, also circumventing the in-game purchases.
  • Cheating – they gain an unfair advantage beyond normal gameplay and share it with other players by uploading it to a cheating site, spoiling the fun for honest players.
  • Modding of apps – or modification; hackers alter one or more aspects of your mobile gaming app – e.g., the way it looks or behaves – diverting the game experience from what you have originally intended.
  • In-game currency hacking apps and services – they bypass the in-game currency paywall and access the in-game currency for free, robbing you of income.
  • Copycat and cloning of games – they make a full copy of your popular game to sell it by themselves under a different name.

How is piracy and cheating affecting mobile gaming apps businesses?

Denuvo analyzed the top 50 games on Google Play, scanning 64 cracking and cheating sites for available cheats or hacks. The results? Cheats were available for 86% of games, including the latest version of 80% of them. Tampered versions of 84% of games were also available and memory editor hacks were available for 22% of games.

But there is more. Some of the third-party global app stores host pirated versions of games. This not only denies legit developers their revenue, but also misinforms the users who download a game that often contains malware.

As a result, this is what happens to mobile gaming apps:

  • Game balance disruption – a cheating player has different rules than the fair one, so (s)he gains an unfair advantage which disrupts game balance.
  • Lost monetization and revenue – you are unable to make money on your game, be it from the purchases of access to it or the in-game purchases (mainly in case of free mobile gaming apps).
  • Reputational damage and lowered ratings – users who download cloned or copycat versions of the game that contain malware get frustrated and spread the bad word about the game, sometimes leaving a poor rating and negative reviews on the app stores. The same happens when your game becomes known as struggling with cheaters.
  • Decreased downloads – a game that has the reputation of struggling with cheaters is less likely to be downloaded by users, as they do not want to invest their time in a game where other players have an unfair advantage.
  • Competition with copycat and clone games – honest developers are forced to compete with hackers who copied their intellectual property for profit.

How can you protect your mobile gaming app?

When it comes to protecting your mobile gaming apps, you need to remember that there are many different angles of hacker attack, so it is important that you have multiple layers of security. Optimal protection means securing your app against client-side attacks, network attacks and server-side attacks.

Since attackers usually aim for the weakest element, every part needs equal attention. But perfect security can only happen on the server side. So, game developers should aim at putting as many important parts of the game on the server as possible, thus minimizing the risk of hacker attack. But since it is not possible to achieve it 100%, game publishers should protect their mobile apps using protection software.

Using anti-tamper solutions allows you to increase your mobile app security. The best solutions profile each game to find the best location with the least impact on game performance. This is then combined with static analysis data to find optimal protection setup. Final performance optimization ensures there’s no in-game performance degradation. Finally, automated alerts detect when profiling data is out of date and updates are needed.

Is this type of protection working at all?

Our experience shows that integrating this extra layer of security on your mobile gaming app immediately stops cheaters from doing what they have been doing.

Is it difficult to integrate protection into your mobile game?

In depends on the provider. If the protection is inserted into the game code, it can take weeks. But if it is a ready-to-use extra layer that you can integrate on top of your ready-to-publish mobile game, then you can do the integration very quickly. This is the case with our solution.

Does mobile protection software impact game performance and gaming experience?

The top mobile app security software has minimal, negligible impact on performance or user’s gameplay experience, while still guaranteeing no false positives and maximum detection.

How much does mobile gaming app protection cost?

Protecting your mobile gaming app from piracy and tampering is more affordable than you think. And if you compare the cost of such an investment with the cost of lost revenue due to hackers offering your game for free, cloning it for their own monetization or circumventing the in-game purchases, implementing an anti-tamper system into your mobile game becomes a logical move.

Denuvo offers flexible payment models, e.g., lump sum paid upfront or payments based on actual sales volume of your gaming app.

How do I get started protecting my mobile game?

It is simple: reach out to us and start a conversation!


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