Despite the frequent reports of server issues, hacking and other controversies that have plagued the game since its launch in May, the popularity of Blizzard’s Diablo III remains incredibly high . The Asian market has been particularly keen on this game, with Korea and Taiwan having a high volume of users who have logged countless hours on their servers. Gamers in China have also been eager to get their hands on Diablo III, however tight restrictions and censorship laws have delayed its release indefinitely. Undeterred, people are turning to illegal means to obtain this game, and a new “cracked” version is currently their avenue of choice.
The term “crack”, as it applies to gaming, involves the use of modifications to disable or circumvent software security measures. In the case of Diablo III, the cracked version that is currently popular in China is modified so that the game can be played offline, something that legitimate copies do not allow. In addition to limiting piracy of the game, the requirement to be constantly connected to the internet also serves as a regional lock-out that prevents those in unauthorized countries from playing the game. Skidrow, a hacking group, has found a way around this by emulating a live server in the game, thus “tricking” it into thinking that it’s connected to a Blizzard server. This cracked version can be accessed by downloading a torrent, and it works despite the game being in the beta testing stage. (Editor’s note: No. We will not tell you where to get an illegal copy of Diablo III ^MF.)
Surprisingly, the Chinese media has been heavily promoting the Diablo III crack in its gaming publications. The gaming channels for sites like People’s Daily and Tencent have written prominent articles on it, some of which seemingly support the practice. In some of the articles, they point out that the beta is not 100% operational, however they hope that it eventually will be. This raises a few legal issues, not the least of which is that pirated and unapproved software is illegal in China. Video games released in China must be approved by the Ministry of Culture, be distributed through an authorized domestic publisher and censored for objectionable content. The media supporting illegal practices, as well as activities that violate Blizzard’s software usage policies, is surprising indeed.
As of this writing, there is no confirmed release date for Diablo III in China. Imported versions of the game continue to be sold under the codename “Big Pineapple”, which is a name phonetically similar to Diablo III in Mandarin. Hopefully, they will see a legitimate release sometime in the near future.