Most of the time, getting a download code for a free copy of a PC game can be a good thing. But according to reports on Valve's Steam forums, it looks like a recent promotion to give out free copies of Codemasters' May 2011 released off-road racing simulation Dirt 3 might have gotten out of hand. As first reported on Kotaku, a list of codes for the game has been freely released on the Internet after having been found on a web server.
The promo codes were part of a deal with graphics chip and processor maker AMD. In short, if you purchased an AMD Radeon-based graphics card you got a free Steam download code for Dirt 3 for your trouble. It's not clear if the Steam game code list was found on AMD or Codemasters' web server. It's also not clear how many codes were actually leaked out. The first report from Kotaku claimed that the list had a massive 3 million codes. However later it changed that number to "just" 250,000 after actually seeing the list themselves. People who try to use those codes might want to keep in mind that Valve can, and likely will, shut down access to those digital copies of Dirt 3.
This is not the first time this year that Codemasters has had some issues with web servers. Back in June 2011 the UK-based game publisher suffered from a massive cyber attack that caused the company to completely shut down its main Codemasters.com web site. The site is still not back online; web surfers who head to the Codemasters.com URL are redirected to the company's Facebook page. There's still no word on when, or even if, the full web site will be restored.