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Console gaming is hardly different from PC gaming, and much of what people say about PC gaming to put it above console gaming is often wrong.
I’m not sure about you, but for the past few years, I’ve been hearing people go on and on about PCs "superiority" to the console market. People cite various reasons why they believe gaming on a PC is “objectively” better than console gaming, often for reasons related to power, costs, ease-of-use, and freedom. …Only problem: much of what they say is wrong. There are many misconceptions being thrown about PC gaming vs Console gaming, that I believe need to be addressed. This isn’t about “PC gamers being wrong,” or “consoles being the best,” absolutely not. I just want to cut through some of the stuff people use to put down console gaming, and show that console gaming is incredibly similar to PC gaming. I mean, yes, this is someone who mainly games on console, but I also am getting a new PC that I will game on as well, not to mention the 30 PC games I already own and play. I’m not particularly partial to one over the other. Now I will mainly be focusing on the PlayStation side of the consoles, because I know it best, but much of what I say will apply to Xbox as well. Just because I don’t point out many specific Xbox examples, doesn’t mean that they aren’t out there.
“PCs can use TVs and monitors.”
This one isn’t so much of a misconception as it is the implication of one, and overall just… confusing. This is in some articles and the pcmasterrace “why choose a PC” section, where they’re practically implying that consoles can’t do this. I mean, yes, as long as the ports of your PC match up with your screen(s) inputs, you could plug a PC into either… but you could do the same with a console, again, as long as the ports match up. I’m guessing the idea here is that gaming monitors often use Displayport, as do most dedicated GPUs, and consoles are generally restricted to HDMI… But even so, monitors often have HDMI ports. In fact, PC Magazine has just released their list of the best gaming monitors of 2017, and every single one of them has an HDMI port. A PS4 can be plugged into these just as easily as a GTX 1080. I mean, even if the monitoTV doesn’t have HDMI or AV to connect with your console, just use an adaptor. If you have a PC with ports that doesn’t match your monitoTV… use an adapter. I don’t know what the point of this argument is, but it’s made a worrying amount of times.
“On PC, you have a wide range of controller options, but on console you’re stuck with the standard controller."
Are you on PlayStation and wish you could use a specific type of controller that suits your favorite kind of gameplay? Despite what some may believe, you have just as many options as PC. Want to play fighting games with a classic arcade-style board, featuring the buttons and joystick? Here you go! Want to get serious about racing and get something more accurate and immersive than a controller? Got you covered. Absolutely crazy about flying games and, like the racers, want something better than a controller? Enjoy! Want Wii-style motion controls? Been around since the PS3. If you prefer the form factor of the Xbox One controller but you own a PS4, Hori’s got you covered. And of course, if keyboard and mouse it what keeps you on PC, there’s a PlayStation compatible solution for that. Want to use the keyboard and mouse that you already own? Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Of course, these aren’t isolated examples, there are plenty of options for each of these kind of controllers. You don’t have to be on PC to enjoy alternate controllers.
“On PC you could use Steam Link to play anywhere in your house and share games with others.”
PS4 Remote play app on PC/Mac, PSTV, and PS Vita. PS Family Sharing. Using the same PSN account on multiple PS4s/Xbox Ones and PS3s/360s, or using multiple accounts on the same console. In fact, if multiple users are on the same PS4, only one has to buy the game for both users to play it on that one PS4. On top of that, only one of them has to have PS Plus for both to play online (if the one with PS Plus registers the PS4 as their main system). PS4 Share Play; if two people on separate PS4s want to play a game together that only one of them owns, they can join a Party and the owner of the game can have their friend play with them in the game. Need I say more?
“Gaming is more expensive on console.”
Part one, the Software This is one that I find… genuinely surprising. There’s been a few times I’ve mentioned that part of the reason I chose a PS4 is for budget gaming, only to told that “games are cheaper on Steam.” To be fair, there are a few games on PSN/XBL that are more expensive than they are on Steam, so I can see how someone could believe this… but apparently they forgot about disks. Dirt Rally, a hardcore racing sim game that’s… still $60 on all 3 platforms digitally… even though its successor is out.
See my point? Often times the game is cheaper on console because of the disk alternative that’s available for practically every console-available game. Even when the game is brand new. Dirt 4 - Remember that Dirt Rally successor I mentioned?
Yes, you could either buy this relatively new game digitally for $60, or just pick up the disk for a discounted price. And again, this is for a game that came out 2 months ago, and even it’s predecessor’s digital cost is locked at $60. Of course, I’m not going to ignore the fact that Dirt 4 is currently (as of writing this) discounted on Steam, but on PSN it also happens to be discounted for about the same amount. Part 2: the Subscription Now… let’s not ignore the elephant in the room: PS Plus and Xbox Gold. Now these would be ignorable, if they weren’t required for online play (on the PlayStation side, it’s only required for PS4, but still). So yes, it’s still something that will be included in the cost of your PS4 or Xbox One/360, assuming you play online. Bummer, right? Here’s the thing, although that’s the case, although you have to factor in this $60 cost with your console, you can make it balance out, at worst, and make it work out for you as a budget gamer, at best. As nice as it would be to not have to deal with the price if you don’t want to, it’s not like it’s a problem if you use it correctly. Imagine going to a new restaurant. This restaurant has some meals that you can’t get anywhere else, and fair prices compared to competitors. Only problem: you have to pay a membership fee to have the sides. Now you can have the main course, sit down and enjoy your steak or pasta, but if you want to have a side to have a full meal, you have to pay an annual fee. Sounds shitty, right? But here’s the thing: not only does this membership allow you to have sides with your meal, but it also allows you to eat two meals for free every month, and also gives you exclusive discounts for other meals, drinks, and desserts. Let’s look at PS Plus for a minute: for $60 per year, you get:
2 free PS4 games, every month
2 free PS3 games, every month
1 PS4/PS3 and Vita compatible game, and 1 Vita-only game, every month
Exclusive/Extended discounts, especially during the weekly/seasonal sales (though you don’t need PS Plus to get sales, PS Plus members get to enjoy the best sales)
access to online multiplayer
So yes, you’re paying extra because of that membership, but what you get with that deal pays for it and then some. In fact, let’s ignore the discounts for a minute: you get 24 free PS4 games, 24 free PS3 games, and 12 Vita only + 12 Vita compatible games, up to 72freegames every year. Even if you only one of these consoles, that’s still 24 free games a year. Sure, maybe you get games for the month that you don’t like, then just wait until next month. In fact, let’s look at Just Cause 3 again. It was free for PS Plus members in August, which is a pretty big deal. Why is this significant? Because it’s, again, a $60 digital game. That means with this one download, you’ve balanced out your $60 annual fee. Meaning? Every free game after that is money saved, every discount after that is money saved. And this is a trend: every year, PS Plus will release a game that balances out the entire service cost, then another 23 more that will only add icing to that budget cake. Though, you could just count games as paying off PS Plus until you hit $60 in savings, but still. All in all, PS Plus, and Xbox Gold which offers similar options, saves you money. On top of that, again, you don't need to have these to get discounts, but with these memberships, you get more discounts. Now, I’ve seen a few Steam games go up for free for a week, but what about being free for an entire month? Not to mention that; even if you want to talk about Steam Summer Sales, what about the PSN summer sale, or again, disc sale discounts? Now a lot of research and math would be needed to see if every console gamer would save money compared to every Steam gamer for the same games, but at the very least? The costs will balance out, at worst. Part 3, the Systems
Xbox and PS2: $299
Xbox 360 and PS3: $299 and $499, respectively
Xbox One and PS4: $499 and $399, respectively.
Rounded up a few dollars, that’s $1,000 - $1,300 in day-one consoles, just to keep up with the games! Crazy right? So called budget systems, such a rip-off. Well, keep in mind that the generations here aren’t short. The 6th generation, from the launch of the PS2 to the launch of the next generation consoles, lasted 5 years, 6 years based on the launch of the PS3 (though you could say it was 9 or 14, since the Xbox wasn’t discontinued until 2009, and the PS2 was supported all the way to 2014, a year after the PS4 was released). The 7th gen lasted 7 - 8 years, again depending on whether you count the launch of the Xbox 360 to PS3. The 8th gen so far has lasted 4 years. That’s 17 years that the console money is spread over. If you had a Netflix subscription for it’s original $8 monthly plan for that amount of time, that would be over $1,600 total. And let’s be fair here, just like you could upgrade your PC hardware whenever you wanted, you didn’t have to get a console from launch. Let’s look at PlayStation again for example: In 2002, only two years after its release, the PS2 retail price was cut from $300 to $200. The PS3 Slim, released 3 years after the original, was $300, $100-$200 lower than the retail cost. The PS4? You could’ve either gotten the Uncharted bundle for $350, or one of the PS4 Slim bundles for $250. This all brings it down to $750 - $850, which again, is spread over a decade and a half. This isn’t even counting used consoles, sales, or the further price cuts that I didn’t mention. Even if that still sounds like a lot of money to you, even if you’re laughing at the thought of buying new systems every several years, because your PC “is never obsolete,” tell me: how many parts have you changed out in your PC over the years? How many GPUs have you been through? CPUs? Motherboards? RAM sticks, monitors, keyboards, mice, CPU coolers, hard drives— that adds up. You don’t need to replace your entire system to spend a lot of money on hardware. Even if you weren’t upgrading for the sake of upgrading, I’d be amazed if the hardware you’ve been pushing by gaming would last for about 1/3 of that 17 year period. Computer parts aren’t designed to last forever, and really won’t when you’re pushing them with intensive gaming for hours upon hours. Generally speaking, your components might last you 6-8 years, if you’ve got the high-end stuff. But let’s assume you bought a system 17 years ago that was a beast for it’s time, something so powerful, that even if it’s parts have degraded over time, it’s still going strong. Problem is: you will have to upgrade something eventually. Even if you’ve managed to get this far into the gaming realm with the same 17 year old hardware, I’m betting you didn’t do it with a 17 year Operating System. How much did Windows 7 cost you? Or 8.1? Or 10? Oh, and don’t think you can skirt the cost by getting a pre-built system, the cost of Windows is embedded into the cost of the machine (why else would Microsoft allow their OS to go on so many machines). Sure, Windows 10 was a free upgrade for a year, but that’s only half of it’s lifetime— You can’t get it for free now, and not for the past year. On top of that, the free period was an upgrade; you had to pay for 7 or 8 first anyway. Point is, as much as one would like to say that they didn’t need to buy a new system every so often for the sake of gaming, that doesn’t mean they haven’t been paying for hardware, and even if they’ve only been PC gaming recently, you’ll be spending money on hardware soon enough.
“PC is leading the VR—“
Let me stop you right there. If you add together the total number of Oculus Rifts and HTC Vives sold to this day, and threw in another 100,000 just for the sake of it, that number would still be under the number of PSVR headsets sold. Why could this possibly be? Well, for a simple reason: affordability. The systems needed to run the PC headsets costs $800+, and the headsets are $500 - $600, when discounted. PSVR on the other hand costs $450 for the full bundle (headset, camera, and move controllers, with a demo disc thrown in), and can be played on either a $250 - $300 console, or a $400 console, the latter recommended. Even if you want to say that the Vive and Rift are more refined, a full PSVR set, system and all, could cost just over $100 more than a Vive headset alone. If anything, PC isn’t leading the VR gaming market, the PS4 is. It’s the system bringing VR to the most consumers, showing them what the future of gaming could look like. Not to mention that as the PlayStation line grows more powerful (4.2 TFLOP PS4 Pro, 10 TFLOP “PS5…”), it won’t be long until the PlayStation line can use the same VR games as PC. Either way, this shows that there is a console equivalent to the PC VR options. Sure, there are some games you'd only be able to play on PC, but there are also some games you'd only be able to play on PSVR. …Though to be fair, if we’re talking about VR in general, these headsets don’t even hold a candle to, surprisingly, Gear VR.
“If it wasn’t for consoles holding devs back, then they would be able to make higher quality games.”
This one is based on the idea that because of how “low spec” consoles are, that when a developer has to take them in mind, then they can’t design the game to be nearly as good as it would be otherwise. I mean, have you ever seen the minimum specs for games on Steam? GTA V
Actually, bump up all the memory requirements to 8 GBs, and those are some decent specs, relatively speaking. And keep in mind these are the minimum specs to even open the games. It’s almost as if the devs didn’t worry about console specs when making a PC version of the game, because this version of the game isn’t on console. Or maybe even that the consoles aren’t holding the games back that much because they’re not that weak. Just a hypothesis. But I mean, the devs are still ooobviously having to take weak consoles into mind right? They could make their games sooo much more powerful if they were PC only, right? Right? No. Not even close. iRacing
CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7 or better or AMD Bulldozer or better
Memory: 8 GB RAM
GPU: NVidia GeForce 2xx series or better, 1GB+ dedicated video memory / AMD 5xxx series or better, 1GB+ dedicated video memory
These are PC only games. That’s right, no consoles to hold them back, they don’t have to worry about whether an Xbox One could handle it. Yet, they don’t require anything more than the Multiplatform games. Subnautica
So what’s the deal? Theoretically, if developers don’t have to worry about console specs, then why aren’t they going all-out and making games that no console could even dream of supporting? Low-end PCs. What, did you think people only game on Steam if they spent at least $500 on gaming hardware? Not all PC gamers have gaming-PC specs, and if devs close their games out to players who don’t have the strongest of PCs, then they’d be losing out on a pretty sizable chunk of their potential buyers. Saying “devs having to deal with consoles is holding gaming back” is like saying “racing teams having to deal with Ford is holding GT racing back.” A: racing teams don’t have to deal with Ford if they don’t want to, which is probably why many of them don’t, and B: even though Ford doesn’t make the fastest cars overall, they still manage to make cars that are awesome on their own, they don’t even need to be compared to anything else to know that they make good cars. I want to go back to that previous point though, developers having to deal with low-end PCs, because it’s integral to the next point:
“PCs are more powerful, gaming on PC provides a better experience.”
This one isn’t so much of a misconception as it is… misleading. Did you know that according to the Steam Hardware & Software Survey (July 2017) , the percentage of Steam gamers who use a GPU that's less powerful than that of a PS4Slim’s GPU is well over 50%? Things get dismal when compared to the PS4 Pro (Or Xbox One X). On top of that, the percentage of PC gamers who own a Nvidia 10 series card is about 20% (about 15% for the 1060, 1080 and 1070 owners). Now to be fair, the large majority of gamers have CPUs with considerably high clock speeds, which is the main factor in CPU gaming performance. But, the number of Steam gamers with as much RAM or more than a PS4 or Xbox One is less than 50%, which can really bottleneck what those CPUs can handle. These numbers are hardly better than they were in 2013, all things considered. Sure, a PS3/360 weeps in the face of even a $400 PC, but in this day in age, consoles have definitely caught up. Sure, we could mention the fact that even 1% of Steam accounts represents over 1 million accounts, but that doesn’t really matter compared to the 10s of millions of 8th gen consoles sold; looking at it that way, sure the number of Nvidia 10 series owners is over 20 million, but that ignores the fact that there are over 5 times more 8th gen consoles sold than that. Basically, even though PCs run on a spectrum, saying they're more powerful “on average” is actually wrong. Sure, they have the potential for being more powerful, but most of the time, people aren’t willing to pay the premium to reach those extra bits of performance. Now why is this important? What matters are the people who spent the premium cost for premium parts, right? Because of the previous point: PCs don’t have some ubiquitous quality over the consoles, developers will always have to keep low-end PCs in mind, because not even half of all PC players can afford the good stuff, and you have to look at the top quarter of Steam players before you get to PS4-Pro-level specs. If every Steam player were to get a PS4 Pro, it would be an upgrade for over 60% of them, and 70% of them would be getting an upgrade with the Xbox One X. Sure, you could still make the argument that when you pay more for PC parts, you get a better experience than you could with a console. We can argue all day about budget PCs, but a console can’t match up to a $1,000 PC build. It’s the same as paying more for car parts, in the end you get a better car. However, there is a certain problem with that…
“You pay a little more for a PC, you get much more quality.”
The idea here is that the more you pay for PC parts, the performance increases at a faster rate than the price does. Problem: that’s not how technology works. Paying twice as much doesn’t get you twice the quality the majority of the time. For example, let’s look at graphics cards, specifically the GeForce 10 series cards, starting with the GTX 1050.
1.35 GHz base clock
2 GB VRAM
This is our reference, our basis of comparison. Any percentages will be based on the 1050’s specs. Now let’s look at the GTX 1050 Ti, the 1050’s older brother.
1.29 GHz base clock
4 GB VRAM
This is pretty good. You only increase the price by about 27%, and you get an 11% increase in floating point speed and a 100% increase (double) in VRAM. Sure you get a slightly lower base clock, but the rest definitely makes up for it. In fact, according to GPU boss, the Ti managed 66 fps, or a 22% increase in frame rate for Battlefield 4, and a 54% increase in mHash/second in bitcoin mining. The cost increase is worth it, for the most part. But let’s get to the real meat of it; what happens when we double our budget? Surely we should see a massive increase performance, I bet some of you are willing to bet that twice the cost means more than twice the performance. The closest price comparison for double the cost is the GTX 1060 (3 GB), so let’s get a look at that.
1.5 GHz base clock
3 GB VRAM
Well… not substantial, I’d say. About a 50% increase in floating point speed, an 11% increase in base clock speed, and a 1GB decrease in VRAM. For [almost] doubling the price, you don’t get much. Well surely raw specs don’t tell the full story, right? Well, let’s look at some real wold comparisons. Once again, according to GPU Boss, there’s a 138% increase in hashes/second for bitcoin mining, and at 99 fps, an 83% frame rate increase in Battlefield 4. Well, then, raw specs does not tell the whole story! Here’s another one, the 1060’s big brother… or, well, slightly-more-developed twin.
1.5 GHz base clock
6 GB VRAM
Seems reasonable, another $50 for a decent jump in power and double the memory! But, as we’ve learned, we shouldn’t look at the specs for the full story. I did do a GPU Boss comparison, but for the BF4 frame rate, I had to look at Tom’s Hardware (sorry miners, GPU boss didn’t cover the mHash/sec spec either). What’s the verdict? Well, pretty good, I’d say. With 97 FPS, a 79% increase over the 1050— wait. 97? That seems too low… I mean, the 3GB version got 99. Well, let’s see what Tech Power Up has to say... 94.3 fps. 74% increase. Huh. Alright alright, maybe that was just a dud. We can gloss over that I guess. Ok, one more, but let’s go for the big fish: the GTX 1080.
1.6 GHz base clock
8 GB VRAM
That jump in floating point speed definitely has to be something, and 4 times the VRAM? Sure it’s 5 times the price, but as we saw, raw power doesn’t always tell the full story. GPU Boss returns to give us the run down, how do these cards compare in the real world? Well… a 222% (over three-fold) increase in mHash speed, and a 218% increase in FPS for Battlefield 4. That’s right, for 5 times the cost, you get 3 times the performance. Truly, the raw specs don’t tell the full story. You increase the cost by 27%, you increase frame rate in our example game by 22%. You increase the cost by 83%, you increase the frame rate by 83%. Sounds good, but if you increase the cost by 129%, and you get a 79% (-50% cost/power increase) increase in frame rate. You increase it by 358%, and you increase the frame rate by 218% (-140% cost/power increase). That’s not paying “more for much more power,” that’s a steep drop-off after the third cheapest option. In fact, did you know that you have to get to the 1060 (6GB) before you could compare the GTX line to a PS4 Pro? Not to mention that at $250, the price of a 1060 (6GB) you could get an entire PS4 Slim bundle, or that you have to get to the 1070 before you beat the Xbox One X. On another note, let’s look at a PS4 Slim…
800 MHz base clock
8 GB VRAM
…Versus a PS4 Pro.
911 MHz base clock
8 GB VRAM
128% increase in floating point speed, 13% increase in clock speed, for a 25% difference in cost. Unfortunately there is no Battlefield 4 comparison to make, but in BF1, the frame rate is doubled (30 fps to 60) and the textures are taken to 11. For what that looks like, I’ll leave it up to this bloke. Not to even mention that you can even get the texture buffs in 4K. Just like how you get a decent increase in performance based on price for the lower-cost GPUs, the same applies here. It’s even worse when you look at the CPU for a gaming PC. The more money you spend, again, the less of a benefit you get per dollar. Hardware Unboxed covers this in a video comparing different levels of Intel CPUs. One thing to note is that the highest i7 option (6700K) in this video was almost always within 10 FPS (though for a few games, 15 FPS) of a certain CPU in that list for just about all of the games. …That CPU was the lowest i3 (6100) option. The lowest i3 was $117 and the highest i7 was $339, a 189% price difference for what was, on average, a 30% or less difference in frame rate. Even the lowest Pentium option (G4400, $63) was often able to keep up with the i7. The CPU and GPU are usually the most expensive and power-consuming parts of a build, which is why I focused on them (other than the fact that they’re the two most important parts of a gaming PC, outside of RAM). With both, this “pay more to get much more performance” idea is pretty much the inverse of the truth.
“The console giants are bad for game developers, Steam doesn't treat developers as bad as Microsoft or especially Sony.”
Now one thing you might’ve heard is that the PS3 was incredibly difficult for developers to make games for, which for some, fueled the idea that console hardware is difficult too develop on compared to PC… but this ignores a very basic idea that we’ve already touched on: if the devs don’t want to make the game compatible with a system, they don’t have to. In fact, this is why Left 4 Dead and other Valve games aren’t on PS3, because they didn’t want to work with it’s hardware, calling it “too complex.” This didn’t stop the game from selling well over 10 million units worldwide. If anything, this was a problem for the PS3, not the dev team. This also ignores that games like LittleBigPlanet, Grand Theft Auto IV, and Metal Gear Solid 4 all came out in the same year as Left 4 Dead (2008) on PS3. Apparently, plenty of other dev teams didn’t have much of a problem with the PS3’s hardware, or at the very least, they got used to it soon enough. On top of that, when developing the 8th gen consoles, both Sony and Microsoft sought to use CPUs that were easier for developers, which included making decisions that considered apps for the consoles’ usage for more than gaming. On top of that, using their single-chip proprietary CPUs is cheaper and more energy efficient than buying pre-made CPUs and boards, which is far better of a reason for using them than some conspiracy about Sony and MS trying to make devs' lives harder. Now, console exclusives are apparently a point of contention: it’s often said that exclusive can cause developers to go bankrupt. However, exclusivity doesn’t have to be a bad thing for the developer. For example, when Media Molecule had to pitch their game to a publisher (Sony, coincidentally), they didn’t end up being tied into something detrimental to them. Their initial funding lasted for 6 months. From then, Sony offered additional funding, in exchange for Console Exclusivity. This may sound concerning to some, but the game ended up going on to sell almost 6 million units worldwide and launched Media Molecule into the gaming limelight. Sony later bought the development studio, but 1: this was in 2010, two years after LittleBigPlanet’s release, and 2: Media Molecule seem pretty happy about it to this day. If anything, signing up with Sony was one of the best things they could’ve done, in their opinion. Does this sound like a company that has it out for developers? There are plenty of examples that people will use to put Valve in a good light, but even Sony is comparatively good to developers.
“There are more PC gamers.”
The total number of active PC gamers on Steam has surpassed 120 million, which is impressive, especially considering that this number is double that of 2013’s figure (65 million). But the number of monthly active users on Xbox Live and PSN? About 120 million (1, 2) total. EDIT: You could argue that this isn't an apples-to-apples comparison, sure, so if you want to, say, compare the monthly number of Steam users to console? Steam has about half of what consoles do, at 67 million. Now, back to the 65 million total user figure for Steam, the best I could find for reference for PlayStation's number was an article giving the number of registered PSN accounts in 2013, 150 million. In a similar 4-year period (2009 - 2013), the number of registered PSN accounts didn’t double, it sextupled, or increased by 6 fold. Considering how the PS4 is already at 2/3 of the number of sales the PS3 had, even though it’s currently 3 years younger than its predecessor, I’m sure this trend is at least generally consistent. For example, let’s look at DOOM 2016, an awesome faced-paced shooting title with graphics galore… Of course, on a single platform, it sold best on PC/Steam. 2.36 million Steam sales, 2.05 million PS4 sales, 1.01 million Xbox One sales. But keep in mind… when you add the consoles sales together, you get over 3 million sales on the 8th gen systems. Meaning: this game was best sold on console. In fact, the Steam sales have only recently surpassed the PS4 sales. By the way VG charts only shows sales for physical copies of the games, so the number of PS4 and Xbox sales, when digital sales are included, are even higher than 3 million. This isn’t uncommon, by the way. Even with the games were the PC sales are higher than either of the consoles, there generally are more console sales total. But, to be fair, this isn’t anything new. The number of PC gamers hasn’t dominated the market, the percentages have always been about this much. PC can end up being the largest single platform for games, but consoles usually sell more copies total. EDIT: There were other examples but... Reddit has a 40,000-character limit.
This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with PC gaming, and this isn’t to exalt consoles. I’m not here to be the hipster defending the little guy, nor to be the one to try to put down someone/thing out of spite. This is about showing that PCs and consoles are overall pretty similar because there isn’t much dividing them, and that there isn’t anything wrong with being a console gamer. There isn’t some chasm separating consoles and PCs, at the end of the day they’re both computers that are (generally) designed for gaming. This about unity as gamers, to try to show that there shouldn’t be a massive divide just because of the computer system you game on. I want gamers to be in an environment where specs don't separate us; whether you got a $250 PS4 Slim or just built a $2,500 gaming PC, we’re here to game and should be able to have healthy interactions regardless of your platform. I’m well aware that this isn’t going to fix… much, but this needs to be said: there isn’t a huge divide between the PC and consoles, they’re far more similar than people think. There are upsides and downsides that one has that the other doesn’t on both sides. There’s so much more I could touch on, like how you could use SSDs or 3.5 inch hard drives with both, or that even though PC part prices go down over time, so do consoles, but I just wanted to touch on the main points people try to use to needlessly separate the two kinds of systems (looking at you PCMR) and correct them, to get the point across. I thank anyone who takes the time to read all of this, and especially anyone who doesn’t take what I say out of context. I also want to note that, again, thisisn’t “anti-PC gamer.” If it were up to me, everyone would be a hybrid gamer. Cheers.
OLD STUFF I rewrote the post after my discovery of how the network traffic works. The answer in short, unfortunately, is NO. But R* can detect it. I will assure you. From several tests, there are NO distinguishable traffic from the UDP protocol, in a public lobby that allows you to identify a modder, if you are being harassed by one. However, I tested two mod menus on my decoy account (I have two Steam accounts, and two Rockstar Social Club Accounts). The one thing that is significant is that there is a suspicious communication to the Rockstar servers. Mod menus generate DTLSv1.0 packets. Sent to Rockstar's servers at "126.96.36.199 prod.ros.rockstargames.com". Playing the game legitimately, no DTLSv1.0 packets are sent. But if you load a mod menu, Rockstar knows. The problem is, it is traffic going to the dedicated Game Service Servers. You, as a random person in a public lobby, will not be able to see it. TLDR... Let Rockstar catch and ban modders. You will never find them They are doing a pretty decent job. According to MPGH chatter, since four days ago a lot of the mod developers are pulling out of implementing money hacks into the game. As they cannot find a way to get past R* Anticheat yet. http://www.mpgh.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=414 I tested the one with the "Safe Money Drop". My decoy account got banned for 30 days. But you could be a real creepster. And tell people with unprotected (no VPN no proxy) internet connections, what city and state they live in. That still works. How to do that? I tested it on 5 different people already, all my friends. In-game, you have to be following the player around. The closer you are with the player, the more bytes are generated and sent between your IP and theirs. That helps you distinguish their IP from anyone else's. Now
Start Wireshark capture Statistics Endpoints Bytes Tab (Sort by highest) Your highest NON-LOCAL IP on ports 6672 (UDP, most players have traffic through this) is the player's IP
Using that IP, you can choose to either click the Name Resolution Checkbox on the bottom left of the Endpoints window. Or, you can just Google it. The potential of this vulnerability? DO NOT DO THIS Lets say you wanted to be a douchelord or something, and you don't like another player. Keep GTA V running in Windowed Mode, fire up wireshark, start capture. Locate the player IN-GAME and follow him around for at least one or two minutes. After you positively identified the player's IP (using the bytes-captured method on port 6672), you can attack it with a subscription DDoS/DoS Botnet provider. Also known as a "stresser" or "booter" for obvious reasons. (Note: they only accept either BitCoin or PayPal, I hate both of them). A few examples... (1) Defiance Protocol (2) Thunder Stresser (3) PolyStress (4) Stress3d.me (5) DataBooter (6) ExoStresser What does it do if you choose to do this? Well, first of all, even though they are known as booters or stressers, they initiate a Denial of Service attack on the victim machine. That means even if you left the session (you better), you can initiate the attack. It will shutdown their entire home network for a X amount of ms, just enough to kick someone, including the host of the lobby, out of the session. All you need to know to launch the attack is... (a)The IP address of victim machine (b)The Port you want to attack (port 6672) (c)The method of attack (chose one that is relevant to the protocol), like TCPStorm, DOMINATE, SYNFLOOD, etc. Seriously, don't do it. All I figured out is how to stalk my friends on GTA V. I have yet to even learn how to decrypt the captured GVSP data. If you want to catch modders on your own, you need to crack that hash. Seems like there is a new key generated a session. Hopefully R* in GTA VI will patch this vulnerability. GOOD LUCK, DON'T DoS people, and GO sign up for a VPN or Proxy, RIGHT NOW. Stuff Online on DTLSv1.0 Traffic https://wiki.wireshark.org/DTLS DTLS is a SSL Protocol that is compatible through UDP. It can be used to create SSH Tunnels back to R* Servers. Since the last thing a mod developer wants to do is give R* all of your info willingly, I am assuming that this DTLS traffic is part of the anticheat mechanism implemented by R*. DTLS traffic, as of yet, cannot be filtered by capture alone. However, you simply just look at the packet, and then filter the UDP traffic and port to display the majority of DTLS traffic. Example Packet Summary: Modder Machine To RockstaTake Two Interactive, New York, New York Upon Use of a Mod
Frame 204: 151 bytes on wire (1208 bits), 151 bytes captured (1208 bits) on interface 0 Interface id: 0 Censored TO Avoid MAC Ban Encapsulation type: Ethernet (1) Arrival Time: Jan 19, 2017 18:23:39.836486000 Pacific Standard Time [Time shift for this packet: 0.000000000 seconds] Epoch Time: 1484879019.836486000 seconds [Time delta from previous captured frame: 0.002543000 seconds] [Time delta from previous displayed frame: 0.002543000 seconds] [Time since reference or first frame: 1.598633000 seconds] Frame Number: 204 Frame Length: 151 bytes (1208 bits) Capture Length: 151 bytes (1208 bits) [Frame is marked: False] [Frame is ignored: False] [Protocols in frame: eth:ethertype:ip:udp:dtls] [Coloring Rule Name: UDP] [Coloring Rule String: udp] Ethernet II, Censored TO Avoid MAC Ban Internet Protocol Version 4, Src: 10.0.1.113 (10.0.1.113), Dst: prod.ros.rockstargames.com (188.8.131.52) User Datagram Protocol, Src Port: 58016 (58016), Dst Port: 61457 (61457) Datagram Transport Layer Security
Modder Machine To Victim Machine Upon Giving Him All Weapons from Mod Menu. Victim is from Miami, Florida
Frame 210: 101 bytes on wire (808 bits), 101 bytes captured (808 bits) on interface 0 Interface id: 0 Censored TO Avoid MAC Ban Encapsulation type: Ethernet (1) Arrival Time: Jan 19, 2017 18:23:39.887777000 Pacific Standard Time [Time shift for this packet: 0.000000000 seconds] Epoch Time: 1484879019.887777000 seconds [Time delta from previous captured frame: 0.000169000 seconds] [Time delta from previous displayed frame: 0.000169000 seconds] [Time since reference or first frame: 1.649924000 seconds] Frame Number: 210 Frame Length: 101 bytes (808 bits) Capture Length: 101 bytes (808 bits) [Frame is marked: False] [Frame is ignored: False] [Protocols in frame: eth:ethertype:ip:udp:gvsp] [Coloring Rule Name: UDP] [Coloring Rule String: udp] Ethernet II, Censored TO Avoid MAC Ban Internet Protocol Version 4, Src: 10.0.1.113 (10.0.1.113), Dst: c-75-74-37-8.hsd1.fl.comcast.net (184.108.40.206) User Datagram Protocol, Src Port: vision_server (6672), Dst Port: vision_server (6672) Source Port: vision_server (6672) Destination Port: vision_server (6672)
These are the settings you must have on Windows Firewall, on Windows 10. Make one rule for INBOUND and one for OUTBOUND. You can do this while playing the game. Set them to enabled and change session. You should be on a new lobby with MUCH LESS PLAYERS. Keep Lobby-Surfing until you end up alone or the other people leave. My Wireshark capture tells me that the only other player in the game is connected to me via UDP 35464. He eventually left. Leaving me in a session by myself. It won't guarantee you a solo lobby anymore, but it makes it much rarer for packed lobbies with modders and jet griefers. If you are feeling lonely, then disable those firewall rules and switch session again. I still have a UDP connection via 6672 despite the rules. My wireshark picks up no traffic at all though. Hmm interesting. If you block your traffic it now generates DTLSv1.0 traffic (like modder traffic) to Rockstar at 220.127.116.11. There is also a lot more TCP traffic through Port 80 (but its still obfuscated). And it is going through my blocked UDP ports in the new firewall rules. It basically SSH tunneled through UDP directly to R*. So it's just me and their gameserver. No one else. Well the admins know I am not cheating. They prolly think I have a lousy internet connection or a jerk of a admin (they think) who doesn't want me to use UDP gaming ports. I am not worried at all. If you wanna sell all of your shit without being picked on. Then do this,
enable the firewall rules both inbound and outbound, sell your shit, and then disable them and switch sessions again so you won't be lonely anymore.
Here are the packet captures that I am WILLING to share. Basically it shows two things. R* Will open a SSH tunnel secret in at least TWO conditions (1) If you are modding. There will be a SSH Tunnel created using the DTLSv1.0 protocol on your UDP ports. Telling R* what you are doing if your game traffic looks suspicious (2) If you are using the firewall glitch, the game will get around your Windows Software Firewall and start connecting to R* with the SSH tunnel.
For #2 if you check on my packet capture links, even though I told Windows Firewall to block that UDP port, packets were sent through anyways as DTLS traffic. I have yet to be banned for this. This ensures that R* can still save my data. And you get to have less populated and/or totally alone sessions so you can play the damn game! And here is a example of normal traffic. Me and three of my friends in a 4-player Survival Game
Edit: Uploaded a 38 minute video, soloing biker deliveries without interference from other players. Works as long as I end up being the only player in the session, no new players can join because I blocked my ports
Other Possible Ramifications (Very Bad If It's True!) Not to freak everyone out. But it MAY be possible, for someone with actual hacking talent (not me), to drop a Staged Meterpreter Shell into your computer, assuming that he or she knows your IP address through the discovery on Wireshark. They can then... (1) Have the payload on execution rewrite a critical system file in your computer (2) Download the remaining stages of the payload (3) Slowly compromise other system processes on your computer (4) Gain root-access (Administrator in Windows) (5) Start executing commands as Root/Admin (6) Do creepy shit like use your webcam to take a picture of your face. Or steal your saved payment information in your browser cookies for Amazon, etc. I typically would picture our typical home networks like this in a typical game lobby on GTA Online Me
Laptop running GTA V My Router and Firewalls My Public IP (UDP Port 6672) My ISP
ISP routing path Your ISP Your Public IP (UDP Port 6672 and/or other) Your Home Router and Firewalls Your Computer
The problem with the UDP protocol, is that it has very little verification and checksumming. It just keeps spamming packets, making it viable for low latency applications (gaming). If I can make a virus or reverse shell look like typical game data, then it SHOULD get through your firewall, and automatically get forwarded by your router to your computer. As long as I am connected to you, all the validation is authentic. As long as I am connected to you, either in a game mode, or through the public lobby! If those conditions are met. Then it's going to look like regular traffic to your network. I have yet to even try this. I did managed to reencode a standard reverse shell payload (msfvenom) and infected myself with it (successfully SSH tunneling through my own router from the WWW against my Linux installation). However, my Windows variant failed to execute due to Windows User Account Controls. Windows Defender was futilely, furiously searching for this "virus", and eating up all my hard drive usage (100% while playing GTA) until I finally removed it after running a scan with HitmanPro (a heuristics second-opinion scanner that hunts for files that exhibit virus/malware like activity). PSA: DO NOT USE WIRESHARK TO MONITOR GTA V TRAFFIC, R* EULA HAS RECENTLY BEEN CHANGED, DEPENDING ON SEVERITY IT MAY BE A INSTANT PERMANENT BAN At 4:30 AM PST, January 22nd, my account received a permanent ban as I was with my friends on their yacht looking through the scope of a sniper rifle in the middle of a Piracy Prevention Match. As it turns. Sniffing network traffic via Wireshark may or may not be a ground for a ban. Regardless of whether or not I am doing it right now. I even double checked the vague Rockstar Games EULA to make sure. https://www.rockstargames.com/eula
You agree not to: reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble, display, perform, prepare derivative works based on, or otherwise modify the Software, in whole or in part;
Well I attempted to! And I violated a good half of those.
cheat or utilize any unauthorized robot, spider, or other program in connection with any online features of the Software;
"Spider" (I am guessing they are referring to internet crawlers), but "other program"? Yeah Wireshark fits the bill.
TECHNICAL PROTECTIONS: The Software may include measures to control access to the Software, control access to certain features or content, prevent unauthorized copies, or otherwise attempt to prevent anyone from exceeding the limited rights and licenses granted under this Agreement. Such measures may include incorporating license management, product activation, and other security technology in the Software and monitoring usage, including, but not limited to, time, date, access, or other controls, counters, serial numbers, and/or other security devices designed to prevent the unauthorized access, use, and copying of the Software, or any portions or components thereof, including any violations of this Agreement. Licensor reserves the right to monitor use of the Software at any time. You may not interfere with such access control measures or attempt to disable or circumvent such security features, and if you do, the Software may not function properly. If the Software permits access to Special Features, only one copy of the Software may access those Special Features at one time. Additional terms and registration may be required to access online services and to download Software updates and patches. Only Software subject to a valid license can be used to access online services, including downloading updates and patches. Except as otherwise prohibited by applicable law, Licensor may limit, suspend, or terminate the license granted hereunder and access to the Software, including, but not limited to, any related services and products, at any time without notice for any reason whatsoever.
The Secret UDP SSH Tunnel (DTLSv1.0), got it. R* Anticheat. Check. Don't fuck with it? Naw mang, sorry, totally lost it. Well... if I straight up spilled the beans on how your anticheat works, including what it could possibly do and can't do, and how it might work, I'd guess you'd be pretty mad at me too. Especially since posting on Reddit is the equivalent of me following you around IRL with a megaphone, screaming in public in earshot "Don't trust him! He is reading your shit! He's looking through your gameplay traffic right now. And he knows everything!!!!"
Remember what I said about DDoSing people that are discovered on Wireshark? If you do this, and the victim knows the right people to call, I wouldn't be surprised if G-Men in suits knock on your door. At first, I thought, that was it. Then I decided to go Google "GTA V Banwave" and set the time to one week ago. What I saw was a real trip. A huge spike in fake bans and urgent warnings, "PSA's" all over YouTube It's something related to the latest iteration of Mod Menus that have been popping up. I have not seen so much panic run through the forums of UnknownCheats and MPGH in my life. New versions, updates, and customized variants of Mod Menus have been popping up on a daily basis. And with a detection period from launch, of at most, a week long. That is, the day that the new mod menu gets uploaded, to the point that users start to report they are getting banned for it, can be up from a week from now. R* anticheat went into overdrive. Developers have been scaling back on implementing the money drop feature for fear of triggering instant bans for their users (hence the lack of money drops recently). Then I noticed something... The prevailing issue of "Persistent Mods" and possible "Memory Corruption" implicating innocent players I am talking about mod menus that permanently break a lobby's features like free roam missions, like CEO or Bikers, but this time, it can carry over betweens lobby sessions. I saw my first variant earlier this week and shrugged it off. Then I saw my second one today. Some modder was caging me and my friends and trying to flatten us with Bugattis. Normally I would just join another session and any wacky attachment would fall off. But now the damage, errors, and bugs caused by mod menus can "carry-over" with me. I realized that I couldn't change my Outfits via the "Style Menu" for the second session in a row, I could not eat snacks to regenerate health, nor could I equip body armor. In some cases, I couldn't register as a CEO and start my missions, even though I already SWITCHED to a new lobby. After fully restarting the game from Steam, the "mod persistence" ceased. I had full control of my character again. Because we are talking about starting over again with fresh untainted memory. First instance of discussion of innocent bans recentlyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKYnCDolKSc This video claims that you should be avoiding public lobbies on the PC like the plague or apocalypse. IDK if you have to be THAT extreme. Just don't interact too much with modders. Or try glitching yourself into a solo public lobby via the firewall glitch. This is really sad though. This guy is a victim of a modder, and he gets a ban for it, probably from memory corruption caused by the modders that Rockstar's Anticheat picked uphttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1IEs-Bf7Is I am certain that if you react quickly enough, you will NOT get flagged by the modder's actions. You just need to do a full restart of the game. Not your PC. Just the game on Steam. So don't enjoy a modder's company for too long, no matter how pleasant they may appear. Holy fuck dude. The game still costs $60 on Steam. After all these years. I'll just wait until my decoy account gets unbanned. I'll see you guys in 30 days. Fortunately, it is NOT a MAC Ban. I logged into my decoy account. Decoy account still has a one month suspension.
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