“Piracy is BAD” proclaims every copyright dependent industry lobby group. “Downloading is stealing” is another popular one. How about “downloads are a lost sale”? Ubisoft clearly didn’t believe that last one, as they distributed a no-cd patch from the scene group RELOADED as a fix for one of their games.
Piracy can be a funny business at times, but the rhetoric is often extremely predictable. So when something unexpected happens it can knock you off your stride. Something like… a major game publisher distributing a Scene no-cd crack as a fix would do it, for instance. If it sounds unlikely, that’s because sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. In this case, the publisher is Ubisoft, the game ‘Rainbow Six: Vegas 2‘, and the Scene ‘no-cd’ crack – yes that’s there as well.
The situation revolves around that oddest of characters, Direct2Drive (D2D) - an online games store, owned by IGN, selling games over the Internet as protected downloads. Game code is modified to prevent the standard retail DRM from inhibiting game play (as there is no actual disc to check for) with Trymedia activation utilized instead. More importantly, since the code around the DRM has been modified and changed to a different system, regular patches from the game developers can’t be used. Instead, patches must be reworked by D2D to accommodate these changes. These changes are not always quick, a point D2D does try and defuse in its FAQ.
Thus we come to Rainbow Six: Vegas2 (R6V2) which, since its release in March, has had three patches released for it. The third, 1.03 provides a lot of changes, including new play modes, so legitimate purchasers of the game were eager to try it. The problem is, those that bought it via D2D can’t use it. This is the problem inherent in DRM. Those that buy the product are the ones affected, not those the DRM is designed to defeat.
After lots of complaining and attempts to fix things themselves, one Ubisoft employee found a solution. A zip file was uploaded to the help/support site, named “R6Vegas2_fix.zip”.
If D2D users patched to 1.02, then replaced the EXE with this one, they could then update to the new patch. However, someone ran a hex edit and it appears the fix was not Ubisoft code but actually a ‘no-cd’ crack released by the Scene group RELOADED, as shown here.
Since then, the zip file containing the fix has been pulled from the Ubisoft support site, so we’re unable to verify. The game’s community is as baffled by this as everyone else. Since the claimed origin of the fix, 10 days ago, there has been no word on it officially from Ubisoft, beyond a ‘Community Manager’ who states
We’re looking into this further as this was not the UK Support team that posted this, however if it is an executable that does not need the disc I doubt it has come from an external source. There’d be very little point doing so when we already own the original unprotected executable.
As soon as we find out more about this we’ll let you know.
Although it is not unknown for a Scene release to be used to ‘fix’ a retail product, it’s certainly rare to have that fact promoted. That the ‘no-cd’ patch works, might have some relation to how brutal the Scene is when it comes to the quality of their work, especially in games. Whilst this is a validation that the Scene isn’t as bad as the lobby groups would have you believe (they fixed the game, and did it for free) you can bet that Ubisoft won’t be smiling at E3, and that they, and Direct2Drive, will continue to use DRM to annoy and inconvenience paying customers.