Skylanders hacker stopped by Activision cease & desist

A programmer who discovered some of the security protocols used in Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure has been given a cease & desist order from Activision.

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A programmer who was tinkering with Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure was stopped in his tracks by a cease & desist letter from Activision. Brandon Wilson discovered the security protocol that the figurines use to interact with the computer, and posted a few vague details on his blog before receiving the legal notice.

Wilson's personal site (via The Escapist) mentions documenting the Skylanders protocol and encryption method, and that he planned to emulate the portal using graphing calculators. It wasn't long before followed up with another note: "And here come the Activision lawyers! Suffice it to say, I've been shut down, so uh... nevermind."

He notes in his response that he is not collaborating with other hackers or intending to distribute the file publicly. "This research project was for my own personal knowledge and to satisfy my own curiosity as to how the game interacts with its USB peripheral," he wrote. "I have expressed no desire to release to the public tools that circumvent Skylanders' access control measures, and I continue to express no desire toward that end. I do not and did not have any intention to harm Activision or cause harm to its products or investments.

"I re-iterate that I have and do intend to comply with your request to cease any and all research and development into how the game Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure works," he continues. "Any and all publicly accessible documentation and/or source code has been removed to the best of my knowledge and ability."

Wilson seems to have handled the situation reasonably, but as The Escapist notes, Activision's letter referenced leaks that weren't his. He only had a zip file from a data dump that he didn't release to the public. It's necessary for Activision to protect its legal interests, especially when it comes to a game like Skylanders that relies on purchasing extra figurines to support its business model. Sometimes that means bearing down on fairly harmless hobbyists.

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From The Chatty

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    December 29, 2011 6:00 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Skylanders hacker stopped by Activision cease & desist.

    A programmer who discovered some of the security protocols used in Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure has been given a cease & desist order from Activision.

    • reply
      December 29, 2011 6:04 PM

      I still haven't completed the last level. Longest boss fight I think I've ever done on a console game.

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      December 29, 2011 6:10 PM

      Jeff can rest easy now

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      December 29, 2011 10:36 PM

      We ran out tonight looking for an air guy. We hit Best Buy and Target; BB was completely sold out of figures, and Target had one undead pack that Tommy insisted we buy for $20.

      Pack came with a new level, one character, and a couple power-ups. We beat the crypt level that came with it in about an hour. Expensive ass DLC.

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        December 30, 2011 6:33 AM

        The achievements in this game as so easy to get (mostly) I thought I'd start my own game. That's when I realized all the upgrades ans everything are stored in the figures themselves. I started my own game on my profile and the figures were already leveled up. Because of this I don't get any credit for things like Hello!! Skylander, New Challenger, or I love shopping unless I reset the skylanders to wipe them. But we haven't finished the final fight on Tony's game so I can't do that yet.

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      December 29, 2011 11:55 PM

      The success of this game worries me deeply.

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        December 30, 2011 2:08 AM

        A lot of people enjoyed it. I'm going to hold on judgement. I won't play it, but I won't hate on it.

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        December 30, 2011 6:18 AM

        I think it's kind of neat. I hope they do another one that uses the platform from the first game so we get some more use out of it.

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        December 30, 2011 6:37 AM

        why, it looks like alot of fun for kids

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        December 30, 2011 6:53 AM

        Shut up, dude. The frequency of your posting worries me deeply.

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        December 30, 2011 7:02 AM

        Daughter and I love this game. The figures are like lives per level so currently waiting for a 3 pack from Amazon to give us 9 total. I usually use 1 or 2 (because she blocks me) per level but there have been many times her 4 are not enough. The physical heroes really makes for a great feel to the game.

        Now the ebay prices for some of the rare/exclusive heroes right now is insane but that's probably more to do with Christmas than anything.

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        December 30, 2011 11:43 AM

        The success of this game makes me marvel at how Activision has somehow made Spyro mildly relevant again.

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          December 31, 2011 11:06 AM

          I've never played a game with Spyro, but this game makes me want to check it out.

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        December 30, 2011 11:46 AM

        Posts like this worry me deeply.