What’s stopping people from pirating games on legit consoles? (e.g. burning a disc for an Xbox 360 game yourself)


We’ve seen video game piracy all the time on PC, and even with really old systems with counterfeit cartridges. But what’s stopping people from doing that now?

I understand there’s security measures in place, and probably some form of encryption. But people have found ways to reverse engineer any console and mod it, so what’s stopping them from reverse engineering their encryption and burning their own discs for a legit console?


TL;DR: Why can’t people just burn game data onto discs to pirate / duplicate them?

In: 4

There’s a ring of data near the center of disks that can be read by the console, but it is out of the range of consumer disk burners. So if you purchased a commercial grade disk maker then nothing is stopping you, but you’d have to sell a lot of bootleg disks to make back the money.

There’s a few different DRM schemes out there but a lot of them rely on leveraging unique hardware – like Freddy’s example with discs having data where consumer-grade burners physically can’t reach.

Another scheme I remember hearing about is encrypting the data on the disc and then creating a custom chip that holds the decryption key. A “legitimate” company can buy the chip and integrate it in to their appliance but unapproved companies could not. IIRC this was how DVD piracy-protection worked in the early days, until someone reverse-engineered the key which allowed unauthorized parties to start reading the discs.

On certain consoles like the Dreamcast, there was nothing stopping people from burning a copy. Piracy was utterly rampant on the system, and one of the factors that led to its demise.

For other systems, the discs actually contain a sector of data fairly close to the spindle hole. Commercial burners and blank media aren’t capable of writing data to this area of the disc, since it’s outside their normal specs. On the original PlayStation, what people used to do is insert a legit disc, and quickly swap it with the copied one. Was finicky, but you could avoid the copy protection checks that way. Later consoles used more sophisticated methods. These had to be bypassed by a “mod chip”. Modern systems use online authentication.