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Vigilant Defender avatar 8:17 AM on 03.03.2011
How many days, is a PC Game, Crack free?

What would you think?
(The number of days between the official release of a PC Game, to the day that someone is able to search, download, and play it illegally?)
A quick explanation: Cracks are the game files that have been altered and had the security DRM removed from them. As in they have been ďcrackedĒ opened. Workarounds are game files that still have the DRM in some form, but it has been fooled into believing that the game is legal.



I have known this for some time; itís not a secret or even an unwritten rule. Itís just one of those things that people know and yet canít tell you why it is true. But if I were to put it more accurately I have assumed itís the same day as the release! In my experience I have found this to be true of every game, beside the odd exceptions.
Out of all the games release, the exceptions are so few and far between that you can practically list them all. Since the dawn of PC gaming I canít name more than a handful of games that have been pirate free for 10 days or more. I keep coming back to this list thinking I missed hundreds, but off the top of my head they are:


(If you can think of any others, Please post them in the comments section!)
Oh and then there is the case of the two Sims 2 Expansion games, Nightlife and University. Both games come with a complete work around, and you are able to download and play illegally. But for some reason no known cracks exist! This is strange, but I am guessing that cracker groups, on their busy work schedule, never got around to these or just plain forgot!
When we look at the current releases of PC games; and even I admit that the dataset isnít as large as I would like it to be. But from these results we see that the majority of games, 63%, are cracked before or on the release date! One day after the release and youíre looking at 84%, and by the second day 92% of games have already been cracked. I suspect that as time goes on, and I collect more data, I expect the three percentage figures to only grow.


What can we take from this?
I suppose the first thing; it doesnít paint a good picture for DRM products. I mean if you compare this to some other product, say seat belts for cars! The sales man tells you there is a 63% chance that this seat belt wonít hold in a crash! Personally I am looking at another car, in the 37% bracket! Then you find out that 100% the cars will be broken, fatally, in some way it might be in 1 or 422 days!
Well hell, I am walking!

The second question is why does nothing seem to work? If it does work, it seems to be one Game, and only one time? If I show you the table again, and tell you the DRM that protects them you get an inkling into why these seem to fail.

At the time they were brand new ways of protecting the digital media. Only the SecuROM seems to have struck gold with 2 games, and we are specially talking about the SecuROM PA DRM, and not the SecuROM v7 which still remains ineffective as it ever did!
But you have to realise that Alone in the Dark and Bioshock were release quite close to each other. Yes that is the secret that the more time a protection system is out there, the more time Crackers have to play and experiment in removing them.
With the SecuROM PA system, this was an online activation system, one of the first of the era. And as you can see the first time was good, the second time, ok, and the third? As I said, the more time someone gets their hands on your protection system the more time they have to exploit weaknesses!
But what about these current always online activation DRMs, like the new Ubisoft DRM, and the much shadowed EA DRM. Well for starters the crack for EA always online activation didnít exist straight away. The First game with the DRM was Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight, had a work around posted, not a crack. But because this was only 3 days after the game, and the game itself was wildly unpopular, it fell to the sidelines. I think 10 days later a true crack existed, but it was still a partial work around, but please donít quote me!
As for the new Ubisoft DRM, it being most noted for the amount of boasting and failing. The biggest fail, that as it was cracked within 24 hours Ubisoft were still boasting about it. Well this time, it was Ubisoft dancing the Hempen jig. (Old pirate talk, for hanging, please donít ask how I know; meaning that Ubisoft hung themselves!) What people donít realise about this DRM, is that it is extremely clever, and all the cracking groups have a great respect for it. Now that counts for something?!? Doesnít it?
All these DRMís, they are all trying to be too clever, with varying degrees of success. But the problem with that is once people know how you are doing it, and the crackers are very good at removing it. It no longer becomes a challenge, it almost become the same repeatable steps to breaking the software. (And yes I know I am over generalising to a fault.)
But what I am really getting too is that DRMs tend to protect the game in the same way every time. So if SecuROM v7 does it this way, you can bet, SecuROM v8 (Just released), is still going to have the same fundamental flaws. (First game with SecuROM v8, which I know of, is Medal of Honor [2010], ď-1Ē if you were wondering!)
Now you might not realise it, having to break something in one particular way each time is a strength, and one we take advantage of. Without spilling the beans, what we do is make our products crackable but only in one way; the longest possible. Another thing; DRMs are left to fend for themselves; we feel this is a big mistake.
When 92% games are illegally available within 2 days of the release date. It is not hard to believe that piracy is probably the greatest reason in killing the PC industry. Ironically WarFace respects the Crackers, for taking the challenge and the technical skill. Itís just a shame that cracks are released to non-sceners, because most illegal downloaders donít deserve it!
But what do you think? Do DRM systems work effectively? Do intrusive DRMs cause more piracy, than it stops? Do you think that PC Games should come with a DRM at all?

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