Japanese gaming giant Square Enix is notable for being one of the few old-school gaming companies that buck the trend when it comes to mobile gaming prices. They figure that consumers have bought Final Fantasy for years at $60, so they can clearly pay reasonable prices for premium games. But they may also be breaking another mobile gaming convention: apparently, Android users with rooted devices cannot play Chaos Rings, a $13 game that launched for Android on October 10.
As soon as the game went on sale, the Google Play store was inundated with one-start reviews claiming problems running Chaos Rings on thier rooted devices. Square’s official statement made it sound like a technical issue:
We are aware of the issue affecting Android users who attempt to download Chaos Rings with rooted devices. We are currently working towards applying an update that will grant those players access to the game and we expect this update to go live sometime next week. We thank the Android community for its patience and continued support as we continue to bring great mobile games to the Android platform.
However, posts on the XDA developer forums claim that the game has a launch-time check for rooted apps, which would imply that Square Enix purposely blocked rooted Android users.
Although Chaos Rings was well received when it debuted on iOS in 2010, it took over two years for a proper port to the Android platform. It’s an original game, not a console port, and costs $12.99 from iTunes, which is a much harder platform to pirate games on. Google’s statistics show that there’ve been only between 500 and 1000 downloads so far.
If this is, in fact, an attempt to fight piracy through rooted devices, it’s a short-sighted effort. Just because somebody roots a device doesn’t mean they’re a pirate, and the piracy problem is a problem with the Android platform and probably isn’t something Square Enix can fight on their own. All they’ve done is give people with the ability to pirate a game a reason to do it.