Original CD not recognized for old game

technical-issueswindows xp

The game in question is SpellForce, which is a few years old, but this might apply to any PC game. I want to play that game on a rather clean Win-XP laptop (no emulation software or other stuff that likes to mess with CD-checks) that's a few years old itself.

After installing the main game and both add-ons as well as the most recent patch, I tried running the game but the Original CD was not recognized. Hitting the "Retry" option a few times issued warnings such as "The Original CD could not be recognized within the maximum time" or "Please use the Original CD rather than a backup". I am using the original CD which I bought back then from a retail store.

The problem is, my time at home is rather limited and I was really glad I found the 3 hours to install it in the first place. Most "solutions" I found online involved reinstalling, which I can't afford time-wise. Also I litterally just installed it from scratch and the issue was there from the very start, I don't see how reinstalling would change anything. So I was hoping someone here could help with such problems.

  • Could the CD have gotten invisible damage because of the long storage without ever using it? This damage (if it exists) did not affect the data since it installed without any problems, it only fails the Originality check. The CD in question also finished copying its installation data faster than the other CDs.
  • Is there a way to revert the install to before the patch (which I installed last) without installing all 3 again? I did all installations in one go, so there are no Windows backup points I can use.
  • Is this possibly even a known issue for CDs stored a prolonged time, maybe related to SecuROM (the DRM/anti-copy system these CDs use)? If so, is there a workaround?
  • Do you happen to know a quick fix to this issue that doesn't involve reinstalling everything or contacting support for lengthy discussions that end up in "try reinstalling"? Since I do own a legitimate copy of the game and all expansions, I'm totally fine with shady methods that circumvent the Originality check somehow.

I've checked Arqade Meta as well as Arqade and SuperUser's on-topic help topics and determined this is the right place to ask, but the question is a lucky shot. Better than nothing. I'd really love if I could avoid contacting their support as I've had really bad experiences with tech support and the time they take to effectively determine your problem is legitimate in the first place.

I just discovered there is an officially released No-CD-patch (in the form of an alternate game.exe) for the Platinum Edition (the game and all expansions combined and sold as one unit). Unfortunately, it's not compatible to my version (all bought as seperate copies). Is there a way to apply such patches to other versions with some tricky back-and-forth patching and file replacing?

Best Answer

Are you sure the CD is even checked, i.e. it starts spinning? Some games are sensitive to presence of multiple drives (especially virtual drives, which are often used to play pirated images of games) and require the CD to be included in the first letter drive (e.g. D:).

If SpellForce employs StarForce, an OS restart is needed after the game (and StarForce along) is installed, to have the copy protection check work properly.

[wildly illegal and unacceptable "promoting piracy and offering solutions to circumvent piracy a violation of your EULA" stuff was here, removed so answer won't get pummeled again]