It might not be that good at making tools to protect its DRM, but Flight Sim Labs seem to be pretty good at stirring up controversy for itself. Earlier this year, the popular flight simulation developers were discovered to have “erroneously” implemented an anti-piracy mechanism that harvested some users’ Google Chrome passwords. Now its DRM strategy is again at the center of another scandal but not because of any technical or security problem but because the company is threatening legal action against Reddit moderators over a thread discussing that topic.
Last February, Flight Sim Labs was reported to have shipped with an installer with a tool that practically collected a user’s Google Chrome passwords and sent it back to the company. Its reason, it defends, was to crack down on a pirated copy of its software floating around the Internet. It meant to only be used on what it believes to be a person or group of crackers but may have mistakenly also affected “innocent” users of pirated copies of the A320-X simulator.
It is again put on the hot seat for another anti-piracy action but, this time, it’s the surrounding narrative that seems to be raising more eyebrows. That same A320-X simulator reportedly installs a cmdhost.exe file in Windows’ system32 and SysWOW64 folders, both of which are reserved for important system files and programs. Flight Sim Labs explains on Facebook that the file is simply used for “fixing” activation issues and that it has passed all major antivirus programs. It’s old news, so to speak.
That would have been good if the company ended it there. However, According to Eurogamer, its marketing and PR manager secretly sent messages to the moderators of the r/flightsim sub-Reddit, threatening to take legal action if the “libelous” threads aren’t removed. That despite moderators being just Reddit users themselves, just with added control, and not Reddit employees in any regard.
Flight Sim Labs wouldn’t be the first company to have had criticisms and conspiracies thrown its way, but it seems to be one of the very few that equate such discussion as libel. It’s not clear whether it has any real legal leverage in this matter but one thing’s for certain: it’s not doing itself any favors.