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Friday, March 15, 2013
SimCity Hacked To Run Offline

EA's SimCity game has been reportedly hacked, allowing gamers to play the game offline almost indefinitely.

Electronic Arts (EA) claims that the game requires a permanent online link in order to keep different players' cities co-ordinated.

However, soon after SimCity was launched on 5 March, many people reported that they were having to wait up to 30 minutes or more to play the game.

EA said these problems occurred because many aspects of the game were shared and the large number of people trying to play overwhelmed servers.

A gamer (AzzerUK) claims that he turned off the game's requirement to be online all the time. By rewriting the game's code during "debug mode" AzzerUK turned off the game's disconnect timer so it never checked whether it was online or offline. He also fiddled with other values. For instance, he managed to make a freeway run the length of a city and connect to the freeway anywhere in the region. He also disabled UI elements so no disconnect warnings were appearing on his screen while he was playing.

On the other hand, AzzerUK did not make the game DRM-free- the city you want to play in still has to be loaded from the server. He says there is also no way of saving that city to hard-disk to load while still offline later. "However, EA's servers are not processing the stuff in a city at all. Your PC can handle your entire city simulation without any help from the internet or EA's servers," he wrote in a blog on EA's forums (tread deleted) and also on a copy of it on social news site Reddit.

EA said it did not comment on rumours.

The game's always-online requirement won criticism from many players who said it was unnecessary and was more about preventing piracy than improving gameplay.

Seperately, Luigi Auriemma and Donato Ferrante, the founders of security consultancy firm ReVuln, on Friday disclosed a security issue on EA's Origin platform at the Black Hat Europe 2013 conference in Amsterdam.

The vulnerability allows attackers to execute arbitrary code on Origin users' computers by tricking them into visiting a malicious website or clicking on a specially crafted link, the researchers said.

The researchers demonstrated the Origin link attack against the new "Crysis 3" game, which supports a command option called openautomate. Openautomate is a feature that allows users to test the performance of their graphics card in "Crysis 3" using the Nvidia benchmark framework.

It looks like the vulnerability is similar to one found by the same researchers last year in Valve's Steam online game distribution platform.

The researchers published a white paper on their website that explains the issue in more detail.

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