Many developers of flight simulator products have wanted a solution which prevents the illegal downloads of their addons. I might have a solution. We all know flight simulator requires one piece of information to work and that is a gamertag. If an encryption and decryption solution can incorporate a gamertag identity check then the problem can be solved.
Encryption and decryption can be sorted using public key encryption. Using Azure key vault, Asobo could develop a web application which allows developers to create their private and public keys for their company. Asobo will keep the private key securely in Azure key vault and developers download the public key. The flight simulator package tool would be updated to use the public key to encrypti the addon package. Only Asobo could decrypt the addon package. No one else could decrypt the addon package.
How to stop illegal usage of addon products by creating an allow list. Asobo could develop an API which allows addon developers to securely add peoples’ gamertag to an allow list on a per product basis. If your gametag was on the allow list then you can use the addon after download and install. If your gamertag is not on the list than you cannot use the addon after download and install.
What Asobo could do is develop a solution within flight simulator to perform multiple checks on gamertag and etc to confirm package is correct and then perform the decryption in a secure way to prevent leakage.
That would be an even heavier encryption that what is even offered now. People would not have access to their addons that they purchased if Microsoft was unavailable. Additionally, since the store would have to go with one solution for DRM, even the MSFS base packages would be encrypted this way, and users would totally be cut off from using MSFS at all when Microsoft was unavailable, and we know that happens frequently.
Of course, when the network connection is not available the addon package will not work. But there is solutions to solve this problem. Asobo could develop within MSFS to generate short duration public and private key pairs for encryption and decryption of the addon packages with included information about the gamertag and etc to prevent leakage.
Any solution will only protect the addon package for as long as possible until someone figures out the way to break the encryption system. But if correctly developed that shouldn’t be a problem for the near term.
Would it be possible to allow larger “block time” between on-line checks, like hours or days? How about a timeout plot where your number of recent passing checks weighted your “legality”? This might allow some illegal usage but when added to the other ideas here, might catch a cheater eventually, at such time the account is cancelled. Of course, there should be arbitration from there so that unforeseen circumstances can be analyzed.
There is content out there which has a rough quality and was improved by the modding community. A complete lock of any content means that some add-ons will end in the trash bin as burned money with frustrated customers.
The other problem is, encryption of the mods greatly slows down the system, and also stops some addons such as FSHud from working.
I was on XBox. The only way to have addons was to purchase from the store. I had about $4000 worth of addons before I went to PC. I have since been purchasing many of that $4000 all over again as Community folder versions. One because they load faster and use less memory, and also so Navigraph and FSHud and all the other addons which want to access my addons can get to them.
Keep in mind, starting MSFS is not the only time your addons are read. Everytime you start a flight, all your content is read through again to determine if any addons have any effect for your flight (so in other words, do you have Bijan’s season pack, do you have a handcrafted version of the airport you are spawning into, do you have bird for this area, do you have night lighting for the city you are in, etc). Yes, this happens every single time you hit “Fly” to start a flight. So reading through all your addons is a process that happens multiple times. Having to unencrypt all of your addons is going to add time to every flight, every discovery flight, every bush leg.