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It's funny.  Laugh. Entertainment Games Idle

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

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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  • 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?

  • Re:Circumvention? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordKronos ( 470910 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:08AM (#25641517)

    No, they didn't. Are you circumventing the copy protection when you enter the CD-Key that they give you? Of course not, so how are you circumventing it when the company itself tells you how to register its own product?

  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:09AM (#25641561)

    I'm not sure why this is such a big deal.

    People are laughing at it because it's just another example of copyright "protections" only inconveniencing paying customers. Pirates just run a key gen or download a serial online or run a crack.

    So what do you want them to do?

    Make it so I can put the disk in, click install, and play.

  • Re:No longer true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:10AM (#25641575)

    the problem only affects SOME, not all, units.

          Yes, and we trust EA on that one, right?

          Yet another reason not to buy anything published by EA.

  • 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??

  • 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!

  • by number6ebf ( 739211 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:18AM (#25641837)

    I would return the game to wherever I purchased it and ask for a replacement since the product is defective. I would open the package at the store to make sure I had a copy with the correct number of characters in the serial key. If the second copy was also defective I would continue to go through all the copies they had in the store until I either had a valid license key or until they ran out of copies. At that point I would then ask for my money back since all copies in the store are defective and I don't want the product at this point. The store should be able to return to EA for a full refund since they did ship faulty mechandise.

  • 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).
  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:28AM (#25642141)

    So what do you want them to do? Be psychic and send you the code before you even know you need it?

          No, that's what a quality assurance department is for - at least in any company that cares about the products it sells.

    Yes, it would be best if there was no problem, but mistakes happen.

          Saying "mistakes happen" and leaving it at that, with no consequences, means the company is either too arrogant to admit that they are far from perfect and yet do nothing to "catch" these mistakes when they happen; or the company thinks saving $200k or so a year for a few QA people is far more important than inconveniencing their customers. Mistakes happen SO DO SOMETHING TO PREVENT THEM.

          I'd love to be able to get away with "mistakes happen" with my patients. "You didn't need that leg anyway".

  • Re:Circumvention? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Objix ( 1354161 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:34AM (#25642307)
    Well, that's the whole point. They HAVEN'T given you a CD-Key. If they did, you wouldn't need to guess. What they have given you is a unique hint at a CD-Key. Guessing the remainder of the CD-Key is circumvention.
  • Re:Circumvention? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skuzzlebutt ( 177224 ) <> on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:39AM (#25642447) Homepage

    That was my thought as well...guessing one digit is OK, but guessing all nineteen is a brute force attack? How many digits can I guess before I am in violation of the DMCA?

  • by John Jamieson ( 890438 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:41AM (#25642527)

    It is circumventing. The protection/DRM is designed to require a whole "CD-Key" and lock out anyone who does not have it.

    Whether you are missing one letter or 15, you are employing a Brute force attack to circumvent the system that requires a whole key.

    Whether it is endorsed or not does not change what it is.

    An Aside - I would not call this DRM Copy Protection. It does not prevent copying the DVD, just using it. (minor quibble, but that is another topic)

  • by xouumalperxe ( 815707 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @11:42AM (#25642555)
    It actually is one of the few relatively solid forms of copy protection, provided a large(-ish) part of your game is only meaningful online, preferably hosted by yourself. You just make sure you can only have one instance of the key logged in to the game. Of course, "non-official" servers ruin the deal, but not even the emulators ever got all that far in popularity, AFAICT.
  • by mr_gorkajuice ( 1347383 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @12:15PM (#25643461)
    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 Kiralan ( 765796 ) * on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @12:29PM (#25643861) Journal

    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?

  • Re:No longer true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @12:49PM (#25644417) Homepage

    the problem is they took westwood studios and turned them into festering crap.

    I so wish EA would go away. They keep consuming game companies that are good and turning them into poo...

  • by nerdspy ( 880130 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @12:55PM (#25644515) Homepage

    Yeah, because downloading several gigabytes of data and mounting files with a dvd-rom emulator and possibly having to disable your internet connection or block the game on your firewall and then running programs from questionably safe sources and then going through the same installation procedure that legitimate customers go through, which includes typing the CD key manually (I don't think I've seen a game in years that didn't have multiple-field entry for the CD key) and then copying another questionably safe executable into your program files is much more convenient than buying a disc (or buying a digital copy) and installing it and typing in the CD key. And I'll admit I don't know anything about how games are published (which I'm guessing is about as much as you do), but I would assume that EA does not print the game manuals and thus this would not be their fuckup at all. But being the publishers and ultimately responsible for giving support to the customers, they have done what they can to rectify the problem.

    Releasing a "no-serial" installer would be ludicrous in today's age. And EA obviously does care about the customer^Wconsumer because they are doing something about the issue.

    But hey, if you want to keep reiterating the same bullshit that most game pirates spout in order to justify being a cheap fuck and ripping off the people who put their time and effort into making games that people love (Madden jokes aside), I can't stop you. OH GOD I HAVE TO FUCKING TYPE IN SOME LETTERS BEFORE I GET TO PLAY THE GAME THIS IS AN OUTRAGE I MUST GET ON THE INTERNET TO COMPLAIN IMMEDIATELYAHHHHHHHHH. Gimme a fucking break.

  • by nabsltd ( 1313397 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @12:59PM (#25644621)

    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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @01:06PM (#25644749)

    I don't understand why this is considered comical, or lame or even newsworthy....?! It's missing 1 character and it doesn't take a genius to figure out to try every letter and number. Why's it so bad for them to recommend this method? Should the customer have to wait 2 weeks to get a new manual in the mail?

    I swear, people on /. will jump on ANYTHING and throw reason out the window if it means shitting on EA or MS.

  • Guessing the remainder of the CD-Key is circumvention.

    But because the copyright owner (EA) has authorized this circumvention, it doesn't violate USA anti-circumvention law. From 17 USC 1201(a)(3), with my emphasis: "to 'circumvent a technological measure' means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner".

  • by FlameWise ( 84536 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @01:32PM (#25645369)

    Doesn't work. From an office that got shut down, I got an aluminium suitcase with two three-digit combination locks.

    I figured I could brute force that in half an hour, so I sat down and started on the first.

    Correct combination was 997.

    Then I tried the second, but after 500 I got smart and did the other half starting from 999 down.

    Correct combination was 511.

  • Re:No longer true (Score:2, Insightful)

    by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2008 @04:35PM (#25648723)

    No, if the story is true, I shouldn't buy them because of the cavalier attitude towards dealing with customers.

    Alright, yes, trying 36 combinations isn't the end of the world. But I'm still basically having to crack my own game -- and this time, it's what they're telling me to do.

    Sorry, guessing a single missing character from a misprinted key isn't "cracking." As far as the cavilear attitude, their initial suggestion gets you playing the game with the least amount of effort. Hardly a reason to condem them.

    Any game I have to crack to play properly, I either pirate or don't play at all.

    You're just guessing a letter that should have been printed anyway. Equating it to cracking is silly, and using it as an excuse to not pay for the game at all is wrong.

  • by DragonTHC ( 208439 ) <Dragon@gamers[ ] ['las' in gap]> 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.

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.