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Ubisoft Officially Drops Starforce

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the like-a-hot-potato dept.

63

totalbasscase writes "Starforce, the copy protection scheme hated by most who've had reason to use it, has lost a customer. Ubisoft has confirmed that not only will Heroes of Might and Magic V ship without Starforce copy protection, the publisher is discontinuing its use in all its games." From the article: "We'd venture it has something to do with the lawsuit raised against Ubisoft for using Starforce as copy protection software. When we asked why they were dropping the company Ubisoft representatives said, 'Ubisoft takes its customer concerns very seriously and is investigating the complaints about alleged problems with Starforce's software. Ubisoft's goal is to find solutions for its customers if there are problems with Ubisoft products.'"

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63 comments

Starforce had me scared, that's for sure (5, Funny)

Jim in Buffalo (939861) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132105)

I mean, c'mon, I don't want a converted WWII battleship flying up and launching the Wave Motion Gun at me!

Re:Starforce had me scared, that's for sure (1)

Samurai Cat! (15315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132174)

Har. I'd give you a mod point if I had any today. :D

Re:Starforce had me scared, that's for sure (1)

ronfar (52216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132280)

Are you with the Bolar Federation?

Re:Starforce had me scared, that's for sure (2, Funny)

guacamolefoo (577448) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132547)

comicbookguy=on
Wasn't that Star Blazers? Or Space Battleship/Cruiser Yamato (seen it referred to in both ways).
comicbookguy=off

Re:Starforce had me scared, that's for sure (1)

Maigus (118056) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132689)

OtherComicBookGuy=on
Yes, it was Star Blazers who were also referred to, both by earth command and the Gamalons, as The Star Force.
OtherComicBookGuy=off

Huh. (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132115)

*Scratches Ubisoft off the "Completely Evil" list, and puts them on the "Evil, but I'm not so pissed off I won't buy their stuff" list.*

Since game companies absolutely depend on the goodwill of the consumers of their product, I'm glad to see they made the right choice, and I hope other companies *coughSONYcoughcough* will see that the right choice can also be the smart choice.

Re:Huh. (1)

(A)*(B)!0_- (888552) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132291)

"Since game companies absolutely depend on the goodwill of the consumers of their product,"
Yeah, EA is really hurting from having been a bullying brute that stifles competition by throwing their revenue around.

Re:Huh. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132327)

They're doing okay. I think that's more in line with their ability to stifle the market than from any other cause.

Re:Huh. (2, Insightful)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132391)

I'd scratch them off in pencil until whatever they replace starforce with starts showing up on shipped games. They could go with something just as bad but without the reputation that starforce has already built up.

Shame... (1)

DaHat (247651) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132116)

They'll likely be moving to another copy protection system that l33t hax0rs bypass in minutes and that cause much frustration for countless legitimate users.

It's still a good sign though to see a publisher walking away from the evil that is Starforce.

Re:Shame... (2, Interesting)

Ahnteis (746045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132138)

Actually, I've had far fewer frustrations with securom then with starforce.

I can live with some copy protection. I don't agree with the idea, but I can accept some compromise.

However starforce has caused me too many problems for me to accept it. I've written several publishers/developers to tell them that if their game includes starforce, I won't buy it. (And of course, appropriate information as to why I won't buy it.)

Good move Ubisoft.

Shame...Hardware Handshake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15132236)

"I can live with some copy protection. I don't agree with the idea, but I can accept some compromise."

Earth 2160 uses an XP style activation.

Re:Shame... (1)

octopus72 (936841) | more than 8 years ago | (#15134936)

IMHO, main "problem" behind starforce was it's effectiveness against pirate means to play games. People ranted and, strangely, succeeded in pressuring top publisher to drop it. Other protections aren't better.

My question is: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15132123)

That's great news, but what kind of copy protection will they use in its place?

This is good news! (2, Funny)

c0l0 (826165) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132137)

This way, I might some day be able to buy a copy of Heroes of Might & Magic 5, and actually play it without ill feelings in my guts.

Re:This is good news! (1)

Sawopox (18730) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132292)

This maybe off-topic, but if you haven't tried the demo of Heroes 5, go get it and give it a try. The last I played was a little bit of Heroes 3 (I think it was 3) and the new graphics are awesome. The combat system is still cool, and the new 3/4 isometric viewpoint is nifty. The camera is a little finicky, but once you get used to it it's not bad.

Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15132140)

How about a way to remove it from existing games now?

Ubisoft laid an Easter egg. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15132145)

"'Ubisoft takes its customer concerns very seriously and is investigating the complaints about alleged problems with Starforce's software. Ubisoft's goal is to find solutions for its customers if there are problems with Ubisoft products.'""

So we're finally going to get that "gameplay" we've been asking for on Slashdot for years.

Tommorrow's Story (4, Funny)

cjb909 (838363) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132194)

Tommorrow on Slashdot: Ubisoft to look for a new Copy Protection system!

What they should do (2, Interesting)

Alarash (746254) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132217)

Now what Ubisoft should do is patch all of their games that use StarForce so not only upcoming games will not use this protection system, but the previously released as well. Then only will I believe them when they say "Ubisoft takes its customer concerns very seriously".

Re:What they should do (4, Insightful)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132270)

I had to return Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (which I was looking forward to quite a bit!) when Starforce wouldn't let me run it. Fun times trying to return an opened game, especially when the returns people don't know what copy protection is much less Starforce.

It would be awesome if they patched their old games to remove it. I just hope whatever new "protection" scheme they use in their new games will be less retarded.

Re:What they should do (1)

Alarash (746254) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132348)

I don't know if it's related, but my Splinter Cell 3 game keeps crashing (from every 2 up to 10 minutes). All my drivers are up to date, my system is very stable, and no other games I have ever crash (well, except Oblivion from time to time, but it's more like every 3 or 4 hours due to memory leaks).

I never experienced a hardware defect, and never noticed a loss of performance on my DVD player as some people reported. But I can't believe so many people would complain, and StarForce would look so dubious, and that game companies would have to do press releases to announce one or more of their games won't use this system, if there weren't any problems with this system.

So, for that reason only, and just in case, I don't want StarForce in the games I buy.

Re:What they should do (1)

Odin_Tiger (585113) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132509)

Actually, I had a friend have the same problems. It was something in the mobo drivers IIRC...you don't by chance have a GigaByte board, do ya?

Re:What they should do (1)

Alarash (746254) | more than 8 years ago | (#15134769)

Thanks for the tip. But I have a Shuttle FB83 (Intel 915G + ICH6R, Award V6.0PG BIOS). The only game that ever crashes is Splinter Cell though, and I play a lot of games. So even if it's hardware related, they must use it not like they should or something.

Re:What they should do (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132902)

I actually had UT2004 do this to me a loooong time ago...

Athlon XP w/gigabyte mobo and 512MB Mushkin Black. Turns out, after I replaced the Mobo (with an Asus) and the power supply, and tried buying another gfx card, that a quick test with memtest+ found the culprit.

Now, it sucks to get a bad stick of ram and not know it, but it didn't act up in anything other than UT (and then memtest+). C&C Generals ran like a dream, no burps, farcry was perfect as well.

So check your memory for 12-24 hours with memtest. Then start looking elsewhere....

Re:What they should do (1)

cjHopman (810457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15134451)

note though... memtest errors DO NOT mean that your memory is bad. When diagnosing my last comp problem I of course went straight for memtest... sure enough error error error. However the problem was actually my motherboard. I determined this without actually testing other ram or anything but rather by the fact that the comp would not boot if i changed the bios settings for the processor at all... and it was recognizing the processor as something it wasn't... Best bet is to run memtest on your ram on a seperate known working comp.

Re:What they should do (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 8 years ago | (#15140297)

Understandable. I did have both motherboards, as well as other memory to test within each board...

Of course, the best would be to have differing chipset mobos, as both of mine were Nforce2 boards...

Re:What they should do (1)

garylian (870843) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132727)

It would be nice if they did, that's for sure.

One of my happier game moments recently was reloading NWN on my PC after a HD crash, and finding out it didn't need a CD in the HD to play... EVER!

*does a little happy dance*

Now if the fine folks at Funcom would realize that their copy protection on Sacred is just silly (only requires the CD at startup) is effectively worthless in a 2 PC house when you want to play a game with the wife, I'd be set!

Out F'ing Standing! (2, Insightful)

BulletMagnet (600525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132221)

Or maybe it has to do with the forum fiasco where StarForce goon handed out links to warez and whatnot.

Starforce is of the same level of ilk as adware/ransomware vendors.

Behold a toast to hoping these Russians are looking for jobs in Siberia within the next 3 months.

Takes its customers seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15132233)

What, just like Sony BMG does?

You know there's a problem... (5, Insightful)

ShinSugoi (783392) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132247)

... when the first thing you do when you are thinking about buying a game is check what sort of copy protection it uses before even considering the purchase itself. And what if the game happens to have one of the more offensive copy protection schemes? (Safedisc, Starforce) Well, you're forced to download cracks from questionable websites if you want to avoid dealing with them. This is coming from someone who wants to buy their products. This is a good first step for Ubisoft, but they should realize that all restrictive copy protection schemes do nothing but hurt their business in the long run.

You know there's a problem...Who's on first? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15132462)

"This is a good first step for Ubisoft, but they should realize that all restrictive copy protection schemes do nothing but hurt their business in the long run. "

So which came first? Copy protection? Or piracy?

Re:You know there's a problem...Who's on first? (1)

moexu (555075) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132943)

Piracy came first, of course. I have some older games that don't have any copy protection at all. It's wonderful. I can make backups and install them on any machine without worrying that it will overwrite my CD-ROM drivers and eventually destabilize my entire system.

Re:You know there's a problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15132981)

If you don't like the copy protection vote with your wallet and don't buy the game! Mighty Jebus is it really that hard to understand? Of course, if you were using free software you wouldn't have this problem to begin with.

Re:You know there's a problem... (1)

Hoknor (950280) | more than 8 years ago | (#15133257)

Unless, of course, they will just blame decreasing sales from people not buying the game on piracy and just move to a more restrictive copy protection thinking eventually they will be able to prevent it.

Re:You know there's a problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15140830)

Well considering he said, "but they should realize that all restrictive copy protection schemes do nothing but ****hurt their business**** in the long run," I think it's safe to say he understood that.

Re:You know there's a problem... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 8 years ago | (#15141253)

It seems that proprietary vendors invest more in the copy protection schemes than they do in the actual software...

What's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15132303)

So what are they going to use in its place? Any ideas? Ubisoft doesn't mention what they will/won't allow in their copy prevention software, so the next one could be just as bad. I'd rather they just wouldn't use any at all.

This just in ! (5, Funny)

jfclavette (961511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132315)

The company is happy to announce it's copy protection system is changing names from Starforce to HappyFriendlyStuffedBear in order to revamp our bruised image. We're also glad to have Ubisoft's HoMM5 as our new flagship product. As always, we will continue to strive to redefnie the phrase 'haha you're screwed' in many different ways.

I apologize in advance (1)

Mr. Samuel (950418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132399)

In Soviet Russia, Starforce drops you!

Won't use but won't recall? (3, Insightful)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132425)

What about the poor saps who bought the games already? What about the games unsold on the shelves? Somehow I just can't see Ubisoft doing a recall or releasing anti-Starforce patches.

Countdown to Storforce relasing torrent link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15132681)

How soon will it be before starforce starts linking to torrents of HOMM5 or other UbiSoft games.

What can WE do? (2, Interesting)

Zitchas (713512) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132706)

Well, for all of the rabid anti-copy protection types up there, here's something nice and constructive you can do: Get your wallet, and go visit your local gaming store. Now, buy every single computer game in there (every copy of them, too) that doesn't have any kind of copy-protection on it. Now go sell them on Ebay or your local pawn shop or something. It doesn't matter what you do with them, so long as you buy them legitimatly and don't return them.

If enough people do this, it will create a large enough blip in the demographics that maybe, just maybe, these companies will sit up and take notice that non-copy-protected stuff can actually make money and all that. And they'll even save money on being able to skip buying some outrageously expensive CP thing.

After all, about all the copy-protection thing ever did was nail the average user. Anyone with any knowledge at all can find hacks on the web to get around it (or, for that matter, a full copy of it for free without the CP). And those with a lot of knowledge can flat out get around it anyway. In short, it doesn't affect those they declare themselves as targeting.

In the mean time, here's hoping that Ubisoft continues their way on the return to sanity, and learns a valuable lesson from all this.

Midway climbed way past ubisoft on my hit list (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132976)

Good luck

I bet i would get a 20% error rate trying that. How does one KNOW what they have or don't have.

Midway arcade treasures deluxe didnt say in the ad or on the box or during the install that it uses/requires the starforce rootkit. Only sign is a starforce popup telling you to reboot AFTER installation :/

Definately not sure why that POS requires copy protection in the 1st place. (90's arcade games stripped of arcade features...ie race games that won't use a wheel or forcefeedback even tho the arcade version did...should be false advertising)

Re:Midway climbed way past ubisoft on my hit list (3, Informative)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 8 years ago | (#15133274)

Actually, it's pretty easy.

Recent games without copy protection:
Gal Civ 2

There you go, that's the complete list TTBOMK.

Not quite the list (2, Insightful)

edremy (36408) | more than 8 years ago | (#15133637)

You can basically put Oblivion on that list. It does do a DVD check on boot, but that's it, and we all know how easy that is to bypass. Most MMOs should be there too, since you're locked to an account- Guild Wars has no checks at all.

1.7 million sales for Oblivion says that limited or no copy protection works.

Hmmm... (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15132913)

I'm wondering if they are really dropping Starforce because of customer complaints/boycott or because Starforce tried to strongarm them and Ubi called their bluff.

LK

my anecdote (3, Interesting)

rossjudson (97786) | more than 8 years ago | (#15133018)

Can't say that I've had any problems with Starforce recently, but a few years back a Starforce-protected game did trash a CD-ROM I had at the time. On the first run of the game (I think it was Broken Sword III) there was a kind of "seek of death" sound, and the drive never worked again. Yeah, it was an old drive, but it worked great up until that exact moment.

I don't know what the current state of Starforce is, and I'm assuming they've improved its compatibility. What I have a problem with is the arbitrary installation of a device driver into a system without any form of notification to the user, no explanation of the risks involved, and no way to back out of it.

Software developers really should have a legal declaration that accompanies their software, in which each major component is declared with an explanation, and an inventory of the files that comprise it.

Re:my anecdote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15133278)

If you can prove and reproduce this, Starforce will pay you $10,000 [star-force.com] .

Re:my anecdote (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15133468)

If I read the following correctly "2. After the installation and start-up of StarForce protected product the problem with (CD/DVD read-write malfunction) must exist and be reproduced in any other configuration." that qualification pretty much makes it as impossible as the guy who claims he will give you money for proving evolution. Of course there will be a configuration that will work. But that doesn't mean that StarFuck doesn't kill the occasional drive. Looks bogus to me.

Re:my anecdote (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 8 years ago | (#15141255)

It also forces you to install and run your games as a privileged user...

Ubisoft makes problems on purpose (1)

Asmor (775910) | more than 8 years ago | (#15133628)

"Ubisoft's goal is to find solutions for its customers if there are problems with Ubisoft products."

Clearly, they just admitted that they make problems in the first place on purpose. If their goal is resolving them, then without problems they are useless.

It's a cunning business strategy, really.

Adventure Game Company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15133711)

I was extremely happy when I found out that "Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None" did not use starforce (or the like). In fact it does not even require the CD to be in the drive when the game is played! This is a major change of pace for the publisher, The Adventure Game Company, whose online forums disappeared from their website shortly after a large number of people complained about star force. I stopped buying their products for while, but if they are going to tone down the copy protection I might start buying their games again.

This makes me happy. (2, Insightful)

ScaryFroMan (901163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15133714)

I've been having trouble finding torrents of Ubisoft games. Now there'll be no problem!

Re:This makes me happy. (1)

daddyrief (910385) | more than 8 years ago | (#15134772)

hahahahaha. see you on the peerlist.

Mod parent up! (1)

Daniel Wood (531906) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136073)

For those that don't get the joke. It is a reference to when StarForce posted the torrent for GalCivII on their website because StarDock didn't use any copy prevention mechanism on the game.

Boycott PC Games and SafeDisc (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15135560)

I have switched to console games since there seems to be better backward compatibilty. After upgrading my computer to one that has a DVD drive instead of a CD-ROM drive, I found that all video games I had bought that used Macrovision's SafeDisc v1 no longer playable. Macrovision's code artifically declaired the purchased CD to no longer be an "original." Neither Macrovision or the game manufactor would provide any support in addressing the issue. To date, Macrovision makes no promises that their current copy protection methods will continue to authenticate the disk as being an original if used in a BluRay or HD-DVD computer drive once they become available. Given the lack of any guarentee and the history of lack of forward support to maintain continued re-use of the product has lead me to decide that it is not worth investing in PC games any longer.

As a side note, friends have let me know that the same games play fine from a DVD-ROM drive provided you used the "pirated" version with the copy protection defeated. The bottom line is that Macrovision is not stopping copying of software but rather creating an situation where the "pirates" end up with a superior product over those that payed for the copy-protection enabled version.

Re:Boycott PC Games and SafeDisc (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 8 years ago | (#15142128)

They don't want you playing old games, they want you to buy the latest ones and ditch the old stuff... That way in a few years time, they can relabel the old games as "classics", update the copy protection scheme and sell them to you again.

And pirates have had superior versions for years... I remember the copy protection schemes on the amiga, usually required you to input a particular word from the printed manual (you dont even get printed manuals nowadays, games cost more but the publishers are too cheap to print a manual).. It got so annoying, especially if you lost the manual, that i went and obtained pirate copies of games i'd bought legitimately.... And while i was there, i got pirate copies of other games too.

Nice (1)

HunterZ (20035) | more than 8 years ago | (#15135987)

Way to step up to the plate, Ubisoft!

My guess is that they got enough returns, emails, and support calls from dissatisfied customers that they finally figured they were losing more money on that than on pirates. Still, it makes me feel a lot better about the idea of buying games from them.

Good - more sales for them (1)

Dire Bonobo (812883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15136760)

I'm sure I'm not the first to say this, but good for them - it's a move that's likely to lead to higher sales.

I have avoided purchasing games [silentstorm-online.com] which used egregious copy protection, even though I owned previous games in the series and was quite interested in buying the title. I have been spurred into buying games [galciv2.com] I was unsure about simply due to the anti-copy-protection stance of the company. And I'm sure I'm not alone.

Not surprising to any of you, of course, but here's a concrete example of how bad copy protection costs sales, which might come in handy when talking to game company folks.

They've seen the light (1)

Cinnaman (954100) | more than 8 years ago | (#15137721)

I hired the PC copy of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory but couldn't play it after I returned the original disc due to the lack of a crack. I had to hire the PS2 version and copy that instead. And I formatted my hard drive to get rid of the starforce drivers that were on it. I recently hired Rainbow 6: Lockdown and installed it on a 10GB hard drive I had lying about, I can enjoy the superior PC version because fortunately someone was able to crack the game. All starforce does is create a lot of unessesary effort and annoyance, I can't afford to buy PC games due to living on AUD$10,500 a year. Now I should be able to enjoy Ubisoft's future games (until my PC's specs are outdated) without having to resort to playing an inferior PS2 version.

Re:They've seen the light (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 8 years ago | (#15142174)

But your poor, therefore in the eyes of the commercial software makers your scum, you are unworthy of having their products.
If piracy is your only way of affording games, then your unworthy of playing them.

Software is artificially priced very high. As someone who was very poor as a child, i can sympathise with the situation. My parents only bought me a computer on the basis that i could pirate the games, they could barely afford the machine let alone the extortionate price that games cost.
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