GTA’s Rockstar Games sold cracked, pirated PC games on Steam

GTA’s Rockstar Games sold cracked, pirated PC games on Steam

GTA’s Rockstar Games sold cracked, pirated PC games on Steam

After numerous fights against piracy in the early 2000s, Rockstar Games relied on the work of expert game crackers to resell their older games on Steam. While modern games have fought even harder against piracy with tools such as Denuvo DRM, the work of crackers is still being used to this day.

Discovered by Twitter user and brilliant game modder Silent and YouTuber Vadim M, multiple Steam releases of classic Rockstar Games titles bear the marks of mid-2000s game crackers that would’ve been criticised for their actions.

For example, the since-delisted Steam release of Midnight Club 2 featured the mark of game cracker Razer 1911. Within the game’s files, references to the game cracker could be found, proving that Rockstar Games was selling a pirated copy of its own game to bypass its own CD Key Authenticator.

In Vadim M’s case, it was discovered that the current Steam release of Manhunt is also a cracked copy likely obtained from an illegitimate source. The Steam release of the game had several files removed from the title to bypass certain piracy filters. However, this also has the knock-on effect of kicking in anti-piracy measures Rockstar didn’t remove for the game’s Steam release, making some areas of the game unplayable.

Pirated games have long been used by companies instead of developing new updated versions for different storefronts. For example, the biggest offender in this regard is Nintendo, who frequently uses internet-acquired ROMs that fans have dumped over the years instead of dumping ROMs themselves.

In Nintendo’s case, this is particularly egregious as the company frequently attacks websites that host old ROMs. In an expose by Eurogamer’s Chris Bratt, hallmarks of classic ROM dumpers from the 90s were found in multiple re-releases of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros NES game. These pirated ROMs are still used to this day.

Opening the NES ROM inside a HEX editor program, it’s easy to find the original dump’s iNES profile, a reference to a 90s NES emulator that was the reason .NES files were created in the first place.

Nevertheless, Nintendo continues to take down websites that host classic Nintendo games, including titles they no longer have available on any storefront, especially with the closure of the Wii U and 3DS eShop.

To be clear, there’s no legal reason why Rockstar Games shouldn’t be able to used a cracked version of its own IP to resell online. However, with companies frequently attacking those who do crack games, it does feel rather distasteful to resell their work.

After all, piracy and game cracking is essential to preservation, even if some will use the process to get new games for free. If official releases are using these pirated forms to this day, that proves that the preservation process created by hackers is as useful to the developers making games as it is to those of us playing them.

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