Square Enix has removed the demo version of Trials of Mana from Steam after hackers found a workaround that used the demo to gain access to the full version of the game.
“Due to unforeseen circumstances, we need to temporarily take the Trials of Mana Demo on Steam offline, we hope to have it back up again very soon,” Square Enix wrote on the game’s Steam Community. “Please rest assured, all progress made by those who have downloaded and played the demo will remain and be carried over when it’s back online.”
The workaround, as described in message board posts around the Internet, required downloading a copy of the Steam files distributed with a legitimate copy of Trials of Mana. Those files usually wouldn’t work if loaded onto a Steam account that hasn’t purchased the game. But by copying over a couple of files found in the “Paks” directory, users could essentially trick Steam into loading the full game through the free demo version associated with their account (though some users reported problems loading the “extra” chapter at the end of the game when using this method).
This particular workaround method closely mirrors one first discovered in 2016, when it was used to unlock that year’s version of Doom. The method was notable at the time as the first case of crackers getting around Denuvo’s DRM protection, which at the time was largely considered “crack-proof.”
Since then, crackers have begun cracking Denuvo-protected games almost as a matter of routine, sometimes even before the games are fully released. But despite the now-defunct workaround, the core Denuvo protections on Trials of Mana still remain uncracked, according to numerous trackers online. So with the plugging of this Steam-related “demo hole” in the protection, potential pirates will now have to actually purchase the full game if they want to play it.