Ubisoft's tango with piracy

Published Date
01 - Aug - 2008
| Last Updated
01 - Aug - 2008
Ubisoft’s tango with piracy


French video game developer and publisher, Ubisoft, was recently caught in a compromising situation, releasing a pirated hack as an official fix.

Rainbow Six Vegas 2 was patched earlier this month. When the publisher released a new patch for the RSV2 this month which added play modes and other goodies, customers were eager to update. Unfortunately, the patch also added a check to confirm that a CD was in the PC before the game could play. This was obviously a problem for customers who downloaded the game through the Direct2Drive download service and lacked physical media to validate.

Naturally, this theft prevention tool was not a problem for software pirates. A hacked executable removing the CD-check was soon available, although Ubisoft understandably forbade and punished discussion of the crack on its Web site forums when Direct2Drive customers came for help and advice. However, they soon came up with an official fix.

A Ubisoft employee uploaded a fix to the company’s support site that was actually a hack written by software pirates to defeat the disc-check.

Officials added that they do not support or condone copy protection circumvention methods like this, and this particular incident is in direct conflict with Ubisoft’s policies. Companies that take an iron fist approach to fighting software piracy are generally best served by not lifting a pirate group’s code themselves to fix their own product.

Users on Ubisoft’s official forum where discussion of these cracks is forbidden alerted the company to the fact that R6Vegas2_fix.zip was actually a cracked version of the executable modified by a pirate group. The file has since then been removed from the Web site. The officials further said that their UK support team has got nothing to do with it and if it is an executable file, then it surely has an external source.

How about that? They used a file that was, technically, someone else’s IP. So they pirated from pirates to defeat their own copy protection. It is popular opinion that by stealing the code, Ubisoft has acknowledged that piracy, at least when it concerns them, does indeed have shades of grey. It is amusing that a company that invests so heavily in security has taken the route of piracy.


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