Pirates have long viewed Microsoft's UWP games as uncrackable. The titles are layered with various protections and have never seen a free, pirate release. That may be about to change.
A ‘scene' group known as CODEX has fully cracked Zoo Tycoon: Ultimate Animal Collection, a somewhat unpopular remaster of the classic. It's unlikely many pirates will be excited about this game, but it could have ramifications for going forward.
The game had five flavors of DRM, including MSStore, UWP, EAppX, Xbox Live, and Araxan. Araxan has similar properties to another popular DRM, Denovo. It makes use of Virtual Machines, which appear to significantly impact the performance of some games. As a result, the crack could potentially help paying users with low-end machines.
The Impact for Microsoft
“This is the first scene release of a UWP (Universal Windows Platform) game,” notes CODEX. “Therefore we would like to point out that it will of course only work on Windows 10. This particular game requires Windows 10 version 1607 or newer.”
Users simply have to install the game to a non-encrypted drive, before running the start menu entry. They also have to deny it internet access in firewall.
It's not yet clear if the methods will work for other UWP games, or if the crack is exclusive to a flaw in Zoo Tycoon. However, it could spell bad news for Microsoft if the former is the case. Though UWP's ability to make games cross-platform is appealing, some developers resent the sales cut the Redmond giant takes.
The guarantee that games will remain piracy-free offsets that somewhat, and without it the platform could struggle even more. Microsoft was considering a release of its Xbox Game Pass for PC, but that's less attractive if users can get all the titles for free.
Hinting at more to come, the group says,“CODEX is currently looking for nothing but competition. Greetings to STEAMPUNKS & CPY.”