Massive Entertainment co-founder Martin Walfisz has said now that PS3 has been properly hacked, Sony will be unable combat piracy effectively on the system and it could prove to be a piracy situation worse than the one currently facing handhelds.
Speaking with GI.biz, Walfisz, who no longer works at the Ubisoft-owned studio, said now that a mod-chip is no longer needed to play illegal copies of PS3 games, it will be hard for Sony to determine which consoles are running pirated material.
“If that hack works as reported, I don’t believe that Sony can regain any control,” said Walfisz. “They could try to employ a similar system to Xbox Live, so that people running hacked systems won’t have access to PSN. But Sony won’t be able to stop people from running pirated game copies as long as the machines are not hooked up online.
“And given that it seems that users won’t even need a hardware mod-chip to play pirated games, I don’t believe that Sony can even detect which users to lock out from PSN.
“They way the PS3 seems to have been hacked, it is now completely open. The hackers can create pirated copies that completely mimic the official Sony digital signature, making it extremely easy to use pirated copies of games, without the need for any hardware chip modifications. I would assume that pirated copies can be stored on the HDD as well, making it so easy to use that PS3 piracy, given time, might even surpass the handhelds.”
Walfisz believes the only way to combat the issue is for Sony to release new hardware, but considering how much such a move would cost the company, it’s unlikely to happen.
“I don’t think that they can do much. Once a console is hacked this completely, the hardware manufacturer can’t really do anything,” he said. “They could maybe update their hardware for new console sales, which would be a long and expensive process, but that won’t stop users from running pirated copies on the current hardware. And updating the hardware needs to be done in a way that doesn’t prevent users from running already-released games. I doubt that can be done.”
A NeoGAF poster has claimed Sony can ban a hacked PS3 even without the system being logged into PSN due to the console connecting with the company’s servers when it is booted up.
Digital Foundry suggested the same thing earlier in the week.
Sony has also filed a complaint with the Northern Californian District Court against hackers George Hots (a.k.a. GeoHot), Hector Martin Cantero and Sven Peter (fail0verflow), and 100 other unnamed defendants. The firm has requested a temporary restraining order and an order of impoundment from the court.
Walfisz believes the only way to keep hackers at bay and to keep matters from escalating to this degree, is to make future consoles “always online”, like Ubisoft’s PC DRM.
“I believe that future-generation consoles will require a constant online connection,” he said. “If they have that in place, they can run a much more powerful DRM scheme, where parts of the game logic will only be executed on secure servers – in effect partially mimicking a client-server scheme such as MMO’s use.
“Then it doesn’t matter if the console is hacked, since users won’t be able to play the games without being online with a valid and unique registration key.”
To get caught up on all that has happened since the first hack was announced, you might want to read over our feature on the matter.