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“3DS Copy Protection So Complex We Can’t Explain It”


Nintendo apparently intends to eliminate piracy on its new 3DS with a suite of measures “too sophisticated to explain,” according to one bamboozled publisher.

Publisher THQ’s executive VP of global publishing is clear that in his view piracy has made DS publishing non-viable and that Nintendo’s efforts to stymie it in the new 3DS are essential if the console is to succeed:

“What excites me even more [than 3DS games] is that there’s technology built in that device to really combat piracy.

The problem with the DS market in the last few years, particularly with the DS Lite, is that it’s just been attacked by piracy. It’s made it almost impossible to shift any significant volume. The DSi combated it a little bit, but the 3DS has taken that a step further.

I actually asked Nintendo to explain the technology and they said it’s very difficult to do so because it’s so sophisticated. They combated the piracy on DSi, which they don’t believe is cracked yet – but they know they’ve been hurt across the world and they believe the 3DS has got technology that can stop that.

Therefore the opportunity for people to invest more in product development [on the system] and bring more 3DS products to market comes out of that. It’s going to probably cost us more to do it all in 3D – so we want to make sure we get a return on our investment when we do it.”

“Too sophisticated for us to explain it to you” – for one of THQ’s executives to accept so vapid an explanation this either indicates an extraordinary amount of trust in Nintendo, an even more extraordinary level of gullibility, or perhaps both.

Whilst most such promises of uncrackable protection have only seen the inevitable delayed, it is notable that the PS3 remains uncracked, so the commonly bleated pirate refrain that “no protection is uncrackable” may yet have to be discarded.

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  • Anonymous says:

    LOL…I feel sorry for the people that say DS games cost $100. Maybe $100 of YOUR dollars, wherever you may be. Here, in the US, they usually cost $30 ($40 if it’s a Pokemon game or something primo).

    I’m not rich and I’ve had no trouble buying games that I like.

    As for unhackability….that which science produces can be reproduced.

  • Just like when Microsoft said the Xbox’s copy protection was impossible to exploit. When the 3DS comes out, I give the copy protection about maybe a few weeks or a couple of months, it will not last a year.

  • Anonymous says:

    Did they not know that majority of their console sales comes from piracy? Look at their Wii and DS sales. They’re off the planet, and look at PS3 sales, it barely even made it to the ceiling.
    Are they not happy about it, or would they rather see their console sales plummet?

    • Anonymous says:

      How can a sale come piracy? There’s no money being exchanged. And if you’re thinking about the number of people playing their games, I doubt it’s even possible to really count the number of people playing pirated copies.

      • Anonymous says:

        No friend, he is not talking about the games sales, he is talking about the consoles sales, if its easy to pirate, the games are easy avaiable and more people will buy the console. Now, I know that some consoles are selled at a loss price and that the money came from the game sales so of course piracy bring problems , but I think that lower prices in the games can serve as a incentive to move out of piracy, if I could choose about let’s say a $5 pirated game or a $15 original game I would buy the original, but when the choice is between a $5 pirate and a $100 original well…

  • Anonymous says:

    Some people here says that games are cheap and ask what DS game are $100 or more, well here are a litle list of prices in dollar here in Brazil from the site, keep in mind that this prices don’t include shipping:

    Drawn to life: Next Chapter = $124
    Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings = $119
    Pokemon Heartgold Version = $113
    Pokemon Soulsilver Version = $113
    Lego Batman: The Video = $113
    New Super Mario Bros = $113
    Mario Kart = $113
    Pokemon Diamond = $113
    Fifa Football 2006 = $113
    Whack-A-Mole = $113

    And so on! So yeah, buying original games is very cheap everywhere…

    • Anonymous says:

      Well what do you expect, living in Brazil? If you have to import everything (my Portuguese is rusty, but that is what “importado” means, right?), naturally it’s going to be more expensive…

      So Nintendo should make their system hackable for the sake of the countries where they don’t officially sell their hardware?

      • Anonymous says:

        he is just saying games are not cheap everywhere and you should not disregard the price so easily

        also you should consider that not only they are 2x times more expensive than us in Brazil (they are around 3~4x times more expensive in Argentina btw and much harder to find) but that the average paycheck in south america is only a fraction of one in the US or Europe, one of those games might cost half a monthly paycheck here

        are you surprised the piracy ratio in this area is HUGE ?

        • Anonymous says:

          Yet most piracy happens in these rich countries like the USA. They can buy it, but what’s the point when they can get it for free?

          If the 3DS really is uncrackable it’s a good measure, because they’re left with no choice.

  • Anonymous said:
    For those who don't realise and some people who have already mentioned this.
    DRM and copy protection is not supposed to be foolproof but is designed to delay cracking for the first few months a game is released, as those few months are when generally games make most of their money.
    After that sales will slowly tapper off.

    I'm sure a few companies actually believe it too.

    I know one company, I was told they had drm on their games. I wouldn't have known it if not told though. I usually make a disc image to make it so I don't need disc in drive. I wonder if they thought that was good enough (the need for disc in drive).

    I buy most of my games from Matrix Games (they publish wargames). All they require is a serial on install. They offer updates that usually bust illegal serials of course. No biggie, you don't pay, why expect to get updates that work πŸ™‚ But I can install where ever, as often as I please and never once need to do anything else but use the serial.
    That says to me they like me enough to not piss me off with useless DRM techniques.

    I have yet to ever see a new game fail to be on the download scene the same week of release. Well accept PS3 games πŸ™‚

  • KittyFields says:

    You know what makes me sad? If it really is uncrackable and stupid Namdai decides to release a Tales game for this system we’ll never, ever see it in English because all possibility of fan translation will be over.

    Seriously, if games as great as Mother 3, Soma Bringer, and Tales of… games come out on this system I will be very sad. Bye bye, fan translations. T_T

    • Anonymous says:

      Worse yet, it will probably have region locking like the DSi, so you wouldn’t even be able to play the originals unless they’re designed only for the DS. It hasn’t really been such a big deal with the DSi, because there’s not a big difference so games don’t often go the DSi route (and it’s only DSi specific software that can be locked). But the 3DS is a big step… 3DS specific software will be coming in a big way, and that could be locked.

      I’m really hoping that Nintendo backs away from region locking stupidity… I couldn’t care less about pirating games (I already have more games already than I have time for) or homebrew (I have plenty of other devices that I can program and run arbitrary software on). But region locking will have me looking to crack my system (which is part of why it’s so stupid, it just encourages people to unlock their systems).

  • Anonymous says:

    challenging hackers is always a very bad idea

    and btw, you just CANT compare DS piracy to PS3 piracy those are completely different beasts, DS games are MUCH smaller and easy to get, you can pretty much fit all the games released for it in a cheap microSD card making the cost of storing the copy practically 0 (compare with the huge cost of downloading and burning a blu ray disc), the size of the user base is also completely different, the DS has what, 100 times more users ? its a completely different scale

    also the fact that a corporate suit doesn’t have a clue how technology works tells me nothing about the strength of the copy protection

  • Anonymous says:

    Heh. I’m not buying.

    I have a Xbox360 and a PS2, both unlocked. The interesting thing is that I only unlocked my Xbox recently and before unlocking I had 3 original games. Now I have 7 already. It would still be 3 if I had not unlocked it, specially after I found out (by playing the games) that 2 out of the 3 were completely useless crap – lucky me I bought them used.

  • Lol i give them A for trying.
    seriously when you think about it, every game system or game has been cracked the only acceptation are the game cube and the ps3 and the reasons on that is the game cube used those small proprietary disc and Blu rey is to expensive and holds to much data.
    3Ds isn’t any different all it going to do is keep a hacker busy for about a few months hell if this is a bluff a few days. Got to say they got some serious balls to just challenge the hackers.

  • Anonymous says:

    you guys remember how back in the day, no one gave two shits about what console is hackable or not?

    now it seems losers won’t even touch a console they can’t fuck with these days.

    you wanna crack your PS3? have fun trying

    if the 3DS is just as hard to crack, I’ll be here laughing at all the morons ‘waiting’ for it to get cracked and missing out on playing all the games πŸ˜€

  • Anonymous says:

    THQ probably took a glimpse at the code, then realized it was a clusterfuck of random code thrown together in such a haphazard way that no one in their right mind could crack it.

    They are also probably hoping people not in their right minds aren’t allowed to buy 3DSs.

  • Anonymous says:

    n1 … you wont be able to hack the 3ds protection? mega phail. Ubisoft said that their protection was also “a new revolution in copy protection”…. well it was, but only for the first 3 weeks xD. After that every game with the ubisoft protection was cracked in like 3 days.

  • Perfect copy protection eh yawn.

    Nothing like spitting in the face of hackers who only hack for the challenge.

    The only people that pirate are cheap cunts. Hackers hack for the challenge of the hack.

    Myself, not so interested. 250 bucks plus tax to go back to a smaller screen just because it makes slightly prettier pictures? Not fucking likely. I got 90 bucks for my DS lite which made the DSi XL not such a painful price and I got a massive screen size increase.

    My next hand held purchase will be a Kindle/iPad competitor that isn't the price of a new laptop. Because if I can get a laptop for the same price, I am buying the laptop eh.

  • Anonymous says:

    The objective isn’t to make it uncrackable ever. If the pirates need years to solve it, then they’ve gotten their investment returns.

    Insert argument here that most cases of piracies do not equate to lost sales. But it gives confidence to developers which is what matters most.

    • DaDeceptiveOne says:

      Googled a little and:
      OMG! You can already play 3DS Games using Emulators in 3D on every PC (using iZ3D).

      Meh, who cares. I just wonder wether I’ll be able to play imported games on it -.-

  • the more complex they are, the harder they fall…or at least in theory they say. but i’d say the ps3 has been doing pretty good job at staving off piracy for the past several years. so who knows about the 3ds.

    imo handheld devices are far less complex than consoles so if you can jailbreak an iphone, i don’t see why a portable gaming device would be anymore different.

  • DaDeceptiveOne says:

    Hackers will LOVE Nintendo for not making details public. All those groups will start a battle about “who will be the 1st to have hacked this thing?”.

    That scene is all about competition, so Nintendo didn’t to something clever here…
    Same with the Fansubbers/Rippers/etc…

  • Anonymous says:

    For those who don’t realise and some people who have already mentioned this.
    DRM and copy protection is not supposed to be foolproof but is designed to delay cracking for the first few months a game is released, as those few months are when generally games make most of their money.
    After that sales will slowly tapper off.

  • Anonymous says:

    you see hearin lies the problem. DS costs $200+ i can’t afford to by games for it so i don’t get it= lost sales for nintendo and you. I buy a DS i can’t afford to bet on your games so i stick to 1st party nintendo titles= lost sales for you. I can’t see why he’s so happy about this.

  • Anonymous says:

    THQ VP: So can you tell me how the anti-piracy technology works?
    Nintendo rep: Well, it’s really too difficult to explain… *changes subject*


    THQ VP: So can you tell me how the anti-piracy technology works?
    Nintendo rep: Fuck no, you brainless stooge! You guys are less secure than IE5! In fact, you’re probably going to blab the entire contents of this meeting to the nearest gaming rag before I’m even out of the building, just so you can see your name in print. Sorry, but we’d really prefer if we at least got this damn thing to market before it gets hacked… Fucking moron…Jesus!

  • Anonymous says:

    Remember ubisoft’s DRM and how they believed it to be some pretty hot shit? The most piracy produced will be on the console with the most to gain from. Who the hell cares about PS3 apart from some people on this site. Enjoying your monster hunter tri sonyfags? Oh wait the PS3 isn’t worth developing for so it got canceled didn’t it?

    The biggest hackers use linux so why would sony allow the PS3 to use linux in the first place?

    • Anonymous says:

      Ubisoft’s DRM was a means to delay cracks as much as possible. I’m sure they were well aware that someone would put 2 and 2 together and datamine all the server hosted encryption keys. Of course they were saying it’s “unbreakable”. Their goal was to maximize sales, which is counter productive with telling pirates “don’t worry, you will get your crack eventually”.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ubisoft’s DRM was anti-consumer. There is NO reason why you should have to have an always-on internet connection to play a LEGALLY BOUGHT GAME, period and done with.

        No goddamned reason. Some people visit places where they do not have always on high-speed internet, such as my grandfather’s house in West Virginia, which is in the BOONIES!

      • Nintendo never sells their console at a loss. As they said with the Wii, they can’t afford to, since unlike their competitors this is all they do. Of course, what you ended up with in Wii’s case was a console that was outdated the day it came out, which is hurting it in the present, but then normally by now a new generation would at least have been announced.

        As far as being uncrackable…well, we’ll see. I’m surprised no one has pointed out this gem though:
        β€œWhat excites me even more [than 3DS games] is that there’s technology built in that device to really combat piracy.”

        Really? Aren’t creators supposed to be excited about the new possibilities of a system rather than just stopping piracy? I think he has the wrong outlook on things if he’s thinking about how to stop piracy more than actually, you know, make games. Of course, this would put him in the same head-space as a lot media executives.

  • Anonymous says:

    Worst antipiracy PR ever.

    One of the things hackers dislike is when someone claims to have an impenetrable system that they can’t crack, ESPECIALLY when it comes from some guy that can easily be seen as a corporate dog.

    You make a statement like that, and you’re, like, only baiting for sharks that you know would eat you anyway.

    Nice job, THQ! I’m sure Nintendo would appreciate your boasting when they find out that it’s cracked yet again! HAHAHAHA!

    • Anonymous says:

      All they need to do is make it so hard to crack, that it would take a single person years to do it.

      Even among the cracking community, few have the expertise to crack unknown hardware, and even fewer would bother to go that far.

      • Anonymous says:

        I think it depends less on the software technology, and more on hardware.

        GameCube(for a while, unpirated) = proprietary disc
        PS3 = Blu-Ray, too expensive and large

        Unless they use a hardware mechanism that is unique to their own product and not available elsewhere, hackers can always crack out the software mechanism.

        Nintendo realized this. Probably explained why Nintendo’s previous CEO didn’t want Gamecube to use DVD.

  • Anonymous says:

    Basically pure bullshit. Why would anyone discuss anti piracy features before the device is out or at all for that matter? It’s in Nintendo and publishers interests to keep their mouths shut.

    The 3DS is a new system not the progression of an old one like the DSi. There will be flaws in the software or hardware and those flaws will be exploited in good time. You can’t stop piracy on a hand held especially a new hand held. You don’t have the resources of say a PS3 at hand.

    • It is already known for it’s nasty feature to be connected to the internet all the time and having cameras and stuff. Better to keep away from it, if you treasure your privacy.

      Privacy – can’t be spelled without the letters in piracy. The added V stands vor victory. Piracy V. = Privacy

      Anagrams are cool, did you know that japanese anime is an anagram of ‘a japan enemies’ and that japanese manga is an anagram of ‘a japan enemas’?

      The eyes = They see
      The ears = Hear set
      Slot Machines = Cash Lost in’em
      Mother-in-law = Woman Hitler
      Funeral = Real Fun
      The Detectives = Detect Thieves
      Eleven plus two = Twelve plus one

      • Anonymous says:

        As with physical locks, computer security only has to be good enough to defeat your most probable opponents long enough to make it economically not-worth-their-while to spend the resources to break your security.

        It’s no good installing Medeco locks, if, next to the ‘secure’ door, there’s nothing more substantial than a plasterboard wall.

        In the console game world, *commercial* pirates have more economic incentive to crack a system than Joe Average.

        And, *commercial* pirates aren’t going to tell anyone how they cracked the system (presuming they did so). They want you to buy *their* pirate discs (Helloooo, China!).

        Sony, Nintendo, et. al., only have to make their systems ‘un-crackable’ for as long as they expect companies to sell games for them, and the console manufacturers to get their cut of those sales.

        • Anonymous says:

          ;/ a reason why the price of games is so high is because of the loss game companies make caused by downloading and if you look well on the internet you can get the newest games for 50 euro instead of the normal 60 and pc games for 40, so it isn’t super bad, but you arn’t able to buy all the games you want but that is with everything we always want more than we can have, pay for.

        • Anonymous says:

          Apparently, the anonymous that says that “games aren’t expensive’ hasn’t seen the 100 dollar prices they want for quite a few games!

          Yes, they ARE FUCKING WELL EXPENSIVE! Too expensive for anyone except Lebron James to buy them all legally.

        • Anonymous says:

          [i]Why pirate? I just buy all my games, it’s not like it’s too expensive.[/i]

          You say that because u may live in a place where they actually officially distributed and cost cheap.In my country if costs 30 dollar in USA here costs 70

        • Anonymous says:

          I remember seeing an MS comic that perfectly represented this: A gamer is pissed when he finds out that Babyz: Ten Ittle Babyz sells 3 million units. Then he finds Phantasy Star Zero and downloads the rom…and proceeds to rage when he learns that it sold only 3 copies.

          If there’s nothing but shovelware on a system, it’s because the better ‘hardcore’ titles aren’t selling and all of those pet simulators are selling gangbusters. Pirates are just shooting themselves in their own feet, then complaining about it.

        • Some of the best games I’ve ever bought were $10 or below, but I’m a PC gamer, so those prices actually happen pretty often for good stuff. I don’t get why people are so obsessed with pirating, ‘woo free’ is usually not as good a reason as ‘woo support the company so they continue making good games’. My DS is just being an alarm clock right now, beat Disgaea DS, and nothing else around for it that’s caught my interest.

        • Anonymous says:

          This man speaks the truth. Sure, a lot of the better games are sold at the traditional $30 area, but there are plenty other greats (anyone play Locke’s Quest?) that are dirt cheap. I’ve seen copies of Dokapon Kingdom at $9.99 where I live, for example. DS games are far cheaper than most figures I’ve seen (usually no cheaper than $30 with shipping and handling).

          The whole “I’m not buying a system ’till it’s cracked” deal is just so much mewling from lazy, neck-bearded glue-sniffers who want to justify their spoiled, self-entitlement issues.

          THat’s all I’ve got to say about that.

        • @alidan “..and isnt 1 core of the cpu devoted to the piracy blocking?”

          Technically, one of the eight SPE’s is reserved for system functions and the hyper-visor (the CPU dispatches the workload to the SPE’s).

          In layman’s terms, the hyper-visor puts the application into a sandbox + only runs it when the digital signatures are verified.

          In other words, it’s like a sophisticated application virtualization platform.

          Now I don’t know the architecture of the DS family, but I guess they are using some form of ARM processor, and that’s not designed for this stuff, so they have to use more classical verification methods, making it somewhat more vulnerable, because the applications can directly communicate with the operating system core.

          Sorry for too much techspeak.

        • BR disks are just not so commonly used among other media. No wonder they’ve avoided piracy for so many years.

          By the way, by comparing the game sales which launch on both XboX and PS3 you can also determine the approximate amount of copies potentially lost on Xbox because of piracy.

          In theory, game sold on similar stations should be about 50/50, with some games sold less on XboX cus of pirates.
          However 75% of Bioshock 2 game copies sold were on XboX 360. It was launched on both consoles and PC. Sales lost due to piracy… myth, or reality?


        • actually the wii was making allot per console, but you are right, almost every other console lost money.

          but here is another thing to think of, ps3 is a bit impractical to pirate for. i believe when it came out, bluray discs cost over 30$ per disc, and even now, they cost a bit, 3$ a disc, nowhere near as bad as before. and isnt 1 core of the cpu devoted to the piracy blocking?

          the 3ds to hack it you will need a few things, probably number 1 is to flash the firmware. and 2, you will need to manufacture a 3ds cartage thats blank.

          i believe its ds compatible, so the carts will be flash at best. if they aren’t, than that is problem 2, but i can handle load times being a little longer.

          there are only a few things that i can see that would make the 3ds uncrackable, but at the same time there are ways to circumvent them all, the only reason the ps3 is suck a bitch was because 1 the medium made it unpractical, and 2 the 1 core to anti piracy. unless nintendo devotes an arm to that alone, piracy ahoy.

        • The thing is, console business is being done subsidized, meaning they sell it below production/distribution cost and make back the money via the game royalties.

          Otherwise you are right, I wouldn’t buy a locked down platform either (especially since they removed the other OS feature). The business models are just pretty screwed up in this segment.