The RELOADED .nfo file included with the original crack  (Source: NFOHump)

RELOADED's calling card is visible in a hex dump of Ubisoft's unofficial patch.  (Source: neilthecellist, Ubisoft forums)

Some people crack videogames' copy protections in order to pirate them. Others simply like to avoid the hassle of inserting a CD. One company used a crack to quell its customers' growing outrage.

Ubisoft, it seems, used a piracy ‘Scene’-released No-CD crack to wish away certain support issues, like the lag time between patches available for the commercially-released and Direct2Drive versions of its hit PC game, Rainbow Six: Vegas 2.

Some further explanation is needed: Direct2Drive is a legitimate videogame-download service owned by IGN Entertainment. Users pay retail-ish prices to download videogames straight to their hard drive, in order to avoid the hassle of picking a game up at a store. The lack of physical discs in this kind of system makes anti-piracy enforcement difficult, so Direct2Drive uses an online activation system that works by wrapping itself around the game code to ensure the game’s legitimacy.

As a side effect of this system, games sold via Direct2Drive oftentimes cannot be used with patches released for equivalent retail versions, as Direct2Drive needs to publish the patch in a way that’s compatible with its system; usually this results in a lag time for Direct2Drive users lasting a couple of weeks.

Returning to the topic of Rainbow Six, it appears that Direct2Drive users waiting patiently for version 1.03 – released last March, according to TorrentFreak – have understandably grown restless, as a Direct2Drive version of this patch has yet to appear. Compounding this frustration is the fact that 1.03 adds desirable new features, including a handful of new play modes. Users, ever impatient, worked out solutions on their own and created a mess of third-party hacks and unofficial fixes.

As a result of the commotion, it appears that an Ubisoft employee found a fix of his or her own, and uploaded a small patch to Ubisoft’s support site. But here’s the catch: the “solution” provided was a small no-CD crack – the same one released by warez group RELOADED some time earlier.

The fact was confirmed by screenshots of the patch file loaded into a hex editor, where users located RELOADED’s signature embedded within the program.

Particularly puzzling is the fact that as Rainbow Six: Vegas 2’s publisher, Ubisoft has access to the original program code. Why lift something from the scene instead?

Ubisoft community manager Ubi.Vigil had little to say to address users – many of which seem to dither between amused and “righteous” fury – beyond implying the aforementioned:

 “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.”

Since then, the patch has been pulled from Ubisoft’s support site and, for most purposes, has disappeared from the ‘net. Worse, an official version 1.03 patch for Direct2Drive customers does not yet appear to be available.

The official company line is that “copy protection circumvention methods … [are] in direct conflict with Ubisoft’s policies,” and I’m sure that a support person in Ubisoft-land is, sadly, now out of a job.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

Most Popular Articles

Copyright 2018 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki