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Warcracked III

Seven [actually five and a half – Basic Arithmetic Ed] years on from release, Warcraft III is still seeing new patches. Blizzard forever chase the elusive spectre of perfect balance – the RTS equivalent of absolute zero.

I wouldn’t usually bother mentioning a patch unless it did something incredible, but of note in this most recent is that it adds official no-cd support – in other words, you no longer need the game disc a-spinnin’ inside your PC whenever you want to play the game.

I’ve always found it fascinating when games do this after release. It’s an admission that copy protection is just an irritation to legitimate players, and that disc checks are a particularly buffoonish and archaic anti-piracy measure at that.
I don’t need the Paint Shop Pro disc in my DVD drive whenever I want to butcher my holiday photos, after all. It was always doubly unncessary for a game like W3, which also employs serial number checks if you want to play it online. Having the CD check as well seems like leaving a polite post-it note on the windscreen of a driver prone to double-parking. Don’t bother. Just wheel-clamp the bastard.

While there’re still some reasons to be circumspect about online distribution systems (my web connection fell over yesterday; I almost wept when I found I couldn’t play Bookworm Adventures or Garry’s Mod or Puzzle Quest or whatever else was already installed unless Steam could report back to the mothership. Better offline modes plzkthx), they do spell an end to miserably sorting through quivering towers of plastic discs or popup-heavy crack websites. This brave new world, in which the data already installed upon my hard drive is all that’s required to play a game I’ve paid for, is one I know I want to live in.

And is there really anyone still playing W3 after all these years who didn’t apply an unofficial no-CD crack long ago? I guess it’s a kind courtesy on Blizzard’s part, and it certainly saves yet another visit to Gamecopyworld come the next patch, but it does seem futile this late in the day. Epic, on the other hand, were pretty quick to add official no-cd support to UT2004, and I remember thinking it quite the consideration at the time. In stark contrast are 2K, who promised they’d eventually chop the icky installation restrictions out of Bioshock – no sign of that yet.

Anyway, educate me: what other games have officially removed their CD checks?

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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