Let's be honest, piracy has always been a trend on the internet. Software, games, movies and music have always been distributed for free via CDs, DVDs, USB Sticks and lately torrent sites.
While this sounds awesome for the end consumer, businesses suffer because of this. We all got some unauthorized copies of different things back in the days... and it felt great, not gonna lie. But it all comes with a risk and that risk is called malware.
We, at Stax, develop Wordpress plugins & themes. Most of our plugins and themes are released as a freemium package, meaning there's a Free version and a Pro version. That's the main trend in the Wordpress community and we'd like to stick with that.
All of our Free plugins are really generous in terms of options and functionality. We try to offer as much free functionality as possible to help regular users with their daily needs. The Pro versions of some of our plugins contain a lot more functionality which helps users achieve even more.
Converting Free users into Pro users is sometimes hard, but not impossible. However, some users prefer to get the Pro version of different plugins from doggy sites that offer them for free or a lot cheaper than the main developer's price.
Why is this happening? Well, there are lots of reasons, but here's what my findings are:
Some plugin developers tend to price their Pro version using multiple subscription tiers. The most common practices are a yearly subscription and a lifetime offer.
Unfortunately even a yearly subscription seems to be too much for an end user, specially if they need the plugin just for a short period of time or they are not sure if their business will succeed... so a big investment is not justified by these circumstances.
The price itself is also an issue for some potential customers. Really popular plugins or themes creators tend to price their products higher than their competitors just because their popular. This doesn't really mean their products are better than their competitors, but they have enough exposure to leverage this opportunity.
I think the more you know about the Wordpress ecosystem, the easier it will be to know what you want. However, uncertainties can occur on both sides.
Trust issues usually rise for 4 reasons:
- The user don't really know if the tool they're going to purchase will get the job done.
- The product doesn't have a Free version the user can try before purchasing.
- The product doesn't have reviews.
- The product's author has a bad reputation or no reputation at all.
Now let's talk about the elephant in the room, those so called "nulled" sites, which are distributing Pro versions of plugins and themes for free.
There's a general rule in life: "Nothing is free". If you think these Pro plugins are free, then you're wrong and naive. There's always a price your have to pay, but in this case isn't money, it's your security and privacy.
Here are the top 2 problems with Nulled plugins and themes and why you should NEVER trust them:
The most important issue is that 99% of the time they contain malicious code.
It's usually a shell script that compromises your entire server and offers it on a silver plate to the software distributor.
Most of the times, the nulled software distributor claims to provide the latest version of the plugin or theme you are looking for. Well, in most of the cases all you will get is an old Pro version which probably is no longer compatible with the current Free version.
But... it can get worse. You might get just a malware and that's it.
Are nulled plugins and themes distributors a bad thing for the
Wordpress community? Definitely YES! Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do about it, except to raise awareness and show users what should they expect when they go on this road.
As long as end users will search for nulled software, these sites won't go away. If 10 are terminated today, 20 will appear out of thin air tomorrow.
So be responsible, do your homework and think twice before falling into this trap.