Will DRM Finally Beat Piracy? Notorious Cracking Forum Says Yes

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Will DRM Finally Beat Piracy? Notorious Cracking Forum Says Yes

Just Cause 3

Notorious Chinese cracking forum 3DM claims that in two years, it will be all but impossible to crack video game DRM.

The DRM/piracy arms race is one that has existed since the dawn of gaming, but it may be finally coming to a close, claims notorious Chinese cracking forum 3DM. Just Cause 3, released back on December 1, remains uncracked, and has pushed the group's top cracker to his breaking point. While he believes he will eventually be able to crack the game, he doesn't have much hope for the future, stating that in two years, games will be all but impossible to pirate.

"Recently, many people have asked about cracks for 'Just Cause 3', so here is a centralized answer to this question. The last stage is too difficult and Jun [the cracker] nearly gave up, but last Wednesday I encouraged him to continue," wrote 3DM forum founder 'Bird Sister'.

"I still believe that this game can be compromised. But according to current trends in the development of encryption technology, in two years time I'm afraid there will be no free games to play in the world."

The big culprit in all of this, and the tech that crackers think will eventually become impossible (or at least, unfeasible) to break, is an new form of DRM called "Denuvo" developed by Denuvo Software Solutions GmbH. It first made headlines in the cracking world by preventing Dragon Age: Inquisition from being cracked for a full month - quite a feat considering games are usually cracked within a week of release.

FIFA 16 was released last September with a new and improved form of Denuvo DRM, and alongside Just Cause 3, remains uncracked to this day.

While nothing is completely "uncrackable", and I'm sure Just Cause 3 will fall, if Denuvo can manage to keep games uncracked for several months following release, it will probably cause most crackers and pirates to lose interest. After all, those first months are where most sales are made.

Source: Torrent Freak

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Interesting, but I'll believe it when I see it. This just seems like another step in the "arms race", the invincible technology never stays that way for long.

That said, I do have to wonder what will happen without pirates to blame, will we finally see the prices of video games fall? Or will we see another boogie man combined with claims of how they are already a great value maintain the existing $60 new price point for AAA games.

I'm not a big fan of piracy, and I doubt this will work, but it will be interesting if this turns out to show piracy as having had a symbiotic relationship with the industry as opposed to a parasitical one.

That said I remember when Sierra had "unbeatable" copy protection back in the day, eventually the pirates won.

Isn't Denuvo infamous for hurting performance and is even an alleged cause of hard-drive damage? Oh wait I forgot, fuck the paying consumers! We need to make sure those pirates actually buy the game! Even though their is no proof that a pirated copy is a lost sale...oh wait I forgot, logic be damned, pfft, my mistake

What's that? After all this time, DRM will finally start doing its job? Took their damn time.

Crackers just giving up? I don't believe it.

I'm very interested to see if that would actually mark an increase in game sales, I mean it'd be pretty hilarious if they spend all that money on decent drm for it to not impact sales figures in the slightest.

thewatergamer:
Isn't Denuvo infamous for hurting performance and is even an alleged cause of hard-drive damage? Oh wait I forgot, fuck the paying consumers pfft, my mistake

That was the initial story from what I can tell. However a quick google search tells me the SSD damage part of the story is more-or-less untrue. I'm unsure about any performance hit, though.

Some light reading:
http://forum.bioware.com/topic/520683-denuvo-drm-protection-broke-ssd-bioware-please-answer-this/#entry17808049
https://www.reddit.com/r/pcmasterrace/comments/2mtxub/denuvo_drm_does_not_destroy_or_damage_ssds_proof/

Even if that held true, it wouldn't mean more sales, just less people playing your games. Hell, it will likely result in less sales, considering how damaging DRM can be.

To boost sales, all they'd have to do was add a splash screen that said "If you enjoyed this game, please consider purchasing it" and people would be more inclined to do so.

Actual Scene Hackers deny this. This particular group is a gimped for profit group, and therefore the 'scene' is snorting and rolling its eyes at this assertion.

Yeah, no. People will always want to try games to see if it runs on their system and they actually enjoy it before making the significant investment that a game requires. As such, people will always crack games. It may take a bit longer to figure out but where there is a will, there is a way.

Smilomaniac:
To boost sales, all they'd have to do was add a splash screen that said "If you enjoyed this game, please consider purchasing it" and people would be more inclined to do so.

You can't possibly believe that to be true... you seriously think pirates will pay for a game as long as developers... ask nicely?!?

Thanks for the hardest laugh I'm likely to have all month.

I always download the crack for games I've bought. I don't mind paying money for a game I am interested in, even if they occasionally turn out to be a pup, but I will be damned if I am going to run programs unnecessary to the game in order to play said game.

If DRM did ever turn out to be uncrackable, I'd just wait until they reached GoG and buy them from there (and for a cheaper price.)

WarpedLord:

Smilomaniac:
To boost sales, all they'd have to do was add a splash screen that said "If you enjoyed this game, please consider purchasing it" and people would be more inclined to do so.

You can't possibly believe that to be true... you seriously think pirates will pay for a game as long as developers... ask nicely?!?

Thanks for the hardest laugh I'm likely to have all month.

I think that's basically CD Projekt Red's mindset, though. Poland has one of the highest piracy rates in the world, so CDPR just said, "Well, let's just give up on DRM and ask nicely for people not to pirate."

...from what I last heard, they're doing okay for themselves.

This has slightly more value since it comes from the actual crackers, but I actually kind of doubt it even still.

It's like an arms race. Maybe 6 months down the line from the uncrackable DRM, someone will develop a new tool designed exactly to crack the uncrackable.

In other news, the crossbow has just been invented. That's it people, pack up your stuff and go home. The arms-race is now over, nothing will ever trump it. History ends today.

Yeah, I'll believe it if it's a year later and these game still haven't been cracked, but a few months isn't enough for pirates to start yelling "the end is nigh."

Nooners:

WarpedLord:

Smilomaniac:
To boost sales, all they'd have to do was add a splash screen that said "If you enjoyed this game, please consider purchasing it" and people would be more inclined to do so.

You can't possibly believe that to be true... you seriously think pirates will pay for a game as long as developers... ask nicely?!?

Thanks for the hardest laugh I'm likely to have all month.

I think that's basically CD Projekt Red's mindset, though. Poland has one of the highest piracy rates in the world, so CDPR just said, "Well, let's just give up on DRM and ask nicely for people not to pirate."

...from what I last heard, they're doing okay for themselves.

That doesn't really have anything to do with them simply "asking nicely", and more to do with an overall consumer-friendly approach.

Yeah, they said Assassin's Creed 2's always-online couldn't be cracked either.

Did you know they've built an unsinkable ship? Yep, it's called the Titanic.

WarpedLord:

Smilomaniac:
To boost sales, all they'd have to do was add a splash screen that said "If you enjoyed this game, please consider purchasing it" and people would be more inclined to do so.

You can't possibly believe that to be true... you seriously think pirates will pay for a game as long as developers... ask nicely?!?

Thanks for the hardest laugh I'm likely to have all month.

I'm going to give you a gesture of good will and explain this, in the hopes that you will at least hear me out.

First off, there's no possible way to measure this, we'll never get an answer to whether or not it works, but I'll try to explain why I believe that this very simple gesture would have some measure of impact.

Second, I wrote that it would boost sales, not end piracy.
Get rid of the notion (if you have it) that this will magically make all "pirates" buy games. There are loads of people who simply cannot afford these things and when you have movie, music and games fighting for the same people who have a set amount of money to spend, someone is going to lose customers. This is why you see so many Christmas releases, since many receive bonuses and everyone wants a slice of the cake.
There will always be people who will illegally download copyrighted media (in most countries anyway - in Portugal for example, it's legal).

Third, piracy is not a well-measured phenomenon and the whole thing is mired in companies outright lying about losses, estimating impossible figures that they would never, ever, earn.
My personal belief is that it's vastly overblown and that the success and income of the media industries reflects it (in movies, music and games).
We simply don't know what the state of piracy is, how accessability, DRM and sales tactics like Steam sales and Humble Bundle affects it.

---

Treating people with a bit of decency goes a very long way. This has been a tried and trusted way of doing business in retail, shops and restaurants.
Conversely we've had warnings on movies ever since VCR tapes came out, DRM on games and all that has done is piss people off.

There is a HUGE difference between saying "You are special for preordering - Have this weapon skin" and "We worked our asses off to make this game, to the detriment of our health and families - All we ask is that IF you enjoyed it, please buy it".
People respond well to genuine messages.

Think about it - Being a customer can be a downright punishing experience and nowhere else is this as true as in the games industry. We are constantly being cajoled, tricked and lured with all manner of bogus deals, especially these years where DLC has become a standard. People get massively pissed if companies aren't discreet about it (Deus Ex preorder and Payday 2 comes to mind).
You will not find any other industry that has as bad a customer service as in MMO's, or have as borderline illegal agreements that in detail explains how you have no rights.
While you can send back a plate of bad food in a restaurant, you will have a harder time getting your money back for bad (lacking, faulty or broken) games in general. Not only that, but expecting good service in this will get you laughed at and people will tell you that you deserved it for not being smarter.
My guess, and this is just my guess, is that there has probably been more psychological study in selling games than any other product out there. I base this on the way that mobile games prey on younger audiences and go lengths to make their games addictive (one of the worst examples being Rage of Bahamut).

Game companies have the most loyal and responsive customers in the world - To a frightening degree.
The industry literally has idols, like John Carmack, Gabe Newell and Markus Persson, but also it's questionable but still famous folk like Phil Fish, Peter Molyneux, John Romero and Tim Schafer.
I bring this up because if anything, it shows that Gamers are truly an odd bunch of customers and they will almost inevitably respond to personal messages. The Reverse is certainly true, there is no lack of negative feedback on bad decisions and negative developer comments.

To me it seems like a simple choice, the chance to get a couple of thousand more sales for the cost of a splash screen, because a bunch of them chose your game over another or something else like a bluray release.

I call BS, so much BS.
The whole 'never gonna be cracked' has been around since the days of the 'look in booklet on page 7, line 8, word 9 and enter here'.

Either this group is a mole, or they're just kind of...sucking...at the whole cracked thing.

Plus, DRM is evil.
I've stopped playing/buying many PC games BECAUSE of the DRM.

Gonna treat me like a 'criminal', when ACTUAL 'criminals' are getting a better product because your shitty DRM is screwing with the game...
Not gonna get MY money, assholes.

Of course, crackability isn't the only question regarding DRM. If a system is nigh-uncrackable (I don't entirely buy the notion that truly uncrackable software is feasible), but significantly onerous to the legitimate end user, that's something of a pyrrhic victory.

FirstNameLastName:
In other news, the crossbow has just been invented. That's it people, pack up your stuff and go home. The arms-race is now over, nothing will ever trump it. History ends today.

I know this is a joke, but the invention of the crossbow basically completely changed the way wars were fought. All of a sudden people with very minimal training could be effective in battle against even hardened veterans. Nothing, not even the gun, changed war as much as crossbows did.

That's BS. Every one knows that the only true way to stop piracy is videogame streaming.

For those that don't know: Imagine yourself, that all game data of your bought game is on a centralised server. The server takes 90% of the hard work on itself and the player is just getting a pretty picture on his screen - much like Steam Link, actually, but works like modern MMO's

While this type of DRM is also not invincible, it's simply too hard to crack - you as a pirate literally will have to catch every single byte of server information and/or reverse engineer them by yourselves which is too long and costly. There's a reason why MMO's are notoriously "pirate proof".
Oh, and also - you can't play the game without being always online, but tough shit poor people - it's the inevitable future.

Steven Bogos:

While nothing is completely "uncrackable", and I'm sure Just Cause 3 will fall, if Denuvo can manage to keep games uncracked for several months following release, it will probably cause most crackers and pirates to lose interest. After all, those first months are where most sales are made.

I find that part interesting. The groups who crack most games are not seeking profits and the vast majority of pirates aren't going to pay launch day prices for the game regardless... so why would it make any difference to the pirate whether they get the game for free on day 1 or 2 months later? If they can't afford to buy the game for full price they will pirate it when they can. I don't see how the time frame is relevant, if they have no money to buy the game, they aren't going to buy the game.

Downloading games was something I never quite got. I think there was always a fun when I was younger and had more free time, of finding something I couldn't get to work, and then finally managing it, but games were one of those things that I always wanted to work right out of the box, and when they didn't I usually got frustrated. I think side stepping a headache is sometimes worth the money. I'm also no sure the gaming worlds biggest enemy is piracy contrary to what some might have you believe. After all, it specifically applies to a certain segment as large as it is, that is willing to go through the trouble of doing this kind of thing. I think the real tragic in it all is that most of us will probably buy our games, and yet the industry will still implement the worst of the worst in terms of DLC in order to stop a group of people who frankly probably are doing this because of shitty service and implementation more so than lack of money.

Game of Thrones is the most Pirated for two reasons; First, because it's really freaking good, but secondly because HBO was such a luxury to own, and no one wanted to pay for a whole network to buy one show. Reminds me of the argument for Napster, when people didn't want to pay for a whole CD when they just wanted the one song they heard on the radio. The answer to these problems was large pivots toward more consumer friendly practices. Music became available by the song, on easy to download platforms that were consumer friendly, and so the Music industry will never admit this, this growth was a result of piracy pushing boundaries. HBO, while admittedly not responding to these complaints quite as fast flipped the switch over to providing a digital only service at a cheaper rate for people who wanted it, and ultimately I'm sure their subscription rates went up.

Gaming is different though, because first of all, if you have a PC capable of playing Just Cause 3, I'm sorry to be dismissive here but I think you have the money to spend on a AAA game every now and then. So the people who are buying games aren't doing it because they can't afford the one game, but more so because of the hobby of putting together a cracked game, as if it were some sort of model plane, or you live in an area where the game is unavailable or region locked to you. Region locking is a service problem. Localizing costs etc are one thing, but often times the aim is about squeezing every last penny out of the consumer as possible and ultimately that would likely drive someone to piracy. But also the aim and purpose is always different. When the SD Card Nintendo DS piracy was very popular one of the reasons was because this allowed you to have a device that now had all your games stored locally without having to constantly switch out cartridges, at the time something which nintendo didn't have an answer too. You bet your ass this was going to be incorporated into the design of the 3DS. Piracy for the PSP was similar in that the earlier examples of piracy came about not because of free games, but because the hardware could support old PSone games, but didn't, so the pirates cracked it so that it could. Sony, while admittedly slow, was forced to push out a PSone emulation for its portable consoles.

tl;dr I guess the long and short of it is, gaming cracks are still filling market gaps but its not as simple as tackling a steep price point. It's more so the service structure around games, which is progressively getting worse as a result of this arms race .

Antigonius:
There's a reason why MMO's are notoriously "pirate proof".

The longest time I've put into any MMO was with WoW, about a year. I didn't pay a dime. There's a billion private servers, true, often not perfect working versions of the game, but good enough to have huge player bases and role playing guilds, which I was a part of. They kept up with the expansions too

WarpedLord:

Smilomaniac:
To boost sales, all they'd have to do was add a splash screen that said "If you enjoyed this game, please consider purchasing it" and people would be more inclined to do so.

You can't possibly believe that to be true... you seriously think pirates will pay for a game as long as developers... ask nicely?!?

Thanks for the hardest laugh I'm likely to have all month.

You'd be surprised how far you can get with asking nicely.
It's actually pretty effective.

Meanwhile, CD Project Red is still shoveling their metric shit-ton of cash, that they made with DRM free games.

FirstNameLastName:

That doesn't really have anything to do with them simply "asking nicely", and more to do with an overall consumer-friendly approach.

A consumer friendly approach such as actually not having DRM in the first place? Though I see what you're saying.

OT: This is just how arms races work. Eventually someone will figure out something new to crack the DRM and learn from it, and companies will try to make it more secure. This process will continue until the majority of companies, as CDPR has learned, to just treat customers well and shockingly enough people may actually be happy to give them money.

Steven Bogos:

FirstNameLastName:
In other news, the crossbow has just been invented. That's it people, pack up your stuff and go home. The arms-race is now over, nothing will ever trump it. History ends today.

I know this is a joke, but the invention of the crossbow basically completely changed the way wars were fought. All of a sudden people with very minimal training could be effective in battle against even hardened veterans. Nothing, not even the gun, changed war as much as crossbows did.

And still, the highly-trained English longbow archers repeatedly kicked the French crossbowmen's asses in Hundred Years' War...

fractal_butterfly:
Meanwhile, CD Project Red is still shoveling their metric shit-ton of cash, that they made with DRM free games.

Yep, I bought a ton of games on gog. Most of them I didnt need, and some of them I barely even wanted. But its easy doing business with a company like that. Hell I bought extra copies of witcher on there just to support them.

If companies think DRM will boost sales in any meaningful way they are deluding themselves. If there was like one game release a year it might have an effect, but honestly...there is so much to choose from, why bother with all the crap drm? I wanted to buy settlers 7, but didnt because of the drm, and I have all but stopped buying games from ubi because I dont like their drm or policies. Do I feel like I've lost something? Hell no.

I've spent a decent amount of money on Star Citizen, and that game isnt even out.

Recently I started playing Path of Exile, free to play, with cosmetic micro transactions. Its probably the most fair business model you'll find everywhere. I bought some points for 20$, invested in some stash space. I still fell like I ripped them off. I'm eyeing an ascendancy supporter pack for 110$, and still feel like I'd be getting good value.

Its not that hard to make money, you just have to have a decent product, and treat your customers with the same respect you want them to treat you with.

Anyone really believe this?
When an opponent comes out with a new weapon or technology you'll fall behind for a while.
But if you're not annihilated in that time you can adjust.

Which means Denuvo will eventually be just as crackable as what came before it. They just need to find the right technique to counter it and voila; fast cracking is once again not a problem.

Smilomaniac:

Second, I wrote that it would boost sales, not end piracy.
Get rid of the notion (if you have it) that this will magically make all "pirates" buy games. There are loads of people who simply cannot afford these things and when you have movie, music and games fighting for the same people who have a set amount of money to spend, someone is going to lose customers. This is why you see so many Christmas releases, since many receive bonuses and everyone wants a slice of the cake.

They could always, you know, just not buy the game. Or wait for a sale like everyone else does. Just throwing that out there.

Treating people with a bit of decency goes a very long way. This has been a tried and trusted way of doing business in retail, shops and restaurants.

Last time I checked it's far harder to steal physical objects than it is to copy digital data, more likely to get you caught and usually carries a harsher punishment. Do you honestly think that any of those examples would be doing anywhere near as well if Physical Theft was as easy, low-risk and un-punishing as Piracy?

Um, yeah, I'll believe that this new version is tougher to crack and may turn away more pirates and keep the determined ones stalls for a little longer so intial sales can possibly be slightly higher, but I'll never believe that piracy has been "beat." Someone will always be there trying to get it for free and they will eventually find a way with any non-MMO game.

I just hope this news doesn't give publishers some fancy excuse to up the DRM bullshittery. (And who knows? This whole story could some sort of false flag operation where the "hackers" are paid by Square/Denovo to say they "gave up.") If you make your game's DRM bog down systems, or call home in singer player, the piracy will come right back to bite you in the ass (and the backlash from paying customers will be biting the other side).

Therumancer:
That said, I do have to wonder what will happen without pirates to blame, will we finally see the prices of video games fall? Or will we see another boogie man combined with claims of how they are already a great value maintain the existing $60 new price point for AAA games

I can see it now: CEO of Oversized Game Corporation says "gamers are going over to friends' houses to play our games for free, trading their PCs to get out of paying for games, or letting their non-paying siblings, spouses, and children use their accounts to play our games. We have to stop this by mandating webcam facial recognition to verify the user is the paying customer." Sorry, I might have gotten a little 1984 there.

More realistically I can also see some publishers blaming gamers waiting for common sales and Game of the Year editions that are cheaper than the launch price, but included most or all of the DLC. While I hear most sales are made within the first few weeks for most AAA games, I'm sure that's one of the scapegoats they will try when sale don't hit their ridiculously high expectations. (I'm certainly one of those jerks that are patient, like to know what they're buying via many reviews and public opinion, and not made out of cash.)

Steven Bogos:

FirstNameLastName:
In other news, the crossbow has just been invented. That's it people, pack up your stuff and go home. The arms-race is now over, nothing will ever trump it. History ends today.

I know this is a joke, but the invention of the crossbow basically completely changed the way wars were fought. All of a sudden people with very minimal training could be effective in battle against even hardened veterans. Nothing, not even the gun, changed war as much as crossbows did.

I'm going to step in with my current work on a degree in medieval history specializing in arms and armor and point out that the earliest crossbows in Europe show up prior to the 5th century BC in Britain, and saw scattered use all the way up through the medieval period among Romans, pre and post Saxon Britain, and all the way to their eventual eclipse by firearms. While it's easy to think they would be an equalizing weapon, in fact most crossbows in the high medieval period and onward when they became extremely common in warfare were used by highly paid mercenaries and professionals. Crossbows capable of penetrating armor (which was never a guarantee) are expensive, difficult to maintain, and require complex machinery to cock. This means that crossbows in warfare were generally in relatively small numbers and didn't have such a tremendous effect as to change warfare, or were cheap and relatively ineffective against armored men. Gunpowder didn't even shake things up very much at first, since guns and knights coexisted for hundreds of years and armor was capable of stopping bullets up until the very end. What actually changed warfare forever was the advent of well drilled formations of men, often pikemen, capable of holding cohesion against heavy cavalry charges. This and the advances of firearms in the 16th century made common men able to fight, as during the preceding medieval and Renaissance period almost all fighting was done by semi-professional retinues accompanying nobles, semi-professional city militias with regular training and guild funding for arms and armor, or professional mercenaries. Peasant levies in warfare are, actually, a myth until later conscription in the 16th century onward.

And then there's China where as soon as the crossbow was invented dudes lined up and shot each other by the thousands because that's how Chinese warfare rolls.

OT: Yeah, nah, it'll get cracked in a few weeks. Then a new unbeatable DRM will appear, and it'll get cracked weeks later, and the cycle will continue for all eternity.

EDIT: Sorry for this spontaneous rant. It's one of my passions and sometimes I can't help myself.

Matey:
I find that part interesting. The groups who crack most games are not seeking profits and the vast majority of pirates aren't going to pay launch day prices for the game regardless... so why would it make any difference to the pirate whether they get the game for free on day 1 or 2 months later? If they can't afford to buy the game for full price they will pirate it when they can. I don't see how the time frame is relevant, if they have no money to buy the game, they aren't going to buy the game.

There area few things at work here, so let's talk about them in sequence:
1. Game Publishers, just like Movie Publishers, are mostly interested in the release and near-release sales, since that's when the majority of sales happen and that's usually when they calculate profit. If you can stop a cracked version from hitting the net until a month or two (or in the case of FIFA 16 half a year) after release, the idea is that you'll get some extra sales from those that really want to play your game but would jump at the opportunity to get it free instead of paying for it if they had that chance.

2. Games' popularity diminish after release. Everyone talked about Battlefront when it was released some 1,5 month ago. Not so many are talking about it now. At some point people just forget about games (and other media) unless it is a game they really, really want to play. So if you can't crack Just Cause 3 for a few months, chances are that most pirates that might have pirated it on release are not going to be bothered since there will be other games they are more interested in.

3. Pirates are people too and this ties in to the point above. If a Pirate gets a significant enough backlog they will start picking the games they want to play the most and as such will ignore older releases that aren't as hyped right now (unless that's the game they want to play).

4. Supposedly all of them above can add up. If you know that you didn't get to play FIFA 16 because you couldn't pirate it and you couldn't pirate Just Cause 3 and didn't get to play that either and suddenly Awesome Game, which you really want to play, is announced to have Denuvo, chances are that you might actually decide to pay for it instead.

Piracy, like so many other things, is mostly down to psychology. Make it hard enough for the pirate to get the games they want when they want them and chances are that they might buy a legitimate copy instead. Even if they don't, your shareholders will love the realization that your game wasn't extensively pirated.

I find this idea... vaguely possible. The idea of making copy protections so frustratingly hard to crack that pirates stop bothering with it certainly has a non-zero chance of existing. The other scenario is for video game piracy to be similar to movie piracy, in that you have to wait months for a good version (or any version at all).

The question here is if GoG will keep its no-DRM policy in place if this really takes off.

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