321 Studios Games X Copy
Product release date: February 11, 2004
Editors' Rating Rating system explained
Though not nearly as compelling as DVD X Copy Express, Games X Copy may be useful to players who want to back up their PC game collection.
The good: Lets you make backup copies of most PC games; straightforward interface; lets you install multidisc games on your hard drive.
The bad: Burned copies don't always work; copying process could be faster.
321 Studios, the company that made a name for itself with the litigious and recently proscribed DVD X Copy and DVD X Copy Express, strikes again with Games X Copy, a $59.99 program that lets you make backup copies of most PC games--even those with copy-protection schemes. Where DVD X Copy let you rip and duplicate copy-protected commercial DVDs, Games X Copy provides a similar workaround for gamers (and parents of gamers) who, according to the company, fear losing those "expensive PC game collections to scratches, skips, or loss" and wish they could leave originals safe at home when they travel.
For the most part, the software delivers on what it promises, but Games X Copy is less than perfect. Installation is a simple affair, and the interface is straightforward enough, although there are some minor quirks that may intimidate technophobes. Nevertheless, you can choose between a basic novice mode and a slightly more customizable expert mode. From there, it's pretty simple: Put the game you want to copy in a drive and decide whether you want to save the game to your hard drive or burn it to a recordable CD or DVD. (Yes, you must have either a CD or DVD burner to produce hard copies.) You can also use Games X Copy to save multidisc games to up to four "virtual drives" on your system, which lets you play games without periodic interruptions to change discs.
The interface is fairly simple: Select your source drive and destination, then hit Start.
Clearly, the big deal about Games X Copy is that, allegedly, it's capable of making perfect "backup" copies of copy-protected games. While CNET does not encourage or condone the illegal copying of commercial PC games, we verified that Games X Copy is indeed capable of duplicating copy-protected games, though you'll still need a CD key for games that require it. Also, take note that if you use Games X Copy to illegally make copies for your friends, they will not be able to play the online multiplayer version of the game if you've already registered it. Still, not all of our tests were successful. When we tried to copy Prince of Persia, a game without copy protection, the copied version failed to install on our system.
Overall, Games X Copy delivered adequate performance, but we weren't entirely impressed with the program's speed. Copying a CD-based game and burning it to a disc can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the game and the speed of your system and burner. DVD-based games take even longer.
As with most of 321 Studios' software, it will likely take a couple of updates before all the kinks get worked out of Games X Copy. The company has already released an updated version (188.8.131.52) that fixes some bugs, and judging from the company's track record of regular updates following a product's launch, the program will continue to evolve and improve. As with other 321 Studios products, any future upgrades will be available for download, free of charge. The company also offers 24/7 tech support, both online and by phone.
Despite all the hype surrounding software pirating, Games X Copy has utility for those who want to use it for its intended purpose--to back up store-bought game discs.
Reviewed by David Carnoy