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Microsoft, Blizzard Crack Down On Piracy, Cheating

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the no-means-no dept.

Microsoft 150

Microsoft has confirmed that they've been wielding the banhammer lately over modifications to the Xbox 360 which allow players to run pirated games. Xbox Live's Major Nelson said the action would also void the warranty on the offending console, and that Microsoft will "continue to employ and bolster anti-piracy security measures to counter piracy in the gaming industry and improve security in the Xbox LIVE community." Meanwhile, Blizzard dealt with 350,000 of their own problem users on Battle.net, saying simply that they wouldn't tolerate cheating. This is likely one of many steps to clean up the system before it gets revamped for use with StarCraft II.

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So Microsoft... (1)

Warll (1211492) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783243)

So Microsoft would do this how? If the mod chip is in the hardware should it not be next to impossible for Microsoft to detect it? Sorry if I'm a bit naive, I have never so much as loaded the homebrew channel on my Wii.

Re:So Microsoft... (2, Insightful)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783283)

I am a bit naive in this area also. However, I guess that it's similar to Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA). They could do a checksum or generate a hash on the binaries and on the hardware also. Anything that does not "match" could be flagged.

If the mod chip is in the hardware should it not be next to impossible for Microsoft to detect it?

I'm not sure that generating a checksum on hardware is all that different to doing it for software.

I don't have a Wii, but I am guessing (for the purpose of this reasoning) that it connects to the internet and checks 'things'. So, I don't really see it being "impossible" for MS to check for (sit behind a firewall and, yes, maybe...)

Re:So Microsoft... (4, Informative)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783311)

I would imagine one of the simplest ways to test is load a piece of software encoded for each console region. If they all run, it's modded.

Re:So Microsoft... (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783943)

However it works, I can see a big market for cracked games running on identical virtual machines. Hash that, suckers! I don't condone that behavior, but I don't want my time wasted by needless security that won't stop the bad guys.

Re:So Microsoft... (5, Informative)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783381)

Wii is different. There is an exploitable bug (buffer overflow) in the Twilight Princess. This allows for the Elf-Loader hack to load various files, one of which is the HBC installer which installs the Homebrew Channel. This channel is basically just a loader for the same files as the Elf-loader hack does. Completely a software based hack, no harder mods required.

I've got the HBC on my Wii and it's great. It even looks like an official (to some extent) thing because of it's (visual) quality.

Re:So Microsoft... (4, Funny)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783945)

Twilight Princess? Elf Loader? Am I the only one that finds this amusing? :P

Or am I just that far behind the times... :P

Re:So Microsoft... (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784163)

Oh no I thought it was specifically named `elf` for that fact... and using '.elf' files too for the same reason. It was the first time I had come across .elf files and thought it was a specific extension. Turns out it's Executable Loader File. They say ignorance is bliss, it's generally humorous too.

ELF = Executabe and Linkable Format (3, Informative)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784891)

Turns out it's Executable Loader File.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ELF [wikipedia.org] says it's "Executabe and Linkable Format".

It was the first time I had come across .elf files and thought it was a specific extension.

Ever noticed .orc or .hmn? How about .dwf, .hbt or .gnm? .kbld, .trgldt, .bhldr, .drgn or .nvsblstlkr? ;)

And don't you start a flame war between a GNOME pyrotechnician and firebreathing KDE dragon, okay? :P

Re:ELF = Executabe and Linkable Format (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#25787101)

".kbld, .trgldt, .bhldr, .drgn or .nvsblstlkr?" Are these actually used for anything... drgn maybe but...
On a related note. WoW uses .WTF for configuration/settings in game.

Not elf... (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784787)

Twilight Princess? Elf Loader?

Come on! Everyone knows that there's isn't a single elf in the Zeldaverse.

Call me when they have a Hylian Loader.

Re:So Microsoft... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784647)

There's an Hudson's Bay Company [hbc.com] installer for the Wii? WTF?

Re:So Microsoft... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783499)

There aren't really any modchips for the Xbox 360 the way they are modified is by flashing the DVD drive with a modified firmware. So to find modded consoles MS can look at the currently active firmware or as I believe they have done in the past they can simply ban any console that is detected (most likely via checksums or something) running copied games. Hope that answers your question.

Re:So Microsoft... (1)

grub (11606) | more than 5 years ago | (#25785075)


There aren't really any modchips for the Xbox 360 the way they are modified is by flashing the DVD drive with a modified firmware.

Oh really? I guess I was dreaming when I soldered this [nme2.com] in my 360.

Re:So Microsoft... (1)

jasen666 (88727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25785853)

How's your experience been with that one?
My box is out of warranty now so I've been considering doing a little hacking on it.

Re:So Microsoft... (1)

TehZorroness (1104427) | more than 5 years ago | (#25786657)

If you ever want to play earthbound on your wii, I'd highly recommend using it. It's extremely simple. :)

Is this really news? (5, Insightful)

shinmai (632532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783253)

I might be in the minority here, but both Microsofts and Blizzards views on piracy and cheating have been very clear to me for quite some time, and haven't drastically change as of late.

Microsofts die-hard attitude towards modded 360s is actually quite understandable. If I'm not mistaken, 360 games aren't areacoded, and there's really no huge homebrew-scene for it, so the only thing modchips are good for are "backups", which - let's face it - are an excuse to run pirated games...

Re:Is this really news? (4, Informative)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783303)

Yeah, I really appreciate Blizzards hard work to ban all the cheaters, it would suck if they didn't cared. (And the same actually goes for farmers in WoW if they ruin the game experience for everyone else.)

An opposit would be Nintendo there they don't seem to implement some sort of cheating test (for instance control which bricks come in tetris and see if they fit in the location the game claim they fit in tetris, or that you can really walk where the client claim, or that it have the amount of resources, and so on and so on.)

Their lame trust of the client because they know the game can't be modified (unless there was flashcarts ..) has led to videos on youtube there people play for instance Tetris DS vs someone who only get 4x1 bricks .. Talk about a ruined experience. They could just had sent an array of say 20 bricks at a time and see if the current game state allowed position such a brick in the position claimed.

Anyway, hurray for Blizzard trying to make online gaming an enjoyable experience. If only there was some way to vote for ban of a player in random team games in WC3 or such if they team kill / just leave the game / ..

Re:Is this really news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784713)

I appreciate Blizzards efforts as well.. However, they could do it in a less pervasive way than Warden. The fact that we submit to invasions of our machines processes and file systems just to play a game, is a huuuuge green light for future, non gaming interests to think that they can get you by the balls if you enjoy their content enough ( =??AA ) so go ahead and pull your pants down and prepare to get your processes/RAM/file system pillaged when you put a DVD in your computer (hello some BlueRays call home already, just wait for the added *functionality*)

Re:Is this really news? (5, Informative)

jcd2025 (1246142) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783347)

I'm pretty sure that PS3 has the region free games and the Xbox still has nasty region coding on its games :(

Re:Is this really news? (5, Informative)

iainl (136759) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783821)

Yes and no. Some 360 games are region-coded, some aren't. Just like with Blu-ray movies, oddly enough.

Re:Is this really news? (1)

FlyveHest (105693) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784137)

PS3 games are always region-free, on the 360 some are, some aren't, and I am not really sure how or who selects which are.

Re:Is this really news? (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783365)

The 360 has region codes but the compatibility list on Play Asia suggests that many games are coded for more than one region.

Re:Is this really news? (5, Insightful)

Vskye (9079) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783401)

so the only thing modchips are good for are "backups", which - let's face it - are an excuse to run pirated games...

Personally, I have kids that might trash a game cd, so I can't make a backup from something I've already purchased? That's just wrong. In other words, I should go spend another $50 on the same thing?

Re:Is this really news? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783515)

so the only thing modchips are good for are "backups", which - let's face it - are an excuse to run pirated games...

Personally, I have kids that might trash a game cd, so I can't make a backup from something I've already purchased? That's just wrong. In other words, I should go spend another $50 on the same thing?

Absolutely not. Why should you buy your kids another copy when they couldn't take care of the first one?

Re:Is this really news? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784441)

Absolutely not. Why should you buy your kids another copy when they couldn't take care of the first one?

Heh. Do you honestly think kids only trash their OWN stuff? Even not taking into account that the kids might not even be old enough to take proper care of discs, the games might not even belong to them.

Or, if you will, let me tell you about my own experiences. I haven't got kids, I've got a dog - and you'd be *astounded* by the sheer amount of destructive energy that exists in a four-month old husky pup. If you feel like it, google for "husky damage" some time; scratched game discs are really the least of my concerns, but being able to make backups is NEVER a bad idea.

(BTW, I should probably also say that despite everything she's done, I really love my pup dearly and wouldn't trade her for anything in the world!)

Re:Is this really news? (2)

emj (15659) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784525)

It would be my game CD they broke, and there is little I can do about that. Kids break stuff and it's ok, you have to be very boring parent if you haven't noticed that.

This is highly theoretical since I have no CDs, you should only buy CD unencumbered games, such as:

There should be others, but those run on many platforms..

Re:Is this really news? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784679)

For the love of God, man, are you trying to kill this guy's life? Why are you listing all these good games, all at once? Are you insane?

Re:Is this really news? (1)

andi75 (84413) | more than 5 years ago | (#25785167)

It's the only way to pull him away from World of Warcraft. So he's actually saving his life.

Re:Is this really news? (1)

redJag (662818) | more than 5 years ago | (#25787933)

I agree, I played WoW for a long time and the thing that helped me quit was playing games that were actually good :)

Re:Is this really news? (2, Insightful)

neoform (551705) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784811)

Why should we be using media that's so easily damaged? I've scratched DVDs simply by putting them in the tray slightly askew.. imagine all media was this fragile? Content owners are all too happy to sell you their wares on disks that get damaged very easily.. and they want to make sure you can't prevent damage by being able to back up what you purchased.

All these companies like playing both sides, they claim they're selling you a license, which means you should be allowed to backup as many times as you want, provided it's only you that's using it, then they turn around and tell you that you're only allowed one copy of the disk since it's the disk they've sold you.. not a license.

So, the question is, when I buy a game, or a movie, or music.. what the hell did I pay for? What am I actually legally entitled to?

Re:Is this really news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783725)

Your kids might trash all kinds of physical objects that you can't make a copy of - deal with it the same way.

Re:Is this really news? (2, Insightful)

jasen666 (88727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25785923)

Or, we just make copies and not worry about it.
Same goes with DVD's the kids watch. I'm not going to *not* take steps to protect the originals just because someone might not like it.

Re:Is this really news? (2, Informative)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784245)

$50 ? More like 70 euros around here. Which is almost 90 bucks and further validates your point.

Re:Is this really news? (1)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784443)

The same kids might break a window in your house. Do you think you should have a backup window included in the price of your original installation?

Kind of a point blank opinion and I don't disagree with you backing up. I don't actually think it's a valid complaint to argue against copy protection, though. No system is foolproof but I do tend to agree that online play copy protection is extremely effective combating piracy.

I have no solutions for one player games. Only this: if you want a legitimate reason for your game to be phoning home, make a multiplayer game. Best copy protection/incentive for purchase around.

Re:Is this really news? (1)

nsteinme (909988) | more than 5 years ago | (#25785087)

The same kids might break a window in your house. Do you think you should have a backup window included in the price of your original installation?

data costs nothing to duplicate, unlike physical objects such as windows.

Re:Is this really news? (1)

penix1 (722987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25787067)

No system is foolproof but I do tend to agree that online play copy protection is extremely effective combating piracy.

Until someone figures out a way to use another server instead of the one the manufacturer wants. It is surprising nobody has done this already (or if they have, I haven't heard of it).

Re:Is this really news? (1)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 5 years ago | (#25786529)

Didn't you know, kids are not suppose to play video games.

Re:Is this really news? (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783483)

"If I'm not mistaken, 360 games aren't areacoded, and there's really no huge homebrew-scene for it, so the only thing modchips are good for are "backups", which - let's face it - are an excuse to run pirated games..."

Which I consider a fair trade considering the corporate extension of copyright law and the lack of works going into the public domain. Let's not act as if these gamers are the only bad guys, corporations are much more nasty then the average plebe can hope to comprehend.

Re:Is this really news? (0, Flamebait)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783727)

If you don't like the rules, don't take part - you aren't entitled to everything you want on your own terms.

But 'going without' seems to not be part of today's vocabulary....

Re:Is this really news? (3, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783757)

"But 'going without' seems to not be part of today's vocabulary...."

There is a fundamental, philosophical, problem with the traditional means of distribution: the product is abundant.

Cars are not abundant. It takes a significant expenditure of materials and effort to put one together. When I drive off in one, I cannot simply dupe it and give the dupe to my friend. The laws of physics dictate a level of scarcity to this good, and as such it makes perfect sense to expect to receive money from every person who obtains a car.

The world of "data" follows different laws of physics. Once I have the data in my hot little hands, I can dupe it and give it to my friends at zero direct cost to the producer. There is no deprivation of use nor loss of mineral resources nor expenditure of manpower nor anything of the sort on the part of the original developer when I dupe the game. None. And I can keep duplicating this ad infinitum, at the same cost (of zero). Furthermore, my friends can do the same thing with the copy I gave them...there is no quality loss. Once the good exists, it can instantly exist everywhere. It is "abundant."

So, since data follows these laws (rather than the laws of physics as they apply to physical goods) people feel like they are being cheated when they are asked to pretend like data follows the laws of physical matter. They feel like they are buying into a game of control that is unfounded in reality and ultimately to their detriment (since they have to pay money for something that doesn't cost anything to produce *at this point* (excluding initial development costs).

I think that is the crux of the issue. We all know the good is abundant, and we all feel like pretending it is not abundant is just silly, and harmful to us (our money is valuable and if we can get games for free then we have optimized our entertainment budget and have more money left over to spend on things like real cars or educations for our kids or what-have-you).

What about the potential sale that we are "stealing" by copying a game? We tend to respond to such a representation of the situation with great cynicism. We feel like the only reason you feel entitled to every single "potential sale" is because of your insistence in everyone pretending that an abundant good is not abundant. We also feel that the dog-eat-dog world of capitalism doesn't guarantee a ROI on any kind of development project, so when you pound your fist in frustration at your inability to monetize your efforts we just say, "so try something else...thats what every other entrepreneur in the world has had to do...what makes you special? If you can't make money making games, do something else, and stop whining." That is the same answer we get when we complain about being downsized, or having low-paying jobs, or what-have-you...so we are just responding in turn.

Lastly...the age-old mantra that if you can't get money for every copy of a game sold then nobody will produce games. I call BS. Piracy has been alive and well since before the computer games industry even existed...and since long before DRM existed...and the games industry thrived anyway. And it still thrives, despite the continued piracy. Enough people pay for the games (even though they don't have to) that the industry remains profitable. If that model suddenly stops working, alternative models will take its place (subscription-based games and so on). If that doesn't work, and we actually reach a state of utter cultural impoverishment where no games (or music or movies, for that matter) are being produced because nobody can figure out how to make a living doing it (and no hobbiests manage to churn out anything but crap)...which I maintain is an economic impossibility...but if it actually does occur THEN it might make sense to talk about legislation...and there would be a conscious buy-in to the legislation from the masses who are hungry for cultural enrichment. However, this has not happened, and I therefore submit that it makes no sense to try to preemptively pass laws based on the premise that it might happen (given that it is unlikely and that the situation could be remedied after the fact anyway).

Re:Is this really news? (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783831)

Maybe, but let's be clear what Microsoft are doing. They are NOT bricking your console when they detect a problem. They're refusing to allow you entry to their online service, because you have broken the terms and conditions for it.

It simply doesn't matter whether your mod is legal or not, because they're not taking you to court over it. It only matters whether accessing XBox Live with a modded 360 is disallowed in their terms of service, and it is.

Re:Is this really news? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784689)

Maybe, but let's be clear what Microsoft are doing. They are NOT bricking your console when they detect a problem.

Nope. They designed the console to brick itself! [wikipedia.org] :D

Re:Is this really news? (1)

harl (84412) | more than 5 years ago | (#25786683)

+1 informative

Re:Is this really news? (0, Flamebait)

Dobeln (853794) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783897)

"I think that is the crux of the issue. We all know the good is abundant, and we all feel like pretending it is not abundant is just silly,"

The good is only abundant after decidedly non-abundant software engineers, artists, musicians, etc. have worked for a few years to produce the "abundant" final product.

"Piracy has been alive and well since before the computer games industry even existed...and since long before DRM existed...and the games industry thrived anyway. And it still thrives, despite the continued piracy."

My friend, allow me to introduce you to the wonderful world of quantitative thinking. It will do wonders for your outlook on things.

Re:Is this really news? (3, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784005)

"The good is only abundant after decidedly non-abundant software engineers, artists, musicians, etc. have worked for a few years to produce the "abundant" final product."

Which is entirely irrelevant, according to the laws of supply and demand, their "product" should net zero because supply always exceeds demand. Imagine you had the same situation in the real world, lets say someone invents replicator technology, suddenly entire industries would go belly up. I find it highly annoying that slashdots resident capitalists are so pro protectionist, you want to protect an industry that clearly has "whip and buggy" issues, they want to try to profit off something that is not scarce. If it were food and water and the means to transport them virtually free, these people would be politically ostracized. These people still profit mightily despite piracy and artificially restricting supply. So until these industries go belly up any argument to the contrary is quite hollow. I could talk about the violation of civil and consumer rights that these industries engage in but I won't bother here since most of the responses are too mired in ideology, rather then reason.

There's no right to profit, period, if you don't like the situation don't work in the industry. Maybe you'd have us go back to pre-internet times and have all our hardware locked down with orwellian spyware just to make sure we were paying for our goods. The truth is modern protectionists need their head read, did prohibition work? Trying to go against the flow of human advancement with primitive territoriality and propertarianism is only going to further stifle innovation. We've seen what "protecting IP" has done for the patent trolls.

Re:Is this really news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784115)

I find it highly annoying that slashdots resident capitalists are so pro protectionist, you want to protect an industry that clearly has "whip and buggy" issues, they want to try to profit off something that is not scarce.

So why don't you tell us what industry you're in that's completely unreliant on protected intangibles? Are you a rent-boy?

Strong stuff (1)

Dobeln (853794) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784237)

"Which is entirely irrelevant, according to the laws of supply and demand, their "product" should net zero because supply always exceeds demand."

Which means we can't have products with large development costs and low replication costs in your suggested setup. But most of us like those products, which is why we have IP protection instead.

Also, rather surprisingly for someone railing against Slashdot "capitalists", you appear to have made supply and demand into some kind of moral imperative.

"These people still profit mightily despite piracy and artificially restricting supply."

Like I alluded to in my previous post, current legislation and technical protection limit the extent of piracy. (Quantitative difference)

Obviously, if it was possible to commercially and non-commercially distribute the IP of others, "piracy" would be far more widespread, and most likely all developers of unprotected software, movies, etc. would go out of business. Which would drive supply of obviously desired goods to zero. And if you seriously believe that "volunteers", etc. can deliver comparable goods to, say, modern computer games, then I want some of whatever you are smoking.

On a side note, it is interesting that the PS3 appears to have almost completely defeated piracy, while the 360 is only cracked to a limited extent (with Xbox Live making crackdowns possible). Hence, the fatalistic argument against IP enforcement and protection seems to be taking a bit of a beating right now.

Re:Is this really news? (2, Insightful)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784275)

There's a limited supply at the one end (engineers and programmers and artists creating content) and a limited supply at the other end (consumers). The unique thing here is an abundant intermediate. In your argument you imply that this intermediate matters more.

Under the standard economics "pure amoral rational actors living in a pure capitalist system" scenario, you actually do not have abundance because nobody produces anything*, because there is.

What we have is an interesting problem of how to incentivize development. Let me vomit out some solutions of various quality:

1. Don't. We don't need software/music/TV anyway.
2. Don't. Product tying is enough.
3. Don't. Some kind people will donate their time to create software, or their money to fund paid development of software, so there is already incentive in our not-quite-pure system.
4. Collective pay. A communist approach within the greater capitalist society.
5. Regulation to enforce something like the GPL on proprietary, unreleased software developed to aid a company's own operations.
6. Patronage model.
7. Artificial scarcity.
8. Don't. Everybody knows that extremely attractive members of the sex(es) most interesting to you are dying to do everything in their power to please artists/actors/directors/designers/programmers/scientists/engineers.
9. Attempt to fuel a cultural shift which generates non-monetary rewards for these actions (see also: 8).
10. Some kind of DRM scheme (yeah, I know: "booooo, hisssss").

*Well, they do produce things, but they lock it up by tying it in some way to items that are not abundant and so can be sold, which is also viable in the current state of affairs.

Re:Is this really news? (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 5 years ago | (#25785547)

As soon as the replicators mean that software devs like me don't need to pay rent or buy food, I'll agree with you. Until then, stop quoting some farcical sci-fi future as justification for stealing the work of developers like me.

You don't work for fuck-all, why expect everyone who makes entertainment to do so?

Re:Is this really news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784307)

What is so difficult to understand about the concept of:

You don't like the terms? You don't have to. You can just live on without the product. You won't suffer any consequences, your life will not be a misery.

Why can't you do just that? What drives you to play those games? Is there anything really substantial other than "just have some fun", anything that could not be accomplished if you just skip the game?

Re:Is this really news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25785245)

The world of "data" follows different laws of physics. Once I have the data in my hot little hands, I can dupe it and give it to my friends at zero direct cost to the producer. There is no deprivation of use nor loss of mineral resources nor expenditure of manpower nor anything of the sort on the part of the original developer when I dupe the game.

Except for the time, effort and labour the original developer put into making the game in the first place, and the time, effort, labour and investment put in by the distributor. You don't work for free, why should they? The data didn't magically manifest itself at zero cost, out of thin air. The cost and effort, or lack thereof, required for you to dupe it is irrelevent.

people feel like they are being cheated when they are asked to pretend like data follows the laws of physical matter. They feel like they are buying into a game of control that is unfounded in reality and ultimately to their detriment (since they have to pay money for something that doesn't cost anything to produce *at this point* (excluding initial development costs).

And so, the development houses shouldn't recoup their initial development costs? They shouldn't recoup the cost of the goods they needed to acquire to develop with and on? The distributor shouldn't recoup the costs of distribution? They should all work, for free, for you, and manage to somehow stay in business to continue producing, marketing and distributing free games for you, on the basis that, hey, it's easy to copy!!!11eleven.

We all know the good is abundant, and we all feel like pretending it is not abundant is just silly,

The crux of the problem seems to be that people seem to believe that developers and distributers should work for free, that the creation of the original product is free of charge and some sort of magical process in which the original copy is willed into existance. The problem also seems to be that people do not seem to understand basic economics, if these people work for free, and get no compensation for their efforts, how are they to continue to privide free goods?

if we can get games for free then we have optimized our entertainment budget and have more money left over to spend on things like real cars or educations for our kids or what-have-you).

So, you want free games, so that you don't have to prioritize your budjet. Your even suggesting that your entertainment budjet impedes on what's left to provide your children with an education is just disturbing.

Why stop at games? You clearly don't seem to think the developers' time and effort has any value, or the time, effort and investment on behalf of the distributers and markers, why not lobby for free education, too? You have no objection to cheating the developers out of their time and money, why not cheat teachers out of their's too. After all, once an education is acquired, it can be shared at no monetary cost, just like data. Brilliant!

What about the potential sale that we are "stealing" by copying a game? We tend to respond to such a representation of the situation with great cynicism. We feel like the only reason you feel entitled to every single "potential sale" is because of your insistence in everyone pretending that an abundant good is not abundant.

It has absolutely nothing to do with pretending that something is not abundant. Don't confuse "trivial to copy" with "abundant" either. Nobody is making any illusions about how easy it is to copy goods. You expect to be payed for your labour, why shouldn't anyone and everyone else? How are developers to earn their living unless they are paid for their efforts? How is the company who is paying their salaries to continue to pay their salaries if they cannot earn a living themselves? Even barring the issue of human labout put into producing, marketing and distributing a digital data, I suppose these costs can be defferred into the cost to the consumer of the console. Are you, howver, ready to invest thousands into a console?

Enough people pay for the games (even though they don't have to) that the industry remains profitable

So piracy isn't a danger to the profitability of an industry on the account of sufficient people actually paying for a product, and this, in extension, makes piracy okay. Brilliant circular reasoning there, buddy.

If that model suddenly stops working, alternative models will take its place (subscription-based games and so on).

So, you;'re opposed to paying for games, but you're all for... Paying for games. Make up your mind.

and there would be a conscious buy-in to the legislation from the masses who are hungry for cultural enrichment.

That's not how law functions. You don't opt in to legislation, nor do you opt out (unless you leave the jurisdiction of said legislatrion).

However, this has not happened, and I therefore submit that it makes no sense to try to preemptively pass laws based on the premise that it might happen (given that it is unlikely and that the situation could be remedied after the fact anyway).

That's not even the crux of the issue. Labourers need to be payed for their work. Why should you be paid for your labour and not them? This is an issue of greed, and not on the part of the gaming industry or of artists, but on your part.

Even still, why even entertain the idea of allowing a recession to occur? Because or head is stuck so far up your own ass^H^H^Hwallet that you don't give two shits about the people who make the product possible, or how many jobs will be lost, or any of that. No, the world revolves around you and your wallet, and everyone else should work for free because you have an inexplicable sense of entitlement to receive for free, all that you desire?

Re:Is this really news? (4, Insightful)

WorkingDead (1393377) | more than 5 years ago | (#25785429)

We kind of already found an answer to the fundamental flaw in IP type distribution methods. It was the copyright system. A long time ago, people noticed the difference between making books and cars. Books, music, poems, games, and such were much less costly to reproduce than to initially create as compared to something like a car. So we all kind of made a deal with the content producers. The people said that they would refrain from copying their stuff for a small period of time so that they could recover their investment into the IP's creation and earn a profit. Intern for that grace period, that work would then fall into the public domain after a reasonable amount of time had passed. Well, they broke their end of the deal by changing the rules and never letting their copyrights leave the grace period, so I just don't fell bad about breaking my end of the deal.

Copyright is not a natural right. It was created by compromise between the public and the content creators. Until they come back to the negotiation table they are going to have all the problems they are having for the obvious reasons they are having them.

Re:Is this really news? (3, Insightful)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 5 years ago | (#25787313)

This. It's rather unfortunate for the small guys who get caught in the big web, but the reality is until copyright is fixed and made reasonable again, the content providers do not have a leg to stand on. They can rant and rail about piracy all they want, but when the legit customers always have the short end of the stick and have no means for redress all due to horribly twisted IP protection laws, eventually even the most honest will turn to piracy out of sheer frustration. Rampant piracy is not an indication of dishonest consumers, it's an indication of greedy producers and developers. The degree of piracy relates (pretty directly) to the degree of unfairness in IP protection laws/methods. Fix copyrights and patents and the piracy problem will solve itself.

Re:Is this really news? (2, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 5 years ago | (#25785485)

You know, all things being equal if it takes you a hundred times as much text to explain your side of the argument, you are on dodgy grounds.
Here's the simpler side:

People work hard to make games. if you want to enjoy the fruits of their hard work, they ask you to pay them for their time. You get pleasure from games, just as you do from food, beer or the theatre. it's the same principle.

Simple really.

Re:Is this really news? (1)

harl (84412) | more than 5 years ago | (#25786531)

2 things.

I agree copyright infringement is not stealing it's copyright infringement. If it were stealing they wouldn't need a whole new set of laws for it.

Second your abundant explanation contains the common omission. The first copy does not follow the rules you mention. Your post is only correct for the 2nd and further copies.

The first copy of a game is not abundant. It takes a significant expenditure of materials and effort to put one together. The laws of physics dictate a level of scarcity to this good.

Any business model must cover both the 1st copy and the 1+n copy. That is the core of the problem.

Re:Is this really news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25787581)

Hmm, So far as I know my car and my cd's both have to obey the same laws of physics!

If you have discovered a different set of laws of physics, please enlighten us!

More importantly... (2, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783505)

Something the summary missed somewhat in regard to Microsoft's bans is that they're not just for anti-piracy reasons but like Blizzards are also for anti-cheating reasons.

Apparently a rather major oversight was made in development of the 360 whereby the executables are verified for integrity, so you can't modify the executables to cheat on a console capable of running pirated discs.

What they didn't do is implement a method of ensuring integrity of game resources, presumably they figured developers knowing their executables were secure would check integrity of resources themselves which makes sense as every game has individual assets so what's meant by integrity maybe game specific.

The problem is some people have found in some games you can hack the game assetts to give yourself an advantage and cheat and this is one of the main reasons Microsoft is banning. It's also one of the reasons I don't mind paying for XBox live because when Microsoft ban cheaters and void their warranties (which is fair enough, they've modified their hardware) it acts as a great disincentive for people to cheat. That levels the playing field for the rest of us who like to play fair. One of things I hated about PC gaming is no matter how hard developers try, you can't stop cheating on the PC without using game design specific mechanisms limiting somewhat your game's design because the PC isn't a trusted platform whilst consoles can at least to some extent be seen as trusted platforms.

To me I'd rather keep things this way too- I don't want my PC to become a trusted platform and controlled by someone else, I want to retain control but I'm also happy to use consoles for gaming for the advantages of trusted computing. This setup offers the best of both worlds IMO as the only way PCs will ever become cheat free is if they become trusted platforms which likely means you wont be allowed to play MP3s and the like when big corporates get their way.

Re:More importantly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783843)

This setup offers the best of both worlds IMO as the only way PCs will ever become cheat free is if they become trusted platforms which likely means you wont be allowed to play MP3s and the like when big corporates get their way.

Specifically in regard to MP3 files, given that
a) There are many online stores now selling 'fully licensed' (and obviously DRM free) MP3 tracks, the profits from these going to the 'big corporates' (I assume you're referring to the major music companies)
and
b) there is at least one free (as in beer), standalone, fully legal decoder (Fluendo) plus various fully licensed MP3 playing products such as Windows Media Player. So I don't think there's any likely intent to stop people playing MP3s on their PCs even if it was practical.

Re:More importantly... (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25785929)

The problem is that they are only selling in this format because the current way people's PCs and the internet works has left them no choice.

Their is still a lot of will in the industry to do away with it in favour of DRM'd formats where possible and I've no doubt having seen their antics so far they'd jump on the chance to try and ensure it's a format that wouldn't remain usable on trusted hardware.

Yes it's prevalent now, but would it still be if the music industry had a chance to try and do away with it? I'd like to think they couldn't, and realistically I think that's probably the case but you get the point, if our PCs become trusted platforms they also lose their flexibility and freedom that we enjoy and take for granted right now- I'd rather keep that off my PC and on my hardware specific to certain tasks that need trusted hardware to be truly secure (i.e. gaming).

Re:Is this really news? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783525)

Regarding area coding, some games are so there is that excuse to an extent. The big games that are released in the same place worldwide at the same time such as Gears of War aren't area coded but the small games, like say Beautiful Katamari that was released like 5 months apart in different regions was. Area coding seems entirely dependent on release dates over anything else.

Regarding homebrew, there's no need- XNA does the job just fine so that's why the 360 really has no homebrew scene, as of Wednesday you'll even be able to publish your games and sell them direct to the user via the new XBox interface which is a pretty nice feature, integrating the homebrew experience right into the system to an extent is a pretty cool idea. The only downside is you are limited then to homebrew games and such as opposed to apps, movie players and such.

Re:Is this really news? (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784065)

360 games ARE area coded, one of the reasons that I buy ps3 games when on holiday but not 360 or Wii.

I'd be tempted to hack the 360, especially as I don't play online. I'm not in the business of losing to 14 year-olds with more time on their hands.

Re:Is this really news? (1)

jasen666 (88727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25786125)

hahaha... you know I don't even mind the losing part, what kills me is that they're sore winners. They can't play the game and just have fun, they're constantly talking trash, cussing, etc. Just overall being irritating little brats. I can't even allow my children to play online. Even in the racing games, there's little kids on the other end spewing obscenities.

Re:Is this really news? (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 5 years ago | (#25787545)

I'd be tempted to hack the 360, especially as I don't play online. I'm not in the business of losing to 14 year-olds with more time on their hands.

I could probably give up online play, but the idea of potentially losing the XBL Marketplace? Fuhgeddaboutit. Way too much cool stuff to download and play (Pinball FX being my current obsession).

Re:Is this really news? (1)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784231)

You are wrong. X360 games ARE region-encoded. (except when it suits microsoft to not do so for blockbuster titles like Halo 3)

And microsoft would sell more X360 if it was possible to run XBMC on it, but being anal about modchips prevented that.

Banning X360 with modchip activated on live is understandable and commendable, trying so hard to bar modchips from X360 at all resulted in less sales of the console.

Re:Is this really news? (1)

harl (84412) | more than 5 years ago | (#25786375)

360 games are areacoded. The games are DVDs. They use the DVD file system and region coding. Almost all .isos are modified to be all/no region. There are at least 2 products out there that will allow you to do this yourself with any 360 game.

DAMN IT! (0, Offtopic)

chaney (526944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783257)

See, if I had cheated... I would have had first post! Shit.

awesome... (0, Troll)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783259)

how many of these people had real honost to god copies. I know on my system atxleast 30% of the games I buy refuse to run on my hardware thanks to the fuckers who push DRM. I buy lots of games. However I refuse to buy from mega DRM supporters. Honostly this is hard as a Mac gamer. But principle trumps all.

Simple (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783261)

Xboxs cost more to produce than they sell for so they only make money off games. They have to defend game sales or go out of business. Blizzard has to defend their service because it costs them money every month to maintain and the cheats are freeloading off the paying customers. Neither case is about defending freedoms and both companies are well within their rights.

Re:Simple (2, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783315)

I don't see how Blizzard would earn more money going after cheaters? It probably cost them more money to look thru replays and such. Sure if someone is permanently banned they may buy the game again, but except in that scenario? For WoW I can get it since it's a subscription game.

Re:Simple (4, Insightful)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783343)

Because it destroys the value of the online community. What good would being able to play over the Internet be if your opponents could cheat and get away with it? Who'd keep playing that game? Only cheaters. Legitimate players would just play a different game.

It's the same reason Valve bans accounts on Steam.

Re:Simple (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783539)

Yep. I agree with you. What does piracy have to do with cheating again?

Re:Simple (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783735)

Who said there has to be a single reason for anything?

Re:Simple (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784011)

The correlation between people prepared to infringe copyright, as they feel a sense of entitlement above and beyond the average person, and the people prepared to cheat at games, because they feel they have an entitlement above and beyond the average person.

Re:Simple (1)

bi_boy (630968) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784429)

They'll both get your account banned.

Re:Simple (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784053)

Yeah, but in the non-subscription games (unless you hear from someone else) you have already bought the game when you go online and gets bothered with cheaters and the profit for the company has already been made.

Re:Simple (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784301)

I'm more likely to buy future games from Valve or Blizzard if I know they actively go after cheaters.

For example; if Team Fortress 2 had been rife with cheating I wouldn't have purchased Left 4 Dead.

Re:Simple (1)

bi_boy (630968) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784427)

It should be noted that on Valve's Steam, if you are caught cheating then your account is banned from playing on VAC (Valve Anti-Cheating) enabled servers. VAC is basically just a blacklist for server admins to use to keep known cheaters off their servers, it does not give server mods or admins the ability to add people to the blacklist. You can still play your single player games, and download new ones. I don't know if the ban from VAC servers follows you across all games or just the one you were caught cheating in.

Re:Simple (4, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783391)

I don't see how Blizzard would earn more money going after cheaters? It probably cost them more money to look thru replays and such. Sure if someone is permanently banned they may buy the game again, but except in that scenario? For WoW I can get it since it's a subscription game.

Back in the long ago the online gaming community for Diablo 1 was wrecked literally within weeks after some fucknut released a utility to allow you to hack characters.

As a non cheating player with what I considered to be an awesome character, I was really upset. Certainly I stopped playing within a few days of realizing that the servers were full of tricked out characters that should have taken months to create being played by people who obviously didn't have a clue how the game worked.

I don't doubt Blizzard remember that too, and don't want to see it *ever* coming back. The number of present cheaters is relatively small compared to the deluge that wrecked Diablo 1, but without action it would only get worse.

Re:Simple (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784425)

With Wow the problem is worse for Blizzard. If you bought Diablo I, you paid and they have your money. With Wow, their interest is in keeping you paying and paying every month. Cheating ruins that.

Re:Simple (1)

Arivia (783328) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783617)

One thing to keep in mind is that WoW accounts are likely to be folded into something involving Battle.net within a year/the release of sc2/d3, whichever comes first. When installing the new expansion pack for WoW, players link their WoW accounts to a "new battle.net account", and there's an in-game reward for combining the two accounts (that hasn't been given out to characters on the live/production/normal servers, as far as I've seen).

Re:Simple (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784067)

Is this just speculation or something you know? I think such bonuses is quite lame since they don't come from skill. Things like the collectors edition pet is better because a pet is useless and don't give any special benefit.

Re:Simple (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#25787147)

I must have completely missed that dialog when upgrading...

Unless you were talking about the beta, where you did have to tie into the battle.net system.

Re:Simple (1)

theArtificial (613980) | more than 5 years ago | (#25788197)

I've heard hints about this as well. Perhaps it would be easier think more along the lines of Steam (the community portion). The consolidation (of the multiplayer logins) makes sense - one Battle.net login for all titles. This could be a potential boon to combat cheating with the game keys tied to a single account especially if there is a billing address involved (think WoW).

You don't say? (5, Insightful)

theReal-Hp_Sauce (1030010) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783297)

"Meanwhile, Blizzard dealt with 350,000 of their own problem users on Battle.net, saying simply that they wouldn't tolerate cheating."

The b.net that I play on sure seems to tolerate cheating. Or at least it has for a LONG time.

Diablo 1 had Auto PK, Auto Revive (and then PK again of course), Town kill, dupes, and I believe there was even a god mode.

Diablo 2 had Way Point PK traps. Now it has Map Hack, dupes, auto aim, far cast, pick-it, chicken (auto exit), dupes, Town-Portal PK triggers, town kill, and more dupes! It's nearly impossible to play in a public environment on their public server. Most solo in passworded games, or perhaps with a friend or two... almost never with strangers.

I was one of a hand full of Diablo 2 players who were NOT included in this recent ban, and I must say that it was great to see it come. It was vindicating to see so many cheaters get what they deserved. It would be wonderful if they continued to enforce it (though they never have in the past after mass bannings, so I see no reason why this time will be different).

But for them to say that "they simply [do not] tolerate cheating." Well that's a bit of a stretch people! In fact, I thought it was convenient how the bannings came so near to the release of WotLK. Suddenly there was 350,000 gamers who needed a new staple to play.

-hps

Re:You don't say? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25783367)

To be critical of the anti-cheating practices in Blizzard's first adventure into online MP is moot, especially considering the games you're talking about are over ten years old. Be thankful they haven't pulled the plug on that vastly out-dated platform as it is.

Re:You don't say? (3, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783599)

Cheating is why I quit playing Warcraft III online, and well, Warcraft altogether. In Warcraft II the maximum level any unit could have was, IIRC, 5(2 weapon upgrades and 2 armor upgrades), but it was pretty commonplace to have level 16 grunts mow through groups of ogres.... Not to mention the ubiquitous map hacks and whatnot. Warcraft III was pretty much the same. That coupled with moving out of the dorms(where my friends and I would play LAN games) pretty much caused me to get out of Blizzard games altogether.

Blizzard, at least in my opinion, was doing almost nothing to stop cheating.

Re:You don't say? (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784413)

The only "cheat" I'm aware of for Warcraft 3 is maphack and afaik Blizzard can detect it if you use it in ladder games(they host).

Re:You don't say? (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784399)

I don't think Diablo 2 is their priority as far as anti-cheating is concerned. I think they kinda quickly after release noticed they had done some basic mistakes that enabled cheating, like usual they trusted the client with too much.

I suspect that closed battle.net for Diablo 3 will have more information on the server and less cheating.

Re:You don't say? (1)

SengirV (203400) | more than 5 years ago | (#25786787)

If a consumer has a bad experience playing D2 because Blizzard ignores the cheating, what makes that consumer think that the experience will be any better with D3?

I'd guess that Blizzard attitude towards cheating is going to cost them some sales of D3.

"Major Nelson", possibly off-topic (3, Funny)

ruprechtjones (545762) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783459)

Yes I work in the games industry, so there is your disclaimer. But having a grey-haired accountant as the spokesman of your games division really says a lot about how much you take your customers and your own division seriously. This guy is actually not bad to work with and I have recommended in the past that he go after a broadcast career, but I simply do not see how he appeals to anyone under 46 or how he can be the front voice of one third of this industry. Even Chris Paladino (might have spelled that wrong) is clearly a better choice, at least you can see his passion in his videos. You want to give the hardcore players someone they will listen to, not give the Microsoft middle-managers someone they love. There is a huge difference there. I have no clue if Sony or Nintendo have an equivelent to this guy, but when I think games, I don't think of a middle-aged white guy. /end rant.

Re:"Major Nelson", possibly off-topic (0, Offtopic)

sa1lnr (669048) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783729)

"but when I think games, I don't think of a middle-aged white guy. /end rant."

Middle aged white guy here with over 300 bought games for the PC, that's on CD/DVD and not counting the old ones I have on floppies either. I'm 54.

Re:"Major Nelson", possibly off-topic (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 5 years ago | (#25783869)

Hyrb doesn't strike me as particularly younger or more appealing to the youth market than Kojima, Miyamoto, Peter Moore, Kaz Hirai or any of the other 'faces' of these companies I can think of. I don't want some trendy young thing, I want to be given useful information by someone who can get his point across clearly.

But then I'm in my thirties, so that might be something to do with it.

Re:"Major Nelson", possibly off-topic (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 5 years ago | (#25785571)

I'm middle aged and white, and have some grey hair. Am I not allowed to make any more games?

stinking pigs (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784019)

Why can't stinking pigs stop criminalizing our children? Just let them have some fun.

I hate to say it... (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784141)

...but Microsoft and Blizzard are right in their regard against cheating. Most paying customers would prefer a cheat-free, level playing field to enjoy. And just as I feel very strongly about the notion of personal property rights of the end user, those rights end precisely where others begin. (Am I showing my Texas personality?) So while everyone should have the right to modify their consoles and their games, they shouldn't then turn that into an advantage in game play that reduces the quality that Microsoft and Blizzard deliver. (I hated saying that too.) I endorse Microsoft's and Blizzard's position on this as far as it supports the general fairness to all users. (Of course, I stop supporting the position where they identify false positives and unfairly lock out innocent users... does that happen? I can only assume it does since no technology from Microsoft has ever been perfect.)

Talk about cheaters and piracy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25784281)

There is a community built up around piracy in the background.

http://www.ubercrue.com/ [ubercrue.com]

Now the side that google spiders and the public sees puts some nice wool over the wolf. BUT! They sponsor a slew of little groups who trade pirated software from everything that has been pirated, and they also do the same themselves. A week of talking to them in their ventrillo channel and you will find yourself offered cracked games (like Starcraft) and told where to find the latest cheats for every game. I hope that the crackdown can extend to clean up little pockets of filth like this. People like the ones in this community ruin games and truly match every horror story told of pirates.

Fuck pirates and cheaters too, basically the same anyway.

Does it only affect people that play online? (1)

fmoliveira (979051) | more than 5 years ago | (#25784369)

I don't like online games, so I would still prefer a moded console.

Region Coding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25785671)

Unfortunately, the circumvention of region coding measures (which is legal in Australia, as region coding has been previously described as anti-competitive by the ACCC) would also likely be caught in the net of this mass banning.

Peer to peer vulnerabilities... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25787307)

The problem with such games is that multiplayer runs in a peer-to-peer style mode. If all user actions are NOT run through a Blizzard-controlled central server which regulates game action, cheating will always exist.

You'd think they would have learned something from their past mistakes, and the mistakes of others (see phantasy star online, dreamcast & gamecube).

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