Rockstar Games Caught Selling Cracked Versions of its Own Games Again
Rockstar Games, the studio behind the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption franchises, has had a history of sending DMCA takedown notices for various reasons including fan-made mods with some resulting in lawsuits and court battles. Most studios and publishers welcome mods and other fan-made creations, such as Bethesda aiming to add official mod support to Starfield in 2024. But Rockstar Games is very protective when it comes to Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, which makes this latest discovery very contradictory.
In a very bizarre turn of events, Rockstar Games was recently caught selling versions of its games on PC that were versions of the games cracked by the community. The cracks are done in order to remove the DRM piracy protection from the game which allows it to be played for free, also known as pirating. One of these games is Max Payne 2 which uses a crack that was created by the group named Myth which was active in the early 2000s, as well as code for the group Razor 1911 being discovered in Manhunt. These were found many years ago and many thought it to be an isolated incident, but it has since been discovered that Rockstar Games has been pulling this trick for many of its other titles on Steam. The now-delisted Midnight Club 2 has also recently been found to contain a crack by Razor 1911. Despite the cracks existing in the games since the early 2010s, Rockstar Games has never responded to the discovery.
This discovery does highlight the need for video game preservation, something that many publishers have never seemed too concerned about. Being able to remove the DRM checks, has allowed older games to run on modern hardware, leading to sites such as My Abandonware becoming very popular in recent years, as well as groups including the Video Game History Foundation creating museums to preserve physical media. It is also the reason why many of these classic titles can be sold on Steam and other platforms as it can be expensive to rebuild an old game without the protection, if the source code even exists for it anymore. If a developer has lost the source code then it would be next to impossible to re-release the game, which has led to some games releasing as an emulated version of the original.
These are likely not the only games on Steam and other platforms that utilize cracks and many more could be discovered over the coming years. Although illegal, instances like this do prove that cracking communities are needed to keep the gaming’s history alive and playable for many years to come and it would be good to see developers and publishers embrace preservation instead of always fighting it.
What do you think of Rockstar selling cracked versions of its own games? For more Insider Gaming, check out what development studio Embracer Group may be looking to sell.