We’ve revealed a few weeks ago that some electronic stores in Brazil were advertising a way to copy pirate video games onto your PS4 for a fee. Although the technique was not described in details (these stores wanted, after all, to make a profit out of the scheme, not share it for everyone to get it for free, or for Sony to patch it), we’ve been in touch with several members of the hacking scene, as well as customers of these stores, who have all confirmed the existence of the “hack”.
PS4 Hack for piracy confirmed to be real
Yesterday, journalists at UOL Jogos, a trusted site in Brazil, have confirmed that the hack is real, as they have verified it themselves on a test console (original article, in Portuguese, can be found here). It needs to be emphasized that this is not the well known “account sharing” trick, but a new kind of hack.
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, as this had been implied the first time we uncovered this story.
The process described on UOL is extremely similar to what has been described on the scene, and as we reported here. 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.
A new way to pirate PS4 games, a lucrative business
Other ways have existed for pirates in the past: Sony lets people activate several consoles on the same account, so some people abuse that system by sharing accounts with their friends. This piracy technique remains limited as you can only share an account with a limited number of consoles. This new technique, however, has virtually no limit to how many PS4s could replicate the games. As such, this is a very lucrative business for these electronics shop, who make close to 100% profit on this technique.
These shops in Brazil charge about $100 to install 10 games. These games would cost almost $600 normally. This is a great deal for both the client and the seller. To get more games, one has to come back to the store and pay roughly $15 for each additional game. UOL mention that with 10 games of the current generation, your PS4 hard drive is pretty much full anyway, so you’ll have to erase a few ones to add new ones.
The article on UOL mentions that the hack initially originated on a Russian site. Given what I’ve been told so far though, it could literally have originated from anywhere, as it is heavily inspired from a similar technique on the PS3 that is widely known. It could be one of those “not so secret” secrets of the scene.
As we’ve discussed before, this is not really what could be considered as a PS4 Jailbreak, and of minimal interest from a homebrew perspective. It is still interesting however, from my point of view, to confirm once again that a system is as secure as its weakest link. Although no encryption is broken here, pirates are still able to find their way, while us “homebrewers” are left in the cold.
Sony already taking legal action 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 already sending 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. As a reminder, people on the PS4 hacking scene have told us that the technique they knew about has been patched on 2.51, so it seems the technique used by Brazilian stores is slightly different from that.
As always, we will be keeping our PS4 Jailbreak page up to date with the latest PS4 Jailbreak news, so you can be aware as soon as a valid technique exists that doesn’t solely rely on the greed of a few pirates.
Thanks to everyone who pointed out the UOL Jogos article, too many of you guys to give proper credit at this point!