Today's 27c3 PS3 Fail keynote revealed that fail0verflow (marcan, bushing, and svpe) have acquired SONY's private key they use to sign games through a mathematical calculation. This essentially means that the PS3 has been hacked forever, something that not even Wii hackers like myself can boast. The only way SONY can fix this problem is to change their private key. If they do that, all games and software signed with it (ie: everything) stops working. SONY is not going to change their private key obviously.
This has flamed up some interesting discussion among people. What it boils down to is fans of SONY and fans of homebrew and Linux unethically fighting a debate of ethics. I'm going to generalize it even more and call it a philosophical war of gamers versus hackers. This article is an editorial on which I am going to express my opinion on the debate. If you have no interest in listening to me blow off steam and bellow out hot air, don't skip past the break for more.
Hey you made it to the other side! As a reward, you now know I'm somewhat involved in a piece of PS3 homebrew I hope is coming out very soon (like within a week ;-) ). So I'll try to ignore my obvious bias to the best of my ability as I continue.
I'm going to use a bold typeface to show you the arguments thrown by gamers and then provide my response to them. Afterward, I'll use a red bold typeface to give you my argument against gamers. Finally, I'll give you nice little conclusion on what I think it all boils down to and where this will eventually lead.
Homebrew and Linux is only a disguise for the motivation of piracy
I'm going to point you to take a peek at these slides from the PS3 Fail keynote:
As you can clearly see, no real hacks were made for the PS3 because you could run Linux on it with OtherOS and thus your own homebrew code. After SONY removed OtherOS from PS3 Slim models, geohot investigated the PS3 and used a voltage glitching tactic to dump interesting bits of information. SONY overreacted and removed OtherOS. Barely after this was done the USB "jailbreak" devices surfaced as literally hundreds of hackers from around the world attacked the PS3. Emulators, FTP clients, ports, and all other homebrew goodies sprung up overnight. And now, finally, the PS3 has been compromised for good with the discovery of it's private key.
The total time it took to hack the PS3 after OtherOS was announced as not being put on Slim models was 12 months. This is about the same time it took for the XBOX 360 to be truly hacked (though it's fixed itself with newer hardware models and firmware updates whereas SONY can't doesn't have this luxury). If the PS3 was being hacked for piracy, which was never available, it would've been hacked a long time ago.
Piracy will inevitably spring up as a side effect of the effort of honest hackers unfortunately. But the hackers who open the doors, the truly honest and actually talented hackers, never do it for piracy.
Hacking is easy so people should be responsible to not do it
Hacking is not easy and hacking is not irresponsible. On the first point, I implore you to watch the PS3 Fail keynote. As someone who's written games, Android apps, and homebrew software I promise you that hacking and writing homebrew software is the most difficult. On the second point, the argument is invalid. If I buy a game console I can do whatever I want with it. If I'm interested in learning from it and furthering my knowledge, I'm going to try to write and run software on it. If I can already run Linux on it or there's a freely available SDK I'm happy. If not, I'll try to hack it so I can write and run software on it. To not hack, would be doing myself a disservice. To hack and not share my findings would be doing a world of other people like me a disservice. That would be the true irresponsibility.
Hackers are losers
This one makes me giggle. It's usually what I see true gamers write after being beaten in argument on my previous points. The best software developers identify themselves as hackers and associate with the hacking the community regularly. Chances are, all of you gamers worth your salt look up to these people. Look at Johnathan Carmack who built hacking communities around DOOM WADs and Quake PAK files. Or look at Markus Persson who did the same thing with his indie game Minecraft. The crazier the hack or the mod, the better. The truth is, you learn more from hacking something and being forced to be creative than you do from drawing on a blank piece of paper (ie: coding a game).
Let's look at me (since I can never refuse an opportunity to gloat). I'm 17 and I've written emulation software and system utilities for the Wii that's far above the heads of people who are strictly software developers and probably even most of Nintendo and SONY's engineering staff. I jumped onto Wii homebrew because I was 15 year old kid who was bored of writing games in ALLEGRO and wanted to try writing one on the Wii. I didn't know what an emulator was. I didn't know what IDA was, and I didn't think assembler, hex, or cryptography was something I should ever have to worry about. Almost three years later, I'm respected as being one o the top Wii homebrew developers. I've learned so much that I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am to Wii homebrew. My work has even landed me a job (though the pay sucks because I'm still a student and it barely pays for my weekly gas bill, but hey!) and will probably land me many more.
Gamers are all hypocritical
This is my shot against gamers. You say you hate all hacking yet you'll jump all over the chance to illegally download games like Mother 3 and apply an English translation patch to it. You can't resist the opportunity to use emulators to play your games in HD and use savestates. You also love to see modifications and things like texture hacks made to your favorite games (eduke engine, any PC game like Fallout: New Vegas).
Yet somehow, opening up a console for Linux and homebrew is wrong to you. I assume it's because it only interests software developers more than average users; Because you didn't buy a PS3 to play ports and emulators, you bought it to play new games; Because you can't stand thinking that the good of opening a console outweighs the potential for piracy; But above all because you think everyone else should do as you do and only use your console as you use it. Gamers are as close minded as Jodi Daughtry. Well, okay, thats a bit of an exaggeration my part. Sorry.
You can try to make distinctions, but either you as a gamer support hackers or you don't. Hackers support all forms of hacking (except for piracy usually because piracy is piracy, not hacking) and don't make distinctions.
Gamers are a dieing breed. Sorry, but you are. Already you support hackers and hacking but you just don't know it yet. As this continues, I predict seeing game console manufacturers opening up their consoles to more people in the future.
I would argue that XNA on the XBOX 360 has prevented much more hacking from being done on it. Apple and iOS were not so lucky because they still limited their SDK and kept their hardware locked down too much. On the contrary, Google's Android Platform is completely open and encourages experienced users to root their Android devices to play with them even more. There's piracy in the market only because Android has no real app security system so you can just give your purchased content to all your friends with a ctrl-c and a ctrl-v. Piracy in the Android market is done out of greed, not because of hackers.
It's plain as day to see: Open up your consoles from the start and they won't get hacked which won't lead to piracy. Or close them as tightly as you can and they will inevitably get hacked which will spur piracy as a side effect from it. Hackers are harmless, pirates are a real threatening problem.
Now since you read through this and you made it to the end (at least I'm hoping you didn't skim) you get an extension to your first reward for bearing with me. A video is on youtube and getting quite a bit of buzz on the PS3 software I'm working on and hope to initially release very soon. As a disclaimer though I should mention that I'm not the main dev, nor am I particularly heavily involved in the development, but it would certainly not exist without me. Furthermore, I've been helping out the dev of it on IRC for awhile and I believe I've impacted it's development quite a bit ;-) Stay tuned.