72: StarForce Must Die

"Steven Davis, CEO of gaming security firm SecurePlay, has written about StarForce on his popular blog, PlayNoEvil. Speaking to The Escapist, Davis says the StarForce controversy diverts attention from the larger issue. 'Several major game companies are the real culprits. They allowed, very effectively, the StarForce brand to be the focus of consumer ire about anti-piracy. That we are talking about a small Russian programming firm, and not the huge companies that use the product, is a testament to the effectiveness of this tactic - the StarForce Trojan Horse.'"

Allen Varney searches for the truth in the controversial case of Gamers v. StarForce.

StarForce Must Die

I think you may be right - but the solution sits in the realm of geeks and nerds for the moment. It's running an OS like Linux where everything is in the open. Facing facts, most people care less about what goes on in the background of their computer than they do about a program working. Companies are going to continue to try to grab a profit out of you any way they can. It's a constant, like Telecoms trying to convince you that they want the legal right to shape traffic for your "protection".

It always irritates me when people attack the publishers' (or whoever's) decision-making on our part, and then proceed to make the decision that we are all being "kicked in the teeth" or "sucking it down" for us. It's really quite demeaning, offensive even, to those of us who don't work ourselves into rages about anonymous anti-cheat data collection that's never even glanced at by a human, or who are really not that bothered by the minuscule chance that SF might possibly maybe do permanent damage to our computers (seeing as we run a similar risk installing anything hardware-related - although, for the record and on balance, I do believe the industry is better off without the likes of SF).

I also find it amusing that both the author and several unrelated others I've come across lately during my interblag travels are describing Steam, GameTap and their peers as the 'alternative' to DRM - when in fact they are textbook definitions, far more so than SF in fact. Just goes to show: it's not the idea that's to blame.

I see a problem with the argument that says "Without copy protection the games would not sell". GalCivII is a fine counterpoint and so is Paradox Entertainment, one of my favorite companies. Sure, they produce niche hardcore strategy games, but not one of them is copy-protected. They do not even demand the original CD to be in the drive. Yet I still own an original copy of each of their game. And love a simple fact that I can play any of them anytime I want, without rummaging for the CDs (I have all of the games installed on harddisk, all the time). The lack of copy protection plays a big part in my loyalty. The second part is the ongoing support. And of course, the simple fact that their games are just great. Ideas and innovation are what makes the games worth buying. I just bought a budget edition of Tiger Woods 2005 and I am pretty sure I won't buy another edition for several years - I am not interested in incremental updates for a price of a full game. But I know pretty sure I will be getting Europa Universalis III the moment it comes out.

I love the analogy given by the Starforce guys about their product: "Imagine this - your car breaks down, and instead of taking it to the mechanic to be fixed, you go online and start complaining. Such behavior cannot make anything better." And they urge everyone to contact their support if there are any problems. One minor problem with this recommendation is Starforce's complete denial that their software can ever cause any problems. With this belief, how can they fix anything?

A better example would be this. I buy a new car, and I pay for some gas to go in the tank. As it's being put in, I notice the attendant is under the car, working on my brakes, without even asking me or telling me what he does. Is it any wonder that when my brakes fail, I'm not inclined to return to the gas station attendant to have them fixed?

Starforce did, for a time, sort-of succeed at what it was designed to do. I remember when you had to use a whole array of funky hacks and anti-Starforce apps in order to play a (pirated) game. It was a huge pain in the ass, and sometimes it was completely impossible to play an illegitimate copy of a new Starforce-protected game for weeks.

As for Battlefield 2: The One That Has Spyware, they should offer you to pay like 5 extra dollars or whatever to not install the adware. It's like yeah, it's adware, but it probably makes the game cheaper.

And as for GalCiv II, it was a relatively niche game and the exposure created by piracy of the game (this can only be speculative of course...) probably helped Stardock by expanding their core fanbase more than it hurt direct sales. For a much more hype-driven, mainstream game like Half Life 2 you can't possibly argue that piracy was a financially benificial factor -- that's like arguing that P2P helped expand Britney Spears' (or her modern day equivalent's) core fanbase in such a way that increased total sales. And if some bothersome DRM scheme (like HL2's manditory 'net connection) can offer a glimmer of hope of delaying piracy for even the first few days of release, then they have to jump on it. Or maybe they should just make DRM schemes that expire after the first month :p
... bringing to mind a few games where later patches eventually removed some problematic DRM

As for Battlefield 2: The One That Has Spyware, they should offer you to pay like 5 extra dollars or whatever to not install the adware. It's like yeah, it's adware, but it probably makes the game cheaper.

What is the price of BF2142?
What is the price of similar quality/profile games?
The same.

that means that instead of reducing the price of the game, EA just makes more money .
In any case, the main issue was that they do not advertise this on the box, where it could affect your purchasing decision, but only after the fact...and if you've bought the game online, and you don't agree with the adware install, you're screwed.

sharp_as_a_cork:
[quote]
that means that instead of reducing the price of the game, EA just makes more money .

They aren't the only ones. Sierra slipped in advertisements into Swat 4 with the first patch and promised that the revenue would go towards patches. That never happened of course and instead the community had to pay for a buggy expansion pack to get some things fixed.

Don't ever believe the revenue from adverts helps the community, lol.

The paragraph about EA's adware in Battlefield 2142 is uninformed and rather opinionated.

http://videogames.yahoo.com/newsarticle?eid=488447&page=0

The interview with the CEO of IGA Worldwide states that the "advertising data" is only your IP address so as to give users region specific ads and "non specific data" such as how long your view is placed on ads while playing the game.

I agree with the article, however. EA should have communicated the use of the ad software to potential buyers, not people who've already opened the box.

DesertChicken:
...such as how long your view is placed on ads while playing the game.

Great, now my computer is wasting CPU cycles on figuring whether I'm looking at ads, and which ones.

 

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