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Encryption Chip To End Game Piracy?


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#1 IMG News

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 07:04 AM

A recent GamesIndustry.biz posting reveals some interesting comments from Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari. Speaking at Wedbush Morgan Securities' annual Management Access Conference, Bushnell discussed the use of a new encryption chip and its potential for eradicating computer game piracy.

"There is a stealth encryption chip called a TPM that is going on the motherboards of most of the computers that are coming out now," he pointed out

"What that says is that in the games business we will be able to encrypt with an absolutely verifiable private key in the encryption world - which is uncrackable by people on the internet and by giving away passwords - which will allow for a huge market to develop in some of the areas where piracy has been a real problem."

Bushnell thinks that piracy of movies and music, however, is probably unstoppable because "if you can watch it and you can hear it, you can copy it."

"Games are a different thing, because games are so integrated with the code. The TPM will, in fact, absolutely stop piracy of gameplay.
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#2 Ílbaum

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 07:27 AM

There is no uncrackable anti-piracy measure. The more annoying the measure is, the more motivated the crackers will get. Look at how DRM on music has done nothing to prevent piracy but everything to annoy honest customers. If their TPM "solution" prevents me from playing a game the way I want (e.g. sometimes on my home Mac, sometimes on my laptop and sometimes on my parents' Mac because I'm on holiday there), then you can be sure I won't buy another copy of the game. I'll search for a crack instead, and I'll find it.

#3 charmin

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 07:43 AM

Reminds me of the thing Microsoft tried to get away with a while ago, and I seem to recall that disappeared pretty quickly. Can't remember what the bloody thing was called though... something like Colosseum?
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#4 Someone

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 07:57 AM

Damn...Bushnell has gone retarded.

#5 Janichsan

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 07:57 AM

TPM is actually already pretty old and most (if not all) computers nowadays have such a chip. Its use didn't really caught on until now, I don't see why it should in future. There also some serious privacy concerns related to TPM that would probably make something like this problematic in Europe due to some EU legislation.

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#6 DaveyJJ

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 08:44 AM

View PostÍlbaum, on May 26th 2008, 09:27 AM, said:

There is no uncrackable anti-piracy measure. The more annoying the measure is, the more motivated the crackers will get. Look at how DRM on music has done nothing to prevent piracy but everything to annoy honest customers. If their TPM "solution" prevents me from playing a game the way I want (e.g. sometimes on my home Mac, sometimes on my laptop and sometimes on my parents' Mac because I'm on holiday there), then you can be sure I won't buy another copy of the game.

There, fixed that for you before the last sentence gets you in trouble.  :mellow:

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#7 Malt-Pipefishes

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 09:37 AM

*sigh*, When will they ever learn. All it takes is one determined hacker to edit the game and upload it to bittorrent, and then all of those anti-piracy measures mean nothing.  :huh:
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#8 rampancy

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 09:49 AM

View PostJanichsan, on May 26th 2008, 06:57 AM, said:

TPM is actually already pretty old and most (if not all) computers nowadays have such a chip. Its use didn't really caught on until now, I don't see why it should in future. There also some serious privacy concerns related to TPM that would probably make something like this problematic in Europe due to some EU legislation.

I just wanted to add that Amit Singh has a very thorough, well-written page on TPMs (in the context of the Mac) on the site that he has for his book, Mac OS X Internals.
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#9 teflon

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 09:59 AM

it wont work, they need to stop trying. After all, a system similar to TPM was utilised for Blu-Ray and HDDVD in the form of HDCP. it got broken within about 2 weeks of its release cos someone was a bit pissed that his VGA display couldnt do full resolution.

so sony came up with BD+ which runs the disc in a virtual layer... that got broken last month very commercially by anyDVD.

nothing works for very long and its just taking so much time and money from the companies that they might as well just stop.
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#10 QuantaCat

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 10:39 AM

Oh no, not this topic again..
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#11 dokter_mac

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 10:44 AM

View PostÍlbaum, on May 26th 2008, 03:27 PM, said:

There is no uncrackable anti-piracy measure. The more annoying the measure is, the more motivated the crackers will get. Look at how DRM on music has done nothing to prevent piracy but everything to annoy honest customers. If their TPM "solution" prevents me from playing a game the way I want (e.g. sometimes on my home Mac, sometimes on my laptop and sometimes on my parents' Mac because I'm on holiday there), then you can be sure I won't buy another copy of the game. I'll search for a crack instead, and I'll find it.
I agree. First of all the game industry can't expect that you buy a game several times just for playing it on your own computers. Users will not allow that to happen! Maybe it's a different story for game consoles? Never the less, I think you will also have similar problems and issues with consoles...

Second, you can't change a piece of software baked in a microchip (SOC or even ASIC microchips). Unless you are using a bios kind of microchip that you can program yourself, but then you lose all the security. So a bios kind of microchip is out of the question for this sort of things because you can reprogram and hack it like software security...

It's stupid to use a SOC or ASIC solution not only because you can't update the software in the chip and also because you always will be able to write a piece of software that's fooling the SOC or ASIC.

The game industry should watch at the music industry and learn about them how to solve the problem.

It will take another couple of years before they are at the same level like the music industry. But it's still the best solution.
Making people aware of piracy and make it illegal. And get rid of protected DVD's or CD's just like the music industry a few years ago. You have the right to backup software you buy on hardware like DVD's or CD's.

What will be next? Microchip X for prorgam Y if you wanna run it? Or microchip X for OS Y...

Anyway, there are much better sulution and ways to handle piracy. Like for instance music that you buy in the iTunes Store. Okay, it's not infallible but a good example for playing a game on your different hardware without buying it 5 times.
Awareness about piracy is a much better way to handle this problem. Sentences or fines are also a good weapon. And because there is a legal vacuum on the internet we need international laws too. The same laws in every country or region for piracy.

There is much international political work to do. A chip will not solve or stop this piracy

#12 QuantaCat

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 10:49 AM

All I will ever say about piracy in this thread is: well atleast people get paid thinking out more stupid contraptions for more stupid crackers to get their heads around!
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#13 Eric5h5

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 10:49 AM

View PostIMG News, on May 26th 2008, 09:04 AM, said:

"What that says is that in the games business we will be able to encrypt with an absolutely verifiable private key in the encryption world - which is uncrackable by people on the internet and by giving away passwords - which will allow for a huge market to develop in some of the areas where piracy has been a real problem."

That would work if nobody could access the game code and you just played it remotely over the internet or something.  It's like making a completely unbreakable lock on your door, somehow forgetting that people could still smash the windows and get in that way.

--Eric

#14 mwat

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 11:32 AM

Animatronic's cause piracy.  Thanks Nolan!

#15 nagromme

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 12:10 PM

How about an end to key discs? Obnoxious for laptop users... and for desktop users! Having a disc in your drive all the time means it spins up and adds several seconds to every Open, every Save, every network mount, every Spotlight search... etc.

Slow your whole computer down, or no games for you! Or just keep swapping discs until a game you bought is eventually physically damaged or lost. As has happened to me.

#16 QuantaCat

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 01:12 PM

Talk to edwin, he'll (most likely) back you up to some extent.
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#17 Tesseract

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 03:33 PM

Funny thing is, TPMs can be used for good as well as evil. You can do all sorts of neat things that can actually enhance privacy and security for the user. It's just that media companies seem to view the technology as merely another way to make you pay for more copies of the same stuff.

Even in terms of implementing DRM, it could make things better. You could use digital signatures to allow games to work on any machine without needing the disc in the drive or an Internet connection. Ditto for iTunes purchases, no need to authorise particular machines, just flash your digital ID and you're good to go.

It's sad that all anyone seems to think about is the potential for revocation of authorisation.

#18 The Liberator

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 03:34 PM

I say Dockter Mac ha a really good point, and Eric said something good also. A lock is only useful to keep the honest people of the world out. The dishonest people will still (and always) find a way in. In other words, the people who do not want to pay for a game, will not. They will find a way, they always do. I guess what you have to do is to make laws for the stupid and dishonest people and make reasons for the honest people to stay honest.

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#19 teflon

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 04:10 PM

View PostEric5h5, on May 26th 2008, 05:49 PM, said:

That would work if nobody could access the game code and you just played it remotely over the internet or something.

the way to smash this particular window would be to save the level data and game code as it comes down the net, and not let it be deleted. then decrypt it (I assume itll be encrypted) and piece together the game that way. Think how Steam installs HL2 from a disc. copies the files then decrypts them. files then decrypted, piracy ensues once people remove the dependency on Steam. Just like that but youre streaming the game from the net.

View Postnagromme, on May 26th 2008, 07:10 PM, said:

Slow your whole computer down, or no games for you! Or just keep swapping discs until a game you bought is eventually physically damaged or lost. As has happened to me.

or obtain a NoCD patch for your legally purchased game. I have no qualms about admitting I do this. I bought STALKER the other day, first thing I did was update it to the latest patch, second thing was get a NoCD patch and apply it. So while Im half breaking the law, Im doing it in a way which doesnt hurt anyone.
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#20 Eric5h5

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 04:18 PM

View Postteflon, on May 26th 2008, 06:10 PM, said:

the way to smash this particular window would be to save the level data and game code as it comes down the net, and not let it be deleted. then decrypt it (I assume itll be encrypted) and piece together the game that way.

I mean, you'd actually play it remotely over the internet, so all you had access to was the game view.  All of the level data would stay on the server and never be transmitted, and likewise the game would be running on the server.  Naturally, that wouldn't work on dial-up, and it would require a pretty hefty investment in servers if your game got popular.  ;)  (I didn't say this method was feasible, just uncrackable....)

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