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Why Sony Cannot Stop PS3 Pirates 378

Posted by Soulskill
from the of-pots-and-kettles dept.
Sam writes "A former Ubisoft exec believes that Sony will not be able to combat piracy on the PlayStation 3, which was recently hacked. Martin Walfisz, former CEO of Ubisoft subsidiary Ubisoft Massive, was a key player in developing Ubisoft's new DRM technologies. Since playing pirated games doesn't require a modchip, his argument is that Sony won't be able to easily detect hacked consoles. Sony's only possible solution is to revise the PS3 hardware itself, which would be a very costly process. Changing the hardware could possibly work for new console sales, though there would be the problem of backwards compatibility with the already-released games. Furthermore, current users would still be able to run pirated copies on current hardware." An anonymous reader adds commentary from PS3 hacker Mathieu Hervais about Sony's legal posturing.
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Why Sony Cannot Stop PS3 Pirates

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  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:30AM (#34875740) Journal

    I must say, it does feel like having an Ubisoft exec comment on the chances of Sony being successful in combating piracy feels a bit like having Sauron publish an article on Voldemort's chances of taking over the world.

    He's probably right, of course. A software-only hack is very bad news indeed for Sony. It's worse news than such a hack would be for Microsoft. Why? As TFA notes, Sony probably will be able to catch and ban people with custom firmware who connect to the Playstation Network, just as MS can with users on Xbox Live. However, as an owner of both consoles (who has no strong overall preference for either), I can fairly confidently say that Xbox Live is a much more central part of the whole "360 experience" than the PSN is to the PS3. It's not that Sony haven't put a lot of time and effort into improving the PSN - it is certainly far better than it used to be - but it still feels like something that sits off to the side a bit from the PS3's main functionality, while a 360 without Xbox Live feels fundamentally incomplete.

    As for a new PS3 hardware iteration to solve this - I just don't see how, short of sending some kind of self-destruct signal to every existing PS3 out there (and I don't think even Sony would go that far) they could plausibly make that one work.

    If Sony has one sliver of hope left, it's that the extremely large size of many of the big-name PS3 games (and hence the time and bandwidth needed to download them), combined with the relatively high price of writable blu-ray media, will still act as something of a deterrent. Of course, lots of big-name cross-platform releases like the Call of Duty games are basically identical to the 360 versions and could probably fit on a DVD.

    • by mprinkey (1434) on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:36AM (#34875756)

      Large downloads are a potential impediment to piracy, but with the ability to run unsigned code, it can likely run backup manager with an ftp server that can be used to move games directly onto the PS3 hard drive and run from there, not unlike the current situation with JTAG 360 systems now. Therefore, bluray blank prices aren't going to be an issue.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RogueyWon (735973) *

        Yes, true, I hadn't thought of that. Though in that case, hard disk space may well emerge as the alternative constraint.

        Still, for a pirate who downloads a couple of games a month, plays through them and then discards them (you almost certainly won't be doing online play on pirated games) this is not going to prove a huge barrier.

        • by anss123 (985305)

          you almost certainly won't be doing online play on pirated games

          From the summary: "Sony won't be able to easily detect hacked consoles".

          To prevent online play Sony will need to determine if the console is compromised. This isn't entirely trivial. MS manages somehow but I believe it takes about month or so before they catch you.

          Note that if you hack a Xbox 360 to play pirated games, and then play a legal game online, you'll still be blocked/banned if discovered.

          • I have some questions here, and Correct me if I am wrong. But isn't the Xbox hacks so far are hardware ? Isn't this easier to detect than the compromised key of PS3 ? I mean you are not changing anything with the console itself, you just know the specific key that allows you to run your homebrew/pirated code. I can think of some ways to detect pirated games, but i think it would be far fetched. And do they have any legal stand that forbids you from running homebrew ?
            • by anss123 (985305)

              Isn't this easier to detect than the compromised key of PS3 ?

              The compromised key is not enough to play pirated games. You will also need modified firmware, and while modified firmware can hide that it's modified, it’s not entirely trivial. Sony will probably be looking into ways of detecting modified firmware.

              And do they have any legal stand that forbids you from running homebrew ?

              I do not think they can legally disable your console, but they can legally ban you from PSN (whenever you mod your console or not).

              I can think of some ways to detect pirated games, but i think it would be far fetched.

              Blue-ray disk may have unique serials, if so they can detect if multiple consoles use the same serial.

            • by Obyron (615547)
              The vast majority of 360 hacks are firmware hacks. It's essentially a change to the dvd drive firmware to tell it not to check if the disc is signed or not.
              • by tlhIngan (30335)

                The vast majority of 360 hacks are firmware hacks. It's essentially a change to the dvd drive firmware to tell it not to check if the disc is signed or not.

                The only unpatched hole in the Xbox360 is the modified drive firmware. And yes, Microsoft *does* detect that! (It's also not a terribly interesting hack since it is only enables backups - you cannot run unsigned code).

                The other hacks, including JTAG hacks, are also detectable by Microsoft. If you watch the presentation or see the slides presented on the

            • The current PS3 hack consists of being able to sign software to appear legitimate to the PS3, and a small firmware hack that enables a dev console option to allow installing signed code to the HDD from USB media.

              This can only be used for piracy in a manner similar to PC game rips -- you have to rip the game to HDD then crack it's executable. It would be easy to detect the use of a pirate game for online play, at least for new games -- require some hash of the executable be sent ot the game server.

              Technical

              • by bryansj (89051)

                Really, I don't think this will lead to as rampant piracy as everyone thinks -- the jailbreak dongle allows easy piracy, the 3.55 FW hack requires actually cracking the game executable to remove disc checks and redirect IO from /dev_bdvd to /dev_hdd0 (which frankly any multiplayer game should do a hash check on it's executables anyways, which would catch that).

                That just means the 3.55+ game downloads/torrents will already be cracked. Not everyone will have actual disc in hand trying to make a "backup".

            • The thing is, with the security architecture of the PS3, it is plainly impossible for a game (runlevel 2+) or application to test directly the characteristics of runlevel 0.

              You could compare the situation to using VMware: the OS inside a virtual machine comprises runlevel 1+, but the real OS running VMware is runlevel 0. VMware isolates anything inside a virtual machine from the rest of the machine, and from any other running virtual machine. In fact, the client OS is like a brain in a jar: it is prevent

          • by jonwil (467024)

            With the release of the metldr key, every single piece of code that runs on the PS3 CELL CPU (with the exception of a few really low level bits) can be changed in any way you want. This includes every single piece of code that talks to PSN.
            No matter what Sony does, it will be possible to make the PS3 answer with the right answers.

            This is why the PS3 hacks is far more difficult to detect than the XBOX JTAG hack (on the XBOX, large chunks of the OS and kernel aren't under hacker control AFAIK)

          • by Yvanhoe (564877)

            Note that if you hack a Xbox 360 to play pirated games, and then play a legal game online, you'll still be blocked/banned if discovered.

            Which may not be legal everywhere. I mean, I doubt they can detect that you hacked your xbox for playing pirated games. They can detect you hacked it, but by itself this is not necessarily a problem.

          • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968.gmail@com> on Friday January 14, 2011 @10:05AM (#34876806) Journal

            Question: Why would you bother to hack YOUR x360? Already banned X360s can be had for quite cheap on craigslist, hell many of them with "back up" games already loaded. So why would you risk boning your XBL account and go to the trouble of hacking your console when you could just have a second one for pirated content?

            I would say this is one area where the advantage will be to Sony. The market simply isn't nearly as flooded with PS3s as it is with X360s and MSFT's ban hammer has made pirated consoles a dime a dozen. While there is also the issue of downloading BD rips VS DVDs which will add up quick if you have any caps, and most folks don't have BD drives in their PCs to rip rented games (although that can be gotten around for less than $100 now).

            Of course what I would say is the biggest advantage over the X360 is something I bet Sony isn't really happy about, and that is that most folks I've met with a PS3 don't actually game on the PS3 hardly at all. They buy the few PS3 exclusives like God of War and most of the time they are just using their PS3 as a BD player. Now to be fair from what I've been told the PS3 is still the best BD player bar none, but I kinda doubt that was what Sony had in mind when they put the BD into the PS3. Maybe it is just me but everyone I've met with a PS3 also had an X360 and THAT was what they did all their gaming on, preferring XBL over PSN.

            In any case I think we can all agree killing OtherOS painted a big red bullseye on the PS3 and it looks like that dumb move is gonna take a big old bite out of Sony's bottom line regardless.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        not unlike the current situation with JTAG 360 systems now.

        If I search for "JTAG" on Bing will Microsoft send someone to kill me?

        I can't believe I just hesitated before googling "JTAG" on Bing. Am I paranoid or just cautious?

        (yes, I know I just said "googling"... on "Bing".)

        • JTag is a technology used for hardware debugging. You as likely to get you into trouble for it as searching for "axe" will get you lablelled an axe murderer.

          However, if you spell if "ax" then I personally, will denounce you to the spelling Nazis!

      • by omglolbah (731566)

        Or demand for such discs and burners will increase and finally make them semi-affordable ;)

      • by Inda (580031)
        I can and do download 14gb per hour. I know other people who do so faster. It's no different to the 230mb (65 x 3.5mb) game rips we used to download back in the days on 56k. Hey, maybe a new scene will popup where all the media is compressed or removed from PS3 games.

        USB connected hard drives are cheap, cheap, cheap.

        I can't see a massive problem with 50gb downloads.

        I don't own a PS3, nor do I want one.
        • by tepples (727027)

          I can't see a massive problem with 50gb downloads.

          Not everybody is willing to move to a neighborhood where home Internet access like yours is available.

    • A software-only hack is very bad news indeed for Sony. It's worse news than such a hack would be for Microsoft. Why? As TFA notes, Sony probably will be able to catch and ban people with custom firmware who connect to the Playstation Network, just as MS can with users on Xbox Live. However, as an owner of both consoles (who has no strong overall preference for either), I can fairly confidently say that Xbox Live is a much more central part of the whole "360 experience" than the PSN is to the PS3.

      I'm sure th

      • It shall be a sad day when I see console owners having to input serial numbers to play games.

        Just get rid of the discs and tie all games to an account, Steam style. That gets rid of a lot of the issues. Steam is even more convenient than using discs, while at the same time probably being even more "secure". We're already halfway there, as you can download games tied to your account (and actually can have your account on up to 5 PS3s, so I put my account on my little brother's PS3 so he can share my games) but obviously not everyone has internet, and HDD costs/sizes are still not quite there for bei

      • by Tomun (144651)

        It shall be a sad day when I see console owners having to input serial numbers to play games.

        That day is already here. I had to type in a serial number when I installed Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit on PS3.

    • by jools33 (252092)

      I think Sony will only use this as a learning exercise for the PS4, which cannot be so very far away now - any kind of hardware fix to the PS3 will screw the vast majority of PS3 owners - and would be commercial stupidity.

      • by bryansj (89051)
        You are forgetting that Sony has said from the beginning that they have a 10 year plan for the PS3...
    • by Raxxon (6291)

      Hump the large downloads. Here's how it will go down:

      Rent or borrow game.
      Go home, load game to external HD via a Backup Manager (see existing Jailbreak configs)
      Take external HD to PC, use tools available to modify the backup into a "PSN Download" style software package.
      Take external HD back to PS3, install game package to system.

      External 1tb+ drives are somewhat cheap, getting 500gb drives for the system itself isn't that hard... When you don't want to play the game anymore nuke it from the Console, but you

      • by bryansj (89051)
        Most of the downloads aren't even huge. Most cross console ports are on par with the 360 games, about 8 GB. I saw a download for GT4 and it was only 23 GB. Still, they would most likely be stored on HDD and not Blu-ray discs. It is just that the download size isn't going to be much of an issue with a decent internet connection.
        • by Raxxon (6291)

          Until you get to nasty little gems like FF13, where basically half of the disc is high rez video. Yeah, they dropped from 1080 to 720 to make the 360 version and then further compressed it (which is why it was 3 DVDs instead of more) but "if it's out there, people will use it". That and Sony is wanting to hump HARD for 3d gaming and movies. That's going to double the video density by itself when they start shipping.

          Also, not everyone is "blessed" enough to have unmetered access for the 'net. Add on top of

    • by Viol8 (599362) on Friday January 14, 2011 @08:15AM (#34875956)

      Real evil is children being massacred in tribal wars, real evil is people being tortured in prison cells. Real evil is NOT a company trying to protect its profits no matter how much you dislike it.

      A PS3 is hardly a critical item to 21st century life. If you didn't like the way SOny played ball you shouldn't have bought one - vote with your wallet. I get tired of kids whining about how unfair it is that they can't do [some hacker thing] with [insert name of expensive consumer kit here]. Life is unfair - deal. That doesn't make it evil.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KiloByte (825081)

        This is a very insignificant battle in the war against culture.

        But that war is more important IMO than a war against mere lives. Having peace won't get you free dissemination of ideas, free dissemination of ideas is a doom to oppressive rulers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Abstrackt (609015)

          This comment reads like you think people dying for no good reason (real war) is less of an issue than the chance you might not be able to mod your PS3 ("war on culture"?). At first I thought I read it wrong so I went through some of your older comments, apparently you believe "copyright is a crime against humanity". And yet, based on previous comments you appear to support the GPL (a copyright license) without pushing for open source to go public domain.

          You're redefining evil to suit your agenda just like

      • I completely agree with your statement; there are far more important things going on here. OTOH, to kids growing up in Suburbia and only being exposed to those world-atrocities if they decide to turn on the tele and watch, this Sony article is a pretty important thing. It's all a matter of perspective, really. The fact that kids don't have a great understanding of all things worldly means, I think, that America is still working the way is has been since WWII. Anyone can choose to block out what's happening

      • by manekineko2 (1052430) on Friday January 14, 2011 @09:48AM (#34876628)

        Goldman Sachs, Monsanto, BP, and many others thank you for your strict limitation on what "real" evil is.

        After all, they're just companies trying to protect their profits.

        • by Viol8 (599362)

          If you don't know the difference between selfish behaviour and evil then you need to see a shrink because you could be a borderline psychopath.

    • by kyz (225372) on Friday January 14, 2011 @08:17AM (#34875974) Homepage

      Sony could potentially stuff the genie back in the bottle.

      The first step is a new firmware update, and make it mandatory to be allowed on the PSN. This will force the hand of most actual gamers. Perhaps there's even an option for Sony to force a firmware upgrade without user acceptance - we'll find out soon enough.

      The firmware update will start verifying against a new Sony public key, and will only allow the old key for a whitelist of known past titles. So homebrewers can sign anything they like, but this new firmware won't run it.

      Sony will start signing new titles with random numbers as well as the private key, so the private key remains private.

      There goes softmodding.

      "Ah", you say. "What about hardmodding? Because Sony can't update metldr with a firmware update, we can just rewrite the firmware on the flash chip, and metldr will accept our key, so we can change any stage of loading after bootldr/metldr."

      But, you neglect that Sony could update metldr. The fail0verflow people said they couldn't, because they reasoned that as metldr is encrypted with a random key that's burned into the console at the factory, Sony couldn't update it en-masse. However, all Sony need to do is to pull their database of "what key was burned into each PS3 at the factory", and add code to their firmware that gets the PS3's serial number, sends it to Sony, and in return gets a firmware update already encrypted for that console.

      metldr is only use to load firmware, which Sony never allows downgrades on, so it only needs to accept the new signature on firmware, not the old one. Now homebrewers and pirates are SOL, there's not even a hardhack that'll work.... unless you avoid Sony's network like the plague from this moment on, until modders come up with a fake update that convinces Sony you've upgraded, but you haven't really.

      Meanwhile, in the factory, they keep on making PS3s but they change the firmware signing key. That's all that's needed.

      • allow the old key for a whitelist of known past titles

        Depending on how the whitelist was done, couldn't a softmodder just have his code say, "oh, yeah, I'm [some whitelisted game]. So use the old key for me"?

        all Sony need to do is to pull their database...

        That assumes that such a database exists, which isn't necessarily true. And if Sony is sending that data over the Internet, it's just a matter of poking around the updating code and listening to the netwiork traffic, and then the hackers could have Sony kindly supply them with the factory key of any system they have an identifyer for.

        • by kyz (225372) on Friday January 14, 2011 @09:08AM (#34876302) Homepage

          allow the old key for a whitelist of known past titles

          Depending on how the whitelist was done, couldn't a softmodder just have his code say, "oh, yeah, I'm [some whitelisted game]. So use the old key for me"?

          No. The signature verification stars by SHA-1 hash of the executable itself. This is what is "signed".

          The whitelist would be a list of SHA-1 hashes.

          SHA-1 is still secure, in that it's not possible in any reasonable time to work out which few bytes you would add to the end of your homebrew that would transform your homebrew's SHA-1 hash into one of the hashes on the list.

          all Sony need to do is to pull their database...

          That assumes that such a database exists, which isn't necessarily true. And if Sony is sending that data over the Internet, it's just a matter of poking around the updating code and listening to the netwiork traffic, and then the hackers could have Sony kindly supply them with the factory key of any system they have an identifyer for.

          Not quite. This is what's called a collusion attack, and we don't know if it's possible with the encryption algorithm Sony used, because we don't know what algorithm they used (yet) - we haven't seen bootldr.

          It would be nice to have a plaintext of metldr, but we don't have that - only George Hotz does, and even then I suspect he only has some of it, not all of it.

          If Sony pre-encrypt all metldrs handed out, and all console-specific keys were random (i.e. not generated based on the serial number), there's no way to map serial number to console-specific key without Sony's database (presuming it exists).

          If we can't work out the encryption used on metldr, and we can't get a plaintext of the updated metldr Sony hands out, then we can't reverse their encryption mechanism and therefore work out the console-specific key for any given console.

          So, our only hope is to find out where the console specific key is stored, and to become able to extract it in future. Once we have that, we can encrypt our own metldr, which is easily accessible on the flash chip.

          Furthermore, if we try and work out the encryption based on large numbers of requests to Sony's update servers, they potentially could detect us and start serving us phony updates, which would scupper our attempts (and would also entirely brick a PS3 if they mistook a genuine PS3 updating)

          • Sorry, ignore me: not enough coffee this morning. Somehow read your first comment to be saying that Sony would be sending keys, not pre-encrypted metldr's. Which, of course, would be really stupid for Sony.

            Still, it assumes that the factory-key database exists; it's possible that those unique keys were never meant to be refreshed or recovered, in which case having the database would be a waste. I guess we'll find out, if Sony decides it's worth it to try and fix this that way.

      • by Raxxon (6291)

        It would destroy my use of my PS3 as I don't have it connected to the internet. Currently it's sitting at a friend's house because he's addicted to GT5 and doesn't have internet to be addicted to WoW like I am.

        It would **WRECK** the use of the consoles in a "game room" environment, such as found at a large number of conventions around the world. Console rooms don't "need" internet access for most of them to hold tournaments and such. Force the issue there and you're going to lose fans across the board.

        Metld

      • by pspahn (1175617) on Friday January 14, 2011 @08:43AM (#34876126)
        I don't think it's really ethical to force a firmware update on someone without giving them the chance to accept it or not. For whatever reasons there are, you should always allow the user to avoid a potential brick by letting them choose when to update.
    • by Cruciform (42896)

      From what I've heard on forums, every time you turn on the PS3 it tries to connect to PSN and let it know what game IDs have been run.
      So if you run some homebrew code they will see an unknown code and from there banning your MAC address on PSN is trivial. If they did remote destructs that would be the end of Sony as a company.

    • by bryansj (89051)

      IIt's not that Sony haven't put a lot of time and effort into improving the PSN - it is certainly far better than it used to be - but it still feels like something that sits off to the side a bit from the PS3's main functionality, while a 360 without Xbox Live feels fundamentally incomplete.

      You mean you don't fire up the PS3 and go straight to PS Home? (Does that even still exist?)

    • Hey, this guy knows what he is talking about he has pissed off more legal customers in the history of gaming than everyone else. No one has done more successfully to implement a customers playing your game prevention scheme then he did. So give this guy some credit he definitely has something worthwhile to say :-)

  • probably not (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:46AM (#34875804)

    this metldr Key :

    erk: C0 CE FE 84 C2 27 F7 5B D0 7A 7E B8 46 50 9F 93 B2 38 E7 70 DA CB 9F F4 A3 88 F8 12 48 2B E2 1B
    riv: 47 EE 74 54 E4 77 4C C9 B8 96 0C 7B 59 F4 C1 4D
    pub: C2 D4 AA F3 19 35 50 19 AF 99 D4 4E 2B 58 CA 29 25 2C 89 12 3D 11 D6 21 8F 40 B1 38 CA B2 9B 71 01 F3 AE B7 2A 97 50 19
        R: 80 6E 07 8F A1 52 97 90 CE 1A AE 02 BA DD 6F AA A6 AF 74 17
        n: E1 3A 7E BC 3A CC EB 1C B5 6C C8 60 FC AB DB 6A 04 8C 55 E1
        K: BA 90 55 91 68 61 B9 77 ED CB ED 92 00 50 92 F6 6C 7A 3D 8D
      Da: C5 B2 BF A1 A4 13 DD 16 F2 6D 31 C0 F2 ED 47 20 DC FB 06 70

    is static and it is not revocable and even if they change everything that is revocable, someone can start using this key to get the ones after and so on.

  • eFUSE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:46AM (#34875808)

    Sony's only possible solution is to revise the PS3 hardware itself, which would be a very costly process.

    Maybe. Cell has IBM's eFUSE [wikipedia.org] system. It may be possible for Sony to issue a system update which changes the behaviour of all existing PS3s in some way to detect pirated games.

  • by Cruciform (42896) on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:49AM (#34875824) Homepage

    I want my OtherOS back. I made a point of not formatting the drive when applying the update that originally killed it, so it *should* still be there.
    I've just been biding my time, waiting for someone smarter than me to make it possible.

    The homebrew jailbreak is so easy to install anyone can do it. But I still haven't run into an OtherOS bootloader. Are they out there yet?

    • i just want some decent homebrew audio player, the one in GameOS is pure example how blasphemy can still look good. and maybe homebrew video player which actually supports other codecs and subtitles

    • by Elbereth (58257)

      Why do you want the ability to run Linux on your PS3? I don't get it. Why not just buy a secondhand PC off ebay and run Linux on that? Or use some other PC that you've already got? Why on the PS3? Just because you can? Or, should I say, could?

      I don't quite understand the draw.

      • by TeknoHog (164938)

        Because I am interested in Cell programming. You know, there are these things called different hardware architectures. X86 is just ugly.

      • It may have something to do with the Cell processor, which for some tasks significantly outperforms x86. True, you can find other Cell processor machines...at ten times the cost.

        Even if there were no technical reason, why shouldn't people be able to use their computers the way they want to? Why should Sony get to decide how a system that I purchased gets used?
  • Why stop pirates? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert@slashd[ ]fi ... m ['ot.' in gap]> on Friday January 14, 2011 @07:51AM (#34875838) Homepage

    Platforms like the PC, Amiga, C64 and others thrived because of piracy... People (mostly kids) would trade games with their friends and keep copies, most of the people i knew bought as many games as they could afford and then pirated others. Without piracy, those people would just have had less games, they simply didn't have the money to buy more. I still have a stack of original games from publishers who i would never have heard about had i not pirated their games from friends.

    All DRM schemes, including those on consoles do is hurt legitimate consumers...

    Lost/damaged media (especially when kids are involved)
    Inconvenience of having to have the media instead of playing a game from HD
    False positives from DRM schemes preventing paying customers from playing

    Actual organised pirates don't care about any of this, they actually have a superior product for a cheaper price..

    So what they should do is tollerate casual piracy (eg kids sharing games with friends), stop wasting their time/money/public image on implementing draconian drm schemes and ensure that legitimate customers actually get a better product than the pirates do.

    • You must be old here. Yes there was a time when an OS vendor was proud that its MS-DOS was the most pirated software in the world. Times have changed. The companies grew up, saw that "everybody" was dependent on them, and suddenly yelled that piracy was bad. Off course you are right that the easy copying made them big. That is why the worse programs on the PC survived. Not because the programs were good, but because they were easily copied.

      The next step was even more brilliant: making copying even more easy

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Indeed...
        The best thing that could happen to Linux right now, is for MS to come down hard on pirates.

    • by TheoGB (786170)
      Isn't the difference here that in the days of 8-bit and then 16-bit home computers, the machines weren't a loss-leader for the games? I understood that the PS3 and the xbox are sold at either no profit or a loss but this is because the games manufacturers have to pay a huge amount back to the manufacturer in licence fees for being able to make their games run on those machines. A friend used to work for Eidos and she could get PC games at a huge discount but no PS/Xbox because of this mandatory cost back to
      • I understood that the PS3 and the xbox are sold at either no profit or a loss

        Which has always been a precarious business model, propped up by laws like the DMCA.

        • by TheoGB (786170)
          It's a perfectly reasonable business model. The main issue I have is when the pass down ludicrous fines to those caught pirating, but this model at least means that most people can afford such a console, which is a better situation for children at school than when only an elite have access to such things. Sorry, I'm really explaining my point well, but essentially I think there's a levelling quality about it and an aspect that makes the web and technology very much in the grasp of areas of society that woul
      • They were sold at a loss, but they've been profitable for some time now.

    • Sony make a loss on each PS3 sold. They make their money back in game sales. They can't rely on piracy bringing more sales of the hardware because that wouldn't earn them money, it would cost them money.

      You might argue that this is Sony's problem and that they should have thought about this before they made the PS3 and developed it so that they could sell it at a profit. However if they had done this then it would most likely be either a less powerful machine, a more expensive one or both.

      I don't disagree w

    • by Elbereth (58257)

      What?! Piracy killed the Amiga!

      Lots of people want to claim that piracy is killing the PC, but I'm not so sure that I buy that. It's certainly getting to the point where most kids today pirate, rather than buy, their games, but kids aren't the entire audience for games. Until DRM gets even more invasive and powerful on consoles, it's obvious that consoles aren't going to be the answer to that little problem, anyways.

      Sony's answer has to be the PS4. Nothing else will really do more than put a bandage on

  • But Sony won't be able to stop people from running pirated game copies as long as the machines are not hooked up online.

    Isn't that a problem for the 360 and (to a slightly lesser extent) the PC too?

    From what I currently gather, most of the install hacks require changing the hex string in the game to make it run from /dev/hdd0 instead of /dev/brd0*, so what's to stop a developer simply encrypting this string?

    Personally I'll continue to buy my games. Granted, most of them I'll get from trade-ins, which, sadly

    • by wamatt (782485) *

      That won't work because the game would carry the encrypted/obfuscated hex string PLUS the code to execute the decryption/obfuscation of the string.

      Hence it becomes the similar scenario as PC software DRM schemes. And we all know how secure that is :D

  • Of course there are things they can do. The 360 is cracked and MS engages in waves of mass bannings, usually to coincide with it's firmware updates. I expect the same will happen with the PS3 too.

    So the most obvious thing would be for Sony to seed firmware and games with audits (some obvious, some not so obvious) and then ban the shit out of anyone stupid enough to sign onto PSN with modded firmware. That in itself would be a huge deterrent because it would shut the door on all multiplayer, DLC, patches e

    • by CronoCloud (590650) <cronocloudauron&gmail,com> on Friday January 14, 2011 @08:32AM (#34876064)

      causing games to bug out midway through if they fail checks

      They've done that before:

      http://www.webcitation.org/5vN0X2AgG [webcitation.org]

      • by DrXym (126579)
        That's a great article and more or less elucidates what I've been saying in the last few days in various places. Basically you want to fuck with the crackers as much as possible, inlining mutually dependent checks all over the place. Perhaps EVENTUALLY they'll crack the thing (no doubt premium games are worth the effort) but the time required gives a great window of opportunity for legit sales. It also annoys and confuses the hell out of consumers of the pirate game especially if they've just wasted 10-50Gb
      • by Xelios (822510)
        The only problem with this approach is it tends to generate a lot of bad publicity for the game too. Suddenly the internet is full of first hand accounts of how buggy and unstable your game is, which might well cause other people to decide not to buy it. You could end up losing more sales than you gain.

        I suppose you could have the game throw up some kind of anti-piracy notice before crashing out, so people at least know it's related to the fact that they pirated it. But this might also make it easier fo
  • walfisz is not entirely correct about sony's abilities to combat piracy... Technically speaking if a console user chooses to *only* use their PS3 offline and not access PSN or any online content then yes it will be difficult to impossible for sony to employ countermeasuers. The problem is that most users *do* use PSN and do use their console online and this opens up some avenues for sony. The most likely countermeasure will be to run code snippets that detect changes to memory in the console. This will be d
    • by Viol8 (599362)

      "The problem is that most users *do* use PSN "

      Do they? I've got a PS3 and I've got a couple of friends who have them - we all agree that PSN is a waste of time and money and don't use it. I'd make a guestimate that the number of PS3 owners who use PSN - especially on any regular basis - is a small minority.

      • "The problem is that most users *do* use PSN "

        Do they?

        Yes, they do.

        Everyone that I know who owns a PS3 uses PSN. Anecdotes are meaningless so lets do some figures.

        According to Wikipedia 41.6 millions PS3s sold (as of Sept 30th 2010).
        There are 60 million PSN accounts.

        The tricky bit is figuring out how many of those are active accounts. I'd say it's between 1/3 and 1/2 of that figure: 20-30 million...48-72% of users. I'd say it's a majority.

        Also, I don't get how it's a waste of money when you don't have to pay for it. Maybe you don't like the selection of games

    • liability is determined based on whether there is substantial non-infringing uses

      I think there's a strong case here for re-enabling functionality that was available at the time of purchase. That's ostensibly why they were doing this in the first place, and it's hard to argue that it's infringing to do so.

  • Piracy..? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhunachchicken (834243) on Friday January 14, 2011 @08:28AM (#34876030) Homepage

    What's all this talk about piracy? As far as I understood it, people were cracking the PS3 so that they could install Linux and run homebrew...

    • Re:Piracy..? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by geschild (43455) on Friday January 14, 2011 @09:10AM (#34876312) Homepage

      I'm not really interested in fairness and 'politcal correctness' towards Sony anymore. As far as I'm concerned Sony 'altered the deal' and is muttering that we should pray it alters it no further.

      Unfortunately for Sony, as soon as you change one end of the bargain unilaterally, I feel no obligation to uphold any the deal from my end and so I feel no obligation towards Sony. None. Whatsoever.

      (The fact that buying a PS3 was my first Sony purchase after the DRM fiasco and making me feel like a sucker now for slowly starting to trust them again has nothing to do with it. No. Really. ;p )

    • by marcop (205587)

      Yup, I could really care less about the games. I hope they get XBMC on it. I will then buy it for use as a great media player and excellent Blu-ray player. If this turns into a piracy only hack then forget it.

  • From TFA:

    the fact that maybe some hackers got code running ages ago but didn’t want to publish their work.

    "the fact that maybe" something happened?
    Wow.
    That proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person who wrote that is in fact maybe an utter retard.

  • The biggest problem I see is that people could patch games to enable cheating on PSN which can be a huge problem on any online gaming platform. I believe that is one of the main reasons Microsoft bans modified consoles from Live, because once a platform become riddled with cheaters then people will avoid it. That would hurt more than lost game sales due to piracy.

    There will be people that pirate games, but I believe that the majority of people are honest and will purchase what they play. If that wasn't
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pentium100 (1240090)

      You don't understand it, do you? If pirated MP3 were not available, iTunes would have sold it's 500 TRILLIONTH song last year. Not only that, but various other MP3 stores would sell a lot of music too. People would have bought every single track they (now) have downloaded for free, everyone would pay thousands of dollars each month for music (doesn't matter if you make $500/month, you would have bought every single track that you have pirated).

      Same with games, if pirated copies were not available, then Sony

  • After all the crap Ubisoft and others have pulled with DRM, and after all the evil doings of RIAA and MPAA, I have a very hard time feeling negative connotations about piracy. I am almost not even conflicted, my moral compass is swinging in the direction of "pirates=good guys". This doesn't refer to high seas pirates which are, of course, murderers and thieves. But in this context, pirates are... good or bad? I don't feel anymore they're really the bad guys. I'm trying to feel that way, but Ubisoft et al. j

  • Sony/MS/Nintendo should just give the games away for free but charge a higher amount for online play, some of which they give to the developers, since that's the only thing they can truly control. Until then, this will keep happening because there will ALWAYS be a way to crack the DRM.
  • I admit I hurt sony probably more than the average pirate out there. The reason, I do not own a sony console nor did I ever buy a single game from them.
    This is potential losses of thousands of dollars since 1995!!!

  • For all the talk I have not seen any "pirate breakthroughs" or a ps3 pirate scene with regards to running backups. It has been a few weeks now and if it is so fatally flawed, you'd expect the piracy to be skyrocketing now because no hardware mod required, unless I am missing something?

    I realise the people that hacked it are hardcore, in the true hacker sense of hackerdom. Surely there are equally intelligent people who just want "games for free, Dud3". There is at the end of the day a very big financial inc

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