Encryption Chip Will End Piracy, Says Atari Founder

By Aaron Linde, May 23, 2008 1:57pm PDT At yesterday's Wedbush Morgan Securities conference, Atari founder Nolan Bushnell claimed that a stealth encryption chip will "absolutely stop piracy of [PC] gameplay."

"There is a stealth encryption chip called a TPM that is going on the motherboards of most of the computers that are coming out now," explained Bushnell, according to a GamesIndustry report.

"What that says is that in the games business we will be able to encrypt with an absolutely verifiable private key in the encryption world--which is uncrackable by people on the internet and by giving away passwords--which will allow for a huge market to develop in some of the areas where piracy has been a real problem."

Piracy has been a hot-button issue in the PC gaming industry for some time now, with renowned PC developers such as Crytek, id, and Epic claiming that the high rate of pirated PC software forced them to put games on other platforms.

"I've seen studios close as the result of it, I've seen people lose their homes," former Ritual QA manager Mike Russell told Shacknews while discussing the effects of piracy. "I guess I'm more vocal than a lot of people because I've seen the personal side of it, and it's just sad that we have so many people looking for a way of justifying it."

Bushnell suggested that though movie and music piracy will likely continue unabated, game markets made previously inaccessible due to piracy issues will begin to flourish as the chip's install base grows.

"Games are a different thing, because games are so integrated with the code. The TPM will, in fact, absolutely stop piracy of gameplay," he noted. "As soon as the installed base of the TPM hardware chip gets large enough, we will start to see revenues coming from Asia and India at a time when before it didn't make sense."

After founding Atari and making Pong a household name, Bushnell went on to create the Chuck E. Cheese franchise, which mixed pizza eateries with arcades and animatronic stage performances.

Since then, he has moved away from the mainstream video game industry, and recently went so far as to label modern games "pure, unadulterated trash."

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  • I tried reading the Wiki about TPM and the specification and some other stuff. I'm still not getting it. Here's what I found about music CDs in regard to TPM and DRM:

    "the music company could restrict the CD to only play on a particular computer... It could also use the TPM to verify whether the user is permitted to make any copies, send copies to others, or whether it is supposed to self-destruct after a certain number of playings.Similar restrictions could be placed on the movies or the software you buy."

    I'm all for companies making money but this just sounds completely insane and stupid. So their software is going to be explicitly tied to my exact computer and if my computer changes or I upgrade then what then? I'm sure they'd have some sort of hoop jumping through system in place to handle that but you know it won't work right or else it'll be a huge pain in the ass.
    Sounds like a giant clusterfuck waiting to happen. A clusterfuck I'd have no control over or say in. (also apparently clusterfuck is 2 words according to Firefox)