14 May 2019

Fake vs. Real, Part 2

The Controversy

There's been a bit of a controversy within the Pandora's Box community that has been stirred up during the last month and I am partially to blame for it. So, let's talk it out.

Last year, we saw the release of the 1500 game Pandora's Box 9. Back when it was first discovered, I wrote about it and how I felt that it was a fake - a very, very well done fake, but a fake nonetheless. When looking at the features and gamelist presented, I felt that it was a bootlegger that found a way to steal or duplicate the functionality of a Pandora's Box 5 and just added more games to it to be competitive and look better than the original. Recently, we've also seen the release of what looked like another really well done fake, the 2222 game Pandora's Box 9D.

Well, folks... I was wrong about both the Pandora's Box 9 as well as the Pandora's Box 9D. They are both legit after all.

I know what a lot of you are saying right now. "If it's not being sold on the official Pandora's Box store, it's not legit." I said that exact same thing so many times and I know that there's been a lot of people in our community that have said the same thing. Absolutely no one is saying that with any sort of desire to deceive. In fact, this comes from the community being passionate and wanting future and new community members to get the best possible experience for their money and have them avoid the lower quality bootlegs out there. Those are admirable desires, but we need to change our ways.

The Evidence

The first bit of evidence is admitedly circumstantial however with what we've seen of the Pandora's Boxes so far, usually if the boxes get cracked/pirated, we usually see tons of different versions come out, all clearly using the same software and such but with differing amounts of games. With the exception of the Pandora's Box 9 and 9D, we have NOT seen any boxes come out that use the same software or feature set as the Pandora's Box 5 or 6. You would think that if they'd figured out how to crack the boxes, we would have far more of those out there rather than the single core Pandora's 4S ripoffs we still see everywhere. It hasn't been the case.

The second bit of evidence is that the first announcement I've seen of the Pandora's Box 9D's existence came directly from a known 3A Game employee. Known as Senso Lyn, she is someone that works at 3A (as evidenced by her name being listed on the official 3A Alibaba page) and she posted on both Twitter and LinkedIn about the 9D being the latest board from 3A Game. We know that the Alibaba page is legit as it lists 3A's real owner's name, Ken Lam, on it. It is also the contact page for making bulk purchases and several people I know have made large purchases through it. The official 3A Alibaba page also currently lists the Pandora's Box 9 in its banner.

3A employee tweets about release of PB9D

Third, if you pay attention to the logos that show up on the official Pandora's Box Aliexpress page, you'll notice the logos for both 3A and 3H (the company that appears to be selling the Pandora's Box 9 and 9D on Aliexpress) on several of the preview images.

Pandora's Box 6 ad on Aliexpress showing both 3A and 3H logos

Fourth, when taking a look at hacking the Pandora's Box 6, you find something interesting sitting in /etc/hostname, which defines the name Linux will try to use as its name when connected to a network - "hhh", 3 H's, or in other words "3H".

So why would one company have two Aliexpress pages and one Alibaba page for doing business? Well, Alibaba is meant for wholesale purchasers with Aliexpress being for the general public. It appears that instead of allowing bootleggers to do well competing against 3A, they decided to put out its own line of lower cost, lower features boxes to compete directly with the bootlegger consoles.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the PB9 and PB9D are actually bootleg Pandora's Boxes. We'll need to find answers to the following questions:

  • Why would a known 3A employee advertise a bootleg board on her social media platforms?
  • Why would the Pandora's Box 6 ship out with the name of the bootleg company as it's hostname?
  • Why would the official Pandora's Box Aliexpress page also have the bootleg company's logos on its images?
  • Why have we still not seen real bootleg versions of the Pandora's Box 5 or 6 outside of the 9 and 9D?

Conclusion

3A Game and 3H are both the same company but just different goals. One is meant to be the place for the best experience with the most options, the other is for players who want more games without needing to hunt around for them and just want to play with fewer options to get in the way. We need to stop saying that the 9 and 9D are fakes, they aren't and that's the real reason why I thought the fakes were so well done - they aren't fake after all.

EDIT: On the Facebook group, someone posted their conversation when contacting 3A and asking about all this. They spoke to Senso, the same woman that posted about the 9D and it was confirmed that they are the same company.

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