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Idea to prevent people from torrenting your singleplayer game


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#21 Cornstalks   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6966

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 08:18 PM

I wonder, is it ever a demand from investors that a publisher should release its games with DRM to try and protect sales?

AFAIK, it can be. Also, I've heard that some licenses for assets (audio/art/whatever) will require some form of DRM/encryption/protection for the assets so they don't get ripped so easily.

I've never worked on a AAA game though, so take what I've said with a (large) grain of salt.
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#22 3Ddreamer   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2967

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 08:43 PM

Another area which got me thinking is dynamic encryption where the game is reencrypted - or at least most important parts - between play sessions. I even read a couple years ago about dynamic encryption which ciphers parts of the game while being played so that the state is never the same from moment to moment. Decoy false memory and dynamically encrypted memory will probably become practical in a few years, too, which will make it much harder to pirate.

I believe that technology advances will eventually make games secure from all but the insider security breaches.


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#23 Heath   Members   -  Reputation: 344

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 09:32 PM

I'd rather see the code open source. To advance in the game, you either buy a CD (or why not a flash drive at this point in history?) or pay online and activate over email, and the game then "belongs" to your email address or a user profile. And then the game downloads the new files. It isn't limited to one machine or user, and those who were going to pay for the game will do so.

#24 Haps   Members   -  Reputation: 1315

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 10:08 PM

Another area which got me thinking is dynamic encryption where the game is reencrypted - or at least most important parts - between play sessions. I even read a couple years ago about dynamic encryption which ciphers parts of the game while being played so that the state is never the same from moment to moment. Decoy false memory and dynamically encrypted memory will probably become practical in a few years, too, which will make it much harder to pirate.

I believe that technology advances will eventually make games secure from all but the insider security breaches.


Clinton


Personally, I doubt it. As computers get more powerful, breaking security becomes even quicker and easier too.

Even if your suggestion worked, you're once again saddling your users with potentially severe issues and DRM shouldn't step on the toes of the people supporting your product. Changed computers? Your saves are probably not transferable, unless key encryption information is stored along with it, potentially giving crackers the information they need. Abrupt termination? Your game might be scuttled completely, and your save data irrevocably lost. You might even lose the game you paid for if you've used up all your installs, and a ruined copy can no longer phone it's deactivation home. Plus there's always the possibility they can simply spoof or bypass the encryption altogether.

You already hit the nail on the head, anyways: Quite a few breaches are zero-day, from first run pressings and internal leaks. A few cracking groups offer compensation for anyone that can get a pre-release to them and there's many opportunities along the chain for an underpaid, uncaring, or disgruntled employee to slip a copy into the wild.

As wiser folks than me have pointed out, that effort should be spent on delivering quality content consumers are willing to pay for, not erecting a feeble barrier to slow down people who wouldn't give you a bottle of water if you were on fire.

#25 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6735

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 12:07 AM

I don't think that getting pirated is really that bad, I would even say, that it is good.

The AAA industry have years of experiences and one of it is: it is unlikely that you make money with your first title.

I know of games which sold more addons (which requires the base game) than the game itself, and that was back in the '90 ! But this only shows the effect, that piracy is some kind of free advertising. So, for a indie developer it could be better to make a game and use the free advertising and make a sequel to actually earn money with it or make a name of yourself. A pirated first game is just a kind of demo version, but if you have a good game, the sequel will sell better, because people want to support you.

Once you have reached myriades of sold games (AAA segment), have the Xth sequel out , you can think about DRM to optimize your statistics, but this will only happen when people really want to own your game, not only if they want to test it out.

#26 TechnoGoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2279

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 06:12 AM

DIablo 3 had this sort of approach. The game even in single player mode requires and permanent internet connection as the game is constantly synced with blizzards servers losing connection boots you from the game. Its been a sore point with a lot of fans but then blizzard fans complain a lot about everything.

I've always favoured the carrot approach where by player are incentivised to play a legitimate copy of the game. But I've heard of late game traps in pirated copies of indie games where they designers have made the game unwinable in the initial release and requires a patch to be able to finish the game.

But one idea I've heard of battered around recently mainly in the app world is the idea of detecting the game is a pirated version and having the game run in ad supported mode. That way you are still generating revenue from the pirated copies.

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#27 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5804

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 07:39 AM

DIablo 3 had this sort of approach. The game even in single player mode requires and permanent internet connection as the game is constantly synced with blizzards servers losing connection boots you from the game. Its been a sore point with a lot of fans but then blizzard fans complain a lot about everything.


The game was virtually unplayable for almost two weeks on evenings and weekends in Europe and Asia, The US customers got alot better service but it wasn't a smooth ride there either.

I'm honestly surprised that so many people(fanboys?) defend the developers/publishers when they fuck up. (It doesn't matter how difficult something is, if you charge money for something and fail to deliver it is your problem, not your customers, in Blizzards case the failure was pretty much on purpose(They didn't want to spend too much on servers since the load would drop off after the initial rush))
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#28 KernalPanic   Members   -  Reputation: 149

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 10:44 AM

Don't bother with DRM it will be pirated no matter what you do.

#29 aattss   Members   -  Reputation: 373

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 02:49 PM

The problem is that, generally, doing something involves code, but when people get the game they get the code, and if they use notepad++ they can remove the "checkpoints". Even a multiplayer game might be leaked somehow.

#30 Cornstalks   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6966

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 03:18 PM

The problem is that, generally, doing something involves code, but when people get the game they get the code, and if they use notepad++ they can remove the "checkpoints". Even a multiplayer game might be leaked somehow.

If using a compiled language, it's not that simple. Chances are the game is in x86 assembly, in which case they'd likely use a nifty disassembler to view your assembly code, and then use a debugger to step through the assembly to determine where the checks are done and how to disable them. And then they'd probably use an assembler + hex editor to replace the relevant parts of your program with their own assembly to bypass your security. Notepad++ has a hex editing plugin, but it sucks compared to other hex editors. Nobody would try to hack a program with a pure text editor though... that's just insane.
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#31 Zouflain   Members   -  Reputation: 532

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 09:44 PM

DRM is bad and hurts sales. Requiring an Internet connection is just a fancy form of DRM and wont do a thing to prevent piracy. It's very easy, for instance, to spoof your game into "authenticating" with an invalid server or to simply circumvent the authentication functionality by hex editing the address of the function responsible into a dll injected "always return correct value" function. There are a multitude of ways, I imagine, to generate a pirate copy that could bypass any practical form of DRM. All it takes is one savvy software pirate to create and distribute a torrent for a modified version, and all your DRM is for naught.

Also, torrents increase sales (actually, any free access to intellectual property does). The more people that play your game - pirated or otherwise - the more word of mouth advertisement you get for the game and the more sales you eventually gain. Also, the more restrictive your DRM is, the more likely a client will say "I'd rather play a copy that doesn't require all these hoops" and go for the pirated/hex edited version. It's ultimately pointless to include DRM and no game has ever successfully prevented pirates for any significant period of time. Why waste the effort with something that does not and will never help your profit margin?

#32 Nickie   Members   -  Reputation: 315

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 10:58 AM

I don't think it is bad to see your game in a torret site. I'm even planning to upload my game into some trackers when it is ready. It is free advertising + you can also read the comments under the torrent and get fast feedback. If the user like the game he will buy it, even if he can access it for free. However, he will not buy for sure it if he don't think it will be fun\experienced it first hand.

#33 Sollum   Members   -  Reputation: 655

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 01:09 PM

I'd prefer people play my pirated game rather than any AAA title they buy.

At some point they might support me and in any case i gain reputation.

#34 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 01:17 PM

Make open source games. Ask people to pay what its worth if they like. Pirates torrent it?
Word of moth advertising! Thanks pirates!

#35 AltarofScience   Members   -  Reputation: 926

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 01:19 PM

Nobody would try to hack a program with a pure text editor though... that's just insane.


Why do people people climb mount everest? Because its there. I see some hipster reading your post and starting a club to hack games with regular notepad. Because they can.

#36 Richard Cesar   Members   -  Reputation: 113

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 01:54 PM

I don't see many people pitching this idea, so I figured I will chime in. The problem with DRM is obviously, as everyone pointed out, it fails to stop the hackers in the long run, and inconvinances your paying customers. This, obviously, in and of itself is not a good thing. But that does not mean do not protect against pirates. I'll admit to having pirated a few games in my life. I will also admit to shoveling out the $60 to purchase diablo 3 when it just came out. The reason for that was because of how difficult and degrading to the experience it would take to do other wise. Was it worth it, ABSOLUTELY NOT, but their anti-piracy measures worked for me. (However, I would contest most pirates are NEETs, and your never going to get a sale out of them anyways). But what if you looked at this from another angle, using what we know about the multi-player markets. Instead of requiring your players to go through intensive procedures to play the game, offer your paying many small (perhaps weekly) updates. New level, new dungeon, bug fixes, new quests, etc. In many cases content that could (if the game was built in that direction) pushed out very quickly. But _NO_ DRM required to play. An account would be required to get the update, and have the updates specifically keyed to their computer.

Now of course, the hackers will eventually patch the add-on content as well, but it would be behind that of your paying customers. These customers wont HAVE to get the update, but odds are if they have access to an internet connection they are going to want to. The pirates, though they will still pirate, will be behind in the updates. will have to constantly patch and repatch, and eventually the convinance of your distribution method may even convince those pirates that CAN afford your game, to do so, in order to stay up with the free content.

Edited by Richard Cesar, 29 September 2012 - 01:55 PM.


#37 Heath   Members   -  Reputation: 344

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 03:46 PM

Instead of requiring your players to go through intensive procedures to play the game, offer your paying many small (perhaps weekly) updates. New level, new dungeon, bug fixes, new quests, etc. In many cases content that could (if the game was built in that direction) pushed out very quickly. But _NO_ DRM required to play. An account would be required to get the update, and have the updates specifically keyed to their computer.

Now of course, the hackers will eventually patch the add-on content as well, but it would be behind that of your paying customers. These customers wont HAVE to get the update, but odds are if they have access to an internet connection they are going to want to. The pirates, though they will still pirate, will be behind in the updates. will have to constantly patch and repatch, and eventually the convinance of your distribution method may even convince those pirates that CAN afford your game, to do so, in order to stay up with the free content.

Fancy that, reward your paying customers with DLC.

Make open source games. Ask people to pay what its worth if they like. Pirates torrent it?
Word of moth advertising! Thanks pirates!

These two do not sound mutually exclusive to me, and it also sounds like you could tie this into Kickstarter, or something like it.

Edited by Heath, 29 September 2012 - 03:47 PM.


#38 eugene2k   Members   -  Reputation: 237

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 05:17 AM

Can this idea with internet connection and checkpoints somehow be made to prevent people torrenting your complete singleplayer games?

Ubisoft was way ahead of you on that one. What it got them was an increase in piracy I think: who in their right mind would want to play a game that requires an internet connection for singleplayer if they could have the same game for free and without any requirement for the internet connection?

#39 eugene2k   Members   -  Reputation: 237

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 05:28 AM

By the way, this idea recently occured to me: if you're able to package your game for digital download on the fly, you could put watermarked art in your packages, which would in turn make every copy of your game unique and make sharing it on torrent sites that much harder (because the person sharing would be easy to identify, and sue for damages).

#40 GeneralQuery   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1263

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 05:51 AM

By the way, this idea recently occured to me: if you're able to package your game for digital download on the fly, you could put watermarked art in your packages, which would in turn make every copy of your game unique and make sharing it on torrent sites that much harder (because the person sharing would be easy to identify, and sue for damages).


And what is the end game for this strategy? Sue every pirated copy? Crackers usually make purchases (for cracking purposes) using stolen credit cards so all that will happen is the pirated copies will have the same watermark. That pretty much puts you back to square one.




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