2020s Crash Bandicoot 4: the time has come received a soft relaunch on Friday that revolved around next-generation console patches, a downgraded port for Nintendo Switch, and a debut on a Windows PC. In the latter case, which debuted exclusively in Activision-Blizzard’s Battle.net app, the publisher took an unusual step: it needed an online connection to start the game.
While this isn’t the first “offline” Battle.net game to feature only online DRM (those awards go to February Blizzard Arcade Collection), it’s arguably the most famous game to hit such an official limit, and one that follows the relocation of the revived platform series from Steam to Battle.net. Perhaps more embarrassing for Activision, this DRM effort only took a single day.
Do you wanna be the Empress of Crashin ‘?
On Saturday lunchtime, one day after the launch of Battle.net, the cracking group Empress demanded the first dibs while stripping Crash 4PC version of the online check-in system. Their crack replaces a file in an otherwise vanilla install, and the group’s release notes don’t clarify what the crack does, other than describing the game’s defeated DRM as “Battle.net + online only”. (We therefore believe that it is not the case that someone is defeated Denuvo, although a joke derided in the Empress release notes the much maligned DRM provider.)
At the time of going to press Crash 4 has no online content, despite a couch co-op mode (which allows parents and children to take turns taking turns with the single-player campaign) and a simple four-player versus mode known as the Bandicoot Battle. Hence, the Battle.net handshake seems to be all about DRM, rather than looking for add-on content like new levels or even score leaderboards.
Should you want to play Crash 4For single-player content that is rightly offline, you are limited to the console versions (and suffer from inconsistent frame rates on “base” consoles like the Xbox One S or PlayStation 4). Attempts to load the legally installed game onto an offline PC lead to an error message: “Battle.net login failed, error code: BLZ51900002“Using the crack bypasses this limitation – without otherwise changing what content is available compared to, for example, the console versions.
Playing Activision Blizzard games offline via Battle.net is already a tricky business, also because most of the games on the service are always online in terms of content. Battle.net’s offline mode is also a bit buried, as it has to log out and then select a “play offline” button behind a gear icon. However, after this step, most games will feel confused, possibly because Battle.net’s offline mode doesn’t store an encrypted token on your computer to check if you’ve recently verified your purchases (a feature that works in offline modes like Nintendo to find is switch and steam).
This may be the reason StarCraft 1 and Warcraft 3 need their own in-app logins before you can indeed Unplug your ethernet cable and play single player offline with all your purchases and content. Unfortunately, we like the offline content in Battle.net games StarCraft II and Diablo III is not accessible without an online connection and confirmation of login information.
The last Crash Bandicoot Platform game to land on pc, the N.Sane trilogy Remaster Collectionhad no such online restrictions when it launched on Steam in June 2018. Instead, it relied on Steam’s built-in DRM system, which requires infrequent online checks before games work without interruption if offline mode can be toggled. This is different from Denuvowhich can be incorporated into any game’s exe to require a validated handshake with a game’s online server before it works.
Activision representatives did not immediately respond to questions Crash 4Online only requirements on PC.