How Will the PlayStation 4 Combat the Growing Issue of Game Piracy?

PS4 Piracy

One need only look to torrent sites to see how piracy has infested the games industry. Check out the recently released Modern Warfare 2, one of the most anticipated games of all time. Just one torrent of the PC version of the game had already been downloaded nearly 50,000 times just days after the game’s release, with another 20,000 leechers waiting for their stolen copy to finish downloading.

Just a single Xbox 360 torrent (and there are many, released by different ‘groups’) of the game had been downloaded over 4,000 times, with another 4,000 leechers ready for their copy to be completed, and this despite the recent banning of many consoles from Xbox Live for piracy (more below). That’s nearly 80,000 soon to be complete, illegal downloads of a game that’s been out for less than 2 days, and that’s only counting 2 of the many torrents.

So how about the PS3 version of the game? Nada. No torrents, no illegal downloads, no lost revenue. In fact, while the prequel WAS put up on P2P networks, it wasn’t downloaded a single time, for obvious reasons; it’s currently of no use to anyone. The PS3 remains un-hacked, and backup/pirated copies unplayable.

How to Stop a Pirate Without a Cannon

Sony has accomplished this through various means, many of which are overly technical and I won’t go into (and I don’t claim to know the half of it). Suffice it to say, the console uses a system of checks and balances from various different devices within the system, including an untouchable 7th Cell, that have rendered the attempts of hackers to infiltrate the system futile. This isn’t even touching on the inherent security measures found in Blu-Ray media, which proves challenging to crack in its own right.

While these tactics have proven useful against hackers up to this point, there are no guarantees they will for long, so Sony will need to constantly look into new ways to defeat piracy. I mentioned in the wishlist article that one thing I didn’t want to see with the PS4 was a download online distribution model, as I would rather own a physical copy of the game. This method though could effectively be put in place to help shut down, or at least limit piracy.

The Brazilian console Zeebo (which is currently planned only for developing markets at present, and is a significantly cheaper and less powerful console than the other current systems on the market) uses this model for content delivery, with games purchased and downloaded wirelessly being ‘locked’ to the console, and not copyable. With piracy being especially prevalent in these developing markets, the pirate-proof console was all but a necessity for developers Tectoy and Qualcomm. While the jury is still out on whether or not the games are truly pirate-proof (after all, the iPhone functions using a similar model, and yet iPhone game piracy is very much a reality), it’s a step in the right direction perhaps.

Microsoft Sinks a Million Pirates With One Shot

Just today, Information Week reported that Microsoft banned over 1 million modded consoles from using its Xbox Live online service, a major blow to the Xbox 360 pirating community. While some gamers may be content to play games solely offline, online play is where gamers increasingly spend the majority of their time gaming, so the disruption of online services effectively eliminates the desire of many to pirate, as even legitimately bought games will not be playable online through a modded/banned console.

Though few gamers have bothered to try and mod a PS3, the ones who have connected to the PSN with tampered consoles have quickly been perma-banned as well. Though the PlayStation 3 has not yet been hacked, it may only be a matter of time before it is, and this only speaks to the fact that there is little console manufacturers can do to prevent the hacking of an offline system. What they can do is set up checkpoints to their online networks that test the integrity of a system connected to it, as Microsoft and Sony have both seemingly managed to do quite effectively.

However Sony decides to tackle piracy with the PlayStation 4, whether it be through complex, multi-faceted security architecture, unbreakable media, digital distribution, or some other method, it’s certain that the topic will be at the forefront of their minds, as well as the minds of the developers planning games for their console. Let’s hope Sony can continue to stifle piracy, making the PS4 a safe and profitable place for developers to ply their trade, and ensure that those developers continue to bless us with great games for years to come.

What measures do you think Sony should take to prevent piracy on the PS4? Will the PS3 ever get hacked? What do you think of the piracy issue in general? Let us know below and on the forums.

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Comments

PS3 excessive anti-piracy measures were over the top!

Though I like the fact that the PS3 is un-hacked on one (makes it feel worth having in my IMHO), the measures were excessive and its costing Sony. Developing for the PS3 is difficult therefore expensive, and since you have a choice of 5 other platforms to get hacked games (PC, Xbox 360, Wii, PS2 and Xbox), PS3 games have to be competitively priced in comparison to games on other systems. Also, gone are the days of the exclusive. So other than 4 game series I love, and can only get for the PS3 (God of War, Yakuza, Heavy Rain and Metal Gear Solid), everything else will be also on PC or the Xbox 360. However the greatest problem for Sony/Microsoft is not from games piracy (the truth is, pirates will usually not buy the game anyway) but from game RESELLING (deceptively called pre-owned games)! In Australia EB Games (with their very customer-friendly refund/return policies) has made it normal for you to buy second hand goods in any major shopping centre (games, consoles, accessories etc.). Before EB Games started, one had to find a pawn shop in the worse part of town to buy such things! Few have mentioned or seem to realise what a difference this is, and to date no other second hand goods are sold in medium to large shopping centres in Australia. This is why a permanently online, disk-free 8th-gen console is highly likely, and Sony has shown its hand by testing the waters with the PSP Go. Needless to say, EB Games doesn't stock any PSP Gos because that platform will not bring them any profits (no physical item to sell). And even more regrettably, Sony has given a big 'up yours' to all those who bought the Go (just read the Wiki to find out why) when it was the previous version owners who did most of the copying.

Used games

Thanks for the post. I definitely agree with you about the used games stores. Even before EB was around here in Canada, there were other video game specialty stores that also dealt in used games. It was great when I was a kid, and games were even more expensive than they are now. Getting a $100 SNES game for $40 used was a steal (and almost a necessity). Now it just doesn't make much sense to buy a used game for $40-$50 when it's only $50-$60 new, and you can support the developers by doing so. I always buy new now unless I have no other choice (can't find a new copy anywhere). Unfortunately, even beyond all these used stores, game makers now have to contend with used games being sold online (Ebay, Amazon, etc.) further eroding their sales potential.

As for piracy, it's tough to say. I think if people who would rather pirate games want a game badly enough that they can't pirate (any PS3 game), I think they'll purchase it, what choice do they have? But we do see in attach rates that the PS3 is actually behind the 360, which is somewhat surprising on multiple levels (failed 360 consoles and piracy being what they are, you'd assume the PS3 attach rate would be much higher). So the stats don't really back up my line of thinking.

A PSP Go type delivery system for PS4 games really would be ideal for combating both piracy and used game sales, but I'm not sure consumers are ready for that model yet. Only time will tell. The success or failure of Onlive could hint at the potential for such a delivery method, though Onlive is a different beast altogether.

Woah, it probably is

Woah, it probably is impossible but what if they made there own discs that only they own and that the public couldn't get their hands on and it was the only kind of sic playable in the council and if games are copied the council would autimaticlly melt the disc and send a note to like a non-pirecy service. That'd be crazy.

Yeah, they have those, save

Yeah, they have those, save for the melting disk and reporting thing. It's called the UMD. But guess what? A PSP pirate such as myself doesn't even need the bloody UMD in the first place. Just play the game straight off the memory stick.

Piracy

I do hope the PS3 remains unhacked, and the PS4 follows suit. Developers deserve to be rewarded for their work, and no matter how people want to spin game downloading, it IS stealing. The internet generation feels they're entitled to everything they want, when they want it, and whether or not they feel like paying for it. If you love gaming so much, support it, and ensure great games will continue to be made.

That said, when it comes to older games (such as old Super Nintendo ROM's or the like) which are no longer commercially available, I'm a little more understanding of people downloading them, as the developers aren't losing anything by these games being distributed on the internet, and short of paying exorbitant prices on Ebay, there's no other way to get a hold of them.

a bit much

but it's a bit crazy to pay for a game when prices or going past 60 bucks. Whenever 5 or so games are purchased it's over 300 bucks. You could by used games but a lot of the time the discs are a piece of shit.

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