Steam, crafted by Valve Corporation, stands as a premier digital storefront for PC gaming enthusiasts.

Owing to its extensive game collection and intuitive design, it’s the preferred choice for countless gamers globally. But how good are steams piracy protections? Let’s explore further.

Valve’s Stance on Piracy

In 2008, Gabe Newell, the president of Valve, stated at a summit in Seattle that the company was not overly concerned about piracy in the PC gaming market, even in territories like China and Russia.

He believed that the Steam distribution platform and the services it offers to its customers shield it from piracy threats.

Gamers, he noted, value their relationship with Steam. If caught pirating, they risk losing all their purchased games and the ability to participate in multiplayer games.

5 Reasons Why Games Are Pirated?

  1. Cost Savings and Premium Prices: The primary allure of pirate operations is the avoidance of premium prices associated with games. High game costs, especially for premium content, can deter some individuals, leading them to seek illegal content available for free or at a significantly reduced cost.
  2. Regional Restrictions and Ease of Access: Some games, especially premium content, might not be available in certain regions due to licensing issues. This lack of ease of access can drive individuals to pirate operations to access content that’s otherwise restricted.
  3. DRM Discontent and Encryption Key: Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems, backed by encryption keys and designed to protect the rights of content creators, can sometimes be seen as intrusive. Some players resort to piracy to bypass these systems, seeking unrestricted access to premium content.
  4. Trial Before Subscription Fees: Some justify piracy as a way to “test” a game before committing to subscription fees. They argue that short demos don’t provide a full game experience, and pirating offers a comprehensive trial before buying.
  5. Lack of Purchasing Options and Content Leakage: In regions with limited purchasing options or where rights owners haven’t provided means to access content legally, content leakage becomes prevalent. This lack of legal avenues, combined with the desire for premium content without premium prices, can push gamers towards piracy.

Steam’s Protection Methods

Steamworks API

Steam provides developers with the Steamworks API, which can be used to obtain information about user accounts and purchased games.

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It’s a straightforward way to verify that an account has the right to run a particular application.

However, this protection can be bypassed by substituting the Steamworks API interface library.

Steam Bind

This is an external protection system for publishers who cannot modify the game code to add API protection.

It encrypts a part of the code section and adds a module to call the Steamworks API. However, this method has been criticised for its poor tamper resistance.

Steam Custom Executable Generation

This method provides personalised executable files to each user, binding games to specific computer configurations.

If a computer’s configuration changes, the user needs to log in to Steam on that computer to get updated files.

Third-Party DRM

Steam allows the use of third-party DRM systems to protect games against online piracy.

One notable example is Denuvo, an Austrian anti-tamper system known for its sophisticated protection technologies, especially in the realm of code obfuscation.

Denuvo has DRM functionality that verifies game authorisation on a gamer’s account.

However, there have been concerns about the potential strain it puts on SSD drives.

Other third-party DRM systems on Steam include ActControl, Reality Pump, and TAGES.

Steam DRM

The Steam DRM wrapper plays a pivotal role in the Steam platform.

It not only verifies game ownership but also ensures the seamless functionality of Steamworks features by initiating Steam before the game starts.

On its own, the Steam DRM wrapper isn’t a full-fledged anti-piracy tool. While it offers protection against basic piracy acts, like transferring game files to another computer, a determined individual can bypass it.

To amplify the appeal of genuine content copies, we recommend leveraging Steamworks features.

Features like online multiplayer, achievements, leaderboards, and trading cards won’t function with unauthorised copies, making legitimate versions more enticing.

How Good Are Steams Piracy Protections?

Over time, Steam has refined its piracy protection mechanisms, especially vital for content owners with exclusive video content.

Valve’s president, Gabe Newell, has previously voiced his trust in Steam’s capabilities to curb video piracy, emphasising the platform’s unique offerings and the potential consequences for users who pirate content.

While access to content on Steam isn’t inherently protected, content creators have the option to integrate the Steamworks API for foundational protection.

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Yet, skilled hackers can sometimes find workarounds.

To bolster security, especially for exclusive content, Steam supports third-party DRM solutions, such as Denuvo, renowned for its advanced anti-tamper features.

Despite Steam’s admirable efforts, achieving a perfect balance between ensuring a seamless user experience and deterring digital piracy continues to be intricate for all video content creators.

5 Ways How Games Are Pirated?

  1. Illegal Streaming Services: Some illegal streaming services allow users to play games in real-time without actually owning them. These services bypass the need for downloads, making it harder for service providers to track and shut them down. Revenue loss from these streams can be significant, especially if they gain popularity.
  2. Cloud Services: Some pirates use cloud services to store and share pirated games. These platforms can host large game files, allowing users to download them without directly visiting traditional pirate sites. The source of origin for these games is often obscured, making it challenging to trace back to the original source.
  3. Online Video Services: While primarily used for movies and TV shows, some online video services have been exploited to showcase gameplay, guiding viewers on how to access and download pirated games. These platforms can inadvertently act as a redistribution source for illegal game content.
  4. Subscription Service Exploits: Some individuals find ways to exploit loopholes in legitimate subscription services, granting them unauthorised access to premium games. They might then redistribute these games on pirate sites, leading to further revenue loss for the original developers.
  5. Streaming Device Tampering: Certain streaming devices can be modified or “jailbroken” to run illegal streams or download pirated games. These devices, once altered, can access digital content without the need for the original source, making it a popular method for those looking to bypass purchasing games.

Conclusion

For content owners, the impact of piracy on their creations is profound.

The rise of piracy operations, from direct download sites to illicit streams and illegal streaming sites, has intensified the battle against content pirates.

Collaboration with content owners is pivotal in devising effective anti-piracy solutions.

While app downloads offer convenience, they can be exploited by pirate networks without strict access controls.

A slight price increase in games can sometimes inadvertently drive users towards these illicit avenues.

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However, with continuous innovation in protective measures and the readiness to take legal action, the tide can turn against these unauthorised entities, safeguarding the rights and revenues of creators.

FAQs

How effective is legal action against piracy operations?

Legal action can be a strong deterrent, shutting down major piracy hubs and sending a clear message about the consequences of distributing copyrighted content without permission.

What is the primary function of the Automated Steam DRM Wrapper?

The Automated Steam DRM Wrapper is designed to apply a protective layer to your game’s executable, ensuring it integrates seamlessly with the Steam platform and verifies game ownership.

How can I apply the Steam wrapper to my game?

You can apply the Steam wrapper directly from your SteamPipe upload script, streamlining the process and ensuring your game is protected as it’s uploaded to Steam.

What is game piracy?

Game piracy refers to the unauthorised copying, distribution, or use of video games without obtaining the necessary licenses or permissions from the game’s developers or publishers.

This can involve downloading games from illegal websites, using counterfeit copies, or bypassing digital rights management (DRM) protections.

What are the consequences of game piracy?

The consequences of game piracy are multifaceted:

a. Economic Impact: Developers and publishers face significant revenue losses, which can hinder the production of future games or updates.

b. Legal Repercussions: Individuals involved in pirating games or using pirated copies can face legal action, including fines and potential jail time.

c. Security Risks: Pirated games often come with malware or viruses, posing a threat to users’ devices and personal data.

d. Degraded Game Experience: Pirated games might lack updates, have bugs, or miss out on online features, leading to an inferior gaming experience.

e. Harm to the Industry: Piracy can deter developers, especially smaller studios, from creating innovative games due to the fear of inadequate returns on their investment.