Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Piracy Games Your Rights Online

The Awful Anti-Pirate System That Will Probably Work 1027

Posted by Soulskill
from the an-opposing-arrrrrgument dept.
spidweb writes "Much virtual ink has been spilled over Ubisoft's new, harsh DRM system for Assassin's Creed 2. You must have a constant internet connection, and, if your connection breaks, the game exits. While this has angered many (and justifiably so), most writers on the topic have made an error. They think that this system, like all DRM systems in the past, will be easily broken. This article explains why, as dreadful as the system is, it does have a chance of holding hackers off long enough for the game to make its money. As such it is, if nothing else, a fascinating experiment. From the article: 'Assassin's Creed 2 is different in a key way. Remember, all of its code for saving and loading games (a significant feature, I'm sure you would agree) is tied into logging into a distant server and sending data back and forth. This vital and complex bit of code has been written from the ground up to require having the saved games live on a machine far away, with said machine being programmed to accept, save, and return the game data. This is a far more difficult problem for a hacker to circumvent.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Awful Anti-Pirate System That Will Probably Work

Comments Filter:
  • Sweet spot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:20PM (#31297504)
    It's all about finding the sweet spot. DRM is invariably going to piss of a certain number of paying users but if you piss off too many you lose revenue, or worse yet, if your product gets a rep for being unreliable ... you're throwing away potential customers. DRM is a risky game to play, and if you're gonna do it you better make damn sure it works.
    • Re:Sweet spot (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pluvius (734915) <pluvius3@NosPaM.gmail.com> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:25PM (#31297550) Journal

      Considering that DRM never works yet always pisses off some consumers, wouldn't the sweet spot then be no DRM?

      Rob

      • Re:Sweet spot (Score:5, Insightful)

        by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:31PM (#31297616) Homepage
        Steam works, at least for me. It adds value to the games most closely integrated with it. Integrated out-of-game and in-game server browsing, community features, store, automatic installation and patching.
        • Re:Sweet spot (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:53PM (#31297884)
          Except you are still giving complete control over your games to a third party. I used to love steam. Then one day they decided that they wanted to change the censored version of a game I bought into the uncensored version. I was annoyed, but more importantly the women folk didn't like it when they saw it. Contacted support to ask for it to be rolled back or for a refund. Was treated like an absolute idiot and was pretty much told to piss off. This after years of being a loyal customer have having spent hundreds of dollars on games. Just completely out of the blue and without permission changed the fundamental character of the game. Had they even tried to apologize I might have been okay with it. Instead I got couple idiots lying to me how they are contacting the developers to try to fix it and other BS. Not just poor support, but down right insulting. When I tried to get another associate thinking I got a bad apple the first time, it was the same thing. They hold every game I ever bought on there for ransom and there is nothing I can do about it.
          No matter how good it may seem now, it will come back to screw you. It is still DRM, it just has a happy face painted on it.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by moonbender (547943)

            I had to read that a couple of times before I understood/believed it: they uncensored a game and you were unhappy with that? You wanted the censored version of the game back?

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by binarylarry (1338699)

              He's probably Amish.

            • Re:Sweet spot (Score:5, Insightful)

              by gd2shoe (747932) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @06:25PM (#31300120) Journal

              I don't know what game he was playing, but (1) not every guy wants porn (even the "soft" variety). Yes, I know the stereotype exists for a reason, but that's all it is: a stereotype. (2) He was taking social pressure from his wife/girlfriend/mother/etc and was no longer able to enjoy the gameplay because of it:

              Then one day they decided that they wanted to change the censored version of a game I bought into the uncensored version. I was annoyed, but more importantly the women folk didn't like it when they saw it.

              I'd say that's a legitimate gripe. He's not getting the game he paid for.

          • Re:Sweet spot (Score:5, Interesting)

            by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Saturday February 27, 2010 @02:12PM (#31298104)

            No matter how good it may seem now, it will come back to screw you. It is still DRM, it just has a happy face painted on it.

            Yes, I agree with you about Steam, and Valve Corporation in general. What you are describing here is the difference between copy protection (which is the avowed reason that companies employ this crap) and Digital Rights Management. Game publishers that want complete, unquestioned real-time control of purchased content resident on your computer have gone way too far in my opinion, and it's just wrong. That applies to everything, not just games. Remember how Amazon removed access to an e-book on the Kindle, after the customers had paid for it? This is a level of control over the customer that sets the MPAA/RIAA drooling on their respective bibs.

            Now, having said that, it would feel differently if I were renting a game product (i.e., software as a service) by paying a small monthly fee. I'm just paying for access. I get thoroughly torqued off, however, when I spend fifty or a hundred bucks on a disc, and then get told that a. I have to have an Internet connection to activate or use it and b. find that my use of the product can be revoked or modified at any time, and for that matter that the content can be swapped out at their whim. That's just ridiculous, but that's what they want. I say don't give it to them.

          • Re:Sweet spot (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @02:30PM (#31298318)

            Well, first of all, everybody using Steam should know going-in this one simple fact:

            There is no customer service. Repeat it with me: Steam has no customer service.

            Secondly, what the hell game are you talking about that somehow has a censored and an uncensored version that are completely different game installs? Do you live in Australia, and one was the AU version and the other the US version? In short, what the heck are you talking about?

            The vast, vast, vast, vast majority of games let you set the censorship options after the game is installed-- there's only one version of the game, and no way for Steam to screw you over in this way. You must be either talking about the most mutant game ever, or live in a place that gets special kiddy-friendly versions (like AU.)

            Please let me know what game you're talking about, where not only is the censored and uncensored version a completely different install, but switching from one to the other "changes the fundamental character of the game." It's not adding up for me right now.

            • by liquiddark (719647) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @03:02PM (#31298618)
              I'm guessing he bought the Japanese version of My Pony Adventures, which is a totally different experience than the rest of the world...
            • Re:Sweet spot (Score:5, Informative)

              by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @03:23PM (#31298812)
              Witcher: Enhanced Edition. It's a Polish game that was released in the US first in a censored version and in Europe uncensored. Then they released a "Director's Cut" patch for the US version that uncensored it.
              I looked for any sort of way to roll it back on my own, but didn't find squat. In updating they removed the textures and meshes for the uncensored version. I'd love to know a way to roll back to the original, but I haven't found anything. They claim that it was an opt-in update, but that is complete hogwash. There is no way I would have ever approved it.
          • by tempest69 (572798) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @02:42PM (#31298438) Journal
            This is my gripe, get your own, and git off my lawn.
            There are a bunch of good games out there-- that are filled with DRM.. and I wont touch it. And I kinda wish people had the collective backbone not to buy "hostageware" , even if you can get some awesome convenience factor as a bonus prize.. (steam installs are a tempting draw)
            But I don't want to be treated like a thief.. And I avoid giving money to anyone that treats me as such. If the gas station says prepay only I'll fill up elsewhere -- even when I'm swiping a card to pay for gas.

            Storm

        • Re:Sweet spot (Score:5, Interesting)

          by feepness (543479) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @02:34PM (#31298360) Homepage

          Steam works, at least for me. It adds value to the games most closely integrated with it. Integrated out-of-game and in-game server browsing, community features, store, automatic installation and patching.

          I used to like Steam, until I paid $30 for a thirty party game on there which asked for a CD Key which I obviously didn't have. Looked on the forums and everyone was having this problem. I contacted customer service and they wanted me to disable this Windows thing and edit that registry whatever. No thanks.

          But the important thing is they told me the refund they gave me was a one time thing. Even though I asked for it within 48 hours of the purchase I was treated like I tried to download the game, play it, and return it. And if you reverse the charge on your card? Your account is suspended and you lose ALL your games.

          So I'll still Steam... for Valve games. And not much else. It is part of the reason I moved from PC to PS3 gaming.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sopssa (1498795) *

        This whole story is about how and why the DRM will work. It's kind of funny someone always comes along with "it will be cracked" without understanding any of the fundamentals behind how the game copy protections work.

        I'm just waiting them to take this one little step further - stream parts of the game code, textures or other data from server (something not used often). Spread it randomly around the game and it becomes almost impossible to build a working crack.

        • Re:Sweet spot (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Pluvius (734915) <pluvius3@NosPaM.gmail.com> on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:43PM (#31297796) Journal

          This whole story is about how and why the DRM will work.

          Yes, and I don't agree with Vogel's premise. It's not going to be more difficult to crack this than it was to crack, say, StarForce; it's just going to be different. And once it's been cracked, how much can Ubisoft possibly change the method for all of their future games? This new DRM is just a complete non-starter.

          I'm just waiting them to take this one little step further - stream parts of the game code, textures or other data from server (something not used often).

          Yes, I'm waiting for them to finally come out and admit that they don't want any of the PC market as well.

          Rob

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ScrewMaster (602015) *

        Considering that DRM never works yet always pisses off some consumers, wouldn't the sweet spot then be no DRM?

        Rob

        Not at all. It's a tradeoff. I won't buy copy-protected software on principle: if I can't make copies for my own use then it's of no use to me. I'll find a more reasonable vendor. If there isn't one, then I'll do without. For example, I would never buy a copy-protected or DRM'ed accounting program: too risky. Remember the Product Activation debacle that Intuit Corporation suffered some years ago? On the other hand, for many people (most people, I'd say, particularly in the gaming industry and music-download

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)

      Yeah, if nobody buys the game, it will be hard to argue that the copy protection was a success.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Stumbles (602007)
      No, the only sweet spot offered by DRM of any sort is the one between your cheeks.
  • Down (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ktappe (747125) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:25PM (#31297556)
    My DSL goes down (for just a minute or two) daily. It's usually no big deal, but here it apparently would be. Thus this is a game I could never purchase. Let's let our dollars send the message to the publisher that they're living in a dreamworld with such an unfeasible technical requirement.
    • Re:Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Joce640k (829181) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @02:31PM (#31298334) Homepage

      This is another perfect example of how DRM *only* hurts legal, paying customers.

      Want to be legal and play it on a laptop away from home? You're out of luck if you have a legal copy of the game.

      Mr. Pirate...? He won't be affected at all.

  • by Jorl17 (1716772) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:26PM (#31297558)
    Even thought it's hard to crack, it's not uncrackable. A set of talented hackers/programmers can try and reverse engineer the system and build their own server (or a server might leak out). Then, changing the binaries or using some other technique, they can replace the server address with the address for their server. Given enough time, they might do it -- but the game will probably have become deprecated when they do it.

    With that said, this is the most horrendous example of what the gaming society is becoming. I'd rather throw myself off a cliff than pay these fucktards.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chatgris (735079)

      With that said, this is the most horrendous example of what the gaming society is becoming. I'd rather throw myself off a cliff than pay these fucktards.

      Thankfully, you have a simple, legal option available to you: Don't buy the game. It's just entertainment :)

  • by sanborn's man (687059) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:28PM (#31297582)
    you'll have a non working game because Ubisoft will bother to have that old crap running longer or even Ubisoft could not exists anymore. No thanks.
  • by Manatra (948767) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:29PM (#31297594)
    It won't work, because all the crackers will have to do is emulate that distant server on your own box and route any traffic Assassin's Creed II sends through 127.0.0.1 (this is a simplification). That said, it may work for Assassin's Creed II, but for any subsequent releases (Splinter Cell Conviction, Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands, etc.) the crackers will already know how the system works and break it easily.
    • by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:56PM (#31297910) Homepage

      Emulating the server can be pretty complicated. I'm imagining a setup where the "save" function sends a bunch of unprocessed data in one format to the server, then the "load" process accepts a bunch of heavily processed data in another format. The server could very well do things like pickle AI state, remap function, all the way up to generating an entire bytecode miniprogram to recreate the game state.

      I'm not saying it does, note, but it could. Saying "all they have to do is emulate the server" is pretty meaningless when you don't know what the server is doing.

  • It's stupid. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:32PM (#31297636)
    And heres why: the checks for Internet are already broken just substitute them as checks for the disc and you can see this. What does this leave? The crackers just need to write some save and load game routines that go local instead of cloud. So, in effect instead of having a copy that doesn't have stupid digital restrictions the day it is released you will have it a week after its released. And who suffers? Not the pirates, the people who bought the game. Luckily for me there is nothing in Ubisoft's upcoming lineup that I'm interested in anyway but if other publishers decide to follow this stupid anti-customer lead then I'm just going to go outside and take up baseball. You know, real baseball, in real life.
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:34PM (#31297666)
    I for one, if I can't download it from a torrent site, then I won't buy it. First, because gaming reviews are mostly useless, second because I don't want DRM.

    Assassin's Creed 2 can be the best "game" of the decade, but it's not if it has intrusive DRM. Then it's just a waste of money.
  • Save States (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HalAtWork (926717) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:37PM (#31297706)

    You don't really need some special code for save games when you can easily write a program that will save the state of any game and let you resume right at that spot. It's been done with emulated games, it will be done with these games, and will avoid the whole mess of picking apart the mechanism used by the game's DRM. If you update the game, however, it will cause problems, but it's certainly doable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      That is harder to do.

      First, emulated games have access to the entire state in RAM. So, save the RAM and the framebuffer, then restore -- easy. This one is also going to have tons of state in video RAM, meaning you now have to re-initialize the entire DirectX (or OpenGL) context and load everything relevant there.

      Second, emulated games assume a console, which is vastly simpler than an OS. Anywhere this game is accessing something in the OS, Internet, whatever, is a potential problem when restoring.

      And finall

  • The Free Market (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bmo (77928) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @01:59PM (#31297948)

    If you don't like it, don't buy it. Copy protection goes through cycles. Companies think it's a great thing, start implementing it, and then customers stay away in droves. If anyone here remembers the copy protections of the 1980's involving induced bad sectors and other things, you'll remember that it pissed off customers and it died by the time the 1990's showed up, because they simply wouldn't buy the games.

    Then the industry largely forgot about it and here we are with another round. Do the same thing - don't buy DRMed media and it will die the same death.

    Don't break the DRM. Don't pirate, either. Pirating the game/software/media only skews the market in favor of the incumbents and locks out alternatives. Give your money and market share to the alternatives if you don't like DRM/copy protection. That part of the market will grow and favor companies that don't treat their customers like potential thieves. Indeed, Bill Gates said as much 12 years ago when he said that Microsoft will get the Chinese "sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade."

    Strong copy protection and DRM in a free market always fails eventually, if you let it.

    --
    BMO

  • by AwaxSlashdot (600672) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @02:07PM (#31298050) Homepage Journal
    To me, the real target is to kill used video games. In France, 40% of video games sold are used games. For every used game sold, the game editor gets ZERO. But video games recyclers get a important commission and every time a customer gets it their shop to resell his game, it's the occasion to sell him goodies, accessories and useless insurances.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vitaflo (20507)

      "For every used game sold, the game editor gets ZERO."

      They already got their money, on the original sale. They have no right to any other money because they no longer own the item in question. Don't like that? Then don't deal in tangible/tradable goods. This of course is why game companies love downloadable sales. They can cut out used games when everything is virtualized.

  • by MSRedfox (1043112) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @02:46PM (#31298464)
    All it would take is for their server to get hit by a DoS attack on an opening weekend for a major release. Every customer would suffer from being kicked out of their legally obtained game over and over. The complaints would flood their offices and sales would drop. I don't think I'd want a game where a group of bored kiddies could kick me out of my single player video game.
  • by MiceHead (723398) on Saturday February 27, 2010 @02:55PM (#31298532) Homepage
    I'm an indie developer [dejobaan.com], and I see our games pirated all over the place [google.com] despite their being available for roughly the price of a fast food value meal. It feels sorta sucky to be pirated, and while I can't prove it, I suspect that my studio would gain at least little more money if people didn't pirate it.

    That said, I don't forsee us ever taking draconian DRM measures to prevent people from playing our games. Piracy will change the way we design them, but I think what will end up happening is that we start creating games that make use of online content. Some examples:

    * Level of the Day -- Log in and download your free level right here.
    * Matchmaking/Leaderboards -- Pick up the game, and you'll have an account to taunt other people with your mad skills.
    * Server-Side Content/Collaboration -- Co-build a level with a friend, online, and make that available to everyone else.

    My thought is to offer additional, online-only content that gameplay into having an account. Sure, you can probably still pirate the game, but by picking up a legitimate copy, you have access to all this other neat stuff.

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam

Working...