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Atari does it again: Riddick Copy Protection Controversy
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Atari does it again: Riddick Copy Protection Controversy

by Andrew BryantApril 10, 2009

Atari News!And it was all going soooooo well…

After generating huge amounts of positive hype following the salvation of both Riddick: Dark Athena & Ghostbusters from the murky depths of development purgatory following Actizzard-gate, Atari seemed to be on track to score two successive hits.

Only, as usual for Atari, they fucked it up…  again!

Despite the overwhelming negative press and public reaction to anti-piracy methods such as SecuROM (coupled with the blatant proof that they are useless and penalise the wrong users) which forced even huge mega-corps such as EA & Ubisoft to back down on using them in their major releases, Atari has re-lit the fire of the DRM debate by apparantly bundling variants of both Tagés and Solidshield with the PC release of Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.

The protection on the PC version of The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena is an activation system with online authentication required the first time you install the game on a machine. The activation code lets you install the game on up to 3 machines, with an unlimited number of installs on each assuming that you don’t change any major hardware in your PC or re-install your operating system.

If you reach the maximum number of installations you can contact the Atari hotline and if it’s a legitimate request you can get a new activation code.

We implement this protection in an effort to avoid early piracy.

Source – Blues News

As quoted, users are limited to 3 installs, as per usual these days, but the sting in the tail comes from the lack of any apparent revocation tool, coupled with the fact that in order to receive further ‘installs’ the user has to actually phone Atari via a chargeable (not sure if its premium rate) support number, who will then look at each case and only release a new code if they deem it a valid reason.

Firstly, Windows 7 is on the horizon and there’s a good chance a large number of people will move too it, either from Vista or straight from XP (bypassing Microsoft’s beleaguered OS).  Scratch one activation.  Then you have the smoke and mirrors about what qualifies as a ‘major hardware’ change.

Finally, Atari aren’t too financially sound these days and everyone knows that – if they go out of business, who will issue further activation codes?  I’m sure when Jim Wilson et al. are clearing their desks, a revocation tool and/or DRM removing patch will be low on their list.

As usual for issues of this nature, the Amazon review system has bore the brunt of most peoples nerd-rage (72 1-star reviews & counting) but if you want to take a punt despite the limitations, Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena is out now in the US for Xbox 360, PS3 & PC and will hit European shores on the 24th (or 13 days after everyone has pirated the US version).

Could the great looking Ghostbusters be heading the same way? – Watch this space.

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About The Author
Andrew Bryant
The resident PC elitist fanatic enthusiast, Andrew’s grim outlook on the industry provides CNS with a hefty dollop of its news content. Oh, and he has managed to convince Barry to let him review stuff too! Hilarity ensues!

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