People who regularly download movies and TV shows can do so with relative ease. Content is ripped at source by release groups and placed online with all protections removed. For video games pirates, things are more complex.
Setting aside the often massive downloads and hours of unpacking, games then need to be ‘cracked’ which for the absolute novice user can be daunting, even when the necessary tools are provided. As a result, communities of video games pirates have thrived over the years, helping people to gain the knowledge required and, of course, share the latest games.
Probably the largest in existence anywhere is Russia-based CS.RIN.RU, otherwise known as the Steam Underground Community. Somewhat counter-intuitively, the site isn’t really underground and can be viewed by anyone with a web browser. However, to gain access to the juicy stuff (links to many thousands of pirated games and the necessary cracks), users need to sign up. Huge numbers have.
How many sign-in on a regular basis is unclear but the forum has in excess of 560,000 registered users and is the go-to platform for the latest releases. The site is hard moderated with staff mostly intolerant of anyone not sticking to the rules. As a result, however, it’s a valued source of titles sporting some of the most knowledgable video game pirates around.
According to an announcement this morning, however, CS.RIN.RU is now entering unchartered waters. An administrator has revealed that after being sponsored for the last 17 years by the owner of Russian Information Network (RIN), a site dedicated to news and events in Russia, he can no longer afford to financially support the world’s largest games piracy forum.
“Around this time last year, we moved to a new server so that the RIN owner could continue to afford hosting us and for various technical improvements. I have recently learned that he can no longer afford to renew our server’s subscription. Unfortunately, this was bound to happen sooner or later,” the announcement reads.
“Due to our performance and security requirements, it is not possible to host this forum at just any provider or on anything less than a full dedicated server. In fact, our current dedicated server that was rented on a tight budget is already at its limits and significant efforts were put in to make it work. We will be moving to a new server at the beginning of May.”
While the move to new hardware appears certain, things will have to change moving forward. CS.RIN.RU’s operators say that if the users want to keep the site online, they will have to cough up the money.
“We, the staff, have put great thought into figuring out how to keep this forum online. Sadly, we have determined that we will not be able to finance the kind of hosting this forum requires by ourselves, even with the crappiest, bare-minimum server we could find. This means that come June, we have to rely on donations from you, the community,” the statement continues.
“This is a significant announcement and we know that some of you will not agree with this step and truth be told, we don’t want to have ask this either, but we see no other way.”
The operators of CS.RIN.RU aren’t asking for much. In fact, they estimate the overall costs to be around 1,200 euros per year to keep the community intact. However, like many piracy-focused sites that rely on donations, the big issue is how to receive that money from members without compromising the security of the people accepting the funds. As a result, cryptocurrency is the only available option.
It’s doubtful that this will cause too many problems for the site but it will almost certainly reduce the number of donations from willing parties. Despite being able to successfully download games and cracks, some users seem reluctant to learn about cryptocurrency, even though they have the money to donate. However, world-famous repacker FitGirl thinks that it shouldn’t be a problem and is preparing to contribute.
“People who still relies [sic] on fiat seem very strange to me. I’m using crypto for all my warez needs for YEARS. Not a single cent from my banks ever touched my hoster, my seedbox, my VPN. All is paid in crypto,” the piracy star wrote this morning.
“It’s just as complex as PayPal in 2020. Once you setup it, it’s sooooooo easy to make payments and accept donations (in my case). Hope we will gather needed amount, will chip my part later today.”