Earlier this week, I made a little rant about the fact that DRM will be seen in the upcoming BioShock 2. Like it or not, DRM doesn’t seem to be going away, and as much as the game industry would like to ignore it, I truly believe that DRM plays a huge roll in persuading consumers to go pirate games instead. That might sound like a loaded statement, but look at it this way… when has DRM stopped someone from pirating a game? Never. How many people does it inconvenience? Everyone.
On a PC, cracking a game isn’t complicated. If you’re a programmer and a talented reverse-engineer, it’s not even that hard to write that crack (ignoring the actual research), because you’re on a PC… which allows you full access to the files on it. On a console, things are made much, much more complicated. But, that hasn’t stopped many from cracking those. Take a look at the original PlayStation, for example. Half of the people I know who owned one had it modified to play burnt games (note: I don’t condone this at all).
As time passed, it seemed that no matter the console, it would get cracked. The Sega Dreamcast was cracked, the original Xbox was cracked, and so was the PlayStation 2. It seems the most difficult consoles to crack were those that didn’t use a disc system, but rather cartridge. After all, those games are a lot more difficult to pirate. As robust as the Xbox 360 is, even it was cracked, and we’re well aware of just how many people are playing with cracked consoles because Microsoft regularly and actively bans users from Xbox Live because of it.
What about the PlayStation 3? Strangely enough, that’s one console that has been a problem for reverse engineers, but not George Hotz, the man who became famous for circumventing the protections on the iPhone to have it work with other carriers. Hotz recently spent 5 weeks in working on the PS3, and he successfully bypassed all of the protections. Little can be done right now, but it’s only a matter of time.
As it appears, Hotz doesn’t have much intention in continuing the development of his work, but rather released a hack that people can use if they wish to fiddle with it. Interestingly, one thing that makes Hotz’s work even more notable, is that unlike what’s possible on the Xbox 360, he managed to gain full access to the unit’s memory. What’s that mean? If his work ever turns into a full-blown console crack, it will take no time at all before people take advantage of being able to re-write memory addresses and ruin many online matches. Great…
I have read/write access to the entire system memory, and HV level access to the processor. In other words, I have hacked the PS3. The rest is just software. And reversing. I have a lot of reversing ahead of me, as I now have dumps of LV0 and LV1. I’ve also dumped the NAND without removing it or a modchip. 3 years, 2 months, 11 days…thats a pretty secure system. Took 5 weeks, 3 in Boston, 2 here, very simple hardware cleverly applied, and some not so simple software.