Galactic Civilizations II, Copy Protection, and Piracy

Setting the record straight

By on March 11, 2006 2:49:34 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
+1077

Digg is reporting that a website is implying that we want Galactic Civilizations II to be pirated.  Absolutely not! Of course we DO NOT want our game to be pirated. We're a small company, every lost sale hurts us.

This got started because sales reports on Galactic Civilizations II have been much higher than anticipated. We've now outsold the first Galactic Civilizations in North America in the first 10 days. Last week we were apparently the #1 PC game at Walmart. 

Naturally, some peple have taken the conclusion that because we don't have copy protection on our game, that we invite piracy. That is not the case, we simply think there are other ways to stop piracy than CD checks, strict DRM, etc.

What we do is provide a serial # that users can choose to enter when they install and use that unique serial # to download free and frequent updates.

Our license allows you to install the game onto as many machines that you own that you want as long as only one copy is being used at once.

How many sales are lost because people want to have a game on their laptop and desktop and don't want to drag CDs around so choose not to buy the game?

Our company also makes utility software. We've been around a long time -- 14 years now. Our software gets pirated. We don't like it but piracy is a fact of life. And not every pirated copy means a lost sale.

The question isn't about eliminating piracy, it's about increasing sales. It's about trying to make sure that people who would buy your product buy it instead of steal it. 

Our primary weapon to fight piracy is through rewarding customers through convenient, frequent, free updates.

If you make it easy for users to buy and make full use of your product or service legitimately then we believe that you'll gain more users from that convenience than you'll lose from piracy.

We realize that some people or companies might feel threatened at any evidence that implies that draconian DRM schemes or CD copy protection may not make that big of a difference in sales. 

For example, we were quite disturbed to discover that the company that makes Starforce provided a working URL to a list of pirated GalCiv II torrents. I'm not sure whether what they did was illegal or not, but it's troubling nevertheless and was totally unnecessary.

All software is pirated, there's no way around it. We've been making software for over 10 years.  We don't like our software being pirated.  Like I said, every lost sales has an impact on us.  But there are other ways to reduce it than through draconian copy protection systems.

Incidentally, the site that Starforce's forum admin linked to "prove" how much our software was being pirated we visited, followed the instructions on the site to get our game removed and the links were removed within a couple of hours.  We'll continue to follow-up with them.

Update: Starforce has removed the URL to the illegal files.

Update: View follow-up.

309 Replies
Search this post
Subscription Options


Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 2:56:08 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
The Starforce group of programmers and administrators are arrogant morons, I'm currently not buying anything with SF on the CD. It's not worth the security risk, possible drive slowdowns or system instability.

Call me inane or foolhardy if you wish, but the harder you squeeze, the more slips through your fingers. You can prove this scientifically by attempting to squeeze jello and keeping it all in your hands at the same time, betcha can't do it (with prepared jello, not an unopened packet or something). Just look at MicroSoft and a lot of big name items that are all pirated, maybe some day they'll all learn to take a hint.

BTW, it seems that the Digg blogger has Dug his own grave. Poor idiot.
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:02:35 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
You should call them out on a DCMA violation.

They are bypassing your copy protection scheme of 'Providing value to customers'
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:02:35 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
ARRRG iv always hated the starforce ppl, how could they do a thing like that! Due to the majour complaints about the starforce software, no developper is going to be stupid enough to plague their games with starforce crap for now on anyways. Starforce sucks to begin with! I hear that people simply unplug a drive to get around it, so it doesnt stop pirating by any means, plus, it lags games like hell (X3).

This whole thing is stupid, stardock is one of the few developers still worthy of respect, partially due to this protection thing. Sucks to see them taking heat for making things the way they should be.

*edit: starFORCE not starwars
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:08:24 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I bought the game for the sole reason you dont treat me like a criminal. That in itself is worth the price of this amazing game. Games will be pirated no matter what the means of protection are on them, and im glad to see a company finally doing something about the absurd means to do so (by not putting any on there).
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:08:31 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
As much as I'd like to believe that claim Freelancer, the sad truth is that most publishers have totally bought into the "Piracy will be the death of us! Let us clamper down with whatever DRM and copy-protection we can cram on the CD to save our life!" And sadly, Starforce is one of the most powerful and also most annoying program out there...

But still they have no right to slander your business model. They might feel threatened for their sales because stardock is getting many sales with no copy protection? That's up to them. Have them make a better program and they wouldn't feel as threatened. Draconian piracy protection hurts game more and more and the customers are begining to get tired of it.
But still, publisher only see the simple equation "Pirated copy = lost sale" and thus, the cycle keeps on going...

But Stardock, kudos to you! You rock, keep on going, me and my friends are trying to get the most people out there to buy your game =D
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:08:56 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
You've been Dugg! It's like the new "being slashdotted". I doubt this will make the diggnation podcast but it's good in one thing: GalCiv 2 just got in front of thousands of people who will have never heard of the game otherwise. Interesting how starforce may end up helping sell more copies of the game.
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:13:32 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Speaking of slashdot, someone should submit this to thier news, I'm pretty sure that anything with 'Starforce did X stupid thing' is frontpage material
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:14:57 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I'd love to see StarForce get shut down over something like this It's a great example of racketeering - "Pay us protection money, or we'll make you suffer".
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:18:32 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
We realize that some people or companies might feel threatened at any evidence that implies that draconian DRM schemes or CD copy protection may not make that big of a difference in sales.


You bet they do. I can testify that companies sales do suffer because of draconian copy protection.
Case in point: Waves audio software. Hi-end sound production software used by virtually every top recording studio.
It uses Pace Interlock copy protection. A total disaster. Many name producers and top studios bought the software but use the crack. Why? see this:

http://www.prorec.com/prorec/articles.nsf/articles/4F0B51C39C17DA6386256B7F0077FBA6

A farce.


For example, we were quite disturbed to discover that the company that makes Starforce provided a working URL to a list of pirated GalCiv II torrents. I'm not sure whether what they did was illegal or not, but it's troubling nevertheless and was totally unnecessary.


Providing links to illegally download Intellectual Property is totally contemptable and beyond belief. What Starforce did is NOT professional, ethical or nice. Good manners prohibits me from saying what I feel. I would get banned from this forum. They must be complete idiots with no sense of tact, good business practice or basic diplomacy.

Don't get vindictive about this issue guys. You are above this crap. Magnanimity. Their own practices will dictate their fate.

To quote Rip Rowan from the linked article above:

Responsible copy protection is:

1. Unintrusive. Copy protection schemes that employ invasive procedures are irresponsible.
2. Interoperable. Copy protection schemes that are not compatible with standard operating systems or other common applications should be avoided.
3. Stable. Copy protection must not jeopardize the stability of the operating platform or application software.
4. Cost-effective. If a company spends all of its time supporting the copy protection, then it is quite conceivable that the cost to support the copy protection will quickly exceed the cost of piracy.
5. Available. Copy-protection that requires the user to have their software “turned on” by the vendor leaves them exposed to prolonged periods of downtime.
6. Effective! At the end of the day, if people are still stealing the software, then what was the point?




Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:21:04 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
You are succeeding where alot fail. Nuff said, actually. Keep up the good work! You are a true software pioneer. Here's hoping other gaming-companies will get the hint.

By the way, the dude that wrote this blog on his site understands his error and and is saying that he didn't mean to say it that way and he's trying to fix it, but the site just doesn't move due to the traffic of people so he can't do it at the moment. Which and proves just how much the game is hot plus it's even more publicity for you guys
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:26:25 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
O. M. G. Thats the most evil thing Ive seen in quite a while. Anyone who had any lingering doubts over the malevolence of Starforce should be able to rest assured they need to be squashed on Principal.


Attn game developers. I hereby pledge never to purchase another game utilizing Starforce copy protection, or any re- branding or reorginization of the product thereof. I dont care how many graphs, charts, or power point displays you come up with to show how its actually the best thing since sliced cheese. I dont care how much I want to play the game...beit Half Life 3 or Duke Nukem forever. Some people need to go away on principal, or at least be forced to operate in the country the games are released, so they are bound by its laws.


Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:33:02 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I for one applaud the fact that you do not use copy protection. I have already copied the two disks that came with the CE so i can store the originals in their box. I am saying this to prove that your system works as i have not yet found a game that cannot be copied via one or more medias out there in the WWW!

If anything knowing you can easily create a working backup of your games is what made me become a devout follower of Stardock in the first place. I have now in my collection Galciv 1 (retail), Galciv II (download & CE cd), Object Desktop - Network Edition, ObjectDock Plus & Orion Icon Suite all fully paid for.. This from someone that, in the past, thought nothing of using 'cracked' software!!

Keep up the good work guys, from one reformer i can say your strategy WORKS!!!
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:34:07 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Amen!! To everything in the post! I have to say that I have used pirated software when a Demo has not been available. But I always buy the software if I like it.
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:34:09 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
You guys continue to BE YOURSELVES and way to go for your innovatory "piracy policy". There will always be this certain influential commercial lobby that will vehemntly try to discredit your not only fair but also highly intelligent way of dealing with the problem of piracy.

Believe it or not but you are juts at the very moment making history with your firm policy of treating the users as real valuable and cherished customers, not like customers-thieves. And this strategy PAYS OFF and thus the big commercial giant is taking notes and shaking cuzz what will they do when you will actually succeed at what you're currently doing? They will become obsolete.

The game's success has its consequences, good and bad ones. You guys at Stardock must not let yourselves be fooled by the bad ones. They will try to do everything to question you and your course of action cuzz they are simply afraid.
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:36:28 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I know what it is and why they did it. They feel threatened. Yes.
Their business probably relies on licencing Starforce to a lot of companies.
Fact: you have unprecidented re-orders for a new game. It's selling like hotcakes;
But what??? There's NO copy protection??? HUH? How DID these guys manage to be so successful without CP?
We hope other companies don't follow their example - so, lets SHOW them that their games are STILL pirated by printing lists of torrents! Yes, that will make us feel better and possibly save out sales.

Pathetic, lame, scummy. Lets all cling on to our precious philosphy like a sinking rock and undermine other's success.

'Nuff said.

EXCELSIOR!
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:38:25 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
The last title I remember with invasive copy protection was Silent Hunter 3. I wanted to get that game but after reading about it's copy protection and nightmare it was causing people I didn't. Now to be fair I didn't priate it either so it succeeded in that respect. It also succeeded in losing the copany a sale because I would have bought the title if it didn't have that CP.

This is an outrage and you can belive I'll never buy any game with SF on it ever.
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:41:05 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I submitted this to Slashdot. I hope others do as well so it gets on the front page. This is a good story and it's something that both consumers and developers need to read.
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:43:06 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Providing that link to an example of where individuals could download Galactic Civilizations II looked like a direct attempt to persuade game devlopers (and in particular stardock, piggy backing off GC2's recent unexpected commercial success story) to use and promote starforce copy protection software. This kind of underhanded tactic at promoting the sales of a commercial product should not be stood for.

The other obvious reason is that stardocks ideology of dealing with the problem of software piracy direclty contradicts the copy protection arguement. And if they can sway other firms away from stardocks enlightened ideas, more software development companies are likely to use the starforce software.

I am appaulingly angry at myself for purchasing some time ago a game that sported Starforce copy protection. I pledge that i will never again.

Because sales figures matter, show people you care, by making a dent in theres.


Edit:
P.S I wouldnt get worked up over this too much, the website that claimed stardock supported piracy, look s to be infested by a bunch of complete idiots, where the hell is the logic in the below? Sounds like the thought process of a 12 year old to me.

"I think that is thier master plan. They had to know that them supporting people pirating thier game, would get on digg. Which is free advertisement.(Saving them money) Then on digg, a lot of people will download it and buy it just because they are being cool about it. It seems like a perfect plan to me. I might even buy it."

See referalls.
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 3:59:18 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
where can i find a list of games that use starforce? want to make sure i dont buy or play in the future.
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 4:04:32 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
That is reprehensible by starforce to do that. Is there a way to get a list of all games that use starforce? I will not buy any games that contain starforce.
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 4:05:24 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
What I think is ironic is that some games i've bought can't be played because of all the copy protection involved. I have to download a pirated version and pirated cracks just to play a game i paid for! I loved X2, and long awaited getting X3. Sadly, I don't plan on ever getting X3 because of Starforce.
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 4:08:28 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Found a list. Looks like I will not be buying HOMM V.

Released Games that contain starforce protection:

Game Publisher/Developer
7 Sins Atari
Anstoss 4 (German) Ascaron Entertainment
Area 51 Midway
Bandits: Phoenix Rising Tri Synergy (US) / Pan Vision (EU)
Bet on Soldier Nadeo
Beyond Divinity Hip Games / Larian (dev.)
Black Mirror The Adventure Company
Blitzkrieg: Rolling Thunder CDV
Blitzkrieg 2 CDV
Breed CDV
Broken Sword 3: The Sleeping Dragon (only US version) The Adventure Company
Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood Ubisoft
Cycling Manager 3 GMX Media
Cycling Manager 4 Digital Jesters
Chaos League (demo and release) Strategy First
Chaos League: Sudden Death (demo and release) Strategy First
Codename: Outbreak Virgin Interactive
Codename: Panzers - Phase One CDV
Codename: Panzers - Phase Two CDV
Cold War (demo and release) Dreamcatcher Interactive
Colin McRae Rally 2005 Codemasters
Cossacks II: Napoleonic Wars CDV / GSC (dev.)
Cross Racing Championship 2005 Graphsim (US) / Project Three (EU)
Curse: The Eye of Isis The Adventure Company
Cycling Manager 3 Digital Jesters (?)
D-Day (release and demo) Monte Cristo
Dead to Rights Hip Games
Demonic Speedway (release and possibly demo) Cenega (forum inactive)
Desert Rats vs Afrika Korps Encore Software
Domination Dreamcatcher Interactive
Emergency Fire Response Dreamcatcher Interactive
Enigma: Rising Tide Tesseraction Games
Etherlords II Strategy First
Fire Chief Strategy First
Fire Department Monte Cristo
Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich Irrational Games (US) / VU Games (EU)
Gangland Whiptail Interactive
Garfield Hip Games
Gooka: The Mystery of Janatris Cenega (forum inactive)
GT Legends (demo and release) 10tacle
Horse Race Manager Cyanide Studio
Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter (some releases only) Interplay
Kicker Manager 2004 Deep Silver
Kill Switch Hip Games
Korea: Forgotten Conflict Cenega (forum inactive)
LMA Professional Manager 2005 Codemasters
Lock On: Modern Air Combat (Gold version) Ubisoft
Medieval Lords (demo and release) Digital Jesters / Monte Cristo (dev.)
Namco Museum 50th Anniversary Namco
Obscure (both CD and DVD version) Dreamcatcher (US) / Microids (EU)
Pferdehof - Pferd und Pony dtp Entertainment
Pax Romana Dreamcatcher Interactive
Peter Jackson's King Kong (demo and release) Ubisoft
Pariah Groove Games
Pop Star Academy Monte Cristo
Postal 2: Apocalypse Weekend Running With Scissors
Prince of Persia Sands of Time Ubisoft
Pro Rugby Manager Digital Jesters
Pure Pinball (German version only) Koch Media
Rally Championship Xtreme Warthog Entertainment
Restaurant Empire Enlight
Restricted Area Whiptail Interactive
Revolution Activision Value
Runaway A Road Adventure Tri Synergy
Scrapland Enlight
Second Sight (German version) Codemasters
Silent Hunter 3 Ubisoft
Silent Storm Encore Software
Silkolene Honda Motocross GP Midas Interactive
Singles: Flirt Up Your Life Eidos (US) / Deep Silver (EU)
Singles 2: Triple Trouble (EU version at least) Koch Media / Deep Silver
Sniper Elite / Sniper Elite: Berlin 1945 Namco (US) / Wanadoo (EU)
Soldiers Heroes of World War 2 (demo and release) Codemasters
Splinter Cell 3: Chaos Theory Ubisoft
Space Rangers 2 Elemental Games
Sommerspiele 2004 dtp Entertainment
Steel Saviour SR-71
Still Life (demo and release) The Adventure Company
Street Racing Syndicate Namco
SuperPower 2 Dreamcatcher Interactive
Syberia II (only some releases) The Adventure Company
The Fall: Last Days of Gaia (German version) Deep Silver / Koch Media
The Moment of Silence The Adventure Company
The Suffering: Ties That Bind Midway
The Westerner (Wanted: A Wild Western Adventure) The Adventure Company
TOCA 2 (Race Driver 2, DTM Race Driver 2) Codemasters
Trackmania Nadeo
Trackmania Sunrise Nadeo
Traitors Gate 2: Cypher The Adventure Company
UFO: Aftershock Cenega (forum inactive)
V8 Supercars 2 Codemasters
Virtual Skipper 3 (demo and release) Enlight
Wildlife Park Encore Software
World War II: Frontline Command Strategy First
Worms 4: Mayhem Codemasters
XIII Ubisoft
X2: The Threat (only European versions) Deep Silver
X3: Reunion (only European versions) Deep Silver
Xpand Rally Micro Application
Xuan-Yuan Sword 4 SoftStar Entertainment






--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Upcoming Games

Game Publisher/Developer
Heroes of Might and Magic 5 Ubisoft



Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 4:09:24 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
where can i find a list of games that use starforce? want to make sure i dont buy or play in the future.


http://www.glop.org/starforce/
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 4:13:06 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
The game i was ashamed of purchasing that utilised Starforce was X3, incidentally all retail versions of X2/X3 sold on every contienent use Starforce. You will want to update your list.
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
March 11, 2006 4:13:30 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Well Stardock I can tell you that 'not' putting DRM on your product is the reason I bought this game. I didnt buy 'just' because there is no copy protection, I also enjoy 4x games and GC2 is a good game. There are alot of games to choose from and I can only buy a few, so when it came time to decide what my next game was going to be I saw no copy protection for GC2 and my decisoin was made.
Starforce is the worst of the worst video game DRM out there, I personally will never touch a starforce game ever. I hope there cheap shot at you is a sign the end is near, frankly I would love it if you sued them into oblivion for providing links to pirate sites. That just proves there attitude towards the end user, they dont care, they are willing to stop copying at any cost, it is the paying customer that pays the price though.
I would hope that game companys would see how well your game is selling without DRM and take the high road like you all did, but of course most game companys now are corperations run by people who do not play video games and takes the advice of the DRM lobbyist who says you will lose money if you do not use our product.

I can play the link game with starforce http://www.similarities.org/starforce.html

EDIT heh someone beat me to it.
Reason for Karma (Optional)
Successfully updated karma reason!
Stardock Forums v1.0.0.0    #108433  walnut3   Server Load Time: 00:00:00.0001234   Page Render Time: