Looks like Rockstar saved time by applying a no-CD crack to its popular PC game.
A Steam member who recently purchased a digital copy of Max Payne 2 discovered that Rockstar uploaded a version modified by the pirating outfit Myth. The discovery was made after loading up the game's executable with a HEX editor and finding Myth's ASCII logo inserted into the code. The group was once notorious for supplying no-CD cracks for PC games before it was dismantled by the FBI's "Operation site Shutdown" back in 2005.
"Seems Rockstar got a little lazy and used this crack instead of recompilling their executable without DRM," reads this forum post. The observation is quite possible, alleviating some of the work in getting the game to fit within Valve's online closed environment. Then again, where does the law come into play? Are consumers purchasing an illegal copy even though it's supplied by Rockstar?
Two years ago games publisher Ubisoft pulled the same stunt. Consumers who purchased a digital copy of Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 on IGN's Direct2Drive couldn't install the latest patch (v1.03) outside the service. The patch offered considerable changes to the game, even adding new play modes, thus fans really wanted it installed quick--and before D2D could get around to converting the patch to its format. One Ubisoft employee offered a quick and simple solution: to install a patch that got around the patch's original DRM. Eventually it was discovered that the Ubisoft "fix" was actually a no-CD crack supplied by Scene group RELOADED.
Now it appears that Rockstar has used a similar method. Does it matter that the company implemented a no-CD crack into one of its digital titles? It begs to question, especially when developers and publishers are standing on their soap boxes, shouting that piracy is bad, bad, bad.