Game Piracy Protection

Discussion in 'Public Game Developers Forum' started by Chase, Nov 29, 2008.

  1. Chase

    Chase Well-Known Member

    Nov 24, 2008
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    What exactly can an iPhone game developer do to protect their game from piracy? Or is it a hopeless matter? Is there some sort of way that they can create their own DRM that's more difficult to be broken?

    I hope it's okay with everyone the amount of threads lately on the topic of piracy.
     
  2. mek

    mek Well-Known Member

    yes, and yes, and no and no, in no particuluar order

    developers can fight piracy
    but the limit on Apple specific API's that apple allows, does limit the creativity of development, and apple hasn't released an API specifically for development of DRM, the code signing was suppose to help address it, but really it just gives Apple the ability to pull the plug on software

    so as the market becomes more complex, and larger, as it is, you will see more piracy, and maybe anti piracy matters

    but whatever can be built, can be broken, and rebuilt..so piracy will always occur, it is just, how difficult or easy do you make it for the piracy to occur

    you can pirate a car [the chinese do it all the time, there is an entire industry built around it], but it is more complex than pirating a song or iphone app
     
  3. TheBunny

    TheBunny Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2008
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    MMO Mac Lead ZeniMax Online
    Baltimore
    Some simple ideas you can do...

    1. You can screen for hacked apps or running on a hacked phone.
    Ask google theres some blogs on how to do this.

    After you do that you can...

    2. sign up for http://www.pinchmedia.com/
    Or one of the other analytics services... I do recommend pinchmedia tho
    as being easy and useful..

    Start monitoring data like if your app is hacked of not.

    Friends are reporting to me about 50/50 spilt on hacked vs non on small volume apps.. if you make it to the top 100 chart this starts to change.

    3. If you find a hacke phone you can do what ever you like...
    Not run... limit the time you run for... turn off features.
    Many of these someone will hack out if they are really annoying.

    One suggestion is to simply turn on ads in the hacked versions of the app.
    This might be a good way to make $ off both pirates and non pirates.

    So far most apps are all being hacked in the same generic way were Im pretty sure the pirates can just run a script on the app bundle and are not really doing much real hacking.

    YMMV of course ;)
     
  4. swift

    swift Member

    Nov 30, 2008
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    Could you be more specific about this? I've spent 30 minutes searching and I couldn't find anything on Google, though maybe I'm just not picking the right thing to search for. I don't care about running on jailbroken phones (mine is jailbroken!) but I would love to be able to detect if someone is running a cracked version of the app. I am planning on including downloadable levels in my app (similar to some of the sokoban games which have included this) and I would prefer that I not have to pay for bandwidth on my web host for pirates to use, so I'd like to limit or disable that functionality for them. That idea about showing ads to pirates is pretty brilliant, I'd definitely consider that as well.
     
  5. Oliver

    Oliver Well-Known Member

    Is this really a problem for devs? You have to have a jailbroken iPhone, get the hacked game and install the game somewhere in your iPhone. And all that just to save 1, 5 or 10 US$... Can't believe that so many are doing this.
     
  6. mrsteveman1

    mrsteveman1 Well-Known Member

    Nov 20, 2008
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    Like to, but should you?

    Is it really such a huge problem that it would justify the time and effort it would take to build such a checking system into the code? What happens when someone who paid for the app gets bitten by some bug caused by this little check system?

    Depends on the cost of bandwidth i suppose but I would think it would take less of your time to just ignore it. There isn't a jailbreak at all for the 2g touch yet, so thats one entire segment of the user base you don't have to worry about at all.
     
  7. drunknbass

    drunknbass Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2008
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    ive actually written a class to plug n play into any app that has various different checks that checks if you are not just running a jailbroken device but also stealing apps etc. it has about 10 levels of checks it goes through to make 100% sure you dont block out a paying customer. and it doesnt require wifi.. sure its not foolproof.. if someone wanted to spend all the time in the world to disassemble the code and figure out how i d it im sure they could patch it out.. but nobody will bother.. and the people hacking apps dont really know wtf they are doing its just so easy for them to remove the fairplay drm as it is. patching apps is a different beast and requires someone who knows what they are doing.
     
  8. swift

    swift Member

    Nov 30, 2008
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    Ultimately time is money and I think that's quite true. I'll probably design the app in such a way that I can put something in after the fact if it becomes a problem, but for the first release I doubt I'll bother to do anything actively.

    I just worry about a worst-case scenario where so much bandwidth is consumed by the pirates and so few copies are paid for that, after paying for my web hosting every month, I'll actually be losing money on the app. I would hate, in that situation, to have to remove the feature and screw over paying customers, but I don't see what else I could do if that DID happen and I didn't have a way to screen out pirates. That said, this would probably never happen and I'm just scaring myself over a very unlikely scenario.
     
  9. mrsteveman1

    mrsteveman1 Well-Known Member

    Nov 20, 2008
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    Sure, i agree you shouldn't have to put up with such a situation, though i don't know that you could actually solve the problem with code in the app even if you did need to do something about it.

    They are downloadable levels, how big are they? Bandwidth is pretty cheap now, a 5$ shared hosting account usually comes with a few hundred gigabytes, i have to believe you'd stay under that just offering levelpacks.
     
  10. Hippieman

    Hippieman Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    Senior Producer, Designer
    San Francisco
    Put out a substantial update, and build against OS 2.2. So far that seems to be doing the trick.

    Although we still get a flood of tech support from people who cannot be bothered to realize they need to update to 2.2.
     
  11. drunknbass

    drunknbass Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2008
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    are you kidding me? do you realize how many people are jailbreaking their phones these days because its so damn quick and easy. basically almost fool proof.. then people install and app through cydia that basically is an appstore and has EVERY appstore app and usally has it within 24 hours from release..
    if anything the hacking of apps is the worst now than ever.. esp since through cydia people can patch thier phones to play unsigned apps, and download and install ipas of hacked apps..
     
  12. drunknbass

    drunknbass Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2008
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    not only that.. they have an iphone app that you can run and pick a legit ap you bought, and it will patch it and clean all traces of your identity from the file and have it ready for upload. so even monkeys can help and crack apps without even understanding what they are doing.
     
  13. Frand

    Frand Well-Known Member

    It would be nice to know what percentage of the total platform base is running jailbreak devices.
     
  14. Chase

    Chase Well-Known Member

    Nov 24, 2008
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    I'll make a poll in the iPhone Games Section, where there's most attention on these forums. Maybe it might give us some idea.
     
  15. Modus

    Modus Well-Known Member

    Nov 30, 2008
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    Probably impossible to say, I wouldn't be suprised if even Apple have nothing in place to discover the true extent.

    If we accept YouTube as a popular one-stop-shop to jailbreaking instructions, then maybe the number of views for the hacking videos are revealing.

    Searching for Cydia returns one video with 96k views; the rest are largely under 5,000.

    Cydia's only one route of course, but I suspect it's not that big a splash.

    Could be a case of famous last words, of course ;)
     
  16. drunknbass

    drunknbass Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2008
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    well, the thing is i also run a jb device. so my class doesnt reject people with jailbroken devices.. it rejcts people who stole the app ;)

    and appulous stated they get 2.5 million hits a day. i think those # are pretty high.

    one of our apps we noticed was registering @15-20% more devices than we sold apps through itunes. and it was a .99 app (sorry cant say the name... but its in the top 20 ;))
     
  17. Modus

    Modus Well-Known Member

    Nov 30, 2008
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    Hmmmmm 2.5 million hits per day... I'll bet my fancy shoes that's not unique visitors.

    Probably besides the point anyway, as 15-20% is quite substantial. Short of subscription based services though, not a lot can be done in the long run.

    It's not Urban Tycoon is it?

    You might want to duck and hide if so.... ;)
     
  18. emb531

    emb531 Well-Known Member

    Nov 12, 2008
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    I really don't think you understand how smart the crackers really are....you should take a better look into how the apps are actually cracked.
     
  19. Frand

    Frand Well-Known Member

    What's actually stopping Apple from blocking jailbroken devices out of App Store as a policy? Nobody complains when Microsoft kicks modded Xbox360s out of Xbox Live, why should jailbreak iPhones be treated any different?
     
  20. Hippieman

    Hippieman Well-Known Member

    Nov 6, 2008
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    Senior Producer, Designer
    San Francisco
    So 2.2 can now be jailbroken? I know over Thanksgiving it was not possible to jailbreak 2.2. I know the hackers work fast, but is it already broken?
     

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