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FGFS

DRM protection

19 posts in this topic

Hi

I wonder how to drm protect my stuff better than I do currently. Currently I check at every start for a key and compare it online. I would prefer

to check it not so often or only once. The problem is how to know when my stuff get's copied to another location. (Win/mac/linux) etc. and start a

now online comparison.

Thanks for any ideas

 

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While I agree with others that every DRM will be cracked, etc. I don't think that's gonna convince OP to just abandon the idea.

Since what you asked is how to detect moved software, I'd suggest keeping some machine identifier (maybe MachineGuid or just user login) and maybe displaying user's surname on the splash screen or sth. Some people will be uncomfortable running software with different person's name.

And yeah, I know all those things are trivial to bypass, but that's not the point. The OP already has some form of registration and now the point is just to remind an honest user that he needs to register each new machine.

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Anything else is a waste of your time because your game will be cracked by evil pirates in 3 minutes.

Yes, not biased at all.

I have to wonder why people that think they are on some moral high ground always seem to be the ones that make comments just destined to start drama.

Fun fact: you don't have to be a pirate to think DRM is a really dumb and awful software practice. Edited by Satharis
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Currently I check at every start for a key and compare it online. I would prefer
to check it not so often or only once. The problem is how to know when my stuff get's copied to another location. (Win/mac/linux) etc. and start a
now online comparison.

 

i'm a little confused. what does comparing the key online accomplish, other than adding internet connection as a system requirement?  as you can see, it does nothing to prevent illegal copying. or anything else that i can see - except maybe prevent running a legit copy when the internet is down. 

 

NEVER NEVER NEVER deny legit access!   this is _VITAL_ in _ANY_ DRM solution. better to allow access when unsure, than possibly deny paying customers.

 

to know if its been copied, the software will need a systemID or authentication certificate. there may be other methods as well.

 

systemID:

a systemID number is generated using hardware specs on the PC (serial numbers, types of processors and drives, etc).   this systemID is then used to generate a matching registration key.  so a reg key is only good with a given system ID, and a systemID is based on the hardware installed. this makes the reg key hardware dependent.  if they move to another pc , the hardware changes, the systemID changes, and the registration key no longer works.  the downside of this approach is what if they change their hardware? this is typically handled by allowing a couple new reg numbers per user when they upgrade. another approach is to simply licence the software for single user use and installation on a single mass storage device. 

 

authentication certificate:

when the software is installed, a hidden authentication certificate is installed. this certificate identifies the PC as legit. a user copying the software can't copy the certificate as long as it remains hidden. downsides:  1: the certificate must remain hidden.   2: this probably requires install via web, so the user doesn't have a certificate on a master disk or in a master install exe.  

 

 

note that copy protection is only half the battle. the other half is anti-crack protection for your copy protection.

 

in general, research on client server authentication and security procedures should help.   your situation is more of a network AUTH issue than it is a pure DRM issue on a stand-alone pc.

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Hmm, funny while coding this I've never thought my security through. So wireshark found that remote file on my site. Now another question: Would it be possible to fake that TCP GET request? Get that file locally and tell the myapp to use that instead? If so, I would better drop my DRM before it gets hacked...

 

I'll forget about not checking at every start...seems to complicated and I won't spend any more time on this.

Edited by FGFS
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Now another question: Would it be possible to fake that TCP GET request? Get that file locally and tell the myapp to use that instead?

It would be possible, but its likely that your would-be hacker will do something much simpler: they'll examine your software to find the function that performs the check and replace it with a version of their own that simply reports a valid key, bypassing the online check entirely.

 

They'll then likely share their patched version (or a patching program) via download sites and torrent trackers so that less technically skilled users can also benefit.

 

 

Any software running on your end user's hardware can be modified, and for a skilled cracker it isn't even very hard to do.

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Douh, yes I just edited my compiled c++ code with bvi. Sigh, so what to do?

Edited by FGFS
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Sigh, so what to do?

The most common suggestion -- at least in this community -- is to just forget about it and go DRM free, and for many people this effects their purchasing decision; "DRM free" can be a selling point for many games, as seen on GOG (Good Old Games), Humble Bundle sales, and elsewhere.

 

Next most common is that you should just go with something a) very quick and simple to implement and, b) that doesn't have any risk of impacting legitimate customers.  In your case, it sounds like the suggestion given above of simply displaying the name of the licence holder may help to discourage piracy.  It's extremely quick and easy to implement, it's extremely unlikely to introduce any bugs, and there won't be any negative impact for legitimate customers.

 

 

Personally, I would just go with one of those.

 

 

If you really want to do something more complicated you should probably consider whether or not you can offer online services (such as match-making, multi-player, etc.) that complement your game.  You can then prevent pirated copies from accessing your online services.

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DRM for me is definitely no go. First point is that many people will turn head when they see DRM.
Second point is that DRM is like magnet for pirates, to them DRM is like trigger and this is in their head:
 
developer: "you will never crack my game!"
pirate:"we will see about that..."
and one day later your game is on pirate sites.
 
Just make fun game(I know it's not a easy task), gamers will pay for it and bunch of pirates will turn for big studios with DRM. biggrin.png

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There are a few groups of people that consume games:

 

1) People who buy games - these are people that won't visit a pirate site or download a torrent for any reason (not counting Blizzard's patch torrent and stuff like that). Make a good game, and these people will buy it.

 

2) People who pirate games - these people never pay money for games, so any copies of your game that they get really don't count as 'lost sales', because they were never going to buy your game under any circumstances.

 

3) People who buy games but avoid DRM  - make a good game, and these people will buy it, unless they feel it's "locked down" somehow. Any complicated or "strong" DRM is going to cost you sales with this group.

 

4) People who sometimes buy games, but sometimes 'pirate' them as well. DRM doesn't really matter to these people - unless the 'legit' version is somehow crippleware. Make a good game, set it at a reasonable price point (what reasonable is for them may or may not be reasonable to you) and they'll buy the game.

 

5) Impulse buyers - if your game is $20 or under, and the jewelcase has a picture of a hot chick in a chainmail bikini, these people may buy your game.

 

I may be simplifying this, but I don't think there are any consumers out there saying, "Oh boy! It's got DRM!!!" and buying the game because of it.

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Story: Back when I was in college we have a legit 500 user license for some expensive CAD software (donated, I think for tax reasons). But we, including the computer room, all use a cracked version which is given by the dealer. Setting up and maintaining a key server is simply too much trouble.

 

Some DRM cause so much trouble even legal users have to use cracked ones.

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If you really want to do something more complicated you should probably consider whether or not you can offer online services (such as match-making, multi-player, etc.) that complement your game.  You can then prevent pirated copies from accessing your online services.

 

yes, keeping part of the game on a server is about the only way, and even then you simply move the battle from their backyard to yours. they can still try the online hack and cheat thing.

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Some DRM cause so much trouble even legal users have to use cracked ones.

A few years back Apple was requiring a USB dongle for its 'Pro' audio/video products. Problem was, the damn things were really easy to lose, and a hassle to replace.

 

Most everyone kept the dongle locked in a safe somewhere, and cracked the software on their laptop to avoid carrying the damn thing around.

 

Moral of the story: if your software is worth it, people will buy it, and DRM tends to make those paying customers miserable.

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Just make it easier to buy than to pirate. It's not even about the DRM.

 

I find it much more convenient to spend a few bucks on an online store and not have to worry about viruses, rootkits or trojans, than having to search on torrent sites, looking for a well-seeded torrent, reading the comments, downloading it, and then exposing my machine to viruses, risking getting a crypted zip that you have to pay the pirate to get, follow hacking directive to replace XYZ.dll with a file that will give a heart attack to my AV, or some other crap that is common with pirate site.

 

On Steam I pay 20$ for a special (I only buy games in promotion) and then that's it, it's really easy. I wouldn't go back to piracy.

 

Personally, if I ever get to release my game, I will use the DRM of whatever platform I get it on (App Store, Google Play, etc.) because hey it's free, but I'm not going to lose my time trying to lock the game and risk getting false positives on legit users. 

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