Sneaky New Copy Protection For Software

from the get-'em-hooked dept

dsg writes in with a link to this story about a sneaky new copy protection system from Macrovision that is making its way into various video games. What's sneaky, is that it lets you copy the game and give it out, and even start playing the game. Then, however, things start to break down... just as you get hooked. It makes use of the way CD and DVD readers use error correction to compensate for scratches, by putting in code that acts as a "scratch". The game is designed to look for those "scratches". However, a copied version of the game doesn't include the same scratches, and so it knows it's a fake. In one game where this "Fade" copy protection technology is being tested, the longer you play, the more your gun starts to backfire (not shoot straight and run out of bullets too quickly). The idea is to have the system "degrade" with copies, the way analog systems degrade with each copy. They're hoping, then, that this will actually encourage people to go out and buy legitimate copies - though, it might just make people angry (until they go out and find a cracked copy that doesn't make use of this copy protection scheme).


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  1.  
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    anonymouse, Oct 8th, 2003 @ 4:28pm

    Op Flashpoint

    Operation Flashpoint incorporated this in their original release. I have no idea how effective it is, but if it was such a great technology, then I would have heard something about it.
    They're hoping, then, that this will actually encourage people to go out and buy legitimate copies - though, it might just make people angry (until they go out and find a cracked copy that doesn't make use of this copy protection scheme).
    I'm sure the majority of people who would have a "copy" of OpFP aleady got it with a cracked exe. Casual copying is small beans nowadays....I fail to see how this scheme will change things that much

     

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    achacha, Oct 8th, 2003 @ 5:06pm

    Re: Op Flashpoint

    When are people going to realize that information wants to be free and no amount of copy protection will ever succeed. They could have tried to use ths technology in a better way, but I bet the software protection racket is a quicker buck for the shortsighted CEOs of the world.

     

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    Sean, Oct 8th, 2003 @ 8:56pm

    Re: Op Flashpoint

    I played Operation Flashpoint quite a bit, and I noticed that occasionally my game "degraded" as described in the splash screen (The Piracy Warning Bit). However, I always played the game with the original CD in the drive. Not exactly reassuring if it's to become used widespread.

     

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    AMetamorphosis, Oct 9th, 2003 @ 6:22am

    Interesting copy protection maneuver

    I'm sure my opinion will not be especially well received ... but I kinda like this idea ... Its sorta like a drug dealer giving you those first few nuggets to get you addicted ... then once you realize how much you enjoy the drug/game you either pay up or quit. I'm not saying this is a good marketing maneuver, but its an interesting way to approach the reality of illegal copying. I wonder how this approach will be received by the general public and weather it will backfire or not.

     

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    Oliver Wendell Jones, Oct 9th, 2003 @ 8:23am

    Re: Interesting copy protection maneuver

    I agree that it's a good idea, the only problem I have is 'how well is this decay explained?'

    If I download a pirated game and try to play and discover that the game play sucks because the weapons misfire, etc. I'm very likely to delete and tell my friends to avoid that game because it sucks. If, however, there is a big disclaimer somewhere that I can't miss seeing that tells me "hey, if you think the game sucks, make sure you have the original CD in the drive" then maybe I'll have a different opinion.

    Of course, I'd then know to go to http://www.gamecopyworld.com and download the NoCD patch... :-)

     

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  6.  
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    AMetamorphosis, Oct 9th, 2003 @ 8:40am

    Re: Interesting copy protection maneuver

    Good point about the decay being explained ! I would think that the game itself should be programmed to play flawlessly for a minimum of a month, then degrade ... that way a player would get a feel for the game. After that, if the game can be designed to inform the user that the game is self destructing due to it being an illegal copy, perhaps ( Big perhaps ) that would encourage people to actually purchase a copy and support the game designers.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2003 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Interesting copy protection maneuver

    "I kinda like this idea ... Its sorta like a drug dealer giving you those first few nuggets to get you addicted ... then once you realize how much you enjoy the drug/game you either pay up or quit."

    Much like the writer of the original article, you are making the mistaken assumption that this "copy protection" scheme will work as advertised. First of all, all such schemes rely on un-speced behavior. They are intentionally introducing corruption into the data and hoping it will be dealt with in a specific way. But it isn't 100% of the time. Instead, a certain percentage of people will get the buggy behavior on their legal copy, and it's never a good idea to piss off your paying customers.

    Second, this is not "copy protection" in that it doesn't prevent copying. All it does is change the behavior on an un-cracked pirate copy. So instead of saying "please insert an original cd in the drive" it makes the game less fun. Will this lead to more sales? I'd hazard a guess that no, it won't. It might lead to fewer people playing the pirate copies, but in this day and age who plays a warez version with a nocd crack? Heck, who plays a legal copy without the crack?

     

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