The increasing use of modchips and emulators

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Description:

A modchip (=hardware) is a device used to play import games and/or circumvent digital rights management (first generation) of many popular game consoles, including the Xbox and PlayStation. Almost all modern disc-based console gaming systems, with the notable exception of the Sega Dreamcast have hardware-based schemes which ensure that only officially sanctioned games may be used with the system, also making simple bitwise copying of games impossible. For example, Microsoft must cryptographically "sign" every Xbox game with their 2048-bit private key for it to work in an unmodded Xbox. Modchips circumvent this protection by effectively routing around the security check. Many mod chips require some experience to install, especially since they require to be soldered, though recently, solderless mod chips have made headway.

A console emulator is a program for a computer, or other computing device, that can emulate a video game console or handheld, so a computer can be used to play games that were created for that console or to develop games for that console. Such tools are often used to translate games into other languages, to modify (or hack) existing games, or to produce homebrewed demos.

Enablers:

  • "Old school" games are still popular
  • Reverse engineering
  • Hacking and cracking
  • The increasing use of Internet
  • Peer-to-peer technology
  • The increasing use of DVD-writers

Inhibitors:

  • Second generation Digital Rights Management
  • Online updates for scanning the 'modded' game console
  • Changes in goverment policy
  • Increasing cooperation between (game)developers and online and offline detectives
  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Paradigms:

  • Start of an illegal business in games
  • Free access to games instead of buying an original game (why should I buy a game for 60 euro?)
  • Buying a modchip and emulators is legal, but buying illegal games is a serious problem (contradicting)
  • Using modchips the system can be used for other things than the system is intended to be used for

Experts:

Modchip Professionals - the developers of Modchips
http://www.modchip.com/

Emulators - some emulators
http://www.megagames.com/news/html/emulators/emulators.shtml
http://www.emulator-zone.com/

Timing:

The development of Emulators - a brief history

1980 - The starting point of the emerging emulators is the Atari 2600. At that time it was the most popular game console on the market. The emulator was used to allow games from other hardware to be run on the manufacterer's device. The main purpose of the emulator was to attract more customers.

1990 - The first non-commercial console emulators began to appear. This was mainly developed by amateur programmers to deduce the exact workings of a console through reverse engineering. After a period, these emulators could reproduce the workings of the Nintendo NES, Nintendo SuperNES, and the Game Boy.

1997 - The release of NESticle. The start of a revolution in the emulator industry. This was mainly caused by the ease of use and unrivaled compatibility with ROM images. Moreover, this encouraged also other developers to test and experiment with console emulation.

After 1997 - Emulator developers are becoming better equipped and skilled. The difference in time between the release of a game console and the development of a emulator is getting smaller. This period is also the introduction of old-school games on emulators.

The development of Modchips - a brief history
The history of modchips are very fresh and recent. The first modchip the Breaker Pro was introduced in 1996 on the market. It all began after the one-year release of the Sony PlayStation 1. Nowadays the most popular modchips are:

  • for the Microsoft Xbox - Xecuter 3
  • for the Sony PlayStation 3 - DMS4 E.Z.I. ModChip
  • for the Nintendo GameCube - Freeloader

Web Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modchip
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Console_emulator