SafeDisc sucks

· by Steve · Read in about 3 min · (638 Words)

First of all, before I begin another rant, let me wish everyone a merry xmas. I’ve had a good one, hope you all have too.

Now, onto the rant. One of my xmas presents this year was Call of Duty 2, which I was quite looking forward to playing. Unlike most of the rest of the world, I haven’t played any WW2 FPS’s in the last few years (including the original COD) so for me it was going to be something new. So, this morning I thought I’d have a go before we have to run out on more visits.

On my machine it installed fine, but refuses to run, complaining that I haven’t inserted the corred CD/DVD (DVD in my case). I thought at first that it might be disliking the fact that I had Daemon Tools running on my machine, for the purpose of mounting the legally downloadable VC 2005 Express ISO image for install rather than burning it to a CD, not for any illegal copying I hasten to add. Still, know PC games publishers are anally retentive these days, so I uninstalled DT (since I don’t need it anymore now VC Express is installed), and even tried uninstalling and reinstalling COD2. No luck.

So, I did a bit of research. Turns out that COD2 uses SafeDisc 4.6 which uses some kind of direct DVD access code to prove that you’re using a genuine DVD. Which, I must stress, I am. There was apparantly an issue with nForce motherboards which is fixed with the latest driver release, but I don’t have an nForce. I also noted that not using PIO mode on your DVD would cause problems, but mine is.

Further research illuminated the fact that SafeDisc 4.6 is so paranoid about piracy, it blacklists all SCSI optical drives in the hope that this will eliminate most image mounting / CD emulation tools. I don’t have a SCSI DVD drive, but it pisses me off to know that a publisher is willing to make a game incompatible with a particular hardware setup. My main hard drive does in fact look like a SCSI drive to XP since I’m using a realtively old SATA controller - I don’t think that’s it though since I believe it’s only optical drives it blacklists.

More seaching ended up leading me to various illegal download sites where the use of a combination of tools like Alcohol 120% (to rip), Daemon Tools and a SafeDisc 4 hider seem to allow people who have pirated the game or downloaded it over BitTorrent to bypass all this and play the game anyway.

So, here’s the deal again with copy protection. I, as a perfectly legal punter, am prevented from playing the game because the copy protection refuses to recognise something on my machine as acceptable. Meanwhile, people who download the game illegally have access to the tools to bypass the copy protection. In order to play my legal game, am I forced to resort to making an illegal image of it and use these tools to get past the problem? What part of this seems sane to anyone?

This isn’t the first time this sort of problem has arisen, but it’s the first time it’s been such a pain in the arse to me. I’ve wasted over an hour trying to sort this out, and now my allotted time for trying out my xmas present is used up, and I’ve not had any fun at all. Publishers, wake up and smell the damn coffee you ignorant, money-grabbing bastards. Technically savvy people are going to bypass your copy protection no matter how hard you try, yet the harder you push, the more genuine customers who aren’t interested in pirating software will get pushed away. And you wonder why PC gaming is in decline. Sheesh.