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Encryption Security Entertainment Games

Atari Founder Proclaims the End of Gaming Piracy 831

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the until-they-build-a-better-crack dept.
OMGZombies writes "Speaking on a conference held yesterday in New York, the Atari founder Nolan Bushnell said that a new stealth encryption chip called TPM will 'absolutely stop piracy of gameplay'. The chip is apparently being embedded on most of the new computer motherboards and is said to be 'uncrackable by people on the internet and by giving away passwords' though it won't stop movie or music piracy, since 'if you can watch it and you can hear it, you can copy it.'"
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Atari Founder Proclaims the End of Gaming Piracy

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  • by Q-Hack! (37846) * on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:17AM (#23545315)
    said to be 'uncrackable by people on the internet and by giving away passwords'>

    Sounds like a challenge!

    No encryption scheme is 100%; some are just better than others. When will people learn!
    • by somersault (912633) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:23AM (#23545387) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, people saying stuff like that is always pretty funny and depressing at the same time. The consumers just keep lapping it up.. even companies that you'd think would be fairly tech-savvy seem to fall for this stuff - I remember when the Wii came out it had some kind of encryption on the CPU output to stop modchips piggybacking onto it, but that must have been cracked too as when I see comments about people modding their Wiis, I'm pretty sure they're referring to the consoles. The PS3's babysitting OS also doesn't let Linux on the PS3 use 3D acceleration - I'd like to see someone crack that open :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Q-Hack! (37846) *
        The PS3's babysitting OS also doesn't let Linux on the PS3 use 3D acceleration

        Ya, that is the one thing I would like to see. With the rate of development for Linux on the PS3, I think we won't have to wait long.

         
        • by lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:06PM (#23545941)
          in a related event, god said: thou shalt not steal.
          • by fwarren (579763) on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:39PM (#23546349) Homepage

            in a related event, god said: thou shalt not steal.

            Yes, the sheepel should just not buy any game, music or video that infringes upon their rights of free use.

            If Joe sixpack would go and ask three questions. 1. can I make a backup copy 2. Can I shift formats so I can play it on a different device and 3. Can I sell it to some one else who can use it just the same as I did when I own it?

            If they would just not buy anything that broke those rules. Locked down media would not be an issue. Corporations would not be pushing "by you purchasing this, you give up your fair use rights". Instead they would have to deal with fair use as they always have. On a level playing field with their customers.

            To bad the more they see ways to remove pesky "fair use" rights and the more laws they make against circumvention of digital protection. They have to deal with the other end. Bandwith becoming cheaper, and it is easier to distribute and use a "broken" copy of a digtial product than it is to use the original.

      • by Robocoastie (777066) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:38AM (#23545571) Homepage
        EULA's on hardware like the game consoles should be illegal. We buy those, they are not returnable later if we discover a feature of it we don't agree with. They shouldn't give a damn if I mod it or even find a way to make it control the temperatures on my refrigerator. I have had it with these proprietary attitudes companies have and have slowly come to fully understand "freedom" that OSS-only people talk about. The problem is that with DRM chips like this starting to come out its only a matter of time before the computer motherboards have EULA's on them like game consoles do as well and forbid us to use them for anything but an "approved" OS. The stupid code built into DELL motherboards and their version of Windows is bad enough as it is. Equally stupid is having to re-activate windows everytime we change hardware. I even had to call MSFT for re-activation after I upgraded RAM!
        • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:18PM (#23546101) Homepage

          EULA's on hardware like the game consoles should be illegal. We buy those, they are not returnable later if we discover a feature of it we don't agree with.

          Not only that, but we have to bear the cost of buying machines which have features we don't want in them. The manufacturers sure as hell aren't doing it for free or recovering their costs from the ones who want this TPM crap installed.

          An EULA on hardware would be evil -- it's a general purpose computing device, I own it, I retain right of first sale. You (well, not you ;-) as a 3rd party have no options to control what I do with it.

          Sadly, the media companies seem to have far more control over such things than we do. :(

          Cheers
        • by Z80xxc! (1111479) on Monday May 26, 2008 @01:53PM (#23547143)
          I'm not 100% sure what you're talking about, but I would assume that the "The stupid code built into DELL motherboards" you are referring to is the string in the BIOS that identifies it as a Dell motherboard so that Windows OEMBIOS activation works. Ironically, it is that specific technology that makes it unnecessary to activate Windows on a Dell machine as long as you keep a copy of the OEMBIOS activation files, since regardless of how you change the hardware, it will always activate without even having to contact microsoft because it detects that BIOS string. Not only that, but since it just id's itself as Dell, you can use ANY dell OEM disk on ANY dell computer and it'll activate - meaning that an XP Pro disk will work on a Vista Home-licensed machine with no trouble.
        • by dave420 (699308) on Monday May 26, 2008 @01:58PM (#23547197)
          I don't want to call you a liar, but Windows activation (for both XP and Vista) requires a large change to hardware for the version of Windows to become de-activated. Maybe you changed a bunch of different stuff over the years, and adding more RAM was the straw that broke the camel's activation? You can read here [microsoft.com] about that (it's for XP but Vista is the same in this regard). Changing the RAM on its own is not enough - you have to change at least 6 components in your PC for it to freak out. Here's a snippet from the page linked above:

          Scenario A:

          PC One has the full assortment of hardware components listed in Table 1 above. User swaps the motherboard and CPU chip for an upgraded one, swaps the video adapter, adds a second hard drive for additional storage, doubles the amount of RAM, and swaps the CD ROM drive for a faster one.

          Result: Reactivation is NOT required.

          Scenario B:

          PC Two has the full assortment of hardware components listed in Table 1 except that it has no network adapter. User doubles the amount of RAM, swaps the video card and the SCSI controller.

          Result: Reactivation is NOT required.

          Dockable PCs are treated slightly more leniently. In a dockable PC, if a network adapter exists and is not changed, 9 or more of the other above values would have to change before reactivation was required. If no network adapter exists or the existing one is changed, 7 or more changes (including the network adapter) will result in a requirement to reactivate.

          Scenario C:

          Dockable PC Three has the full assortment of hardware components listed in Table 1 except that it has no network adapter. User doubles the amount of RAM, swaps to a bigger hard disk drive, and adds a network adapter.

          Result: Reactivation is NOT required.

          • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Monday May 26, 2008 @05:26PM (#23549119)
            Swapping motherboard requires a reactivation without fail on windows xp, with the one exception where it has an absolutely identical chipset. The automated activation then of course fails for OEM licenced PCs. Having repaired hundreds of windows PCs, I've encounted reactivation constantly from pretty trivial hardware changes.

            I therefore assume the rest of that microsoft article is a similar load of bullshit. That said, no, changing RAM alone will not usually trigger a reactivation.
        • EULA's on hardware like the game consoles should be illegal. We buy those, they are not returnable later if we discover a feature of it we don't agree with.


          This is why I fully support emulation. If you actually don't require the console in question to play a game, why the heck are you spending 400 freakin' dollars to play the games?

          Don't fool yourselves. *ANY* game console is already defective by design.
      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:53AM (#23545781) Homepage Journal

        people modding their Wiis
        I'm Jewish, you insensitive clod!
      • by hedwards (940851) on Monday May 26, 2008 @01:09PM (#23546653)
        It makes me terribly uncomfortable when these types of chips get integrated into hardware in this sort of stealth manner. But, not totally, TPM modules can be used for security purposes as well which help the owner of the hardware out.

        What makes me particularly uncomfortable is that the software manufacturers don't advertise what security features they're including in the software. These days, they don't even bother to mention that the discs are not CDROMs, despite being discs that appear to be. They generally break the specification and work unreliably. The Office XP disc which came with my laptop a few years ago, would be incredibly loud compared to other discs, and the entire laptop would shake. (I don't understand why and I can't figure out how a particular disc would behave like that)

        Any company that pulls that kind of crap on me can expect to never sell another disc to me. More likely than not, I'll just stop buying commercial games from those studios all together. Open source games have come a really long way, and many of them are incredibly well done in pretty much every aspect. Supertux, Secret Maryo Chronicles and quantum minigolf are good examples. Then there are the obsolete but still fun games which have been given over to the OSS community to maintain and update.

        I don't mind a bit of protection, but realistically, every form has been broken up until this point, and it seems fantastic to me that this would change at some point, it definitely seems like a challenge that the crackers are going to win. Much of the time it's done with in a matter of weeks. Why I should have to type in a serial number and insert the disc, when pirated copies out there don't require either one is really beyond me. Seems to me that software pirates have far better customer service than most of the commercial outfits do.
    • by Z00L00K (682162) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:24AM (#23545413) Homepage
      You will get a situation where two alternatives exists:
      1. You will have the perfect copy-protection, but only a select few will buy your game.
      2. There will be a crack that solves the problem of copy-protection.
      And anyway - there has to be some code that accesses the TPM chip, and that also means that given enough time and effort it's possible to circumvent it, or even simulate the TPM chip.

      Copy protection has been tried before - always with dubious result.

      • by Bluehorn (34947) on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:06PM (#23545943)

        And anyway - there has to be some code that accesses the TPM chip, and that also means that given enough time and effort it's possible to circumvent it, or even simulate the TPM chip.
        In fact there is already a TPM Emulator [berlios.de], running on Linux. Which will buy you - nothing. Because software will only run on certified TPMs.

        Sure there will be some code that talks to the TPM - the so called Trusted Computing Base (TCB). This will be built into unchangeable ROM or into the CPU itself. You'll have to work at Intel or AMD to have the technology to get around this.

        The game itself will be encrypted with a small wrapper doing the handshake with the manufacturer to load the decryption key into the TPM.

        There are only a few options to get around this:
        • Break the underlying cryptography (AES - unlikely, SHA-1 - maybe).
        • Micro-probe to your CPU (have fun with 45 um cores!)
        • Don't buy anything which has this protection.


        I'll go for (3), that's for sure.

        • by spotter (5662) on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:29PM (#23546231)
          you don't get it.

          tpm works the same way SSL works.

          namely there's a PKI.

          i.e. each chip has its own key which the user cant get to, which is verified by a certificate chain (ala SSL).

          if the software can't verify the chain, it will refuse.

          so attacking the TPM chip isn't how you attack it.

          you attack is by simply getting the software to verify with a trojaned certificate. We can do that today w/ web browsers by inserting our own "top level" certificate. You think it be difficult w/ games?
          • by irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:59PM (#23546565) Journal

            you attack is by simply getting the software to verify with a trojaned certificate.


            Or give it a legit TPM chip and just capture the output of whatever it is verifying. I'm guessing its the equiv of a cdkey check that returns some kind of hash needed to play.

            Theres no way any large number of actual operations go through this chip as it would kill performance, which is the bread and butter of selling new pc games. All you need to do is replace, skip, or duplicate the pieces of code that depend on this chip.
            • by mapleneckblues (1145545) on Monday May 26, 2008 @01:42PM (#23547019)
              You guys still dont get it. The whole idea behind trusted computing is to prevent such duplication. The TPM checksums the hardware and every piece of code from the boot-loader up to the application. The other end uses these checksums to verify that only valid pieces of code are running at each level. This makes it very hard to actually circumvent it by duplicating or modifying any code or running any modified hardware which could steal the keys used to encrypt these checksums. The major problem with trusted computing is not the possibility of circumvention but attestation. For example each new OS patch will cause your OS checksum to be differ, and for remote attestation to work the entity validating your OS checksum should be aware of this new patch. How do we keep track of so many OS versions? or each new BIOS version? and so on and so forth. This means that Linux users with modified kernels will not be able to run their kernels if they are using an application which uses trusted computing. If you want to watch a movie, you have to watch it on a player which can be attested to. This prevents you from running it on a player which might record the movie while it is being streamed for example. The other problem as you mentioned is that these fritz chips need to be really fast. Is trusted computing evil? In many ways yes. It has immense potential to be exploited and kill customer choice. But it may do some good too if used right (for example to ensure that you are not running malicious hardware or infected software unknown to you). Given that basic premise behind trusted computing is to come up with a foolproof DRM mechanism, I would place my bets on it being abused to run a virtual dictatorship. That said, watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgFbqSYdNK4 [youtube.com]
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:46PM (#23546421)
          Uh, there is another option:

          (4) Decrypt and then remove the TPM checking code from the game.

          In other words, run it legally on a TPM-equipped machine and then crack the hell out of it and create a new unencrypted executable minus the DRM shit.
        • by kvezach (1199717) on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:48PM (#23546449)
          There's another option in practice: assume developers make bugs, find and use a buffer overflow, and then inject code that dumps the entire game. In theory, there will be no bugs and so you can't get at the content (which is bottled up inside sealed storage), but in practice... have you ever heard of a bug-free program?

          That won't work with multiplayer any more than fake CD keys will, but that's nothing new. I can't say I like the way the corporations are trying to make general purpose PCs into special-purpose appliances, though; it feels too much like "Right to Read".
          • by mpeg4codec (581587) on Monday May 26, 2008 @03:47PM (#23548207) Homepage
            Sometimes you don't even need to find something as complicated as a buffer overflow. Look at the recent Wii homebrew explosion: the backdoor was exactly as you describe, a flaw in the implementation of RSA. However, the flaw was as trivial as using strcmp instead of memcmp, rendering it equivalent to about 8 bits of security. Homebrew devlopers used this knowledge to trivially break the encryption, allowing them to run code that wasn't signed by Nintendo.

            People make mistakes. Programmers are people. And furthermore, this isn't just some theoretical thing. It happened recently to Nintendo, a game company that likely has more money to throw at such problems than most.
        • by Dan667 (564390) on Monday May 26, 2008 @01:57PM (#23547185)
          Crack for TPM released in 3, 2, 1 ....
    • by QX-Mat (460729) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:25AM (#23545417)
      Exactly! People don't seem to want to learn nowadays.

      Defeating copying schemes has always been an educational past-time of mine. I learned to write my 8's almost perfectly when I copied out, number by number, the Quarantine chart mass/velocity chart because I couldn't photocopy the black text on dark brown glossy paper.

      I even improved my memory when I memorized both the X-Wing and Tie Fighter manual keywords... that was a lot of manuals for a 12 y/o - I actually think it helped. I wouldn't be where I am today if I wasn't capable of picking up a software manual :D

      So, TPM is a way for me to spice up on my logic probing eh?

      Matt
      • by j-turkey (187775) on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:28PM (#23546221) Homepage

        Exactly! People don't seem to want to learn nowadays. Defeating copying schemes has always been an educational past-time of mine. I learned to write my 8's almost perfectly when I copied out, number by number, the Quarantine chart mass/velocity chart because I couldn't photocopy the black text on dark brown glossy paper. I even improved my memory when I memorized both the X-Wing and Tie Fighter manual keywords... that was a lot of manuals for a 12 y/o - I actually think it helped. I wouldn't be where I am today if I wasn't capable of picking up a software manual :D So, TPM is a way for me to spice up on my logic probing eh? Matt

        One particularly annoying part is that the paying customers must foot the bill for the copy protection. This applies to both motherboard components and licensing the protection scheme itself. Software developers/publishers won't just eat these costs out of the kindness of their hearts. It's usually a triple-hit for the consumer, who not only have to cover hardware and licensing costs, but generally have to endure the burden of intrusive copy-protection schemes. Whether it's entering a long and complex serial key, fumbling for a game disk that's not needed for anything more than verifying authenticity, or some other method -- it all tends to put an undue burden on a customer who has already paid for a product.

        In my opinion, this actually encourages some people (who would otherwise pay for a product) to violate the terms of the EULA in one way or another. No matter the copy protection scheme, most cracks allow a user with average technical knowledge are able to easily circumvent a scheme.

        Perhaps I'm missing something - but it sure would be nice to abandon these copy protection schemes. I seriously doubt that the practice prevents anything but the most cavalier copying/sharing - and I doubt that this copying is what developers/publishers are targeting.

    • by joshtheitguy (1205998) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:26AM (#23545431)
      A TPM chip is not the answer.

      What I see happening is a demand for the manufacturers that will not release boards with this TPM and avoidance of any company embedding them. They will eventually be cracked anyways, so even when they do exist they will eventually become uneffective.

      Look at all the anti-piracy measures for the available consoles. They have been cracked, sometimes taking longer but it will be done. Hell it might even bring about mod chips for PCs and as the post's title goes, I'll gladly fire up my soldering iron to bypass this bullshit.

    • by Ours (596171) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:26AM (#23545433)
      As usual, this will create a support nightmare (for paying customers), and will be cracked in 4 months at most... The "apparently being embedded on most of the new computer motherboards" will transform into "mostly implemented on most MBs... poorly". Make sure to have the right model of that ASUS MB to play that game you just bought or else get the crack.
    • by Robocoastie (777066) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:31AM (#23545493) Homepage
      they won't learn. The announcement is just a marketing ploy to get the suits at the software companies to pressure the motherboard makers to include this chip thereby causing Bushnell to make lots of money. The end result will be (as usual) that the paying customer will have a bitch of a time actually installing the game as it will likely be like windows and other encrypted games that only work on the first set of hardware installed and only activate once. IOW the legitimate user will be inconvinienced while the "pirates" have an easier time using it. So then the legitimate user will seek out the pirated versions to actually play the game they bought.
  • I wonder.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmerideth (107286) <<moc.jnlcu> <ta> <htediremg>> on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:20AM (#23545349) Homepage
    I wonder if game developers have ever even considered that some piracy occurs because the gamers cannot afford the games themselves. Adding a chip that prevents piracy wont result in any additional income from people who simply cannot afford the games to begin with. I for one prefer to spend my money on gas these days than games.
    • Re:I wonder.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AutopsyReport (856852) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:29AM (#23545465)
      I wonder if game developers have ever even considered that some piracy occurs because the gamers cannot afford the games themselves.

      Sure they have, but that doesn't affect the cost of doing business. They are losing customers if they don't keep making advances to try to prevent theft.

      There are a lot of people out there who would pay money for a game but choose not to because they can get it for free. If I'm not mistaken, that's what they are trying to prevent -- losing the "would-be" customers to piracy, not those who never had any intention of purchasing it in the first place.
      • Re:I wonder.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:51AM (#23545763) Journal
        I wonder if there are more people who would pay for a game if they couldn't pirate it than there are who would pay for a game but won't because of draconian copy protection measures. I used to buy several games a year, but when I stopped being able to play them on my laptop without keeping the CD in the drive (which flattens the battery and generates a lot of heat) or be connected to the Internet all of the time, I stopped. I still play quite a few games. When I don't have much time, I'll spend a little bit playing a selection of online flash games. When I have more time I'll play something like Vega Strike or Battle for Wesnoth.
      • Re:I wonder.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by barc0001 (173002) on Monday May 26, 2008 @01:10PM (#23546661)
        Bullshit. They're losing customers because they treat everyone like thieves. Stardock doesn't and last I looked they're doing quite well.

        The principle problem I have is the companies and how they want it both ways. When you purchase software you're not buying it, you're "licensing" it. But if something happens to the media your licensed software came on, like it was scratched or broken and rendered unusable, you have to purchase another media at full price, despite the fact you've already "licensed" it.

        Use services like Steam and this problem goes away. Although Steam has a few issues if you don't have an active net connection as well, so that could be improved on. But I vastly prefer their idea that once you buy a game, you can reinstall it on as many of your machines as you want so long as you're only playing it on one at a time. And there's no media to lose or need to have in the CD tray.

        ID had probably the perfect setup back in the Q3Arena days. Buy our game, then take the disk and install it on all the machines in the office, everyone can play a LAN game for free. But if you want to play online, you need your own key. It was perfect, and it was a wonderful promotional tool. I know at least a dozen people in the office who got so hooked on Q3 during our LAN parties that they went out and bought Q3 to play online. All of those purchasers would never have even thought about it unless they were able to try it for free like they did.
    • Re:I wonder.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gsslay (807818) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:49AM (#23545717)

      wonder if game developers have ever even considered that some piracy occurs because the gamers cannot afford the games themselves.
      Of course they do. And other piracy occurs because people like something for nothing. But why should the developers care? Their business is selling games to people who can afford it. They are under no obligation to provide cheaper games if they're maximizing their profits by selling them at a higher price.

      Adding an encryption chip may prevent the piracy from those who can afford it, but like something for nothing. Now they'll be forced to pay up if they really want the game. It''s a no-brainer win situation for the developers.
      • Re:I wonder.. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday May 26, 2008 @01:15PM (#23546691) Journal

        Adding an encryption chip may prevent the piracy from those who can afford it, but like something for nothing.
        No it won't. Those people will go to The Pirate Bay or GameCopyWorld and download a crack and/or the full game. DRM does not work, and cannot work.

        I think that neatly addresses your other point:

        They are under no obligation to provide cheaper games if they're maximizing their profits by selling them at a higher price.
        I don't think they're maximizing their profits. By selling them at a higher price, and including DRM, the most common scenario is one where it's not only cheaper and more convenient to pirate -- just type "Game I want" into The Pirate Bay and click Download -- but you actually get a better product, because the draconian DRM measures are already removed.

        There are certain DRM schemes I will tolerate, but most of them, even if I buy the game legitimately, I will go straight to the Internet for a crack.

        So, piss off the more technically savvy customers, and still lose at least as many customers to piracy as before. Sounds like a no-brainer lose situation for the developers.
    • by anss123 (985305)
      I'm one of those guys that would have bought a game I instead pirated, IOW I'm the one they're out to get.

      OTOH I also bought several games I've never gotten into-- From CoD4 to Chaos Engine (ancient top down shooter for you younglings), and I might just as well have thrown money out the window. Pirating is a nice way to make sure you actually like the game before shelling out - Demos are nice in theory but they tend to.. well.. suck.

      Valve has the right idea with how they're promoting Portal. I'm on the verg
  • Play it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:21AM (#23545361) Homepage

    if you can watch it and you can hear it, you can copy it.

    if you can play it, you can copy it.

    • Re:Play it (Score:5, Informative)

      by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:50AM (#23545743) Journal
      Not necessarily. The difference between music/video and games is that the latter is highly interactive - there's no analog hole there, you cannot just record it. You can, of course, hack the executable, but using TPM, they can encrypt the game resources, and you'll need to break the TPM itself to get to them - you can't work around that as you can with the analog hole.
    • by Etherwalk (681268)
      From a theoretical standpoint, that works assuming you can run through or predict the outcome of every possible input sequence anyone can give it. (Or at least, say, the most frequent 80-90% of possible inputs if you want bad copies.) Even a computer can't play-test a modern game to that degree of completion, though maybe a computer with a human to spend a lot of time patching conditional state changes into it could.

      To my knowledge, though, nobody has gotten a system together which is theoretically uncr
  • by Gay for Linux (942545) * on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:22AM (#23545367)
    "TPM will absolutely piracy of gameplay. Also, 640K ought to be enough for anybody."
  • by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:23AM (#23545385)
    I dunno, those "people on the internet" are pretty resourceful lol. I hear they're good at removing and replacing chips on motherboards, or at least on gaming consoles. I think he forgot about those people in their homes that don't want some stupid overlord chip overruling basic tasks on their computer. But at least he knows enough that music and videos can't be controlled no matter how hard the MPAA and RIAA try just because of the basic nature of them. Quite the smart/dumb mix.
    • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:46AM (#23545673)

      I hear they're good at removing and replacing chips on motherboards, or at least on gaming consoles.
      Just to preempt the inevitably replies saying something along the lines of: "most people don't have the knowledge or inclination to mod their hardware... if a hack requires physical changes to the machine, this will prevent 99% of people from pirating."

      It's important to remember that you only need 1% of people (or even 0.1%) to have the knowledge and inclination to perform these mods, if it allows them to make unencrypted copies of the data. All you need is a small group of dedicated hackers who generate cracked copies of games, and release these in the usual way (bit-torrent, etc.). Just as movie release groups have a lot of specialized knowledge and connections, thereby making copyright infringement trivially easy for the masses, so too will anti-TPM groups appear, who will trivialize this kind of circumvention for the masses.

      TPM doesn't make copyright infringement impossible. It merely adds another layer of complexity for the hackers. Alas, hackers enjoy the challenge of breaking through these layers.
  • by Urthwhyte (967114) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:24AM (#23545409)
    This will definitely go over well with the people who were mad over even small things like the BioShock phonehome fiasco...what could possibly go wrong?
  • by GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:26AM (#23545425) Journal

    There is no such thing as un-crackable. There is, however, a level where cracking becomes cost-inefficient.

    I still doubt TPM will take us to that level, because it will have to have almost universal adoption and that will take many years. Software or hardware exploits will be found, and adoption/versioning issues will keep them from being fixed.

    They should really stop fighting the wave, and put all their anti-piracy money into creative talent and developers.

  • by Cally (10873) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:27AM (#23545445) Homepage
    "apparently embedded in most motherboards" -- not meaning to sound snide, but where the hell have you been for the last five years? Google things like TPM, Palladium, trustworthy computing, untrusted computing, Ross Anderson...
    • by BLKMGK (34057) <`moc.liamtoh' `ta' `em4knujerom'> on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:48AM (#23545703) Homepage Journal
      +1 insightful! This guy must have just woken up, that he has seized upon this with such fervor makes me wonder how long Atari is going to be around. These things are FAR from common save for laptops and certainly not something you're likely to find on a gamer's desktop. My machine has a slot for a TPM module but it didn't ship with one and I see NO reason to shell out a pile of cash to obtain one. People such as myself will simply vote with our feet and wallets. Think he will blame piracy for the low sales?
  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) * on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:27AM (#23545449) Journal
    A TPM is great for keeping my keys from Nolan Bushnell. It is also great to let me be sure which image of code I'm running on my machine.

    It is not great at letting Nolan Bushnell look into my machine and see what code I'm running.

    He smoketh the crypto crack. He should read the TPM spec and see what it really does.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by leuk_he (194174)
      TPM allows Them to authenticate that the game runs only on one pc. That is, if you trust to run their software on your pc. The whole point is, who owns the TPM module, owns a lot. Who you are going to trust.

      It is like the trusted path for blueray content in vista, but then for software. You cannot run software unless it is in a signed environment.

      If in 10 years the OS consists of virtual machines, one of those machines will be a TPM box that is controlled by Big media/game makers, that will only allow their
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The last time I checked, I was the one with physical access to my machine and its TPM. They keys in it are mine and mine only.

        "They" don't get to authenticate anything on my machine.

        For Bushnell to do what he wants to do, he requires a level of control over the initial provisioning of TPMs that he's not going to get.
        • The last time I checked, I was the one with physical access to my machine and its TPM. They keys in it are mine and mine only.
          Until you grant setgid Administrators to the game's binary, which the game's installer will "helpfully" do for you.

          "They" don't get to authenticate anything on my machine.
          Then "You" don't get to play these games.
  • by Sockatume (732728) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:27AM (#23545453)
    That's how Engadget is describing it, and I'm inclinded to agree. Firstly, it's not a "stealth chip", they tend to be prominently listed as a feature because they're so bloomin' rare and you really need one if you want to be able to use Vista's disk encryption without a dongle. Secondly, nobody has even proposed using them as a DRM measure, presumably because of the aforementioned rarity. Thirdly, this is spectacularly old news - those who follow hardware developments have been chatting about the TPM and its implications since Two Thousand and FIVE [bbc.co.uk].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:30AM (#23545475)
    Your proposal advocates a

    (X) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

    approach to fighting video game piracy. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    ( ) Video game pirates can easily use it to harvest gamer addresses
    (X) Legitimate gamer uses would be affected
    ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    (X) It will stop video game piracy for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    (X) Users of gamer will not put up with it
    ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    (X) Requires too much cooperation from video game pirates
    ( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    ( ) Many gamers cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
    ( ) Video game pirates don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
    ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

    Specifically, your plan fails to account for

    ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    (X) Lack of centrally controlling authority for gamer
    ( ) Open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all gamer addresses
    (X) Asshats
    ( ) Jurisdictional problems
    ( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
    ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    ( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
    ( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
    (X) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by gamer
    ( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    ( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    ( ) Extreme profitability of video game piracy
    ( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    ( ) Technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with video game pirates
    (X) Dishonesty on the part of video game pirates themselves
    ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) Outlook

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    (X) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
    been shown practical
    ( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
    ( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
    ( ) Blacklists suck
    ( ) Whitelists suck
    ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    ( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    ( ) Playing games should be free
    ( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    (X) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    ( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    (X) Temporary/one-time gamer addresses are cumbersome
    ( ) I don't want the government playing my games
    ( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    (X) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    ( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
    ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
    house down!
    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:01PM (#23545865) Journal

      (X) Legitimate gamer uses would be affected
      (X) Users of gamer will not put up with it
      Actually, these two have already been disproved as far as Atari is concerned. They've already used some heavy-handed DRM schemes in the past, and got away with it - all Neverwinter Nights (the original one) premium modules, of which Atari was the publisher, required authorization over the Net every time you started a new game or loaded a saved game. There was an outcry among the community for the first two releases where it was introduced, of course, but there were enough purchases for Atari to proclaim it a success, and use it in all the following modules. Now, they are deliberately delaying [bioware.com] the already finished expansion pack for NWN2 for several months already so that they can include some new "super tough" form of copy protection into it - I wonder if that's actually related to TFA. Says the Atari guy:

      I am the Atari producer for Mysteries of Westgate (MoW) among other D&D products. Most of you know that the release of Mysteries of Westgate has been delayed because of ongoing development of a new security system. Near the end of MoW's development last year, we realized that the traditional protection of the .exe file would not work with it so we scrambled to find a reliable commercial method that would do the job. At the time, there was no solution that met our requirements. That is why, since the end of 2007, Atari has been working hard to develop a new security system that can be used not just for MoW but for all Atari products that need protection for data files without using the traditional route of wrapping the .exe file. Unfortunately, developing this system has taken longer than we anticipated and MoW's release has suffered as a result, because it is the first product that will use this new system.

      ...

      I realize that many of you are anxious to get your hands on Mysteries of Westgate, and I know from firsthand experience that it is a fantastic adventure. MoW has been ready to ship for a while now and we are close to finalizing the new security system that will ensure that it has its proper day in the sun. In the meantime, we are working hard to keep cool information about the game coming.

  • TPM wtf? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bazman (4849) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:31AM (#23545479) Journal
    Trusted Platform Module - not mentioned in the article. You can probably google it yourself, or wikipedia [wikipedia.org] has an entry.

    It's pretty much Palladium all over again. Remember that?

  • Famous last words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Orange Crush (934731) * on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:32AM (#23545499)

    Reasons why he's dead wrong (in no particular order and by no means comprehensive):


    -TPM in and of itself won't protect against piracy at all if the implementation is botched.
    -Tying purchased software or media to a specific hardware device p*sses people off when they repair, replace or upgrade and their DRMed stuff no longer works.
    -Talk about opening up Asian markets, etc, is proceeding under the flawed assumption that those who acquire illegal copies of a game would even purchase a legit copy.
    -Restricting your potential install base in this manner will reduce exposure, popularity, and ultimately sales of your game despite the opposite being your goal.
    • defectivebydesign
    • trecherouscomputing

    I own my computer. I bought the hardware. I should be able to do whatever I want with it. The reasons the concept of copyright has been created are not compelling enough to essentially force every computer to have a police chip in it to make sure we honor it.

  • by BLKMGK (34057) <`moc.liamtoh' `ta' `em4knujerom'> on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:35AM (#23545545) Homepage Journal
    Umm so like they just woke up from a coma and heard about Trusted Computing? ROTFL! Mind you Atari had jack to do with this technology.

    Trusted Computing uses the TPM module, it's in many but FAR from all computers. It's in this laptop, it can be ADDED to my desktop's motherboard. It's designed to store measures of critical OS and hardware components like the BIOS to prevent tampering. Modify a file who's hash is stored in the TPM and is checked by a critical process and the system won't boot. There's a random number generator in there and yeah probably a private keypair too. So what I can only EVER play my game on this one machine now? It's locked to this machine? Games upgrade their stuff more than anyone else and he thinks this is the great panacea? You could do this today with your own code much the way Vista does, has that helped adoption? The TPM might be a more effective way to do it but it won't guarantee sales.

    There are several games on the market and coming to market that I have not nor will I purchase simply because the DRM is too intrusive. Games that require me to be connected to the 'net for "verification" to play standalone or that can only be purchased and downloaded via DRM'd mechanisms aren't of interest to me. I and others have voted with our wallets.

    Want to KILL the commercial game industry? Implement this! This guy sounds like your typical PHB who has stumbled upon something in a trade rag, seized upon the idea, and is trumpeting to anyone in management that will listen what a great idea he's found. In short he's a fool. He also sounds like he believes that everyone who's pirating games now will suddenly be forced to start buying them, wow is he and the music industry going to be in for a shock when they finally figure out this isn't the case!

    GL Atari, was nice knowing you.
  • by BuckaBooBob (635108) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:36AM (#23545551)
    If it can be Encrypted it can be decrypted..

    Then there are people that buy Copy Protection... "Ok.. if it Truly can't be copied.. Then how am I going to mass produce it." never seems to enter their minds.

    There really needs to be some studies done on people that make these types of Claims.. Exactly how delusional are these people.. or is it a simple case of diminished mental capacity.. Or is it not the people that make the claims but the people that buy into the marketing Hype that have the issues that should be studied.

    These types of Schemes should be rated in the number of Weeks from launch it will take for the technology to be Hacked/Cracked/Made Irrelevant by the "Internet People"..
  • Hiya (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xstonedogx (814876) <xstonedogx@gmail.com> on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:40AM (#23545603)
    Long time paying customer here. Just a quick note to let you know that I would buy more games if your prices were lower (because you weren't pissing money away on stupid schemes like this) and you spent more time focusing on how to get money out of me (by offering value) rather than trying to get money out of people who have proven they are not able to/going to pay.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me know about TPM. I'll be sure not to purchase hardware from vendors including it on their MBs, since I obviously cannot trust them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gsslay (807818)
      Note from developer here. Just a quick note to let you know we don't care if you would buy more games if the prices were lower. We make more money by selling fewer games at a higher price. But thanks for letting us know.
  • by hyperz69 (1226464) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:45AM (#23545655)
    09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0
  • Piracy of gameplay? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:46AM (#23545677) Homepage Journal

    From the article: "The TPM will, in fact, absolutely stop piracy of gameplay." I assume this TPM is a Trusted Platform Module [wikipedia.org]. For example, Windows Vista Ultimate's BitLocker feature uses the TPM. But don't you need at least Windows Vista to run games for Windows that require the TPM?

    Besides, is it even possible to pirate "gameplay" as such? The Tetris Company likes to assert a copyright on Tetris, but game rules can't be copyrighted [copyright.gov]. One leading case is Lotus v. Borland.

  • by evilpenguin (18720) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:48AM (#23545707)
    I am an old fart programmer (anything past 40 is WAY old in technology) so gaming long since left me behind. Face it, asteroids was as advanced as I got.

    That said, I would hope the industry would LEARN from the failure of music DRM and the HD DVD stuff (note how Blu-Ray is failing to fly off the shelves -- it was the format war, not DRM that kept it from selling, right? RIGHT!?!?)

    I am sick and tired of being treated like a criminal. And that's what all this technology does. I don't share the optimism that every solution will be defeated. Impenetrable control is possible. But luckily the industry hasn't been very good at this so far. But compare the ease of defeating CSS with the difficulty of defeating ACCS and you see they are learning.

    The best way to defeat this is to refuse to buy hardware that has the controls. I sincerely hope Blu-Ray dies an ignimonious death. As much as I want an HD video format (and as long as I only have 1MBit bandwidth), DVD is good enough.

    Stop treating me like a criminal and I'll buy your crap. Until then, get bent.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:50AM (#23545737) Homepage
    I continue to be irked by the fact that 3rd parties increasingly have more control over my PC than I do.

    I'm not interested in pirating someone's games or music, but I'm just waiting until a fairly obvious operation suddenly becomes disallowed to me because some peckerwood decided I should never be able to do that on my own damned PC for fear that I might be doing something they don't like.

    If the media companies had their way, they'd basically get rid of the entire concept of general purpose computing and be stuck with an appliance they could control and which would force us to become a monetized revenue source with marketing options controlled by them.

    I'm getting tired of crappy solutions which are mostly just restricting what I can already do.

    Cheers
  • by supradave (623574) <supradave@ya h o o .com> on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:50AM (#23545755)
    The software my company writes is tied to the TPM chip. What it prevents you from doing is taking a copy of our software and running it on another machine. When you register it, you then download an encrypted image for that specific TPM chip. Without systems level access to that machine and some pretty expensive hardware tools, there's no reasonable way to hack it. Of course, our entire application/OS is encrypted whereas encrypting an entire game would become a hinderence to game play. Therefore, I doubt it will take off.

    But heck, it's the securiest OS on the planet be running those games. TPM is irrelevant then.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nurb432 (527695)
      Who do you work for? I want to be sure to avoid your products.

      "there's no reasonable way to hack it" ..... don't underestimate the resources of the truly hardcore.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:52AM (#23545771)

    He must not have had his Wheaties that morning. That's the really dumbest thing I've seen him say in a long time.

    He says this:

    a new stealth encryption chip called TPM will 'absolutely stop piracy of gameplay'.

    But he also says this:

    ...it won't stop movie or music piracy, since 'if you can watch it and you can hear it, you can copy it.'

    So tell me Nolan, exactly how does that work? Do the bytes that make up movies have a different flavor somehow than the bytes in a computer program?

    In short Nolan, never underestimate the power of fifteen year old kids who live in the Netherlands. Be prepared to eat those words.

    PS: Wiki has a page up on TPM already. [wikipedia.org] Along with links to already existing attacks. [wikipedia.org]

  • by 3seas (184403) on Monday May 26, 2008 @11:53AM (#23545785) Journal
    ...how are they now going to explain the drop in game sales?

    They won't be able to blame piracy, which in actuality has been a promotional tool.
    Without that promotional tool, well.... out of sight, out or mind.

    Its been long established and even in some cases intentionally applied, that the non-legal distribution of software helps promotion of the software in sales.

    This non-legal spread of software started before the word "Piracy" was coined by Bill Gates (as it applies to software). And Bill Gates profited off of the non-legal spread of his BASIC for the Altair computer.

    I believe there are studies of this same drop in sales regarding music as piracy is cracked down on by unreasonable aggressive RIAA legal system tactics.
  • by Kingrames (858416) on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:01PM (#23545861)
    Sadly, the chip was stolen before it could be used.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:03PM (#23545895) Homepage

    The game industry already has a copy-protect mechanism that works. It's called "game consoles".

  • New TPM chip? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:09PM (#23545969) Homepage Journal
    Umm its not new, its been in Thinkpads for years at the least.

    If it does stop piracy 100% ( which i doubt ) then it will cripple the industry as he's got no clue how much piracy HELPS the market, just like it does the music market and regular software market.

    + my system wont ever have a TPM, so does that mean they are selling defective products ?
  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Monday May 26, 2008 @12:10PM (#23545971) Journal
    It should be filed under "famous last words" instead.
  • DMA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by giminy (94188) on Monday May 26, 2008 @01:23PM (#23546787) Homepage Journal
    There is a glaring hole in the "TPM fixes everything" thing, as with every other piracy "solution". This time, it's called DMA.

    A game or other program could license itself to a particular piece of hardware, given that that particular piece of hardware (the motherboard) has a cryptochip. How does a program then verify that it is only running on that particular hardware? It sounds like, from the article, the ploy is to encrypt part of the game program (or all of it) with the onboard TPM's public key, so that only the motherboard with that particular key can decrypt the game. Part of the registration or installation process would be to contact the vendor and obtain the part of the program in question, encrypted for your particular TPM.

    That's great, but (and I love the word 'but' when referring to someone's Genius Plan to Implement DRM)...the game has to live in RAM unencrypted, or it would be too slow to play. In this case, I can make a specialized PCI/PCIe card whose sole purpose is to dump RAM. It will just DMA read all available memory and put it on its own 4GB compactflash card or some such. As soon as the unencrypted game hits my RAM, I'll have it to do with as I please. If the motherboard implements an IOMMU? I'll just hit my RAM with compressed air and freeze it, then read the bits out and hack as I please.

    DRM won't work because its trust metric is screwed up. It basically says, "I trust that I'm going to run on particular hardware

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