PS4: The mysteries surrounding the Horizon Zero Dawn 4.05 warez release
As we’ve mentioned a few weeks ago, PS4 game piracy is a possibility on hacked consoles running firmware 4.05. In practice, the games that can be run this way are limited to games that require firmware 4.05 or lower. This is for two reasons:
- A hacked PS4 is required to decrypt and dump games before releasing them to warez distribution channels. Since firmware 4.05 is the highest publicly exploitable firmware, this means the game needs to require firmware 4.05 or less in order to run and be dumped.
- Even if 1) was bypassed somehow (for example by someone running a private exploit on a higher firmware) games requiring firmware 4.06 or above to run, would not run on a hacked 4.05 PS4. In this scenario, we would see releases of 5.xx games on warez sites, but practically nobody would be able to run them.
We know that for point 2), it is theoretically possible to lower the firmware requirement of a given game, as long as the game does not actually require features from the higher firmware. This does not solve point 1), which is that in order to decrypt and run the game, one needs to run an exploit on a console with a firmware higher than 4.05.
Recently, a copy of Horizon Zero Dawn has been circulating on warez sites. The first release of the package file apparently originated from Russia (the first version of the pkg file only contained Russian audio for the game, although further releases have included English audio). And this warez release has been confirmed running on hacked PS4s 4.05, while Horizon Zero Dawn actually requires firmware 4.07.
- Related: How to get your hands on a 4.05 PS4
We’ve been asking around to confirm if maybe the Russian release of Horizon Zero Dawn has a lower firmware requirement (4.05) than other regions, but from the replies we’ve received so far this does not seem to be the case.
This means that an individual, or a group, somewhere, could have been using a private exploit on a higher firmware (we know some people have access to 5.xx exploits, see here and here), and in the process confirming the method shared by Barthen to reduce firmware requirements of some games.
This could be very exciting confirmation of Barthen’s theory, but there are still questions surrounding this release from my perspective. In particular, why has only this one “higher firmware” game been released so far, if the technical possibility now exists to release more?