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Registration code - really needed ?

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I was wondering wy should i protect my release exe from hackers when my game is no more then 6 bucks and the hacker can buy it instead to spend hours and hours cracking my game. And he can distribute my game with the serial attached in a file. Offcourse this is for a offline game, and i give my customers a registration code in their emails. What will make them buy my product? (other then doing the right thing :) )

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> why should i protect my release exe from hackers

Copy protection is a tradeoff between the costs of the implementation effort and the potential extra revenues.

> What will make them buy my product?

Taken alone, and without further information about your product, this is a loaded question.

But given the context of copy protection which means you have some kind of trial mode and the serial key that unlocks the whole game, I assume that you are asking about incentive schemes that would allow for converting trial users into paying customers. Here are a few ideas:

- Time limits - a) They have a timed limit to play the game after which they need to buy the full game. b) They can play in X minutes increments only. Some levels later in the game require more time than X minute to complete.

- Annoyances - a) longer-than-acceptable startup banners, or startup registration interaction. b) in-game advertisement pauses, or registration reminders, c) any other obvious interaction roadblocks in the game

- Support & availability - a) free upgrades, b) bug fixing, c) supplemental platforms supported (ex: iPhone version), d) supplemental language support

- Enhanced content - a) better art assets (ex: resolution, textures, optimization tuning, ...) b) extra levels or items c) multiplayer capabilities, d) support for specific hardware (i.e. joystick)

- Colaterals - a) get another game at a rebate, or transfer a rebate to a friend, b) each game sold contributes $X to a charitable cause, c) merchandise rebates (i.e. caps, t-shirts, etc), d) registration into a prize draw (must abide by local laws, which may make this option unpracticable)


Hope this helps.

-cb

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Your tips are good and gived me some ideas, but not on the topic.

What i meant:

Game producers try so much to make their software that way that crackers cannot find out the registration code inside it. But he can just buy the game. Isn't it? And distribute the registration code as it is on warez sites. And that code will work on endless user computers. Am i missing something here ?

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Quote:
Original post by republicall
Game producers try so much to make their software that way that crackers cannot find out the registration code inside it. But he can just buy the game. Isn't it? And distribute the registration code as it is on warez sites. And that code will work on endless user computers. Am i missing something here ?
Modern DRM often locks to a single computer - similar to Windows.

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> Modern DRM often locks to a single computer - similar to Windows.

There are several things that make a computer unique: CPU ID, network card MAC number, etc. Most games, however, require the DVD or CD to be present, and those can contain unique identifiers. Or at least makes it easy to trace the pirated copies back to the root.

> Game producers try so much to make their software
> that way that crackers cannot find out the registration
> code inside it.

Well, if you own the web site that you download the game from, nothing prevents you from generating unique versions on-the-fly. It gives you a way to track down who is making illegal copies and the option to bring them to court. At the very least, when people understand their unique version is easily traceable, it removes some of the incentives to make illegal copies. And for the hardcore pirates that happen to be concentrated in very specific regions of the world, you can always filter them out of your download page by checking their network IP address...

-cb

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Quote:
Original post by cbenoi1
> Modern DRM often locks to a single computer - similar to Windows.
There are several things that make a computer unique: CPU ID, network card MAC number, etc.
My point was that often you cannot just take the same serial number and use it on multiple computers (whether by web activation, or whatever), which sort of invalidates the point of sharing the serial over the internet.
Quote:
Most games, however, require the DVD or CD to be present, and those can contain unique identifiers. Or at least makes it easy to trace the pirated copies back to the root... Well, if you own the web site that you download the game from, nothing prevents you from generating unique versions on-the-fly. It gives you a way to track down who is making illegal copies and the option to bring them to court.
The problem with this is that the publisher/whoever doesn't have my contact details, unless I voluntarily register with them, so tracking is a bit difficult, ditto for prosecution - not to mention, you still have to afford the prosecution.
Quote:
At the very least, when people understand their unique version is easily traceable, it removes some of the incentives to make illegal copies.
I am not convinced that traceable does anything for you, besides provide piracy statistics. Even the RIAA has trouble actually finding who is pirating their music - tracing IP addresses from bittorent to physical computers, let alone specific users, is not as easy as it might sound.
Quote:
And for the hardcore pirates that happen to be concentrated in very specific regions of the world, you can always filter them out of your download page by checking their network IP address...
Trust me, "hardcore pirates" are not easily filtered by IP [wink]

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I would suggest using a unique key for each sold copy and limit the number of times one can activate the game using that key. (To activate the game the user simply sends his key + hardware identification information to your server, you can then use that information to generate a new key that is tied to his machine, you can then easily store a list of sold keys (can be completely random) and the number of times they've been used recently) , allowing something in the region of 2-4 activations / month should be enough for legitimate customers while limiting casual piracy. (It would still be possible to crack the game to bypass the activation ofcourse, but there really isn't much you can do about that)

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Quote:
Original post by cbenoi1
Well, if you own the web site that you download the game from, nothing prevents you from generating unique versions on-the-fly. It gives you a way to track down who is making illegal copies and the option to bring them to court. At the very least, when people understand their unique version is easily traceable, it removes some of the incentives to make illegal copies. And for the hardcore pirates that happen to be concentrated in very specific regions of the world, you can always filter them out of your download page by checking their network IP address...

Some indies solve this by encoding the name and address of the customer into their registration code. There's nothing to stop a customer copying their game to multiple computers, but if they release their game into the wild then their personal details will be visible to all and sundry. Your code scheme will still be crackable, but it should cut down on casual copying.

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Quote:
Original post by SimonForsman
I would suggest using a unique key for each sold copy and limit the number of times one can activate the game using that key. (To activate the game the user simply sends his key + hardware identification information to your server, you can then use that information to generate a new key that is tied to his machine, you can then easily store a list of sold keys (can be completely random) and the number of times they've been used recently) , allowing something in the region of 2-4 activations / month should be enough for legitimate customers while limiting casual piracy. (It would still be possible to crack the game to bypass the activation ofcourse, but there really isn't much you can do about that)


People complain endlessly about 'number of activations' DRM, see Spore forums for an example. Refreshing the # per month is a good idea, however.

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> I am not convinced that traceable does anything for you,
> besides provide piracy statistics.

A dedicated pirate will need to access a large enough number of different versions in order to find out what makes them distinct and create a new one that has not only it's own distinction but also work. A pirate, regarless how good that person might be, always run the chance of missing a few more samples to fully cover the entire protection scheme. It's not a fool-proof scheme, but it worked for one of my previous employer. We were able to correlate pirated copies to a handful number of customers; there was enough software 'DNA material' left in the pirated copies to tie them to legitimate ones for which we had full contact info. The ensuing lawsuits were in the millions of dollars.

> The problem with this is that the publisher/whoever doesn't
> have my contact details, unless I voluntarily register with them

I can see the validity of this point with DVD distribution. I too buy games and never bother to register them. But for online distribution, how did you pay for the software in the first place? All the portals I deal with *require* me to open up an account and validate my payment information before I can download my copy of the software.

> Trust me, "hardcore pirates" are not easily filtered by IP

I agree there will never be a perfect net to catch ALL the nasty fish. But hey, a net is better than no net at all... |8-}

-cb

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Quote:
I was wondering wy should i protect my release exe from hackers when my game is no more then 6 bucks and the hacker can buy it instead to spend hours and hours cracking my game.
It really depends on the "protection" you plan on implementing. Simple homebrew games only need a simple function to check for registration.

Quote:
And he can distribute my game with the serial attached in a file.
True. He doesn't even need to buy it, he can simply download it and reverse engineer it. That's not the point....

Quote:
Offcourse this is for a offline game, and i give my customers a registration code in their emails. What will make them buy my product? (other then doing the right thing :) )
That is it exactly.

A surprising number of people are honest and want to do the right thing. In this industry there is an above-average ratio of dishonest people, but there are still many honest ones.

With shareware, trial versions, or whatever you want to call it, you aren't really selling the product. Always remember this. You are selling the difference between the registered and unregistered versions.

If the unregistered version gives them all the functionality they need, then they probably won't register, honest or not.

Common differences between registered and unregistered software are mentioned above, including nag screens or annoyance messages, limited functionality, limited to x levels, date-based use, and so on.

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So , in my particular case there is no need to protect my registration code ?
I will not do any bad guys hunting.
If there is someone to buy it he will buy, he will not even know that i don't use an md5 hashing to protect my key. It will all depend on my REAL targeted customers.

It is true that like 9000 serials will be uncovered but who cares.

My opinion is that in this domain of serial protection you give it 100% or do nothing. At least this is what i understand in the past 5 days.

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Quote:
Original post by republicall
My opinion is that in this domain of serial protection you give it 100% or do nothing. At least this is what i understand in the past 5 days.
There is a very interesting (short) article it might be worth your while to read, I can't find the original, but a copy is reproduced here. It is a few years old, but the concepts certainly apply.

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"Registration code - really needed"
Quote:
Original post by Nypyren
People complain endlessly about 'number of activations' DRM, see Spore forums for an example. Refreshing the # per month is a good idea, however.

Yes Spore has some of the worst DRM every seen in a game and plenty of people complain and have complained about it. I wonder if there is any connection?


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You could always allow your game to be access free of charge but allow it to have product placement. I for one see no reason why product placement (if properly put in, and in context to the game) should be an issue if the game is free. Yeah, people might complain the obsurd ad, but the trade of is that they aren't paying for the game to begin with. If it is a medeival fantasy game it might be problematic but if your creative enough you can impliment any product the right way.

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Are you talking about banners ? My game includes a football field and i put a banner with its own web page. The rest of them are made up.
Do you think people could not buy my product if there are banners? I mean in real life there are, so wouldn't it be bad not to put them? People will have a feeling of "not real life" because of the lack of banners that normally appear in real life.
Now i don't know what to do :)
Maybe i'll let the option to remove them and remained the name of the game or something.

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