As I’ve described recently, the “PS3 scene” is a strange world, especially because everything revolves currently around the “True Blue” dongle, a usb key that only enables piracy and nothing more.
True Blue has the particularity of being extremely well protected against clones and reverse engineering (more details here). This is a clever way from its creators to guarantee a good revenue stream, but it also makes the dongle the “public enemy #1″ for hackers who would prefer to see a scene where people actually share their findings.
If anything, the securities on that dongle allow the True Blue team to sell it at a price that goes between insanely expensive and total rip off (let’s remember that the manufacturing cost of the device is below 2$, and they resell it at 70$).
But hey, can’t blame them for making money on stupid people, and I’m sure this came with experience. After all, the first jailbreak dongle for the PS3 was reverse engineered before it was even publicly released on the market, which prevented its creators from rightfully scamming thousands of kids, so no wonder that the True Blue creators introduced those securities.
Damn, I digress again. Back on topic: recently, the E3 Team (a hackers team behind the E3 Flasher, a hardware mod that allows you to downgrade a PS3 from any firmware to 3.55) announced that they found ways to run “backups” of recent games on a 3.55 firmware.
What this means to the end user is that the expensive True Blue dongle will become entirely unnecessary for playing backups on a hacked PS3.
The story does not stop here, however. In a weird publicity stunt that would probably get laughed at in any regular company, E3 Team proved they were not lying by releasing a few free patches. These patches allow CFW owners to run a few selected games backups. The games (such as Splinter Cell Trilogy), until now, were not playable on 3.55 using any of the existing dongles (including True Blue), which proved E3 had found “something”.
This was a clear proof that E3 had found a way to compete against True Blue. So why do I say this was a strange publicity stunt? Well E3 showed us that no dongle was necessary to run these backups (something that has been known for a while now), but explained that they were working on a “device” to enable their patches to work, and that this device would be released at a “fair price”.
In other words, they could release the patches for free, and that would work on any CFW, but instead they will add some securities on their patches, and sell you the result, in the form of a usb key. If you thought you would get rid of DRM-protected dongles to pirate games, think again. E3 is coming up with a similar solution to True Blue, and you’ll have to pay, once again, for a device which sole purpose is to… well, make you pay.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am sure E3 put lots of work into figuring out the mechanisms behind this whole thing, and they probably don’t want to give the result away for free. But I still personally think that when your goal is to bring piracy to a console, asking for money is adding insult to injury. Also, this is the problem with all these hardware teams, they can’t even start to imagine releasing stuff without making money on it, and often for them it means releasing some hardware, even if the hardware is actually useless.
Anyways, if this tool comes out, at the very least it should bring prices down for these piracy dongles. I guess anything that brings a bit of price competition is a good thing…
Note: I could have talked about this a while ago, but I tried several times to contact E3 for a clarification on their product, they never answered. I assume that when you are preparing to scam a bunch of people, the last thing you want is to be interviewed on how you are going to do it… Then again, the E3 team has a good image, and I’m sure people will be happy even if the dongle is DRMed, since it will probably be way cheaper than True Blue.
What do you guys think? Would you get E3′s solution? At what cost?