It seems that Red Alert 3 shipped without the last character of its CD key. This from Slashdot:
sunderbear noted that EAs Command & Conquer 3 shipped missing the last digit of the CD Key. He writes “EA’s brightest minds have put their synapses into overdrive in order to whip up a comical work-around. ‘There is currently a work-around that may allow you to bypass this issue. Since you have the first 19 characters of the code already, you can basically try guessing the last character,’ said a note on EA’s customer support site. Yes, they’re serious. ‘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.’” It appears that the helpful hint has been purged.
Well done with the QA, chaps! You’d think somewhere between the sticker-printing factory and your local Wal-Mart someone would’ve realized that the code was short. I suppose the more disappointing possibility is that they DID see it, and they DID realize it, but they decided that making the end user brute-force their own license key was a better fix.
I haven’t looked for it, but I’d wager there’s a cracked copy of RA3 on the bittorrent network as we speak - and it probably has a crack that works through a simple copy and paste.
Once again, you can pirate a product of higher quality and greater ease of use than you can buy.