updated 08:30 pm EDT, Fri July 12, 2013
Ham-fisted anti-piracy gun disabling backfires, so to speak
After considerable fallout over its decision to deliberately hobble the iOS action RPG Deus Ex: The Fall ($7) when a phone is jailbroken, publisher Square Enix has reversed course and said it will issue an update to remove the limitation in the near future. Currently, the game doesn't allow players on jailbroken iPhones to fire any weapons, rendering the game essentially unplayable. The move had caused considerable backlash from the gaming community, which pointed out that players didn't discover the limitation until after they had bought and opened the game.
In a statement, Square Enix acknowledged that not notifying potential buyers that the game wouldn't work properly on jailbroken devices was a mistake. "We did not state clearly that the game would not support jailbroken devices and so we will be switching this off via an update, so that all the supported iOS devices will be able to play the game in the near future. We feel it's the right thing to do in this situation and apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused."
The company has never explicitly said that the restriction was an anti-piracy move, but there is little other credible explanation for disabling the feature. Although jailbreaking an iPhone or other smartphone (sometimes called "rooting") is legal, technically-proficient users who jailbreak devices are often -- but not always -- the sort of user that then uses the jailbreak to download illegal "cracked" copies of apps.
While many jailbreakers modify their iPhones simply to install custom modifications, do their own unlocking of the device or install legal-but-unofficial apps from developers not part of the App Store, some use the technology to pirate -- leading developers to be wary of jailbroken devices. The publisher has now updated the app's description page with a warning that guns won't work in the game if it is installed on a jailbroken device. The company said in its apology that it will let users know when the update is live.