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Game Piracy Protection

11-29-2008, 04:59 PM
#1
Senior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 451
Game Piracy Protection

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.
11-29-2008, 05:04 PM
#2
Joined: Jul 2008
Location: Boston
Posts: 1,268
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

11-29-2008, 08:07 PM
#3
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Baltimore
Posts: 205
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
12-02-2008, 12:40 AM
#4
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBunny View Post
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.
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.
12-02-2008, 05:29 AM
#5
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Berlin/Germany
Posts: 946
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.

--
taptoplay.de

Plus+: Lakeshore / OpenFeint & Game Center: taptoplay.de
12-04-2008, 10:30 PM
#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by swift View Post
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.
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.
12-05-2008, 11:56 PM
#7
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 128
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.
12-06-2008, 02:34 AM
#8
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrsteveman1 View Post
Depends on the cost of bandwidth i suppose but I would think it would take less of your time to just ignore it.
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.
12-06-2008, 07:42 PM
#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by swift View Post
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.
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.
12-06-2008, 10:32 PM
#10
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 430
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.

I've made a lot of games. You've played them.