On Thursday, Street Fighter V‘s first “season” concluded with a downloadable update that included the game’s 22nd fighting character. (If you’re curious, the new guy is Urien, a tall guy who first appeared Street Fighter III with just a string on.) But the download updated more than just the selection of the game. It also brought significant changes to the PC version, which now requires kernel access from players for each launch of the game.
Windows’ User Account Control (UAC) system warns computer users when an application is about to write or delete sensitive files, and in the case of PC games, you typically only see these alerts during installations. However, SFV’s Thursday patch apparently includes “an updated anti-crack fix” that Capcom insists is “not DRM” but rather an anti-cheating protocol. The anti-crack solution causes a UAC prompt to appear for the users of the PC version. (Our own Aurich Lawson confirmed the news by booting the latest patched version; his Windows prompt appears above.)
Unfortunately, Capcom’s public posts about PC version “hacks” aren’t about cheats, but about players finding workarounds to unlock in-game content. Capcom came out in July a stern warning to any PC player who found alternative ways to unlock street fighter‘s alternate costumes, which normally require grinding through the game’s lengthy “survival” modes. Capcom producers also condemned PC players who used characters hidden in that game’s version before its official release. Thursday’s patch notes stated that the new anti-crack solution is specifically aimed at “illegally acquiring in-game currency and other rights” (so it’s, you know, DRM).
My review of Street Fighter V in February noticed problems with Capcom’s internally developed shopping and account systems, mainly because they don’t have any form of username verification. If a user’s save files or system are somehow erased, much of the game’s currency-related progress can be lost. This update appears to be causing further problems with Capcom’s store system, including a distinct lack of online verification and checks that other marketplaces, such as PlayStation Network and Steam, enjoy by default. This means that Capcom seems to be using a currency system that only requires client-side authentication – and Capcom’s current solution is to drill into a client’s kernel access to make sure users are playing nice.
Fans have been complaining as a result, with more than a few reporting that they couldn’t launch the game at all after Thursday’s patch went live. Capcom released a vague confirmation on the game’s Twitter accounttelling fans, “We are currently investigating the issues surrounding the latest update to the PC version of SFV.”
Update, 5:05 p.m. EDT: Hours after this story was published, Capcom announced via the official Street Fighter Twitter account that it would reverse course. “We are rolling back the security measures that were added to the PC version of Street Fighter V,” the update reads. “We apologize for the inconvenience and we will have an update on the time frame for the PC rollback solution shortly.”
List image by Capcom