Hi Dark, Interesting that you braught this topic up. I've been working on a white paper on this issue, and was planning on publishing it it after I am done upgrading the USA Games website. However, the conclusions in my white paper are pretty much the same as yours below. Hardware based product registration doesn't work. For one thing in my white paper I site a number of products such as Windows Vista, Windows 7, Jaws, etc that use some kind of hardware based licensing such as tying the product key to the computer hardware or in Jaws's case a dongle. In each and every case I was able to locate cracks for each of those software products one could download and install that would disable or remove the licensing system in the software. That, of course, proves that no matter how good you think your security system is there is someone out there who can break it and then redistribute the crack to others over the internet. In fact, my research seams to show the more difficult you make it to crack the registration system the more crackers will try and break it until they eventually find away to do so. It is like a big challenge to them. However, the bottom line is that given enough motivation any security system can be cracked by someone with enough skill to do so. I then go on in the white paper to discuss the many ways that hardware based license keys have harmed both the developer and the legal customer alike. For one thing developers have to constantly deal with key replacements, because computers and hardware often does change invalidating the license key. Usually, companies like Microsoft charge lots of money for a hardware key replacement which is totally unfair to the customer as he or she has likely purchased a legal copy of the software, and shouldn't have to pay extra for a new key. At least not a large sum of money. Bottom line hardware based keys are a major inconvenience for everyone involved, and don't even stop piracy from taking place.
The final section of the white paper goes into the problem that hardware licensing, current marketing, etc hasnt' addressed the underlying issues involved in software piracy. Instead of addressing those issues as best as we can the software industry has decided to forge ahead with more and more restrictive licensing systems, and as a result the legal customers suffer more than the pirates it was suppose to protect the software from. One of the big issues, of course,is money. The number one group of people most likely to pirate software are those who are finantially unable to purchase the software legally. Jaws, for example, is a very expensive piece of software for most people, and the problem is made worse when you take in account the majority of Freedom Scientific's customers are unenployed and living on some sort of disability income. They don't offer any kind of payment plan, nor do they lower their prices for foreign markets where the income is considerably less than in the united States. Do to the current price of the software and the way it is marketed it is not surprising that someone somewhere would crack it and make it available to those low income markets that simply can't afford it. The second group of people likely to use a crack are those who purchased the software legally, but want to disable the hardware licensing for perfectly reasonable reasons. Usually,it comes down to the fact the end user frequently updates his/her hardware and constantly needs to request new keys for all of his/her software. A quick fix for that problem is to grab a patch that simply turns the hardware licensing off, and gives them more freedom to use their software in the way that they choose without restrictive licensing systems. That's a situation I can fully identify with personally. As I have mentioned many times back in February 2007 I purchased a legal licensed version of Windows Vista for my desktop. However, when my wife and I moved in July the desktop didn't survive the move. I purchased a new processor, motherboard, updated the ram and got it running like a top again. However, the nice new copy of Vista I purchased only six months earlier came up asking me for a new product key and locked me completely out of the operating system. I called Microsoft, explained to them what happened, and if I could have a new key. They told me because I had replaced the motherboard, processor, etc that that constituted a new computer license and wanted to charge me full price for a new key. Now, that was hardly fair considering I had purchased a legal copy in good faith, and the computer dying wasn't my fault. I told them to cram it up their butts, got online using my laptop, and downloaded a little crack that disabled the license key and my desktop ran perfectly fine with that crack until I updated to a legal copy of Windows 7. Given the facts of the matter one might be hard pressed to call this piracy. After all I had purchased a copy of Vista legally, and events out of my control caused my desktop computer's hardware to fail. I replaced it and Microsoft expected me to replace Vista as well for full price. According to them what I did was software piracy, but in my own personal opinion I had already purchased the software, my copy was a legal copy, and if a little patch would unlock Vista and restore it to working order what's the big deal? However, this case is exactly why hardware licensing doesn't work. Instead of harming the real pirates Microsoft's restrictive licensing was harming a customer who legally purchased the software and wasn't intending on pirating it. That customer, me, felt there was no alternative then to grab a crack to resolve a problem Microsoft caused by wanting to over charge me for a key replacement, and by using a rediculously restrictive licensing system in the first place. In the end my white paper closes on some advice for software developers. That is if you want to use a license key to protect your software use a method that will keep the legal users honest, but that will not greatly effect their operation of the software. Don't worry about dumping hundreds or thousands of dollars into a high tech hardware key system that is little more secure than simpler security systems. Chances are good pirates are not going to buy your software legally regardless how tough the security system is to break. If you really want to prevent software piracy address some of the issues that cause piracy such as the cost of the software, use regional pricing that is appropriate for the income of your potential customer base, and use a minimum security system designed to keep honest users honest. I feel if a developer does that he or she will make plenty of money off their software, and the so-called loss to piracy isn't going to be as bad as they believe. So as to your question what willI be doing with Mysteries of the Ancients. Well, the answer is I plan to follow my own advice. I am likely going to use a simple licensing system like the one I used in Montezuma's Revenge that takes a name and product key and unlocks the software. It isn't very secure, some might say, but it is the kind of system that keeps honest customers honest, and doesn't cause honest customers any grief for registering my software legally. On 6/17/10, dark <d...@xgam.org> wrote: > Hi. > > With all the talk of shades recently I fancied going back and replaying it. > However, I noticed to my horror, ---- probably due to my user accounts crash > last december all my gma engine games have got deregistered sinse my > computers' user code has changed. > > I now have to unfortunately go and pester david and phil to send me new > keys. While I'm sure both of them will, this does bring up a point. > > while I certainly see the point of having game registration, it does strike > me that the method employed can have a lot of knock on effect not just for > the end user, but for the developers, ---- sinse I'm sure both phil and > david have far better things to do than generate new keys for me just > because my computer went temporarily screwey. > > While I'm fully aware there are scumbags who will trade reg keys and pirate > software, or trade downloadable program install files for those who use a > secure download method like 7-128, I do have to wonder if ultimately having > the registration so tied to such a changeable value as the users' own > hardware is any the better, and if the effort is worth the cost. > > the online registration method that people like Jason are using, or the > incripted name method used by Philip bennifall, do strike me as a reasonable > compromise, ---- sinse they are easy for the user to recover themselves > without having to bug the developer. > > I'd be interested to know what method tom is planning with mota. > > Beware the Grue! > > Dark. > --- > Gamers mailing list __ Gamers@audyssey.org > If you want to leave the list, send E-mail to > gamers-unsubscr...@audyssey.org. > You can make changes or update your subscription via the web, at > http://audyssey.org/mailman/listinfo/gamers_audyssey.org. > All messages are archived and can be searched and read at > http://www.mail-archive.com/gam...@audyssey.org. > If you have any questions or concerns regarding the management of the list, > please send E-mail to gamers-ow...@audyssey.org. > --- Gamers mailing list __ Gamers@audyssey.org If you want to leave the list, send E-mail to gamers-unsubscr...@audyssey.org. You can make changes or update your subscription via the web, at http://audyssey.org/mailman/listinfo/gamers_audyssey.org. All messages are archived and can be searched and read at http://www.mail-archive.com/gam...@audyssey.org. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the management of the list, please send E-mail to gamers-ow...@audyssey.org.