Piracy is a well known issue over here, in Italy. More than in other European countries, especially in the South, there’s in fact the idea that buying legit games in legit stores at their legit prices (around €70,00) is something for nerds and even losers. It’s way better, many think, to go and buy pirated copies of a game for one tenth the price of the regular ones, usually at €15,00; they even sell pirated consoles as “complete editions”, because if your console isn’t pirated, well, it just isn’t complete.
“Why I should pay so much to play a game?”, friends of mine who use to underestimate the entire gaming industry ask me quite frequently. From this simple question, you can understand piracy is not a technological or a business problem, it’s cultural, it comes from the education each one of us has received: if a way for cheating exists, you have to cheat, there’s no other chance.
I have to admit, anyway, that current-gen consoles have resisted so far, “pirates” didn’t manage to hack them in the proper meaning of the word. Some way to cheat on Sony has been already found and consists in “sharing” a PlayStation Network account, usually reselling the games included in that account for prices around €30. So far, at least. From Brazil, in fact, arrives the news of a first hack discovered by journalists at UOL Jogos, as reported by “Wololo”
“Small electronics store in some streets of Sao Paulo will charge from R$300 to R$400 (about $100 to $150) in order to install 10 pirated games on your console. The UOL journalists have confirmed the hack to work on their own console.
The process, as described by Brazilian modchip stores, is close to what we have explained before: a Dump of a “legit” console with a dozen games on it is performed, and copied to the target console.
In addition to a copy of the hard drive, it is safe to assume a dump of the NAND/BIOS is performed as well. It seems the dump is performed with the help of a regular raspberry pi.
Activate a PS4 for a given account, make a full copy of its state/NAND, deactivate it, then copy the backed-up NAND again. UOL mentions however that in their experiment, their console ended up with 2 registered accounts, which are part of the cloning process, and required for the games to work.”
Wololo notes, anyway, this is ‘just’ a hack and not a jailbreak. This means that “homebrewers are left in the cold” and no non-official applications are coming to PlayStation 4, at least not in the short term. Furthermore, no encryption has been broken here.
We also have reports of legal actions taken by Sony in Brazil:
“Sony are not totally ignoring the issue of piracy in Brazil. It seems they are aware of the “account sharing” technique (and how some stores are monetizing it) and alreadysending cease and desist notices about that. It is safe to assume they will at least do the same for this new piracy technique, and will probably be looking into ways to patch the hack.”
This doesn’t come as a surprise, because Sony had already issued patch 2.51 that, accordingly to members of the Brazilian hacking scene, has been capable to fix all other known piracy techniques. It seems that for this new one a new patch will be required.
Could this exploit contribute to PlayStation 4 sells in poorer countries such as those in Latin America? Has Sony really an interest in preventing those hacking systems to be fixed immediately? We will have to wait and see how fast this issue will be solved by the Japanese platform holder to judge on this. In the meantime, share in the comments section below your opinion.