Best Piracy Protection Method?

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Gnatinator, Jan 23, 2005.

  1. Gnatinator

    Original Member

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    Hey guys, I am at the point where I should be thinking about what type of piracy protection should be implemented in my game.

    So far ive been thinking either:

    - Personalized Name/Key Registration
    - Seperate full version download
    - A dual implementation of both methods

    I was wondering:

    How often is it that you will see a Name/Key Registration for your game on a pirate site?
    How often is it that you will see your seperate full version game download on a pirate site?
    Which method is more effective?

    Any other effective methods out there?

    Thanks
     
  2. cliffski

    Moderator Original Member

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    go with full versions. they are MUCH better. its also less confusing for users.
    no pirate site ever hosts big full version downloads.
    Ive cut piracy big time by switching away from regcodes.
     
  3. StefanM

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    I plan to use full version as well. It also allows me to make the demo download smallar possibly attracting more downloads, and easier to maintain. The only drawback i see is the extra bandwidth needed.
     
  4. C_Coder

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    I was going to use registration name and key. Do you think I should use full downloads? :confused:

    And if so, how should they be handled?
     
  5. cliffski

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    get the credit card company (plimus etc) to auto handle mailing a direct URL for your game.
    To anyone thinking of using regcodes, visit www.listgame dot com. then tell me its ok to use regcodes. (forum is full of peole requesting and posting serials).
     
  6. C_Coder

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    Yes, but then can't they just distribute the full version instead of a crack?
     
  7. papillon

    Indie Author

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    The thing is, a full version can be traded over fileshare and secret warez ftp sites. Most of the people who get their games from there are unlikely to have their decision whether or not to purchase changed by such availability.

    But the full version WON'T be posted on every kid's free website, because they can't afford the file hosting.

    If you have a keycode, then all they have to host is either a keygen (often very very tiny, if you can host a big image you can host one) or a key itself. And that can be anywhere. All over free webhosting. All over forums. All over Usenet and easily accessible through google. (Try to find a Windows OS key on google groups. SImple search, boom, hundreds of them. At least there were the last time I did that. :) ) They don't need to pay for bandwidth. YOU pay for the bandwidth, because those thieves are downloading your full game and giving you nothing for it!

    It's very difficult to stop hardcore pirates from either pirating your game or choosing not to buy it. Casual pirates, though, are lazy.
     
  8. arcadetown

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    Would it make any sense to provide separate full version AND reg key or is that just overkill?
     
  9. Abscissa

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    Would there be much of a way to help prevent these pirate resellers? Only think I can thnk of would involve adding a major online component to the game.
     
  10. Loover

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    And what happens if someome catch this url to put it in a pirate sit? Can this url be changing or protected by some way, for example like you said, by Plimus?
     
  11. Ryan Clark

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    Yes Plimus, eSellerate, etc all have methods for ensuring that the URLs they give out can only be used by the intended recipient. And I believe most payment processing companies will even use their own servers/bandwidth to host your full version. As long as you get a sale (and they get a cut) they're happy to pay for a little bandwidth.
     
  12. Rainer Deyke

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    I've got a plan to distribute personalized full versions. In other words, the customer downloads the full version from a custom url, and when they get it the customer's name is embedded in it. This should, in theory, be safer than just distributing the full version, but with no additional hassle for the customer. It does require some clever server side scripting though.
     
  13. AndyN

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    Or if you're going to get into server side coding, why not make a callback page from the payment system that inserts the customers email address and a randomly generated key into a database and create an automated email to the customer containing their key.

    On the registration page in the product ask them to enter their email address and serial number. Your code can then connect to the database and check that their details are valid before unlocking the full version.

    Edit: Ah, of course this does mean a bit of hassle for the customer though.
     
    #13 AndyN, Jan 23, 2005
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2005
  14. otaku

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    I am intending to eventually implement separate demo & custom versions of the software. I also have a plan to regenerate the setup file with the customer's name, e-mail address displayed on the main menu, and lightly encoded payment details stored within the binary package. I don't anticipate that it will take more than a week or so to implement. When the customer makes a purchase they are directed to a unique, automatically generated URL. I admit that this will make it difficult to use some of the portals who insist on custom builds using generic, all-encompassing keys but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

    Piracy will always exist unless you have a very strong on-line only component. So you just make sure that the people who would ordinarily pay, actually pay, and those that have no real interest in your software beyond just "having" it (the stamp collector mentality) don't get a completely free and easy ride.

    People will ask and seek out a key for practically anything. Even something that is attrociously bad. I know this because the first game we created, which is attrociously bad and served the purpose it needed to (we had to have a "product" to fulfil certain obligations), sold a total of 26 copies, people were requesting keys for it on various crack forums.
     
  15. amaranth

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    I've also been thinking about this problem for a while (I have a game coming out this year).

    This is what I plan to do for online customers. The downside is that they will need to be connected to the internet to unlock their software. I'm still working out details for customers who actually have the software shipped to them.

    -Full download, can only play 1/4 of the game.

    -When they buy the game, I will generate a key and email it to them. The key will be added to my 'valid key' database.

    -When the user enters the key in their software, they will connect to my database. If the key is legal and valid, the lock will be removed from the software.

    -I'll have a key tracker. So, if someone tries to use a legal key more than 10 times a month at different IP addresses, the key will become invalid, and the owner will need to contact me to re-release it.

    If you see any obvious flaws in this, let me know :)
     
    #15 amaranth, Jan 25, 2005
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2005
  16. MadSage

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    This kind of anti-piracy stuff has crossed my mind in the past, but at the end of the day, its just not worth the effort. You don't even need to make the protection that complex to stop the average user cracking your protection, but there is a certain line... once you go past it, it doesn't matter how complex your protection is, any average cracker will crack it - remove locks, remove the need for a key (personalized or not), remove connections to an online database etc... then these personalized keys become useless.

    The next step is to make the software break if its cracked, but that makes your job as a programmer even harder too, and it still won't stop serious crackers. Saying that... do serious crackers even bother with indie games?
     
  17. C_Coder

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    Take this with a pinch of salt...

    If I find a crack for my indie game, I will think that the game is popular! :D
     
  18. Tertsi

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    Breaking the software after it's cracked is actually easy, and will only need a little study to figure out how. If the hacker is not very motivated, he/she won't propably redownload the installer and try to figure out how it broke it and how to avoid it. So that and the online verification should propably be enough for all but the most popular indie games.
     
  19. Abscissa

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    How would something like that be done?
     
  20. Tertsi

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    Using a filesize checksum is one way, if the exact .exe filesize changes then it has been modified. Then it's just a matter of deleting some necessary files of the program and marking that the hacker's machine can't install the game anymore. (Without removing the mark.)
     
    #20 Tertsi, Jan 26, 2005
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2005

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