The End of Piracy

In: Uncategorized by David LaMont

22 May 2009

sad-pirate_smI’m not an engineer.

Oh, I’m a tech head as much as the next guy, but I do not have strong electronics skills, nor do I possess the time to build a special coupling that allows me to hook up a Wii to my PC for the purposes of backing the files on the built in memory board.

What I have is an understanding of technology and imagination, and it is armed with these very lethal weapons that I write this article.

I had been chatting with Bert, a long time listener with whom I’ve developed a personal relationship. We had started talking about when the next generation of consoles would come out and threw around ideas of what type of system they would be. We both realized that without some major changes in the hardware, piracy would still be a major concern for console makers and software developers.

The average gamer bemoans any DRM. They beg, plead, and cry to publishers how it’s not fair to consumers to have to deal with bloat in order to play a game. Some developers have introduced the finger to these cry-babies, others have listened and complied.

Perhaps they should have used the finger.

EA’s The Sims 3 is in the wild and it’s never going back in the bottle. The actual release date was June 2 for North America, but it’s already out and being downloaded across the globe.

How’s that for a “thanks EA for not putting DRM on it!”

Now, if I were a game developer or publisher, I’d be loading up a shotgun and tracing every IP I find hosting or sharing the files. Because, right now, threat of physical violence appears to be the only thing that will quell this rising tide of stupidity that’s going to implode an industry I love.

Alas, violence — while fun — is not really the answer here. What is the answer is something no gamer is going to like: The end of physical media.

Physical media is the weak link in the gaming chain. With it anyone with half a brain can figure out a way to copy and then distribute it. Encryption doesn’t work; hackers are too smart to have that hold them back for long. If I were a console maker this would be the first area I would tackle.

In fact, if I were a console maker, this is what I would do:

The console, out of the box, would include both a wireless and wired internet connection. It would include a 300GB hard drive that is detachable similar in style to how the Xbox 360’s hard drive detaches.

The hard drive would be formatted using a file system not used on any PC currently — custom built from the ground up specifically for a console. This would render the hard drive incompatible with any of the current operating systems out there and make attaching it to a PC nearly useless.

The I/O operations for this hard drive are controlled by the console’s main CPU, not by a separate chip. The operations code would be embedded and encrypted within the CPU making it much harder to pull out the source code. In short, the hard drive does what the CPU tells it to do, and without the CPU the hard drive will not function outside of the console.

Finally, the I/O connection itself would be customized to the console with no PC counterpart. The hard drive would, for all intents and purposes, be like a regular SATA hard drive but it would lack the normal connectors and power inputs that you see on laptops and PCs.

Games would be tied to your user account, Gamertag, Friend Code, PSN Name — whatever you want to call it for the console in question. The account tracks all purchases you make and will allow you to re-download at any time. Since the hard drive is removable, you could easily replace it should you want to have any game readily available. The only major problem in this imagined console would be cost to purchase additional hard drives, these prices would need to be very competitive or the idea will not work.

Like Steam, games that you “pre-order” will automatically “pre-download” up to a week before release, then “turn on” at 12:01 a.m. on the day of release. Games must compress to a single file that will have a maximum size set to it. This size will be determined by the minimum amount of space available on a memory unit (for this example, we’ll go with 30GB of space). Unzipped it could be as big or little as a developer wants, and there will be an option to “archive” a game on your hard drive to save space.

Each console comes with a 30GB memory unit that contains your user account information. This allows you to bring your account to a friend’s house and, more importantly, to purchase games.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say Left 4 Dead 2 is coming out next week. You’re listening to a new episode of GameHounds, and GamerEdie is raving about the demo she saw. Commander Tim bemoans the lack of a mouse and keyboard on consoles, and Hawkes is whining that he couldn’t be there. You like what you hear and decide you want to buy the game, but you live in a “broadbandless” area and have no means of “pre-downloading.”

No problem. Hop over to Best Buy or WalMart, walk right into the gaming section, plug your MU into the kiosk there, and purchase Left 4 Dead 2. The game will download to your MU, calculate the time between now and 12:01 a.m. on release day, and encrypt the information on the drive. WalMart thanks you for the purchase (they get a cut) and gives you a copy of the instruction manual for the game.

You go back home, put the MU into your console, and it automatically “pre-loads” the game. Don’t get any smart ideas about changing the time either. Hooking the MU into the WalMart kiosk tells the MU what time it is, and the MU is now keeping said time. When it installs, it will update the console’s clock to match the time, and it will compensate if you add or subtract hours to your consoles internal clock. Oh you can change the time on your console, it just won’t release the game earlier for you.

And that’s it, that’s your next generation console coming soon.

Now I’m sure you’re thinking, “It’ll never work,” or, “No one will buy without physical media,” or, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Of those I only agree with the last part; I really am just making this up; no inside information, no more than the next gaming podcaster.

Let’s take your objections point by point:

It’ll never work: It technically already does and will be more so soon. If the PSP Go is what it is rumored to be, you’re looking at the pilot program for the next generation of consoles. Xbox Live Arcade, Wii Ware, and PSN all have games that are doing very well without physical media, and did you hear about the billions in sales of non-physical media iPhone/iPod Touch applications?

No one will buy without physical media: See above; people already are. XBLA, iTunes, PSN, WiiWare — it’s all over the place now. All I’m talking about is the next step.

Do I like this? Nope, I absolutely hate it, but I’ve resigned myself to this type of gaming future because for gaming companies to evolve they need to stop spending time worrying about piracy and DRM and just focus on making games.

We did this, we all did this. I doubt there’s a single listener or reader of this site who hasn’t at one point or another downloaded a game for free. It’s the internet, it’s easy to find, easy to do. The temptation is too great, the chances of getting caught too small, the reward too high. I understand giving into the temptation, so you might just as well enjoy it while you can because, trust me, it’s the beginning of the end for gaming piracy.

I no longer will listen to people complaining about DRM. I hate it too, but it’s our own damn fault. We either have allowed the pirates to continue their practice or turned a blind eye to it, and therefore we are as much responsible as if we ripped the disc ourselves.

So this is our console future and it sucks, but we’ll get use to it. And besides, it’s not so bad. Once the next next generation of consoles hits, we’ll be so used to it we’ll wonder what were complaining about.

Only the pirates will be complaining then.

Hawkes

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42 Responses to The End of Piracy

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Muir

May 22nd, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Good article. I don’t mind the idea. Also I agree it’s our own fault.

Ps. Live* not leave in the walmart MU part.

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Hoshneer

May 23rd, 2009 at 2:27 am

I actually would not mind that. I have friends who hate the idea of leaving physical media behind but I would prefer it.

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racingfreak92

May 23rd, 2009 at 3:25 am

You start off saying that Sims 3 has been leaked then talk about ending console piracy. The Sims 3 has no drm and is a PC game. The inclusion of DRM in the game would have done nothing except delay its leak by a couple of days. DRM does nothing to pirates because as of now, there hasent been a form of DRM that hasent been hacked. Even Steam DRM has been cracked.

Console piracy is not very big. To be able to pirate a Xbox 360 game you have to either have a modded Xbox or a Dev Kit Xbox. Both will cost you at least an additional $100. From there you have to have dual layer dvds and a burner and probably a membership to a private torrent site. All this is doable but compared to PC games when all you need is a torrent application.

Piracy on PS is huge, thats why people claim the market is dying. Piracy on console is not a very big issue and if the next generation of games uses Blu ray that will probably affect piracy a lot more when you combine expensive blank disks with immense download times and ISP bandwidth capping

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shamon

May 23rd, 2009 at 6:25 am

wow what a great idea i could see all of this working .

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Reef

May 23rd, 2009 at 6:34 am

Physical media has small advantages.. but id prefer downloaded game instead but as you say binding games to your PSN account or whatever.. people do not like that idea for example.. i have 3 PSN accounts on the 2 ps3′s i have for the family.. now if i had to download say… fallout 3 for the ps3 for myself but the other 2 members in my family wanted to play it on there accounts.. they cant they have to buy another fallout 3.. 3 copys of fallout for 1 family? doesnt work.. sony tryed this with warhawk and 100′s of people complained about it..

but hey does the PS3 have a piracy problem? from what i can tell its just 360, wii and PC.. i

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ton

May 23rd, 2009 at 6:36 am

i hate piracy, i heard that spore has been downloaded so many times that EA got 20million less than they would have if everyone brought it. 20 million dollars is enough to make a decent Ps3 game

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Hammersmith

May 23rd, 2009 at 7:46 am

I like your idea Hawks, it could work.
my own personal spin on it would be a leaf from the WoW book:

As the majority of ppl have broadband, (i know it costs many times more in the US) make ALL the games online required. Single player or not. This would require a subscription, but with that you get a reduced cost initail perchase, and all your games would run from this. There is still a place “physical” media but it would be a token device like a dongle on a high end engineering app.

The success of MMOs shows that online only is not a letdown to many people.

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NC

May 23rd, 2009 at 7:47 am

sorry but hated the article. Theres nothing better than buying a physical copy of a game!
Your idea is not that good. It will be easy to change the time…

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Cat

May 23rd, 2009 at 7:51 am

I’m all for physical media.

But I also [and this is a bit offtopic] wish companies would allow demos. Take for example Ninjabee which is possibly one of my favourite companies.

On their site you can dl a 1h trial of the game and then buy it. http://www.ninjabee.com/

Just like XBLA games.

I wish more pub’s would take this on board as I’m FAR more likely to become addicted after playing it a while.

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Tyger

May 23rd, 2009 at 8:09 am

Sony seems to have solved the piracy problem already, for PS3 anyway.

I hate the idea of downloadable distribution only, since not everyone on the planet is lucky enough to have cheap and fast internet access.

I’m able to download 1GB if I’m willing to wait for it, but there’s no way I’m going to download a 25GB game using my 384kbps adsl line with 1GB cap.

The download only route will only become viable when most of the planet has internet via fibre into their homes.

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mr. chips

May 23rd, 2009 at 8:33 am

Hate to point it out, but piracy is rampant on the iPhone/iTouch platform as well. Just because there’s no physical media doesn’t mean people can’t copy off the binaries from flash/hard disk, trade them around, and get them to work. It is out there, trust me.

Interesting idea, but your non-standard hard drive, controller, plug, etc all come with a cost. that cost will be passed on to the consumer. So, do you think M$ is willing to invest $$$$ into “locked down” system with non-standard parts just to combat maybe 10% of their sales lost to piracy. Doubt it. All those custom components you mention will cost the company A LOT more than the loss of a few sales.

Plain and simple, if someone is going to pirate, they’re going to do it anyway. If they are “hard core” they will invent an adapter board to allow that brainless hard drive to plug into their PC. Remember, these people get their kicks off of inventing things like this. All you’re offering to them is a great puzzle than they had the week before. The “casual pirate”. Ok. They will be turned away/don’t have the knowledge to pirate games on your system. But it’s also very likely they would have never bought those games to begin with. You can’t lose a sale you never had.

Software piracy and DRM have been around for years, and what have we learned? It never works in the end. But the people who make the DRM sure have gotten rich off of it, haven’t they?

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dave19711998

May 23rd, 2009 at 8:41 am

That’s a good idea in theory but wouldn’t you need to have some kind of serial number on the hard drive that would be linked to the console? This would prevent the hard drive from being able to connect to another console.

If you are able to download games from a store that you can then use on your console at home, what’s to stop some clever person from extracting in from the hard drive plugged into a PC. These pirates are very resoureful! The custom OS would be a good idea but would Microsoft go for it?

Remember with the PC to console interaction, it would only be a matter of time before some clever person can extract the file from the console.

If they were able to have the software linked directly to the hard drive serial, that would make it very hard to copy and if they did, would be useless without the original hard drive. The serial number would be created directly from the CPU and would use at least 2048 bit encryption code.

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Kakkoii

May 23rd, 2009 at 10:35 am

1.) There won’t be a good enough internet infrastructure for that by the next generation. It would severely cut sales because of the millions of people with crappy internet speed.

2.) You focus on the IO but forget the incoming connection. Simple line readers can rip the incoming data as it’s being downloaded, and then the crackers can get working on it.

3.) Money lost due to piracy is grossly overestimated. People seem to think everyone who pirates was a sale lost. When in fact a large percentage of pirates are people who could never afford so many games, or don’t care enough about gaming to pay, or take the motto of trying it first, then paying for a copy if they think the developers deserves it.

I’m not saying many people don’t pirate just for the sake of not having to pay. But those are not the majority.

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jose

May 23rd, 2009 at 12:19 pm

oooh sims 3 is out already? gotta go download it, thanks guy.

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WeeMadBadger

May 23rd, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Few weak points of the article and some ideas:
1. Blue-ray. Is there ANY piracy on PS3? If there is, I’ve never heard about it. Why? It’s hard (impossible?) to replicated blue-ray drives using commercial blue-ray recorders. Yes, you can still have your 50GB, but copying a PS3 game won’t work. And it does it without any fancy encryption/CPU combo; besides real time, high quality encryption… that’s some serious hardware we’re talking about here. Unless it’s something really good, people will just break it…
2. I love digital distribution, but it wont’ work ;-( As the years pass, internet is getting more and more limited. Even your university internet connection will probably have per month transfer limit. Say, with 50GB per month, how many PS3 title can you download? Do the math… While for PC it is better, it’s still an issue. I know people with per day limits on their computers and they have to go through royal pain to download games on Steam; I mean like 20% a day… Also, you’d either have to provide unlimited downloads (like Steam) or your service would simply suck (D2D) and you’d force the user to back up the games somehow himself.
3. Digital distribution can do something else: cut the damn publishers and give more money to the developers. Publishers have become new record labels, milking developer studios. How much does developer get per each sold copy? Not much; Example: Stardock -> they make more money through their DD system (Impulse) than through retail, even though they sell much much less. So, do the DD, CUT THE PRICE, and still get more; If a game costs $60, either I want it a lot or I skip it and buy it only when it’s on some sort of sale few months later; If it costs $30, I would just buy it and if it’s rubbish, I’d throw it away.

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RJ

May 23rd, 2009 at 1:04 pm

I’ve had this same idea in my head for years now

However, one little thing that stuffs up ur idea.

You say go into BestBuy and predownload the game and it starts when the timer hits. but there is a problem here, your original problem is you didnt have broadband, how will the console know that the system is correct, ie whats stopping you from changing the time yourself

I think the Bestbuy situation works well but forget about predownloads, hackers will find a way.

Also, to make the CPU run the HDD causes a lot of problems especially since the HDD is detachable, a piece of dust, a bent pin or something like that could kill the HDD instantly if it was run completely by the CPU

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diddler1979

May 23rd, 2009 at 1:27 pm

An insightful idea from the point of view of provoking discussion but ultimately flawed I feel.

New file formats is a redundant idea (remember xfat on the original xbox) and (as has already been pointed out) the iPhone/iTouch has already shown that non physical media is still piratable even when supposedly tied to a user account.

However I feel an important point has been missed out even if this vision of the future came to fruition. Tthis is in no way meant to condone what these pirates do but, developers can be their own worst enemies at times through sloppy coding that allows these crackers to develop system exploits (xbox save games and PSP tiff buffer overflows) allowing the running of unsigned code.

Ultimately the ability to perform an act of piracy (be it cracking a system / its associated software or downloading pirated material) is more a case study of morality and just because one has the power to do so doesn’t necessarily mean that one should do so.

However as we all know morales count for little in this world these days and so maybe a more draconion society is the only way forward.

And what a frightening thought that is.

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dhst

May 23rd, 2009 at 2:52 pm

I started reading your article and I will never end – why ?
Because u stupid enough to write stuff without checking it – Sims 3 got SECUROM protection so rest of your article is based on fake facts.

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cmq

May 23rd, 2009 at 4:00 pm

“Only the pirates will be complaining then.”

Not really, my games are original, but i couldn’t download much from the web. I’ve got 256kbps connection (really) and I seriously can’t upgrade it. Imagine downloading 9GB game with speed like that.

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Cat

May 23rd, 2009 at 4:48 pm

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rumtumtugger

May 23rd, 2009 at 7:17 pm

This would not work from a hardware standpoint.

Creating a new formatting system from the ground up would mean virtually all hard drives would be incompatible with the console. That would mean not only would the console maker have to make a new, efficient formatting system that is highly dissimilar to current systems – already extremely expensive, considering the vast majority of formatting systems are simply evolutions of previous iterations – a venture which, IF SUCCESSFUL, would already net a huge profit for the console maker, but would also have to manufacture the hard drives and all related peripherals themselves, all directed at a highly specialized market that they’re already trying to suck dry.

Have you any idea how much that would cost? They would be lucky to MAKE that much money in the first two years after launch.

Then there’s the CPU. Simply put, processor research and production is in a totally different than that of hard drives: it’s MUCH MUCH more expensive. It’s not like software, where all the DRM in the world amounts to little more than a few megs. And that’s before considering how much some “operating code” embedded onto the CPU would mess up the architecture – or, in other words, performance – of the CPU…in a market that’s already squeezing every last cycle of power into it’s games and still losing a huge amount of money on hardware.

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Cooper Hawkes

May 23rd, 2009 at 9:06 pm

@NC,

Like I said in the article, but I will make clearer here: The time the purchase was made is on the Memory Unit, and it has an internal clock, loading the game on the console updates the consoles time to sync with it. Changing the clock will change the time, but the pre-loaded game would compensate for the mucked with time.

@dhst

From Sims 3 site:

http://thesims3.ea.com/view/pages/newsItem.jsp?item=-608201177

A google of SecureROM and SIMS 3 shows MANY sites saying that it’s disc serial number based DRM, NOT SecureROM so technically YOU fail.

Also, the inspiration for the aritcle was The Sims 3 being pirated, but the rest of the article had nothing to do with The Sims 3. Because you’re stupid enough to comment on an article without reading it to the end.

Loving the debate on this one, thanks for the comments everyone!

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Ben Jones

May 24th, 2009 at 1:10 am

Interesting ideas, only one problem

The FTC will kill it stone dead as soon as it’s released.Your idea, combined with the DMCA, will cause monopolistic problems. the FTC will act to deal with that, and require the ‘safeguards’ to be legally breachable.

Oh, and the safeguards are not hard to circumvent. Thus, not only have you ended up spending millions on protections that are ineffective, thanks to the way you implimented them, there’s legal proteections for those that get around them.

Address the root of the problem, not the symptoms. If my arm smells rank, and has mushrooms growing on it, spraying fabreeze and picking scrooms won’t make things any better. To cure the problem, you have to address the source, in this case, remove the gangrenous tissue.

The dead smell is the reduced sales. The fungus growing is the people downloading instead of buying. Cover the loss of sales with a scent (the scene of ‘downloaders’) and pick a few of the torrent-using mushrooms and you won’t save the limb. The root of the problem needs to be addressed – the business models, the lobbying and the lies, the millions paid for sweet fanny adams. Cut the limb off, get rid of the dead wood.

In the real world, you need to address the WHY, and indeed one of the reasons for the WHY is the way industry groups are lobbying hard to deal with the HOW

One other thing, Cooper. I’ll remind you what EA said about Spore and its downloads. “We do not see a download as equalling a lost sale” or words to that effect. It’s not, and never has been, but that doesn’t stop politicians being effectively bribed to believe so, which just feeds the cycle more.

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Hammersmith

May 24th, 2009 at 3:24 am

The irony of the matter here is that most of the solutions require a high speed internet connection.

Thoughs without a good connection were not pirating much because they didn’t have the bandwidth to download much anyway

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Tommy

May 24th, 2009 at 5:06 am

First of all, digital delivery is great, as long as you can redownload whenever you’d like. There are standard PC apps (like those from Symantec) that only allow you to download within 6 months. After that, you’re required to pay another $6-10 or so. As long as games didn’t require that, it would be great.

Second, the PS3 has already stopped piracy. You can’t download PS3 games anywhere, nor can you play backup games. Sure, some dude figured out how to dump the data onto a drive, but they’ve not been able to mount that data via a non-original disc or emulator.

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Cooper Hawkes

May 24th, 2009 at 5:49 am

Just so we’re clear here: I’m not trying to defend EA or The Sims 3, nor am I saying it’s piracy bringing the industry down, I’m saying the perception of piracy is going to drive this type of console in the future.

As for the PS3 comments, yes you are right, but it’s only a matter of time before it gets cracked. We were dealing with a state of the art CPU/Media device at the time, where as Xbox 360 still used DVD which every hacker could break in their sleep.

I figure we’re a couple of months to a year before the PS3′s ISO’s are in the wild.

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Jimsson

May 24th, 2009 at 9:47 am

Great article, and great idea! I very much think this could be possible in the future.

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dhst

May 24th, 2009 at 10:00 am

@ Cooper – Check out what crackers have to say about Sims 3 – Securom+Serial. I assume u know what + means but if not (which is possible since u aren’t even capable of good irony) it means that serial is one of the protection and that there is dvd-check in exe and as far I know this is one of the basic features of SecuROM.

If u wanna professional info check professional SITES not bullshit from google.

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dave19711998

May 24th, 2009 at 10:38 am

Let me start by saying that I know nothing about programming or the workings of computers. So everything I say is just ideas.

If you were to have your user ID, which included your name, address and console/computer ID securely imprinted on the Hard drive, then had any installed software also linked to this ID, would it make piracy harder.

You would used 2048bit encryption, which would require a super computer to decrypt the code.

The only downside would be to make it impossible to access the games other than via the internet. Taking into account the size of games, this would be limited in its use but I can’t think of another way in principle to get a difficult system to prevent piracy.

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Cooper Hawkes

May 24th, 2009 at 11:19 am

@dhst

You’re partially correct:

http://www.securom.com/solution_ecdkey.asp

This is technically a SecuROM product called Electronic Disc Key. It’s not as severe as the earlier attempts at DRM (Limiting Installations, calling home all the time, etc.) but it is technically a SecuROM product and is most likely the one used by EA since they’ve used the company before.

Perhaps you would have been more satisfied if I had said: “Extremely less restrictive DRM”?

Either way, I am quite aware of the definiation of irony, as in: “oh the irony that someone’s wasting so much of thier time nit-picking an article they didn’t even completely read nor like.”

As for “professional” links, try this courtesy of @carocat:

http://kotaku.com/5186987/no-drm-for-the-sims-3
http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=211898
http://www.edge-online.com/news/ea-pulls-drm-the-sims-3
http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2009/03/26/sims-3-wont-use-online-copy-protection-gdc-2009/

Hence why I said it had no DRM.

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dhst

May 24th, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Sites you’ve mentioned aren’t pro ;) U should know what sites I’m talking about but instead u calling me nit so what this tells about you ?

And don’t worry I’ve read your article ;) And believe me – ask ppl from russia – they know how to DL games from steam for free.

Altough I also think sites like TPB gives too easy access to piracy, especially to 10yrs old kids who do this not because they don’t have money but just to be cool ;/

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Hoshneer

May 24th, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Wow! I like this. Seems like the Gamehounds family is growing!

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Cat

May 24th, 2009 at 6:10 pm

So what do you mean by pro sites since several of the ones I’ve given above are respected gaming sites?

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Cooper Hawkes

May 25th, 2009 at 4:09 am

@cat

He’s talking what the ESA and publishers and developers would consider.. less reputable sites.. Think The Pirate Bay (TPB) times 50.. places that teach you how to chip an Xbox 360.. that type deal.

@dhst

My only nit was that you commented without having read the article, thank you for finally reading it in full and understanding what I was getting across. I don’t mind that you don’t like my article, just wanted you to have read it is all.

Like I said, I’m relatively savvy when it comes to tech but would never classify myself as hardcore. I want there to be discussion and disagreement, because if the PSP Go! Rumors are true, it would be Phase I of what I’m describing here.

Loving every second of this debate!!

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dhst

May 25th, 2009 at 5:46 am

@ Cooper – but u still don’t see that even online distribution can be pwned ;) Personally I was not believing that service like steam could be hacked but when I personally DL game from steam not paying a penny I believed. btw I didn’t play that game – it was just to test if it’s possible and it is.

Online services are based on encrypted data – 128 is weak but 2048 is almost unbeatable – but only at this moment.
I think untill someone cracks protections there will be piracy

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Cooper Hawkes

May 25th, 2009 at 9:02 am

@dhst

Actually i do. My idea wouldn’t keep a truly skilled hacker out forever. But it would be complicated enough that the casual pirates won’t bother. The “true” pirates cost companies, but it’s the casual people that are taking the biggest slice away from them.

Make it too difficult for them, and you’ve closed a pretty sizable money leak.

I’ve been working in some form or another inside the IT industry for nearly 20 years, and if there’s one thing I’ve always said regarding security:

“No system is ever 100% safe, we can secure it to keep the curious and the casual out, but if someone wants into your system, chances are they will succeed.”

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dhst

May 25th, 2009 at 11:53 am

Quick update – leaked sims version was from digital distribution and it was beta (funny huh?) .

BTW if u want game completely without DRM check out newest Prince of Persia ;)

And yes – there is no 100% protetion – it just depends who will try to beat it.

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Gemini Ace

May 26th, 2009 at 6:11 am

I always say that once physical media goes away, I will stop gaming. I doubt that’s what will happen, but it’s a good statement to make.

Of course, piracy is bad. Stopping it is like trying to stop the internet. Impossible. Yes, you can slow it down, but is it worth all the trouble? The people that pirate wouldn’t have purchased the software anyway.

My concern with the loss of physical media isn’t so much that I will miss the box or booklet. I’ve been doing without that stuff with my music for years. My issue is with the price fixing that will go on once the publishers have full control over it. The days will be over when Wal-Mart puts games on sale or clearance. With no physical inventory, there’s nothing forcing Best Buy to clear out space in their warehouse. There’s just higher prices and publishers rolling in cash. That’s not a future I want to be in.

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David Fendley

May 28th, 2009 at 8:13 am

Cooper,

You definitely are tech savvy. Unfortunately, every idea within your proposition can be circumvented. It may take some time, but it can and will be. Rather than spending a copious amount of time describing how it can be broken, let alone difficult to implement, we should look at why games are pirated in the first place.

There was a poll a year or two ago by an independent video game developer that asked visitors why they pirated games. The top reasons were: to circumvent DRM, the cost of games, and poor quality games.

DRM.

DRM has always been beaten — it only takes a matter of time. Companies are wasting time and money by utilizing DRM. Of course Macrovision doesn’t want you to know its DRM is worthless, but it really is. Drop DRM. Yes, pirates will be enthused, but more importantly, legitimate customers, those whom are truly hurt by DRM, will be relieved.

Expensive games.

Years ago when MGS2 first came out for the Xbox, EB Games (now owned by Gamestop), sold the game for $20 a pop for the first week of its release. After that first week the price went up to $40. A manager at one of my local EB Games said they sold boxes of that game that first week. Why? The game was incredibly affordable. Even if you walked into the store with no knowledge of the game, taking a chance that a game may be bad at $20 is not a huge risk. $40-60? That is a big risk.

I also learned that charging $60 for this gen’s games is not actually due to increased development costs as some in the industry would like you to believe. It is actually because of this: Publishers/developers began releasing standard editions at $50 and special editions at $60, offering only minimal difference between the two. The special editions sold very well, telling publishers/developers that gamers were okay with paying $10 more for a game. One could argue that the special editions came with more, which technically they did, but it’s not like these special editions came loaded like Blizzard Collector’s Editions do. Charging $10 more was clearly not going to alienate the gaming majority.

Of course games are taking more and more to create; yet games cost about the same 5 years ago and 10 years ago, perhaps even 15 years ago. Games have become increasingly complex, yet they’ve remained relatively close in price point. I don’t find these price hikes fully justified.

Poor Quality Games.

Recently I bought Universe at War on Steam for $5 during a weekend sale. I had heard of the game, and it turns out that I had played it before, but I figured $5 was chump-change for a video game and whipped out my credit card. Fortunately the game turned out to be rather good, but $5 was not much of a risk at all to find out. Yet we have companies charging $50 for games like “Transformers”, which is horrid, and “Terminator Salvation”, which is only four hours long! I don’t mind paying $40 or so for a good game such as “Morrowind”, “Warcraft 3″, any game in the “Unreal Tournament” series, or many other quality games out there, but with so many mediocre games flooding the market, it’s not cost effective to take a chance at that price point. Bring the cost of games down, the quality of games up, and games will sell themselves.

Digital Distribution.

I absolutely abhorred digital distribution when Steam was launched. How dare I be told when and where I can play my games. Another reason I loved physical mediums was that they were much easier to run on an emulation layer in OS X and Linux. I have since changed my mind.

I have become so sick of physical discs, cases, and boxes lying around, let alone having to track down a manual for a CD key, that I am in the process of thinning my movie, music, and video game collection physically. I adore how Blizzard and Bioware let you store your CD keys online for easy retrieval. Blizzard even lets you download the game client. The same can be said of Steam. With Steam, I can easily download my purchases hassle-free. As a result, I often look to digital distribution systems first when looking to purchase a video game. The downside is waiting for the game to download, but Steam has mitigated pre-orders through pre-loads, and this issue will continue to minimize as Internet connectivity speeds increase.

Digital distribution is extremely enticing to publishers and developers for two primary reasons. One, it’s cost effective. Publishers don’t have to print and ship discs, cases, and manuals, let alone give a cut to retail stores. Two, it circumvents used game sales. Ideally I would like to see digital distribution services allow you to transfer your game license to another account at will, but I fear this will never happen — at least not for some time. While the downside of current implementations of digital distribution is the inability to resell your games, services are in development that will allow gamers to rent games digitally, making gaming even more cost effective, available, and on-demand. With a shift towards digital distribution for multimedia as a whole, I believe we will see mass adoption of digital distribution for video games very quickly — especially if publishers and developers lower the cost of their games as a result of the affordability and efficiency of digital distribution.

Conclusion.

Video games need to become more affordable, better in quality, stripped of all DRM, and available on digital distribution systems. Yes, pirates can crack even digital distribution systems, but video games will continue to be pirated regardless of medium. Potential video game customers need to be enticed into buying games over pirating games. These aforementioned methods lower the cost, increase the quality, and make a game easily accessible — three core principals to selling any product.

It is easy for any industry to blame pirates for their failures and flaws. Look at how bloated “sales lost to piracy” figures are. This is done for shock value. If you research how these figures are computed, you would probably laugh. Piracy is a real threat and a valid concern, but there are efficient, affordable means to combat this nuisance, reaching out to current and would-be pirates without harm to the legitimate customer.

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pirate games

May 30th, 2009 at 6:09 am

Really i loved it and i will consider it seriously.

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Elijah Lewis

July 18th, 2010 at 9:30 pm

i download a lot of free games online and there are lots of it online.’”*

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Combating Video Game Piracy | Essence

November 13th, 2010 at 11:42 pm

[...] The original article can be read here, though it is not a prerequisite to understanding my conclusion: http://www.gamehounds.net/2009/05/22/the-end-of-piracy/ [...]

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