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


Join Date 03/2001

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.

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September 22, 2007 12:55:55 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I'd rather pay full price for a product that doesn't require the media to be dropped into the drive tray in irritation every time I want to play. Have you noticed how there's not a single manufacturer willing to address the issue of CD/DVD insertion being a slow and manual process, while most of the rest of your computer has no problem with changing to the next title you want to play?

Folks like Sony who make a living selling copy protection for CDs and DVDs won't score a profit margin by innovating a new affordable optical drive which reduces the clunk factor by allowing more than one disc to be inserted at a time (and reducing seek time by reading it to a built-in storage device). Games companies who buy CD/DVD copy protection often annoy legitimate consumers and force them to look for a No-CD fix, which is typically available in the space of a few weeks at most.

I'm not saying that copy protection is necessarily a bad thing, but when a company doesn't work to provide the consumer with some kind of value for money then they will ultimately drive away the repeat sales they so desire.
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September 22, 2007 2:04:13 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Like so many who have already said it, I bought DL and then DA and will, with 99.9% probability, buy your next expansion and anything else you guys put out. Because (a) the games are good fun, ( the forums are good fun and very supportive, (c) there are interesting mods, (d) and the devs are great and responsive and (e) there are no annoying DRM measures. In other words there is a culture and eco system built around the game that provides good fun (which means value for money for a gamer).

Its for the same reason that I bought Oblivion which has just a DVD check - I can live with that. While I bought Divine Divinity I did not touch the sequel - because of the stupid 'you know which company' copy protection. And is why I am yet to Bioshock though I guess I will eventually get it .

Sure there will be piracy but people will normally be willing to buy stuff (hopefully enough to support devs) if good fun is delivered.

Just my 2 penny bit.
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October 23, 2007 8:39:32 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Not sure if I ever mentioned this before, but I didn't buy Gal Civ 2 to play it. I am sure this won't be a popular view, but I bought Gal Civ 1 and wasn't terribly impressed. It was fun, but not long-term. Within a month or two I shelved it and really haven't looked back.

I was interested in trying the GC2 out - it seemed to deal with a lot of stuff that annoyed me about the first - more depth to combat, choice of race, etc. But I figured it would be a month of fun at most. To me the entire reason for the purchase was because I saw some articles that GC2 still sported the "no copy protection" business model that had made me so keen on buying the first one. Total gaming seemed pretty cool as well, much more diversity than the old thing (I guess that died?). So I spent my $70 to get 10 tokens, grabbed up the gold edition, and have been playing on and off pretty much since I bought it around 7 months ago. Every update gets me excited, even the "little" ones that don't directly impact my game. When I get tired of the game, a new patch will bring me back for a month or two. It's really quite amazing, considering I rarely play anything for more than a few months.

What was initially a purchase to support Stardock's business model (positive reinforcement really does work, people) has turned into one of the best computer games I've ever played, and guaranteed I'll have to buy more tokens soon (just prepaid for TA @ 3 tokens).

I guess what I'm saying here is the convenience and support that Stardock offer their customers can in fact sometimes translate into sales and long-term, die-hard fans that otherwise would never exist. If people want to say stupid things about the lack of copy protection, let 'em. The publicity sure won't hurt SD any!
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November 17, 2007 10:26:03 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
Yep, same here. I bought it because it looked cool and because I wouldn't have to download a no-cd exe to make it run the way it should. It sucks having to go through most of the steps of pirating a game just so I have a product as good as the ones pirates have, but I don't recognize the DMCA as a moral law, so I have no compunctions about disobeying it, seeing as it violates the fair use laws and many more laws the US is built on. The DRM companies are just spinning a sugar-sweet fairy tale for their customers to buy into. There are two insurmountable truths they are fighting with their program:

There are enough people who are truly masters of their computers that any DRM cannot be forced down their throats, they will break it and more likely than not, publish the crack, ruining the DRM on that game irrevocably. Yet people still buy these games even when they effectively have no DRM.

To sell more copies of their product, they should see pirates as competitors and try to offer a superior product at their price, rather than coating it with DRM and expecting people to buy the crippled version instead of 'buying' a superior product for the low price of free.

Stardock realizes this, and also realizes the fact that the 'every pirated copy is a lost sale' is blatant fearmongering and a transparent play to the corporations' greed. In no way is this rhetoric true. I'm still in high school, so I'm gaming on a rather limited budget, and so are my friends. The main difference is that they often pirate software, while I don't. However, I have noticed that not only do they pirate easily five times as many games as they could afford, they will buy a game if it gets them the patches, like say, it would for Stardock. Funny that Stardock has one of the more effective ways to help maximize sales just by being the good guys and being smart
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January 3, 2008 11:58:00 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
I found an easy way of getting around changing discs was to either mount them as ISO files (Illegal and Space hungry) or to buy a Dis Caddy that automatically loads the disc you need to play. The Disc caddy took 6 weeks to come out to me from Europe and cost me $915 AUD, so it wasnt a cheap option, but holding up to 500 discs and with my new upgrade to it as a BluRay burner I am still seeing it as a good idea.

But that aside, it is nice to know some companies see his problem and don't use CD's.

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January 13, 2008 1:24:51 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums
i already have twlight on the computer and i cant get the latist update,they have(stardock)some major issues going on with the log ins ,over a month ago i updated my info and they said i was linked with my old account/isp and the new one now i cant log on to update but i can get to all the other sites ect. im waiting for the disk to come in april i get all kinds of lock ups in the game and evrytime i send the error reports i get an error report.

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November 25, 2008 11:00:41 PM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

I'm glad GalCiv is one of the few games that doesn't punish honest customers with insulting DRM.  Now after I find a game I like, I check first for DRM.  If it's got it - no matter how good the game is - I won't buy it.  If I don't have a criminal record I don't want to be treated like one.

Good for you!  Keep it up, and I'll keep buying your games. 

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June 26, 2009 8:36:35 AM from GalCiv II Forums GalCiv II Forums

I have said alot on related issues in another thread but this highlights the extreme one sidedness of it all and I applaud stardock and you should have these people who ae trying to muddy your name for damages since in my view the only reason they are doing this is because of your good user orientated common sense practices you are blowing these one sided corporate orientated view points wide open.

Its also very reasonable to permit people to play the game on all their home machines as long as they only play one at a time, in my view all games should be forced to adhere to that

You company will go from strength to strength now when people find out how companies are trying to give this great company a bad name

I also bought all galciv 2 games + sins plus lots of other titles from you because aside from being great I dont get treated like a criminal and like I said in another post piracy is the excuse for everything. Poverty = piracy, drugs problem = piracy etc Its absurd and as long as stardock continues to put customer first I will buy every title they produce

If it a game is good most people will buy it, which leaves that minority that wouldnt have bought it whether they pirated it or not therefore no sale is lost, anyway good luck with your future endeavours, hearing this has just strengthened my loyalty to stardock

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March 31, 2010 5:30:03 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.

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