If you’re unable to install Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3, blame the label printers at Electronic Arts which have left off the last character for thousands of installation codes.

Add installation barriers to the list of reasons why modern PC gaming is impenetrable to casual players. The logic makes sense; only those who bought a box copy with a unique code can access the game.

However, what happens when those who honestly purchased the product can’t play it because they were given a broken code?

Nearly two thousand confused gamers have visited EA’s help page for Command and Conquer for an explanation as to why their Red Alert 3 experience couldn’t be started on their computers.

Due to a “misprint on a small number of manuals”, only 19 characters of the 20-long instillation code were included on the labels.

EA cleverly suggests that since users already have most of the code, they should attempt to “guess” the last digit or letter by attempting all 36 potential permutations until the correct character works.

“To do this, simply enter your existing code, and then for the last character, try the letters A-Z, and then the numbers 0-9. You should eventually get the right combination, and be able to play the game,” reads the instructions.

More likely to occur is hundreds of phone calls to EA’s customer service center asking for replacement codes to avoid the hassle of typing in meaningless codes for twenty minutes.

Two lessons learned from this minor incident: One, even the smallest property protection can become a nuisance for paying customers and two, some manual printing company just got a nasty phone call for not catching this mistake.

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