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EA Recommends Hilarious Work-Around For RA3 CD-Key 301

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the you-gotta-be-kidding-me dept.
sunderbear noted that EAs Command & Conquer 3 shipped missing the last digit of the CD Key. He writes "EA's brightest minds have put their synapses into overdrive in order to whip up a comical work-around. 'There is currently a work-around that may allow you to bypass this issue. Since you have the first 19 characters of the code already, you can basically try guessing the last character,' said a note on EA's customer support site. Yes, they're serious. 'To do this, simply enter your existing code, and then for the last character, try the letters A-Z, and then the numbers 0-9. You should eventually get the right combination, and be able to play the game.'" It appears that the helpful hint has been purged.
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EA Recommends Hilarious Work-Around For RA3 CD-Key

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  • No longer true (Score:5, Informative)

    by 404 Clue Not Found (763556) * on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @10:58AM (#25641225)

    My god. The summary links to an article that links to an article that links to the actual customer support post.
    Direct link: http://help.commandandconquer.com/cgi-bin/eacandc.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=20760 [commandandconquer.com]

    The post no longer mentions the workaround (the summary even mentions this now, so why even post the story?). It merely says to contact EA Customer Support now. The same page also says that the problem only affects SOME, not all, units. Full quote:

    Q:
    What can I do if my Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 install code is 19 characters instead of 20?

    A:
    If you are trying to install Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 and the code is only 19 characters long, then it is missing the last letter or number. This was due to a misprint on a small number of manuals and we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

    In order to get a replacement code, please click the "Contact Us" link on the left side of the page to send an e-mail to our team.

    If you would like you can also contact us by phone using the number found on page 28 of your manual.

  • by mfh (56) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @10:59AM (#25641251) Journal

    This new sub-game called "CIA unlock" puts you in the shoes of a CIA agent attempting to gain access to a secure terrorist computer subsystem. The first 19 characters are given to you, but you need to randomly crack the last digit before the timer runs out and the game deletes your hard drive. If you win the game, you get to play again by pressing a reset button.

    Rumors are circling from insiders at EA, that the next amazing title from EA will enable players to enter the shoes of Joe a shoe salesman from Kentucky. Joe has a problem. He can't find the right shoe for his fat smelly customer. Players will only be able to play if they purchase and install the F.O.U.L. hardware (FOUL stands for Fresh Olfactory Universal Layer.), and you get more points from actually smelling and withstanding more and more disgusting customers. The final boss of the game is a 700 pound woman that has never bathed, and who has developed nearly every possible degenerative skin condition. The game fills your house with something totally unbearable and if you can find her a pair of good shoes after she tries on about twenty or so different ones and tells you about her whole life history, then you get to have an achievement added to your online profile, aptly named the Bundy award, named after Married With Children's Al Bundy, a reputed shoe salesman with class and pinache. Pre-orders start tomorrow and EA expects massive sales on this amazing title, that is loaded with DRM that actually forces customers to perform lude acts with garden utensils for the purpose of cultivating data necessary for visual biometrics to prove the copy of the game is legit. EA denies that anyone who cracks the game will not be able to play, and a spokesperson from EA that shall remain nameless, went on record saying that customers would never play without FOUL hardware because they wouldn't have the benefit of the use of the FOUL hardware, which is revolutionary and next generation by design.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by theaveng (1243528)

      >>>you get more points from actually smelling and withstanding more and more disgusting customers.

      I used to be a shoe salesman in college. Contrary to the post above, you actually get to meet lots of young high-school or college-aged women who are often very beautiful (being young), and often dress with low necklines. When they bend over, they expose all their "charms" to the salesman's eye.

      Best. Damn. Job. Ever.

      For a college student anyway. ;-) The pay was decent too because I averaged $15 a

      • Contrary to the post above, you actually get to meet lots of young high-school or college-aged women who are often very beautiful (being young), and often dress with low necklines. When they bend over, they expose all their "charms" to the salesman's eye.

        Why the hell do you think Al Bundy took the job in the first place?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nabsltd (1313397)

        Guessing 36 combinations doesn't seem like a big hassle to me? And you have a 50-50 chance of getting the right combination in just 18 tries.

        Depending on how deep into the install wizard the code input is, it could be a very big hassle.

        Also, if the input box doesn't allow pasting from the clipboard, you'd have to manually enter every digit every time. So, this could take 2-3 minutes per try. With 15 tries, that's nearly an hour to spend failing to install the game. I don't mind if software takes an hour to install, as long as the interactive part in the install only takes a minute or two, and happens entirely at the beginning.

    • by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:53AM (#25642861) Homepage Journal

      "People who work putting shoes on fat women who wear dresses should not have 20/20 vision."

      "Let me explain. It's just like an elevator. There's a 2 ton weight limit on those shoes..."

      "Sure selling shoes is fun. But behind the glamour, it's like any other minimum wage slow death."

      - Al Bundy

  • Circumvention? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:02AM (#25641337)

    Certainly they didn't just post details of how to circumvent a copy protection measure, right?

  • by joeflies (529536) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:03AM (#25641375)

    Statistically you should be able to guess the right letter/number in half the keyspace. But in practice, it will always be the very last character you need to try.

    So take the character that you were going to start with, and take the very opposite character in order to improve your chances of getting the correct entry faster.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So take the character that you were going to start with, and take the very opposite character in order to improve your chances of getting the correct entry faster.

      What's the "opposite" of seven?

    • by Pvt_Ryan (1102363) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:14AM (#25641709)

      Statistically you should be able to guess the right letter/number in half the keyspace. But in practice, it will always be the very last character you need to try.

      Are you retarded??

      Of course it will be the last letter you try.. Why on earth would you keep guessing after you have got the correct character??

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Pvt_Ryan (1102363)
        ^^ Sorry that sounds a tad harsh, was meant as a jibe. Insert similies where applicable.
      • by bsDaemon (87307)

        the principle of it? When I was a kid i'd keep looking after I found things just to make my parents wrong.

      • by Splab (574204) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:23AM (#25642013)

        Think the joke went so far over your head it managed to achieve static orbit.

        The point is, even though you mathematically should get the right one in half of the key space, in practice it will always be at the very end - thus if you considered starting at A, reverse and go with Z.

        Of course as we know this wont work since that would mean the key would be at A anyways.

        • "in practice it will always be at the very end"

          Sorry, but that may or may not be true. The original poster however made only completely true assertions.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            Actually, it IS true. Once you find the correct charater, you stop trying anymore, so your succes was "at the very end" of your circumvention hazzle.
      • by gapagos (1264716) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @12:07PM (#25643265)

        Statistically you should be able to guess the right letter/number in half the keyspace. But in practice, it will always be the very last character you need to try.

        Reply by Pvt_Ryan: Are you retarded??

        I wish we could have mod points for "astronomical retardation". And yes, I'm talking about Pvt_Ryan. :-P

    • Why? We all know that both the worst and the average case of sequential search are of O(N), so your algorithm doesn't make a difference ;-P

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HTH NE1 (675604)

      Statistically you should be able to guess the right letter/number in half the keyspace.

      What if there is more than one right character and the one you chose matches someone else's code that wasn't cut off? You'll have stolen someone else's key. A fair brute-force search would start with the widest characters first (more likely to be missing due to (I assume) non-monospaced string length).

      That could be a reason why they pulled the brute-force solution from their site.

  • by Idaho (12907) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:03AM (#25641397)

    .. and just copy/paste the serial from the .nfo-file once.

    Not that I care about this game or am planning to buy, download or otherwise even look at it, but it's just another hilarious instance where the pirated version wins hands-down in the convenience department: apart from not needing the DVD to play the game, you don't even have to type the serial, never mind guessing what might be the last character because EA screwed up.

    And even after such a major fuckup EA can't even be bothered to release a "no-serial" executable/installer themselves. Who cares, the customer^Wconsumer already paid for it anyway, what are they going to do about it?

  • by hierro (809232) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:06AM (#25641471)
    ...like violence; if a little doesn't solve the problem, use more.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pak9rabid (1011935)

      ...like violence; if a little doesn't solve the problem, use more.

      Also like a certain tagging language that everyone here loves.

  • by binary.bang (1372881) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:11AM (#25641619)
    now that they've revealed how their copy-protection scheme works, what's to stop the heinous pirates from using this advanced work around for the rest of the digits? The entire industry will crumble!
  • Eh, the game sucked (Score:5, Informative)

    by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:11AM (#25641621) Homepage Journal
    I went out and bought the game, but to avoid their damn DRM, I instantly cracked it. I figure- best of both worlds. They get there money, I get to avoid Securerom!

    But then I felt let down, it was kinda a waste of time/money...

    Maybe I'm too used to command and conquer 3 and generals (zero hour), but I just cannot get used to the new computer players. I feel like defenses are severly limited in this game, and nothing is sacred. Turtling is not an option for this game. There is only one gameplay- fast, furious attacks. Don't even bother securing resources- you can't. You can't secure anything. Your job is to be the first to build a small army, and bomb the crap out of the other guys. Build resource gatherers later if you need them.

    The resources usually run out just before the game gets good, and you're off to a really slow boring ending where nobody has anything left, and you're pretty much throwing sticks at eachother.

    But back on the fact that you can't secure anything. They've made if very difficult to be secure. They have a few defenses- but they're typically as useful as if you weren't using them. Expect to rebuild almost every building in your base a few times- if you still need them.

    I will repeat, this game is not the long drawn out strategic game as CNC, it is an abridged, attention deficit, ADHD game for those who get bored easily and don't care about building up. Hell, there aren't that many upgrades- so building up and teching up is useless anyway.

    *I will admit, I wasn't an avid RA2 fan either.
    • by Zironic (1112127)

      This is the red alert style of gameplay and has always been(or well, I have some vague memory of RA1 supporting turtling more).

      Anyhow, so far in the campaign atleast (Finnished soviet and done half of allies) I havn't had any problem doing my usual turtling and then assaulting with a silly amount of aircraft.

      I have to say they could work a bit more on the AI, seriously trying to counter massive air forces with heavy tanks is a bit silly.

    • by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:27AM (#25642103)

      That's why a bunch of us still play Total Annihilation, either straight or with a patch called TAWP.

      That game allows extreme porc, octopus, rush, or hidden infiltrators. TAWP has some rather nasty vehicles (one being a bertha-car that fires 20+ screens in length). Add that to 1000 units per player for stable play, or 5k for unstable play :P

      And it runs on damn near every computer since '98.

    • by RogueyWon (735973) *

      Actually, I was quite surprised to find that I like the game. I really, really hated Red Alert 2. If I were to list the 10 worst games I've ever paid money for, Red Alert 2 would certainly be on the list. It represented the absolute nadir of the Command & Conquer series before, to my surprise, it was rescued by EA. I honestly couldn't believe it had been put out as it was after Total Annihilation and Starcraft had turned the RTS genre on its head and C&C2 had been near-universally slated.

      However, I'

  • by tiedyejeremy (559815) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:14AM (#25641733) Homepage Journal
    It keeps my skillz l33t, yo.
  • Great idea!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PolarBearFire (1176791) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:18AM (#25641831)

    That's the greatest idea ever! I'm going to save time by buying RA3 with my credit card and let EA guess the account number. Thanks EA!

  • More Fail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by canajin56 (660655) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:20AM (#25641877)
    Man, out of all of the epic sequels released recently, it's been a giant litany of failure. Far Cry 2 with it's myriad of crashing issues, not to mention all of the instances where enemies / allies just don't appear as they are supposed to, forcing you to reload an earlier game and pray it's a one time bug. (And also the fact that it doesn't feature deformable terrain like they bragged about in interviews.) Fallout 3, with even more crashing issues, including a huge number of people who crash after the intro movie. In a move deemed "hilarious" the pirates have a patch out already that fixes Fallout 3, but Bethesda still does not. It fixes it by deleting the corrupted sound files so you miss some spoken dialog and have to see it on the closed caption instead, but at least you can play the game now. And now RA3 doesn't come with a valid CD key! At this rate the next PC release will give you cancer. And they'll still blame piracy for people not buying their "99% A+++++++ BUY OR DIE" games (according to the reviewers they own).
  • If Hollywood films about 'hackers' have taught us anything, it's that a teenage hacker with a laptop can insert a handwired card into any slot and generate random characters until the proper password is found. I suggest a similar automated approach to this problem.

  • by gapagos (1264716) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:29AM (#25642169)
    Obligatory Penny-Arcade reference [penny-arcade.com].
  • Wait until the EA lawyers get wind of this. They'll file DMCA suits against EVERYBODY who tried to guess the last character for purposely trying to break a copy-protection scheme.

    Oh no wait, the DMCA is sooo 20th century. They'll probably file terrorism charges instead.
  • I don't exactly see this as hilarious. Unfortunate, certainly. It's sort of funny I guess, but really it's probably the most straight forward answer. One letter is missing, just run down the list until it works. What could be simpler? Trying to read your code back and having them regenerate it? Handing out new codes? Sending you some file to remove the check all together?

    I know this is getting slammed because it involves both EA and DRM, but the response itself is possibly the best one. I don't ha
  • by cfulmer (3166)

    So, I understand that it's not the best public relations move, but consider the alternatives:

    1. Call in to EA, wait in the call queue, then scan or fax your current product code, then have EA figure out what the right last character is (or just send you a new one), then enter in the new one. Total elapsed time: 30 minutes, if you're lucky.

    2. Try all 36 combinations, presuming that it doesn't make you retype your entire code each time. Total elapsed time: 3 minutes.

    If it were me, I would have taken optio

  • by kpainter (901021) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:59AM (#25643033)
    You get to play this COOL bonus quest before you can play the game. Neat, huh!? It's a feature! Pretty soon, all the game manufacturers will be doing it.
  • Robo-DRM (Score:3, Funny)

    by Grashnak (1003791) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @12:19PM (#25643573)

    ED-209: [menacingly] Please guess the last number of the CD Key.You have 20 seconds to comply.

    ED-209: You now have 15 seconds to comply. ...

  • Why not put up a Web page that will 'generate' the last character, given the first 19? This of course assumes that it can be determined from the first 19, or it could possibly look up the first 19 in a database?

  • I reference an old slashdot article:

    http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/11/05/1353249 [slashdot.org]

    "ESA proposes reentry module."

    I guess EA is trying to do reentry x 36, to prove they're better at it.

  • by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon@gamersTIGERlastwill.com minus cat> on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @06:15PM (#25651285) Homepage Journal

    In Soviet Russia, key generator gives you whole key.

    Again, DRM screws the paying customers.

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