The size of the global mobile app market is continuously expanding, so is the mobile gaming app industry. According to AppBrain data, for example, the number of Android apps currently distributed via Google Play has already exceeded 2 800 000 apps, and is increasingly growing each year.
However, among such an astounding multitude of options, a vast majority of apps and games don’t quite fit users’ requirements and preferences, i.e. a game variation might lack an immersive story, an app may be simply rigged with annoying bugs, etc.
Well, for many users, this is when modding comes in.
In brief, a MOD (a short form of “modification”) implies the alteration of a particular app or game, aimed at small fixes, slight improvements or significant changes, which can even result in the development of an entirely new product.
In gaming specifically, modding usually refers to alterations in one or more game aspects and ranges from minor tweaks and gameplay changes to its complete remake that often extends players’ interest, hence increases the game’s value and often boosts sales of the original.
A game MOD may enable a player’s use of advanced weapons, specific vehicles, or change a game character model, for example, but a range of options is virtually limitless.
A MOD APK (also: modded APK) refers to a modded, i.e. modified version of the original app for Android devices (an .apk file), which enables unlocking a paid feature and/or expands its initially available functionality.
A MOD pack is a set of MODs, available for download as a single package, often including an auto-installer, too.
The market is currently filled with a vast selection of versatile types of MODs, some of which include:
A concept of modding unfortunately remains an unsettled legal issue in many aspects, especially in terms of the copyright law. Is modding in a whole considered a violation of the law? Essentially, no, but the line between what’s legal and what’s not is vague, to say the least.
Who is a copyright owner of MODs in a MOD pack, a publisher of an original app or a modder? What about overhaul MODs and total conversions, is this a different case? What about the distribution of MODs, is it legal to enable end users download game MODs legally, for example?
Most of these questions remain unanswered even today.
Most court rulings in the US, for example, would state that an app or game mod (at least in case with add-ons and mod packs) is a “derivative” (i.e. creator of the original app/game owns the copyright of the mod, too). At the same time, it’s being argued that a case with total conversions may be covered by a different legal concept, that is, a concept of fair use.
The way how a modder gets access to the app/game source code and further alters it, in the U.S. context at least, may violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and/or even the terms of the End User License Agreement (EULA).