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Atari Founder Proclaims the End of Gaming Piracy

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the until-they-build-a-better-crack dept.

Encryption 831

OMGZombies writes "Speaking on a conference held yesterday in New York, the Atari founder Nolan Bushnell said that a new stealth encryption chip called TPM will 'absolutely stop piracy of gameplay'. The chip is apparently being embedded on most of the new computer motherboards and is said to be 'uncrackable by people on the internet and by giving away passwords' though it won't stop movie or music piracy, since 'if you can watch it and you can hear it, you can copy it.'"

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Fire up the soldering irons... (5, Insightful)

Q-Hack! (37846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545315)

said to be 'uncrackable by people on the internet and by giving away passwords'>

Sounds like a challenge!

No encryption scheme is 100%; some are just better than others. When will people learn!

Re:Fire up the soldering irons... (5, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545387)

Yeah, people saying stuff like that is always pretty funny and depressing at the same time. The consumers just keep lapping it up.. even companies that you'd think would be fairly tech-savvy seem to fall for this stuff - I remember when the Wii came out it had some kind of encryption on the CPU output to stop modchips piggybacking onto it, but that must have been cracked too as when I see comments about people modding their Wiis, I'm pretty sure they're referring to the consoles. The PS3's babysitting OS also doesn't let Linux on the PS3 use 3D acceleration - I'd like to see someone crack that open :)

Re:Fire up the soldering irons... (3, Interesting)

Q-Hack! (37846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545523)

The PS3's babysitting OS also doesn't let Linux on the PS3 use 3D acceleration

Ya, that is the one thing I would like to see. With the rate of development for Linux on the PS3, I think we won't have to wait long.


Re:Fire up the soldering irons... (5, Insightful)

Robocoastie (777066) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545571)

EULA's on hardware like the game consoles should be illegal. We buy those, they are not returnable later if we discover a feature of it we don't agree with. They shouldn't give a damn if I mod it or even find a way to make it control the temperatures on my refrigerator. I have had it with these proprietary attitudes companies have and have slowly come to fully understand "freedom" that OSS-only people talk about. The problem is that with DRM chips like this starting to come out its only a matter of time before the computer motherboards have EULA's on them like game consoles do as well and forbid us to use them for anything but an "approved" OS. The stupid code built into DELL motherboards and their version of Windows is bad enough as it is. Equally stupid is having to re-activate windows everytime we change hardware. I even had to call MSFT for re-activation after I upgraded RAM!

Re:Fire up the soldering irons... (5, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545781)

people modding their Wiis
I'm Jewish, you insensitive clod!

Re:Fire up the soldering irons... (5, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545413)

You will get a situation where two alternatives exists:
  1. You will have the perfect copy-protection, but only a select few will buy your game.
  2. There will be a crack that solves the problem of copy-protection.
And anyway - there has to be some code that accesses the TPM chip, and that also means that given enough time and effort it's possible to circumvent it, or even simulate the TPM chip.

Copy protection has been tried before - always with dubious result.

Re:Fire up the soldering irons... (5, Interesting)

QX-Mat (460729) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545417)

Exactly! People don't seem to want to learn nowadays.

Defeating copying schemes has always been an educational past-time of mine. I learned to write my 8's almost perfectly when I copied out, number by number, the Quarantine chart mass/velocity chart because I couldn't photocopy the black text on dark brown glossy paper.

I even improved my memory when I memorized both the X-Wing and Tie Fighter manual keywords... that was a lot of manuals for a 12 y/o - I actually think it helped. I wouldn't be where I am today if I wasn't capable of picking up a software manual :D

So, TPM is a way for me to spice up on my logic probing eh?


Re:Fire up the soldering irons... (4, Insightful)

joshtheitguy (1205998) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545431)

A TPM chip is not the answer.

What I see happening is a demand for the manufacturers that will not release boards with this TPM and avoidance of any company embedding them. They will eventually be cracked anyways, so even when they do exist they will eventually become uneffective.

Look at all the anti-piracy measures for the available consoles. They have been cracked, sometimes taking longer but it will be done. Hell it might even bring about mod chips for PCs and as the post's title goes, I'll gladly fire up my soldering iron to bypass this bullshit.

Re:Fire up the soldering irons... (4, Insightful)

Ours (596171) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545433)

As usual, this will create a support nightmare (for paying customers), and will be cracked in 4 months at most... The "apparently being embedded on most of the new computer motherboards" will transform into "mostly implemented on most MBs... poorly". Make sure to have the right model of that ASUS MB to play that game you just bought or else get the crack.

Re:Fire up the soldering irons... (4, Insightful)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545631)

As usual, this will create a support nightmare (for paying customers), and will be cracked in 4 months at most... [...]
Four months? I find your lack of faith disturbing! What was CSS broke in, three hours with three lines of recursive code?

Re:Fire up the soldering irons... (3, Insightful)

Robocoastie (777066) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545493)

they won't learn. The announcement is just a marketing ploy to get the suits at the software companies to pressure the motherboard makers to include this chip thereby causing Bushnell to make lots of money. The end result will be (as usual) that the paying customer will have a bitch of a time actually installing the game as it will likely be like windows and other encrypted games that only work on the first set of hardware installed and only activate once. IOW the legitimate user will be inconvinienced while the "pirates" have an easier time using it. So then the legitimate user will seek out the pirated versions to actually play the game they bought.

Re:Fire up the soldering irons... (1, Insightful)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545505)

This is assuming of course that motherboard manufacturers will comply. I'm sure there will be a couple of savvy companies out there that will see the benefit of refusing to embed this chip. The gamers will flock to those companies. Even if this chip does turn out to be "uncrackable" (which I doubt very much) economic forces will prevail in the end.

Re:Fire up the soldering irons... (3, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545627)

Why would they flock to the TPM-free company? Lacking a decoder won't mean the copy restriction doesn't apply to you, it just means you can't play it even if you want to.

I wonder.. (5, Insightful)

gmerideth (107286) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545349)

I wonder if game developers have ever even considered that some piracy occurs because the gamers cannot afford the games themselves. Adding a chip that prevents piracy wont result in any additional income from people who simply cannot afford the games to begin with. I for one prefer to spend my money on gas these days than games.

Re:I wonder.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545423)

Couldn't agree more. I'll be very surprised if there's any return on these investments.

Re:I wonder.. (4, Insightful)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545465)

I wonder if game developers have ever even considered that some piracy occurs because the gamers cannot afford the games themselves.

Sure they have, but that doesn't affect the cost of doing business. They are losing customers if they don't keep making advances to try to prevent theft.

There are a lot of people out there who would pay money for a game but choose not to because they can get it for free. If I'm not mistaken, that's what they are trying to prevent -- losing the "would-be" customers to piracy, not those who never had any intention of purchasing it in the first place.

Re:I wonder.. (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545763)

I wonder if there are more people who would pay for a game if they couldn't pirate it than there are who would pay for a game but won't because of draconian copy protection measures. I used to buy several games a year, but when I stopped being able to play them on my laptop without keeping the CD in the drive (which flattens the battery and generates a lot of heat) or be connected to the Internet all of the time, I stopped. I still play quite a few games. When I don't have much time, I'll spend a little bit playing a selection of online flash games. When I have more time I'll play something like Vega Strike or Battle for Wesnoth.

Re:I wonder.. (0, Flamebait)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545529)

some piracy occurs because the gamers cannot afford the games themselves.
So their justification is that if they cannot afford something, then it's better to steal it? Computers are still a luxury item in the home.

I can't afford a Ferrari... so it's justifiable that I steal one.
We're not talking about a necessity here, it's a game. If the developers were ok with piracy or didn't care about making profit off of the games, then they'd give them away for free. I don't recall people standing in lines for the latest freeware games.

How is this any different from the music industry? I can't afford the latest Band X songs, so I should steal them.

Complain all you will about RIAA, EA etc, but if people don't pay for music, games, then people won't go into business building games, going on tour etc. There's plenty of very poor street musicians where I live, and I don't see them driving fancy european cars.

Re:I wonder.. (4, Insightful)

gsslay (807818) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545717)

wonder if game developers have ever even considered that some piracy occurs because the gamers cannot afford the games themselves.
Of course they do. And other piracy occurs because people like something for nothing. But why should the developers care? Their business is selling games to people who can afford it. They are under no obligation to provide cheaper games if they're maximizing their profits by selling them at a higher price.

Adding an encryption chip may prevent the piracy from those who can afford it, but like something for nothing. Now they'll be forced to pay up if they really want the game. It''s a no-brainer win situation for the developers.

Play it (4, Insightful)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545361)

if you can watch it and you can hear it, you can copy it.

if you can play it, you can copy it.

Re:Play it (4, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545743)

Not necessarily. The difference between music/video and games is that the latter is highly interactive - there's no analog hole there, you cannot just record it. You can, of course, hack the executable, but using TPM, they can encrypt the game resources, and you'll need to break the TPM itself to get to them - you can't work around that as you can with the analog hole.

The halting problem... (2, Interesting)

Etherwalk (681268) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545801)

From a theoretical standpoint, that works assuming you can run through or predict the outcome of every possible input sequence anyone can give it. (Or at least, say, the most frequent 80-90% of possible inputs if you want bad copies.) Even a computer can't play-test a modern game to that degree of completion, though maybe a computer with a human to spend a lot of time patching conditional state changes into it could.

To my knowledge, though, nobody has gotten a system together which is theoretically uncrackable. (Without having holes in the theory, anyway.) So we haven't gone down the "if you can watch it and you can hear it, you can copy it route." Well, not for games, anyway.

This quote will stand the test of time (4, Funny)

Gay for Linux (942545) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545367)

"TPM will absolutely piracy of gameplay. Also, 640K ought to be enough for anybody."

Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545403)

Now if we could only figure out what it means.

Re:Yes. (5, Informative)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545507)

TPM = Trusted Platform Module [] .

The system creates a hash key based upon an analysis of the encrypted software and hardware combined together. If this matches a third party checksum, then the third party releases the decryption key to the encrypted software.

This would make sense for networked console games or PC's with broadband connections.

Re:Yes. (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545625)

In fact there's at least one console, the 360, that has one.

Re:Yes. (5, Funny)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545697)

So now, crackers will actually have to buy the game and then dump the decrypted content. Atleast that guarantees another purchase.

idiot. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545371)

Don't know how TPM works, but if it depends on some "check" being performed, its easy to disassemble the program and remove the offending instructions.

If its something more clever, such as an encryption scheme, the program can be decrypted by analyzing memory contents after the program is ran.

How many times has the industry claimed to have found the holy grail in anti-piracy measures only to be foiled and severely embarrassed soon afterward?

Re:idiot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545393)

Don't know how TPM works... You don't know how TPM works but you feel justified in calling Nolan Bushnell an idiot.

Yes, TPM will be broken, but at least read up on it before your mad rush for mod points backfires.

Re:idiot. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545437)

You don't know how TPM works but you feel justified in calling Nolan Bushnell an idiot.

Point out the technical inaccuracy of my post. Go ahead. I'm waiting.

Nolan Bushnell is an idiot and so are you, drama queen.

Yes, TPM will be broken, but at least read up on it before your mad rush for mod points backfires.

I'm posting as AC you tool.

pplz on teh internetz! (4, Interesting)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545385)

I dunno, those "people on the internet" are pretty resourceful lol. I hear they're good at removing and replacing chips on motherboards, or at least on gaming consoles. I think he forgot about those people in their homes that don't want some stupid overlord chip overruling basic tasks on their computer. But at least he knows enough that music and videos can't be controlled no matter how hard the MPAA and RIAA try just because of the basic nature of them. Quite the smart/dumb mix.

Re:pplz on teh internetz! (2, Insightful)

slazzy (864185) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545667)

I for one won't buy a motherboard with a chip that "calls home" - too great a risk of invasion to privacy for my business. If the chip doesn't call home, it will be cracked in hours, not days.

Re:pplz on teh internetz! (5, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545673)

I hear they're good at removing and replacing chips on motherboards, or at least on gaming consoles.
Just to preempt the inevitably replies saying something along the lines of: "most people don't have the knowledge or inclination to mod their hardware... if a hack requires physical changes to the machine, this will prevent 99% of people from pirating."

It's important to remember that you only need 1% of people (or even 0.1%) to have the knowledge and inclination to perform these mods, if it allows them to make unencrypted copies of the data. All you need is a small group of dedicated hackers who generate cracked copies of games, and release these in the usual way (bit-torrent, etc.). Just as movie release groups have a lot of specialized knowledge and connections, thereby making copyright infringement trivially easy for the masses, so too will anti-TPM groups appear, who will trivialize this kind of circumvention for the masses.

TPM doesn't make copyright infringement impossible. It merely adds another layer of complexity for the hackers. Alas, hackers enjoy the challenge of breaking through these layers.

my teacher won't let me use wiki as a reference? (1)

butterflysrage (1066514) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545391)

cause we all know, if people on the internet say it, then it MUST be true :)

Re:my teacher won't let me use wiki as a reference (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545729)

As fellow person on the internet, I postulate that this will be cracked in no more than 6 months.

Who needs an atari machine to play games (1)

poeidon1 (767457) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545401)

when you can play those games on PC with emulation. I didnt even know that Atari was still in business.

Re:Who needs an atari machine to play games (2, Informative)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545619)

they are not. Infogrammes bought the remnants of the company so that they could use the name.

PR department at Atari is having a heart attack (3, Insightful)

Urthwhyte (967114) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545409)

This will definitely go over well with the people who were mad over even small things like the BioShock phonehome fiasco...what could possibly go wrong?

Well Darn It All! (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545421)

There goes my retirement plan!

Physical access == game over (5, Insightful)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545425)

There is no such thing as un-crackable. There is, however, a level where cracking becomes cost-inefficient.

I still doubt TPM will take us to that level, because it will have to have almost universal adoption and that will take many years. Software or hardware exploits will be found, and adoption/versioning issues will keep them from being fixed.

They should really stop fighting the wave, and put all their anti-piracy money into creative talent and developers.

OMG Trustable Computing! (5, Insightful)

Cally (10873) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545445)

"apparently embedded in most motherboards" -- not meaning to sound snide, but where the hell have you been for the last five years? Google things like TPM, Palladium, trustworthy computing, untrusted computing, Ross Anderson...

Re:OMG Trustable Computing! (3, Informative)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545703)

+1 insightful! This guy must have just woken up, that he has seized upon this with such fervor makes me wonder how long Atari is going to be around. These things are FAR from common save for laptops and certainly not something you're likely to find on a gamer's desktop. My machine has a slot for a TPM module but it didn't ship with one and I see NO reason to shell out a pile of cash to obtain one. People such as myself will simply vote with our feet and wallets. Think he will blame piracy for the low sales?

He smoketh the crypto crack (3, Insightful)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545449)

A TPM is great for keeping my keys from Nolan Bushnell. It is also great to let me be sure which image of code I'm running on my machine.

It is not great at letting Nolan Bushnell look into my machine and see what code I'm running.

He smoketh the crypto crack. He should read the TPM spec and see what it really does.

Re:He smoketh the crypto crack (2, Interesting)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545555)

TPM allows Them to authenticate that the game runs only on one pc. That is, if you trust to run their software on your pc. The whole point is, who owns the TPM module, owns a lot. Who you are going to trust.

It is like the trusted path for blueray content in vista, but then for software. You cannot run software unless it is in a signed environment.

If in 10 years the OS consists of virtual machines, one of those machines will be a TPM box that is controlled by Big media/game makers, that will only allow their games in a secure(by their viewpoint) environment.

That is, if you let them have it.

If you see how much is invested (and lost) on DRM in pc computer games this might be sooner than you think.

Re:He smoketh the crypto crack (2, Insightful)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545675)

The last time I checked, I was the one with physical access to my machine and its TPM. They keys in it are mine and mine only.

"They" don't get to authenticate anything on my machine.

For Bushnell to do what he wants to do, he requires a level of control over the initial provisioning of TPMs that he's not going to get.

Atari founder cries wolf about piracy-ending chip (5, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545453)

That's how Engadget is describing it, and I'm inclinded to agree. Firstly, it's not a "stealth chip", they tend to be prominently listed as a feature because they're so bloomin' rare and you really need one if you want to be able to use Vista's disk encryption without a dongle. Secondly, nobody has even proposed using them as a DRM measure, presumably because of the aforementioned rarity. Thirdly, this is spectacularly old news - those who follow hardware developments have been chatting about the TPM and its implications since Two Thousand and FIVE [] .

Re:Atari founder cries wolf about piracy-ending ch (1)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545533)

I agree... and coming from the man that decries the current crop of consoles as crap, and all games since he left the industry being nothing more than a "race to the bottom" (of the quality barrel), he needs to stick to remembering the good ol' days and apologize for Chuck E. Cheese. :)


To race the naysayers... (-1, Flamebait)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545467)

This could be a GOOD thing. Those that create software would finally have a way of reliably preventing it from being copied, after nearly 30 years. It would NOT prevent you from writing your own software, or from using Linux, or anything crazy like that. Just you wouldn't be able to access the memory space of 'trusted' code or run said code on machines without a working TPM.

Of COURSE it won't be totally uncrackable : this system sounds extremely similar to the systems in game consoles. But, it could be made secure enough that breaking this system would require a hardware mod-chip. If Intel were to go further and include the TPM in the processor die, it would become nearly impossible.

I'm not entirely sure how TPM works, but the logical way to do it would be that every single TPM would have a unique private key, not found in any database on earth except for inside the hardware of the chip itself. Only this key would be capable of decrypting code so that a piece of software can run. Games would include a downloaded component, although the majority of the game software would still be using an optical disk, and that component would include a portion encrypted using the public key for your PC's TPM.

A secure third party would have the database of public keys, supplied by the manufacturer of the TPM chips. The database would be correlated with identifying information about every PC. This is so that you could not use hacked software to supply the game company's servers with a public key that you have the private key to.

PC games would become as armored against piracy as console games. If the Vista fiasco is dealt with as well, this could lead to a renaissance in PC gaming.

Re:To race the naysayers... (2, Interesting)

tomtomtom777 (1148633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545663)

Games would include a downloaded component, ...

If a game or program requires a downloaded component it is pretty easy to make it impossible to crack. If every sold product has a large unique key and that key is stored in a database on the server then you can check if a key isn't used from different locations or in parellel.

For normal games, you wouldn't want to make an internet connection a requirement though.

Re:To race the naysayers... (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545793)

If a game or program requires a downloaded compnent it is pretty easy to make it impossible to play without a network connection. Too bad if you don't have one ready at a moment's notice.

With apologies to the original author... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545475)

Your proposal advocates a

(X) technical ( ) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting video game piracy. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Video game pirates can easily use it to harvest gamer addresses
(X) Legitimate gamer uses would be affected
( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
(X) It will stop video game piracy for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
(X) Users of gamer will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
(X) Requires too much cooperation from video game pirates
( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) Many gamers cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Video game pirates don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
(X) Lack of centrally controlling authority for gamer
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all gamer addresses
(X) Asshats
( ) Jurisdictional problems
( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
(X) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by gamer
( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
( ) Extreme profitability of video game piracy
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with video game pirates
(X) Dishonesty on the part of video game pirates themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

(X) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
( ) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
( ) Playing games should be free
( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
(X) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
(X) Temporary/one-time gamer addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government playing my games
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

(X) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
house down!

TPM wtf? (4, Informative)

Bazman (4849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545479)

Trusted Platform Module - not mentioned in the article. You can probably google it yourself, or wikipedia [] has an entry.

It's pretty much Palladium all over again. Remember that?

What's the point? (2, Insightful)

BrotherBeal (1100283) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545483)

A hardware-based security module may have implications for game authentication. Whoopee. Not only is this nearly devoid of content, but the content that's there is essentially bullshit. The TPM is gaining a userbase, this is true - but they are FAR from ubiquitous. This isn't something you can easily install yourself either - to implement something like this would be a pretty impressive hardware hack (it's not just a chip you solder on). Making this a requirement for a PC game is just asking for failure. Either you're going to limit your market share to that of the TPM, or you're going to have to allow a workaround for the majority of PC's which will get cracked and circumvent the whole idea. Neither of these bodes well for this guy's point.

Vista-era PCs often have a TPM (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545795)

Making this a requirement for a PC game is just asking for failure. Either you're going to limit your market share to that of the TPM
No problem. If your video card and operating system have DirectX 10, it's more likely than not that the motherboard has a TPM. It'd be like video game publishers "limiting" their market to PS3 owners.

Could someone explain... (2, Insightful)

popra (879835) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545491)

what exactly makes games so special that a chip like this could hinder piracy for games but not for movies?

Movies can be camcorded. Games can't. (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545775)

what exactly makes games so special that a chip like this could hinder piracy for games but not for movies?
Noninteractive media allow for analog reconversion [] . Interactive media do not.

Re:Could someone explain... (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545787)

Games are interactive, you cannot simply capture what's going to the screen and speakers one time and enjoy it forever. Games are unique compared to movies in that each time they are played back the series of events is different. At least that is what he seems to think. If you look at it from the standpoint that this thing would unlock aka decrypt some content in order to play then yeah it's perhaps not so different - we'd have to see more details on what is being proposed. In any case I do not see myself participating anytime soon...

Famous last words (5, Insightful)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545499)

Reasons why he's dead wrong (in no particular order and by no means comprehensive):

-TPM in and of itself won't protect against piracy at all if the implementation is botched.
-Tying purchased software or media to a specific hardware device p*sses people off when they repair, replace or upgrade and their DRMed stuff no longer works.
-Talk about opening up Asian markets, etc, is proceeding under the flawed assumption that those who acquire illegal copies of a game would even purchase a legit copy.
-Restricting your potential install base in this manner will reduce exposure, popularity, and ultimately sales of your game despite the opposite being your goal.

Re:Famous last words (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545611)

Here's another fun one:

Lets say I rip the "sounds" and "models" then simply write a knockoff engine to play the same content. People have gone though harder means to make offline clients for MMORPGS. This is why his words are total bollocks.

Re:Famous last words (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545699)

Nolan Bushnell said that a new stealth encryption chip called TPM will 'absolutely stop piracy of gameplay'.

Good lord, what year is this article from.

Re:Famous last words (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545723)

Eventually the free market will produce easily hackable gaming platforms. Called "personal computers".

I was going to make a snazzy comment... (2, Funny)

Valkyre (101907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545511)

I was going to make a snazzy comment on how TPM was toyed with re: OSX and it doesn't seem to be making any trouble....then compare safedisc and securom and how it was so easy to modify executables to bypass the security....or how much more controlled-hardware environments like playstations and xboxes were no trouble at all to break....

Then I remembered someone claims the end of piracy every year and I should go back to my coffee.

I tagged this article (5, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545525)

  • defectivebydesign
  • trecherouscomputing

I own my computer. I bought the hardware. I should be able to do whatever I want with it. The reasons the concept of copyright has been created are not compelling enough to essentially force every computer to have a police chip in it to make sure we honor it.

"The TPM chip will mainly work on (1)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545527)

the Amiga," said Troy McClure, spokesman for Atari.

what happens with a new mainboard? (2, Interesting)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545543)

hmm ... let's see. It's embedded on the mainboard, and as I understand it, they use that to encrypt the game key or whatever.
What happens if I have to change the mobo? Do I have to buy the game again? Do I have to re-register with a newly generated key? That would mean that there is some confirmation coming from some site, which, sorry Nolan, means someone from the intertubes will certainly be able to fake it.

Atari is claiming this? (5, Insightful)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545545)

Umm so like they just woke up from a coma and heard about Trusted Computing? ROTFL! Mind you Atari had jack to do with this technology.

Trusted Computing uses the TPM module, it's in many but FAR from all computers. It's in this laptop, it can be ADDED to my desktop's motherboard. It's designed to store measures of critical OS and hardware components like the BIOS to prevent tampering. Modify a file who's hash is stored in the TPM and is checked by a critical process and the system won't boot. There's a random number generator in there and yeah probably a private keypair too. So what I can only EVER play my game on this one machine now? It's locked to this machine? Games upgrade their stuff more than anyone else and he thinks this is the great panacea? You could do this today with your own code much the way Vista does, has that helped adoption? The TPM might be a more effective way to do it but it won't guarantee sales.

There are several games on the market and coming to market that I have not nor will I purchase simply because the DRM is too intrusive. Games that require me to be connected to the 'net for "verification" to play standalone or that can only be purchased and downloaded via DRM'd mechanisms aren't of interest to me. I and others have voted with our wallets.

Want to KILL the commercial game industry? Implement this! This guy sounds like your typical PHB who has stumbled upon something in a trade rag, seized upon the idea, and is trumpeting to anyone in management that will listen what a great idea he's found. In short he's a fool. He also sounds like he believes that everyone who's pirating games now will suddenly be forced to start buying them, wow is he and the music industry going to be in for a shock when they finally figure out this isn't the case!

GL Atari, was nice knowing you.

Compare to WiiWare (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545731)

So what I can only EVER play my game on this one machine now? It's locked to this machine?
People don't complain much about WiiWare and Virtual Console games being locked to one Wii console. But then, you get more value out of a Wii game, as you can fit two to four players on a single console with many Wii games, unlike most PC games that require one PC per player.

Bad Sectors Anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545547)

This is from a company that once used bad sectors on floppies as an anti-piracy technique. It was "unstoppable" at the time. They thought that floppy drives sold to the consumer couldn't create bad sectors. Game would check to see if a certain sector on the floppy was indeed bad. No bad sector? Must be a copy.

However, a piece of scotch tape on the floppy, a "graphic" format utility, wait until that sector was being formatted, *tug* *tug* *tug* on the tape....

delusional at best (5, Funny)

BuckaBooBob (635108) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545551)

If it can be Encrypted it can be decrypted..

Then there are people that buy Copy Protection... "Ok.. if it Truly can't be copied.. Then how am I going to mass produce it." never seems to enter their minds.

There really needs to be some studies done on people that make these types of Claims.. Exactly how delusional are these people.. or is it a simple case of diminished mental capacity.. Or is it not the people that make the claims but the people that buy into the marketing Hype that have the issues that should be studied.

These types of Schemes should be rated in the number of Weeks from launch it will take for the technology to be Hacked/Cracked/Made Irrelevant by the "Internet People"..

Unfortunately, unbreakable also means (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545553)

... mostly useless, as in Microsoft encryption or other schemes?

I had the delightful adventure one day to having to reinstall Windows. What I didnÂt know, is that my personal folders, which I had opted for encryption on disk using the Windows XP encryption suddenly rendered my personal folders unavailable.

Since it seems nobody actually uses Microsoft encryption, I could find NO sites for clues on how to break this (and of course, breaking in, would also mean the encryption itself is useless).

So in my experience, having encryption is only useful if you have a good backup. But TPM chips and other DRM-like stuff doesnÂt usually leave you with a good backup (and if it does, it will also be useless on that grounds).

SO many people are going to curse this, and pirate even more, if TPM is used in non-business scenarios, because thatÂs where it is suited, not for home use (and I believe TPM will be GREAT for businesses and maybe anti-virus industry).

Why?... (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545577)

Why do people make bold and moronic statements like that when history regularly proves them wrong. You know, that adage of "where there's a will, there's a way?" Uh, yeah. That saying came about for a reason - when people put their mind to something, they will always succeed in the end. It kinda goes along with the "never say never" adage...

LOL (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545581)

hahahah !
oh wait ... you're serious ... let me laugh even harder HAHAHAHAH !

How to stop game piracy.... (1)

brunokummel (664267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545589)

You want to know how to stop game piracy?
Simple...let's go back to the cartridges...

Re:How to stop game piracy.... (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545701)

You want to know how to stop game piracy?
Simple...let's go back to the cartridges...
DS cartridges are already widely pirated, as were GBA cartridges before them.

What could possibly go wrong? (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545591)

Come on people, lets start using that tag where it is actually applicable. :-)

Atari founder not that bright! (2)

The Bandit (17525) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545595)

Ok, being a former hacker (ok I still do it but still), My unofficial Hackers Rule Book tells me that Mr. Bushnell is not that bright. Hackers Law #1, Always make backups. But #3 states if someone claims it's unbreakable... BREAK IT!.
Mr. Bushnell has opened the door for hackers across the globe to crack his unbreakable toy. Historically, every single company, person, and government that has made such claims, their technology was hacked in hours to weeks, and in rare cases months. Now granted some times this is on purposes so they "might" figure out how to patch that hole, but it's useless. In the hacker world, the locks can be picked, the encryption gets decrypted, and we sit back and say.. nice try. If you really piss us off bad enough, we release the code on how to do it.
Blueray/HDDVD said it would take what, 10 years to crack? It was initially cracked in what, a week? Then everyone knew how to do it in a month. How much more of an invite do these companies need to do to be shown up?
My best guess is if you really want something unhackable, DO NOT ADVERTISE THAT IT CAN'T BE HACKED!
Now if you want REAL security, hire a team of top notch hackers and give them what THEY want not what you want and you may very well get a seriously good product that will be hard to hack. But always remember Hackers Law #2, There will ALWAYS be someone better than yourself.

Hiya (5, Insightful)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545603)

Long time paying customer here. Just a quick note to let you know that I would buy more games if your prices were lower (because you weren't pissing money away on stupid schemes like this) and you spent more time focusing on how to get money out of me (by offering value) rather than trying to get money out of people who have proven they are not able to/going to pay.

Anyway, thanks for letting me know about TPM. I'll be sure not to purchase hardware from vendors including it on their MBs, since I obviously cannot trust them.

Re:Hiya (2, Insightful)

gsslay (807818) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545797)

Note from developer here. Just a quick note to let you know we don't care if you would buy more games if the prices were lower. We make more money by selling fewer games at a higher price. But thanks for letting us know.

HA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545629)

Ha! What one man can devise another one can circumvent. Any guesses how long after this "unbreakable" copy protection scheme starts coming out before "cracks" start to appear?

What the article states about movies and music also holds true for game code. If a computer can read it, it can be copied.

Erm...New Chip? (1)

bomanbot (980297) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545645)

I hate to to burst Mr Bushnells Bubble, but the TPM is neither a good solution to game piracy, nor particularly new. According to the Wikipedia article on Trusted Computing [] , the first systems with a TPM have been shipped since 2004.

Also, does someone remember Next-Generation Secure Computing Base [] from Microsoft? Do we really have to go through all of this again?

I think I heard this type of statement before... (5, Funny)

hyperz69 (1226464) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545655)


Is this really relevant anymore? (1)

Monkey (16966) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545671)

I would say the trend for games to require an online paid subscription will do a lot more to curb piracy than any TPM technology.

Hell, don't some companies just let you download the game for free now and get all their revenue from subscriptions? Or the variant of this, Steam.

Piracy of gameplay? (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545677)

From the article: "The TPM will, in fact, absolutely stop piracy of gameplay." I assume this TPM is a Trusted Platform Module [] . For example, Windows Vista Ultimate's BitLocker feature uses the TPM. But don't you need at least Windows Vista to run games for Windows that require the TPM?

Besides, is it even possible to pirate "gameplay" as such? The Tetris Company likes to assert a copyright on Tetris, but game rules can't be copyrighted [] . One leading case is Lotus v. Borland.

I'm old, and I'm tired of these people (4, Insightful)

evilpenguin (18720) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545707)

I am an old fart programmer (anything past 40 is WAY old in technology) so gaming long since left me behind. Face it, asteroids was as advanced as I got.

That said, I would hope the industry would LEARN from the failure of music DRM and the HD DVD stuff (note how Blu-Ray is failing to fly off the shelves -- it was the format war, not DRM that kept it from selling, right? RIGHT!?!?)

I am sick and tired of being treated like a criminal. And that's what all this technology does. I don't share the optimism that every solution will be defeated. Impenetrable control is possible. But luckily the industry hasn't been very good at this so far. But compare the ease of defeating CSS with the difficulty of defeating ACCS and you see they are learning.

The best way to defeat this is to refuse to buy hardware that has the controls. I sincerely hope Blu-Ray dies an ignimonious death. As much as I want an HD video format (and as long as I only have 1MBit bandwidth), DVD is good enough.

Stop treating me like a criminal and I'll buy your crap. Until then, get bent.

TPM and apple... (0, Troll)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545711)

TPM isn't going to solve anything.

Look at apple! Apple uses a TPM chip to prevent osx on non-apple hardware... BUT clearly it didn't work [] .

Maybe the atari guys havn't heard of el-jobso and his merchants of 'cool'

Re:TPM and apple... (2, Insightful)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545725)

whoops... here's the link for TPM & Apple ...

Re:TPM and apple... (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545753)

and yes, I know they eventually dropped TPM.

Probably because it was driving costs up ... and not working.

Apple is not using TPM for security (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545735)

There is not even a TPM chip in many models of Mac.

In other news... (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545719)

Todd Davis, CEO of Life Lock, proclaims the end of identity theft.

You don't own your computer ... (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545737)

I continue to be irked by the fact that 3rd parties increasingly have more control over my PC than I do.

I'm not interested in pirating someone's games or music, but I'm just waiting until a fairly obvious operation suddenly becomes disallowed to me because some peckerwood decided I should never be able to do that on my own damned PC for fear that I might be doing something they don't like.

If the media companies had their way, they'd basically get rid of the entire concept of general purpose computing and be stuck with an appliance they could control and which would force us to become a monetized revenue source with marketing options controlled by them.

I'm getting tired of crappy solutions which are mostly just restricting what I can already do.


It'd be pretty hard to do (4, Informative)

supradave (623574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545755)

The software my company writes is tied to the TPM chip. What it prevents you from doing is taking a copy of our software and running it on another machine. When you register it, you then download an encrypted image for that specific TPM chip. Without systems level access to that machine and some pretty expensive hardware tools, there's no reasonable way to hack it. Of course, our entire application/OS is encrypted whereas encrypting an entire game would become a hinderence to game play. Therefore, I doubt it will take off.

But heck, it's the securiest OS on the planet be running those games. TPM is irrelevant then.

"stealth encryption chip" WTF. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545761)

"Stealth encryption chip" is a stupid way to describe what a TPM does. It hashes memory to provide assurance that running software is authentic (signed by a trusted certificate), and it grounds this assurance in hardware that would be extremely difficult to hack.

Uses for TPM are mostly evil (DRM enforcement), but also good: They could make things a lot harder for the authors of worms, trojans, and virii.

Atari brings PC gaming down with it (1)

^_^x (178540) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545765)

I already play next to no big commercial PC games because of random, carelessly severe copy protection scumware that's in it now. Having a TPM has no benefit to me, just added cost to restrict my usage so if I have a choice, I will get a PC without one. Not that I'm a pirate and think this will stop copying or anything, they'll probably just circumvent it like always unless it's integral to the function of the software.

But whatever, they can go this way and guarantee that I'll never buy another PC game. My consoles get lots of love already.

Games/Software are not required (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545767)

Computer games are not a requirement, they are a recreation.

What are other recreations?

Well, game consoles have their own transparent protections the average user never even sees, board games, card games, role-playing games, wargames, trivia games, reading, listening to music, learning an instrument, playing sports, going for a walk\run\bike ride\drive, hanging out with friends, etc etc etc There are plenty of ways to spend time that don;t require computer games.

Continue to add more of this ridiculous garbage to software and you won't have to worry about piracy, people will quit buying any of your products all together. 0 sales = Dead Company.

Treating your customers like criminals and making your product inconvenient will only cost your entire customer base

I love Nolan, but... (3, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545771)

He must not have had his Wheaties that morning. That's the really dumbest thing I've seen him say in a long time.

He says this:

a new stealth encryption chip called TPM will 'absolutely stop piracy of gameplay'.

But he also says this: won't stop movie or music piracy, since 'if you can watch it and you can hear it, you can copy it.'

So tell me Nolan, exactly how does that work? Do the bytes that make up movies have a different flavor somehow than the bytes in a computer program?

In short Nolan, never underestimate the power of fifteen year old kids who live in the Netherlands. Be prepared to eat those words.

PS: Wiki has a page up on TPM already. [] Along with links to already existing attacks. []

Isn't this similar to the "dongles" of the 90's? (1)

backbyter (896397) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545779)

If I remember correctly, most software that required a dongle (hardware that generally sat on the parallel port) in the early 90's swiftly had a patch/cracked version out.

So this brings about a more important Question.. (4, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545785) are they now going to explain the drop in game sales?

They won't be able to blame piracy, which in actuality has been a promotional tool.
Without that promotional tool, well.... out of sight, out or mind.

Its been long established and even in some cases intentionally applied, that the non-legal distribution of software helps promotion of the software in sales.

This non-legal spread of software started before the word "Piracy" was coined by Bill Gates (as it applies to software). And Bill Gates profited off of the non-legal spread of his BASIC for the Altair computer.

I believe there are studies of this same drop in sales regarding music as piracy is cracked down on by unreasonable aggressive RIAA legal system tactics.

Dear Slashdot (1)

Broken Toys (1198853) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545791)

You owe me a new computer monitor.

Go back to cartridges... (0, Redundant)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23545803)

The only thing that will end piracy of game software is putting games in cartridges that are technically difficult to reproduce and contain elements required by the game itself. You can use TPM and other technical measures to take advantage of the DMCA (like printer manufacturers do) to prevent people selling cloning cartridges. But as long as the game is stored in a file on disk out of it only takes one person to come up with a way to bypass the protection and put a cracked version online and it's "game over".

hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23545805)

'absolutely stop piracy of gameplay'

should we file this with other quotes such as
"there will never be a use for a computer in some ones home"

"we will never need more than 640k of memory"

Etcetera adnasium
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