The Xiaomi app store, the most popular app store in China, appears to be a hot bed of piracy, both using semi-legitimate avenues and what appears to be blatant disregard for copyright laws.
Several high profile premium apps that cost money in other app stores are freely and widely available on the Xiaomi app store. Some of them appear to come from an internal app store feature labeled “User Shared” which apparently allows users to share paid apps for free on the Xiaomi app store without restrictions.
Other apps that don’t have the “User Shared” designation, but are still appearing on the Xiaomi app store for free while costing money on other app stores. I got in contact with Vector Unit, the developers of the popular Riptide GP2 jet ski racing game. They confirmed to me that they don’t have a deal with Xiaomi in order for their game to be on the store for free. However, they do have an agreement with a third party that may be the cause of their app being available on the app store.
The apps, even the user shared apps, have no problem connecting to Google Play services, playing online or any other features. A few games (like Battlefield 2) had trouble downloading extra files, but the vast majority of them worked without issue.
Here are the games I was easily able to download and play that cost money on other app stores but are free on Xiaomi’s
Just some of the paid games available for free (excluding Flappy Bird)
- Riptide GP2
- Dead Space
- Prince of Persia Shadow and Flame
- Biohazard 4 (Resident Evil 4)
- NBA 2k14 (Amazon)
- King of Fighters ’97
- Samurai II: Vengeance
- Battlefield 2 (couldn’t get to run)
As an aside, I was also able to download Flappy Birds, complete with Google Plus integration, even though the developer had removed it from Google Play and the Apple app stores.
We have reached out to the developers of these games and will get back to you if they give us any comments. However, it seems unlikely that they are giving away their games for free, particularly Dead Space, which costs $6.99 on Google Play.
This also isn’t the first time Xiaomi has been associated with piracy. China’s premier video streaming service, YouKu, previously sued Xiaomi for providing videos exclusive to that service on its TV set top box. It has also been accused of ripping off the Kickstarter developed Pressy.
We have also reached out to Xiaomi for more information regarding their “User Shared” feature but have not heard back at press time.
We should also point out that until we get official confirmation from the game developers, everything in this article is alleged. One thing is for certain though, premium apps that cost money elsewhere are 100 percent free on the Xiaomi app store, and the developers of those apps don’t seem to always be aware of it.