As part of Gamasutra's visit to Shanghai for this week's ChinaJoy game exhibition, we've discovered that Xbox 360 game piracy appears to be spreading notably in the country, with at least one vendor offering Xbox 360 titles such as Hitman: Blood Money
for around 30 Chinese yuan ($3.50).
This development has occurred after an incident in March 2006, in which hackers managed to flash changes to the firmware
on the Xbox 360's DVD-ROM drive which allowed non-authenticated (copied) games to be played. Further information on the hack surfaced in late May, when other parties appear to have released a public version of the exploit, and Microsoft's Gamerscore Blog published an official response
to the problem.
At the time, the company's John Porcaro noted: "The core security system has not been broken. However, on some Xbox 360 consoles the authentication protocol between the optical disc drive and the console may be attacked via a complex software and hardware modification which could allow people to play illegally copied and modified games. We continue to invest in the security of the platform and will respond appropriately as unauthorized activity is identified."
Obviously, it seems likely that connecting to Xbox Live will, at some point, download system updates which will prevent continued playing of pirate titles. In addition, it appears that pirated versions of PlayStation 2 and Xbox discs are much more common on the market stalls throughout Shanghai, thanks to the high cost of the Xbox 360 relative to average Chinese wages.
But, judging by the shrinkwrapped copies of Xbox 360 titles available publically in the country, Microsoft's much-vaunted security system has been definitively bypassed for physical media-based Xbox 360 games - with stores or individuals in Shanghai presumably offering to flash the Xbox 360's disc drive BIOS for a fee.
As for the large selection of Xbox 360 games available, a recent Chinese-language article
at Sina.com pictures some of the titles readily available at game vendors throughout China, also including Ninety-Nine Nights, Fight Night Round 3
, and Project Gotham Racing 3