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Just Cause 3 prompts despair among Chinese pirates

By Matthew Handrahan

Just Cause 3 prompts despair among Chinese pirates

Mon 08 Feb 2016 1:30pm GMT / 8:30am EST / 5:30am PST
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UPDATE: 3DM group is taking a break from cracking single-player games to see if legal sales improve

Update: The struggle involved in "cracking" Just Cause 3 has prompted the Chinese piracy group 3DM to take a break from single-player games altogether.

With Just Cause 3 still resisting attempts to break it, 3DM's "Bird Sister" used her personal blog to inform the group's community of its intentions to cease all cracking of single-payer games. According to a report on Torrent Freak, the hiatus started today, on Chinese New Year.

The most intriguing aspect of 3DM's decision is its stated motivation. Bird Sister said, "We'll take a look at the situation in a year's time to see if genuine sales have grown," implying that the group wants to understand its impact on the legitimate game sales.

Original Story: The difficulty involved in "cracking" Just Cause 3 has caused a prominent Chinese piracy group to speculate on the death of game piracy within the next few years.

Avalanche Studios' open-world sequel uses anti-tamper technology from the Austrian company Denuvo Software Solutions, which has been effective in slowing piracy in the past. Most notably on Dragon Age: Inquisition, as reported by Eurogamer, which was on sale for a month before a cracked version was released online.

On that occasion Denuvo's protection was brought down by 3DM, a group of Chinese pirates, but they are facing a much stiffer challenge with Just Cause 3. According to a report on Torrent Freak, which translated a blog post from a member of 3DM known as "Bird Sister", the group almost "gave up" in its attempt to crack the game's final stage due to it being, "too difficult."

3DM ultimately decided to continue in its dubious pursuits, but Bird Sister voiced major concerns on the ability of pirates to keep pace with increasingly sophisticated counter-measures.

"I still believe that this game [Just Cause 3] can be compromised," she said. "But according to current trends in the development of encryption technology, in two years time I'm afraid there will be no free games to play in the world."

Whether Bird Sister means that in the most literal sense is open to debate. It makes sense that almost any defence can be brought down given enough time and effort, after all, but it also makes sense that, the longer it takes for a game to be cracked, the less relevant it will be to those waiting to play.

As Denuvo explained to Eurogamer back in 2014, "Keep in mind that most PC games are cracked and pirated on the day of release, if not earlier, so keeping titles 100 per cent piracy-free for weeks or even months is almost unprecedented in the games industry."

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25 Comments

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,977 2,268 1.1
This does raise the question of what pirates will do in the future. Certainly some can't afford to buy games (especially on PC, where the second-hand market is non-existent), but those who can afford them? I wonder if they'll swallow their arrogance and buy games, or just leave. Then again... Looking at PreDB, console piracy will continue on, unless Denuvo market to MS, Sony and Nintendo. If I were that way inclined, I would just leave PC gaming for console gaming. Especially with the homebrew 3DS scene opening up.

Edit:

Also, I think it's useful to note that only certain games (mostly big-budget/AAA) have such tough DRM, both in the past, and going forward, so "all piracy" will never be extinguished. Two-a-penny indie and casual games don't/won't have Denuvo, but then again, those aren't the games pirates care about playing. Whilst the Scene groups (which 3DM is, in a way) would try to crack a hidden-object-game if it had DRM worth a challenge, your average consumer-pirate won't care about it... It's the Dragon Ages, the Dark Souls and the Deus Exs they want.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 8th January 2016 2:28pm

Posted:4 months ago

#1

Renaud Charpentier Game Director, The Creative Assembly

86 204 2.4
Also, more and more game are either in a F2P format or running on servers... or both. Which again cuts piracy down to zero, unless you attack said servers. But it's way harder to hack protected and monitored servers that torturing a stand alone build.

Posted:4 months ago

#2

Tom Keresztes Programmer

741 389 0.5
From wikipedia :

Later, in early December, the same group released a crack for the video game Dragon Age: Inquisition, which uses Denuvo Anti-Tamper to protect Electronic Arts' Origin Online Access DRM.[4] Asked about the development, Denuvo acknowledged that "every protected game eventually gets cracked".[4] Ars Technica noted that most legitimate sales for major games happened within 30 days of release, and so publishers may consider Denuvo a success if it meant a game took significantly longer for a game to be cracked.[5]

By late 2015, FIFA 15, Dragon Age Inquisition, Lords of the Fallen, Batman: Arkham Knight and Battlefield Hardline were all cracked by an Italian warez group called CPY (CONSPIRACY). Mad Max and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain were later cracked by 3DM. On the 7th January 2016, it was reported that FIFA 16 and Just Cause 3, released in December of 2015, had remained uncracked.[6]

Posted:4 months ago

#3

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,431 1,763 1.2
Popular Comment
No grassroot piracy is a bad thing how?

Is there the danger of organized crime threatening developers with accidents, if they do not hand over DRM free versions for the mafia to pirate?

As time has shown, developers are all too willing to give their game away fro free, as long as it reprograms the player into exhibiting neurotic behavior and spending crazy amounts on what previously would have been called a cheat. Remember, if you do not want to spend the money, you can always go full blown delusional in thinking all you need to do was spend more time.

People being forced to pay for out of the box experiences. Clearly the worst evil of them all. /irony

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Klaus Preisinger on 8th January 2016 12:58pm

Posted:4 months ago

#4

Jess Kappeler Senior Game Designer, Pipeworks Studio

21 48 2.3
Popular Comment
Sounds good to me. Also, the quote "in two years time I'm afraid there will be no free games to play in the world" is pretty hilarious given the number of high quality F2P games in the market right now.

Posted:4 months ago

#5

Thomas Kennedy Unemployed (Seeking work)

26 31 1.2
I man I think its good games are being tougher to pirate but at the same time for some people pirating the game is there "Demo" Personally I did it with Rome Total war, it was my taste of the game before I had enough money to buy it years ago, so with Piracy going away people lose the ability to try the game out since Demos seem to now be nearly none existent.

On the flip side Piracy is wrong at the end of the day, it shouldn't be done which we can all agree on.

Posted:4 months ago

#6

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,550 1,568 0.6
Popular Comment
Any online security system working as it SHOULD at the end of the day is a damn good thing. If this were identity theft being discussed, I think not one person here would be saying THAT was fine and dandy that the folks doing it were successfully plying their trade.

@Morville:
This does raise the question of what pirates will do in the future. Certainly some can't afford to buy games
Um, so... how do some of these pirates afford the cost of the gaming rigs, regular upgrades and other not at all inexpensive gear required to PLAY those "expensive" games? Do they all build them from stolen or found parts or have a parent or other relative whipping out a credit card?

For the most part, I think not, particularly given the bragging I've seen on sites where specs are flaunted in text and photos. I'd say more realistically, there's a "thrill" to be had in getting something for nothing and being first and best at it. Human nature and all that stuff. ;P

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 8th January 2016 7:36pm

Posted:4 months ago

#7

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,977 2,268 1.1
@ Thomas
Personally I did it with Rome Total war, it was my taste of the game before I had enough money to buy it years ago, so with Piracy going away people lose the ability to try the game out since Demos seem to now be nearly none existent.
Mmmm... But now Steam offers refunds so long as you've not played more than 2 hours, demos (and demoing-via-piracy) aren't actually needed. :)
On the flip side Piracy is wrong at the end of the day, it shouldn't be done which we can all agree on.
I don't think it's black-and-white, in the sense that cracked games ensure compatibility and archiving throughout the ages (and Windows versions). But then, they're technically two different things - piracy is a consequence of games being cracked (by the Scene groups), but I don't think it's the reasoning behind the initial cracking. At least, not in such a wide-spread form.

@ Greg
Um, so... how do some of these pirates afford the cost of the gaming rigs, regular upgrades and other not at all inexpensive gear required to PLAY those "expensive" games?
I used to hang-out on a pro-piracy forum (talking about the latest Scene releases), and I don't think anyone there gave a damn about anything other than getting something for free. Ironic that the .nfo files included in almost every Scene cracked game included the phrase "If you like it, buy it", when the privileged whiners with SLI'd 980s couldn't be arsed to even do that, yet complained that the industry wasn't catering to their tastes.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 9th January 2016 10:01am

Posted:4 months ago

#8

Thomas Kennedy Unemployed (Seeking work)

26 31 1.2
@Morville

this may be true but this only came to exist in 2015, we're talking back in the mid 2000's when demos were becoming surprisingly absent for players to try out games, of course I'm not proud that I did it but it was one of those occasions that I didn't have the money and wanted to see the experience.

That said I don't think we should throw up our arms and say "Well Steam offers refunds now no need for demos!" developers should still try to get demos out there so that those that want to see what the game is like outside of a few videos or showcases which are heavily scripted can judge, especially on games which take a long time to get going.

Posted:4 months ago

#9

Shane Sweeney Academic

494 585 1.2
A smaller and smaller percentage of games are even getting cracked, their availability online is less and less. Their are less cracking groups now then there has ever been, hell the XboxOne and Wii-U hasn't even been cracked. We are well and truly past peak piracy.

Posted:4 months ago

#10

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing

687 448 0.7
The WiiU has been cracked, bybthebsame group almost there on the Ps4. But they have a policy of not releasing their exploits it want hard

The Xbox One is halfway there. They have the public key, but not the private

Like the X360 before it, priority is on the more popular console, which in his case is also far easier to crack because Sony has never been good at this. PS3 wasn't cracked for a long time smoky because there wasn't enough reason to make it a priority.


Many Chinese cracking groups are paid by the triads to keep their money laundering counterfeit goods operations going. Wouldn't surprise me if these guys are under an extreme amount of pressure from their sugar daddies to get the job done, but I'm more looking to put more brains on the project, or at least create a proper paper trail to cover their failure

Posted:4 months ago

#11

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,977 2,268 1.1
A smaller and smaller percentage of games are even getting cracked, their availability online is less and less.
Only on PC, and even then, only kind-of. Check out my link to PreDB, then refine by console.
Their are less cracking groups now then there has ever been,
Yarrr... A lot of the groups that existed even from the Amiga era have fallen in the last few years. It's the end times, man.
and Wii-U hasn't even been cracked
There's a WiiU emulator out there making great progress, and whilst emulators =/= piracy, the morally-dubious can use them to play games they don't legally own.
We are well and truly past peak piracy.
Kind of, yeah. Past peak piracy, but it's still really bad when you look at all that console piracy.

(Edit for removal of Dragon's Dogma talk. Apparently the "cracked" release is just a press-copy with a release-state-override on the .exe, so not a crack in an way).

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 10th January 2016 7:03am

Posted:4 months ago

#12

John Owens CEO, Wee Man Studios Ltd

1,004 1,324 1.3
Brilliant news. Personally I think the only reason why games are so expensive is that essentially pay customers are subsidizing the unpaying customers. This if it becomes reality will probably lead to cheaper prices.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 10th January 2016 1:23pm

Posted:4 months ago

#13

Istvan Fabian Principal Engineer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

96 80 0.8
Having read a few threads now, it just sounds like a modern implementation of what the decryption/encryption functions did in Copylock and Speedlock - last used in early 1990s... so I guess nostalgia is coming back to copy-protections now :)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Northen_copylock

All of these kind of protections can be decrypted several ways thinking outside the box - but I don't think the pirates are familiar with any of those, luckily.

Kudos to the Denuvo guys.

Posted:4 months ago

#14

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

1,113 1,216 1.1
Popular Comment
Not sure if I'm supposed to feel sorry for them, but I don't.
I've heard a lot of times the "Some people can't afford those games" argument like if it were something fair. You know what I can't afford? a Lamborghini Gallardo and an apartment in the coast of Tenerife, and that doesn't give me a moral excuse to steal either of them.
When I was a part time worker I could not buy 2-3 games per moth like I do now. And what I did was waiting until the price dropped, as simple as that.

Long Story short: If I can't afford something, I don't buy it. Simple.

Posted:4 months ago

#15

Fazi Zsolt Game & Level Designer @Atypical Games

38 19 0.5
Personally I don't think this will reflect in significant sales % increase. If you check Dragon Age Inquisition sales nrs running up until the crack, it wasn't more than expected, infact in someways performed poorer, there was no sales spike, no extra money going to EA from all those "thieves".

The equation is pretty simple:
* If you don't have the money (which most that are not living in the West don't) you won't buy or play the game, not until someone cracks it.
* If you do have the money, but you are the undecided type, thinking if it is really worth it or not to spend 60$ on it, you will either wait until a crack appears and try it (so you can make up your mind) or you just don't really care that much, forget about it, and buy it when it will be atleast half the price. You can also go to a key seller site and buy it there for a fraction of its price.

I personally think the current triple A prices are not really justified, you still pay for a digital download the same if not a bit more than for the boxed, physical version. Even though the cost of digital download is a lot less than manufacturing of the physical one. Also the piracy debate is often portraited as white vs black, where as it's more of a grey, murky place, there is no ultimate bad nor ultimate good, it has it's benefits and it's downsides.

World is changing, devs have to adapt and lose the ancient, antiquated DRM ways of the 20th century.
DRM is like a dinosaur struggling to keep up with the ever changing ecosystem, but in the end its fate is sealed.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Fazi Zsolt on 18th January 2016 1:35pm

Posted:4 months ago

#16

Aleksi Ranta Product Manager - Hardware

370 267 0.7
Sounds good to me. Also, the quote "in two years time I'm afraid there will be no free games to play in the world" is pretty hilarious given the number of high quality F2P games in the market right now.
what they mean to say is: "in two years time I'm afraid there will be no free games, that everyone else pays for but we dont, to play in the world"....

Posted:3 months ago

#17

Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer

288 142 0.5
If 3DM was the only crackinggroup out there, then they could actually see if it has any impact, but as they are not the only one, there is no way in actually seeing if it has any real impact.. The current denuvo protection is just too hard to crack, and just as the crackers aren't stting on their butts, so is the denuvo team, so once this version is cracked, there will be yet another one which will be even harder to crack..
But then again, if you pay full price for a new game these days, you're shopping in the wrong stores..

Posted:3 months ago

#18

Chris Payne Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller's Tales

170 555 3.3
I personally think the current triple A prices are not really justified, you still pay for a digital download the same if not a bit more than for the boxed, physical version. Even though the cost of digital download is a lot less than manufacturing of the physical one.
You're mistaking cost of delivery for cost of development. When you watch a movie you're not paying for the cost of seat rental, photon transmission and atmospheric vibration. You're paying to be entertained by other people's work. And video games cost a LOT of work.

Posted:3 months ago

#19

Benjamin Crause Supervisor Central Support, Nintendo of Europe

107 60 0.6
That one group ceasing work won't change anything. There are more than enough other groups. The same goes for the reason why people try to smash DRM. Let's assume for a moment all groups would fail to crack the next DRM type: Does anyone believe prices for games would decrease in any way? I believe DLC was partially born to combat piracy and to get at least a penny out of those illicit game copies/players. - There are both good and bad examples for DRM (i.e. level of intrusion) and DLC (on disc unlocks vs actual content vs cosmetics).
I totally understand the reason for DRM but I highly doubt it really helps these days. Its a cat and mouse game which at this point in time will never end.

Posted:3 months ago

#20

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,977 2,268 1.1
That one group ceasing work won't change anything. There are more than enough other groups
Quantity doesn't mean quality. 3DM rose to fame because they were consistently releasing working games. CPY cracked Dragon Age: Inquisition, eventually, but beyond that? Rise of The Tomb Raider has Denuvo, and the best that is currently out there for that is some homebrew-esque work-around that may or may not work fully, found on Reddit. Lords of The Fallen (2014 release) is still uncracked. If what 3DM were doing was so easily taken over by the other groups, Lords of the Fallen at least would've been cracked by now.

Which is not to say that Denuvo won't be cracked by a different group, but more to say that it requires time, effort and skill to crack games, and it's entirely unpaid work.

Posted:3 months ago

#21

Shane Sweeney Academic

494 585 1.2
Morville that's not quite right. 3DM came to fame because they have a very active Chinese forum and website where they post links to pirated games and just as importantly translation packs for games into Chinese. They are also a major reputable source of video game reviews and articles like "Top ten most expensive games on Steam", their is a lot of anti Steam stuff there to be honest. It's the 94th most popular site in China (ranked by Alexa).

3DM is a for profit "legitimate" company that offers a lot of translations and game coverage. 3DM has always had the stance that if the game is legally available in China (and in Chinese) they won't post the pirated copies. Now that titles are starting to appear in China their stance has changed to they won't release pirated content if they are sold at a price average Chinese can afford.

What's happened recently is Koei Tecmo (which does have a presence in China) objected to their title "Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13" appearing on 3DM and has sent a cease and desist letter. 3DM has complied surprisingly quite fearful of legal action, but is making a big song and dance to its community that the recent trade marking of "Three Kingdoms" in China will mean no other Chinese developers can use that name besides a Japanese company. Obviously since the Three Kingdoms is a part of Chinese history their is a large cultural aspect to this. 3DM also object to the price Koei are charging on Steam. The 3DM community is in an active campaign to get Steam banned in China for breaking Censorship rules so 3DM will be unopposed.

3DM are acting very sheepish about it all, but I suspect they are actually no longer cracking video games because they are a for profit company that does make money, and are flying very close to the sun at the moment, especially considering Steam is growing in popularity and companies might be more litigious now that their are revenue avenues for the Chinese.

I doubt they will stop making patches that translate games to Chinese though, they are always trying to actively recruit translators.

Here is a Hong Kong technology site covering the 3DM vs Koei thing. (No pirated links or anything in this site).
http://unwire.hk/2016/02/04/romance-of-the-three-kingdoms-13-2/game-channel/
Put the URL in Chrome and right click; Translate to English.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 9th February 2016 10:05am

Posted:3 months ago

#22

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,977 2,268 1.1
Ohhhhh, I didn't know all that. Cheers. :) I will say that I only heard of 3DM through a pro-piracy forum I used to frequent, so my perspective is/was very "Western-oriented" I suppose. Thanks for the link. :)

Posted:3 months ago

#23

Andrew Watson Tools Programmer

182 453 2.5
I don't think this will change much. People who pirated games aren't magically going to buy them when piracy is no longer an option. They'll just wait until a crack is available, watch someone else playing it instead, or just go play something else entirely. They might wait until it's like 75% off and then buy it, but I doubt a majority of them will do that.

I also want to point out that there are also games that have no DRM at all and still sell very well, such as The Witcher 3 and Undertale.

Posted:3 months ago

#24

Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises

499 337 0.7
Wow, good job Denuvo Software Solutions!

Posted:3 months ago

#25

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