Pirates Strike XBL Indie Games

By Lo-Ping - Thu Mar 17, 4:45 pm

by Gavin G.

Ex-Trey Ex-trey, read all about it! Piracy Strikes!


It’s a hot topic on the internet nowadays. Game writers/bloggers getting on their soapboxes to denounce piracy while pirates launch into tired old arguments to justify what they are doing. Well now the denizens of the internet have sunk to a new low*

For the last week or so I’ve been discussing this with and old friend of Lo-Ping, DjArcas. FortressCraft is nearing completion but he is now having to include a feature he never thought he would have to think about on the Indie Channel… Copy Protection.

The Dream, Build, Play contest has noble intentions and I would applaud it for bringing in new talent to the industry that might not have considered it otherwise except for one small thing.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, can fill out an application and in five minutes have the keys to the kingdom, a copy of XNA that lasts until the contest ends in June. I joined up myself before writing this article and it took me all of five minutes, including download time.

Why is this a big deal? XNA is the toolkit that Xbox Live Indie Game developers pay $100 yearly subscription fees to access and keep their games in a tight-knit community without fear of exposure or theft. XNA saves the programs in a special filetype that only other copies of XNA can read, thus eliminating the risk of theft until DBP came along.

Free memberships to XNA combined with the fact that indie games are small and incredibly fast to download in this special filetype that XNA uses,  DjArcas estimates there are 14 pirate-copy FortressCraft servers running right now. The scary bit here is that until Microsoft does something to fix this little problem, every game on the Xbox Live Indie channel is at risk of being pirated!

Hopefully Microsoft will fix this little problem fast, in a world where people will pirate five games that would cost them one penny, the popularity contest of XBLIC needs all the help it can get.

*Yes, I did make a pirate pun THAT bad.


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  1. 0

    This post is a bit overly dramatic. First of all signing up for Dream Build Play gets you a student membership. That basically allows you to build and deploy ccgames from your PC to your 360 but it DOESN'T allow you to go to the App Hub and just download 1,000s of games.

    This also isn't the first year that Dream Build Play has given out membership codes. In fact they have done is EVERY YEAR! 🙂 We've yet to see pirating become an issue as a result. Both the technical barrier and the fact that most XBLIGs are so cheap anyway that it's not worth pirating tend to dissuade people.

    On top of all this, when games are released to the marketplace they get a new GUID. This means that all of the "pirated" versions can't talk to the actual final product.

    So sure, could it happen? Sure, just about everything can be pirated.

    Is it a new problem? Not at all, Dream Build Play and XBLIG have been around for 3 years now without this being an issue.

    Is it something to worry about? Nope. In fact I'd suggest you use people who want to take the time to sign up for DBP as beta testers. You don't get a lot of opportunities to get that much QA on an XBLIG so I would be jumping at this chance.

    But as for XBLIG pirates, let's not over dramatize something that isn't a problem, isn't a new problem and hasn't really happened to a degree worth worrying about.

  2. 0

    >The scary bit here is that until Microsoft does something to fix this little problem, every game on the Xbox Live Indie channel is at risk of being pirated!

    That's a bit of hyperbole there.

    It would be quite difficult to get the compiled packages off of the Xbox, which is the only way you could conceivably "pirate every game on the XBLIG channel".

    You can download them from Playtest or Peer Review, but you need a paid membership in order to access them. The free ones given out for DBP do not give you access to those forums. Plus, games typically only stay there for a week or two so you'd have to be fairly dedicated to get many games (especially since most are typically buggy/incomplete until final release).

    Lastly, if there is any multiplayer component, ccgames downloaded from the App Hub site will only be able to see other games; "retail" version from the Marketplace will not be able to see the ones from the site and vice versa. This is because the game's GUID identifier is automatically changed by the system once it it released onto the Marketplace.

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