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Ubisoft And Starforce Parting Ways? 60

Posted by Zonk
from the praise-be dept.
Ars Technica posts about the possibility of Ubisoft ditching StarForce in the wake of some very bad PR for the copy-protection company. From the article: "'To return from there good on an important subject, that of Starforce, here information which should interest you: it was decided that protection anti-copy used on the very new Ubisoft plays would not be the Starforce software...Yes, that relates to Heroes as well!' The translation may not be pretty, but the news is. Starforce should be considered malware if you ask me, and treated accordingly. If this really does mean Ubisoft is going to stop using it on their new releases we can all do a little dance of joy."
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Ubisoft And Starforce Parting Ways?

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  • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @01:27PM (#15122545)
    ...out in pain!

    Yay for Ubisoft. Getting rid of that horrid copy-protection scheme and the most annoying of all slashdot trolls, in one shot.
  • This is great news. With all the crap that Starforce has done to people's computers. Finally a major publisher is paying attention to the protests for their customers. Score 1 for us!
    • by Qzukk (229616) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @01:36PM (#15122617) Journal
      Not only that, but any moment now I'll be able to grab the torrent right off the starforce website! Score one for us, indeed!
    • Finally a major publisher is paying attention to the protests for their customers.

      Don't speak too soon - Do you really think they'll just completely skip the copy protections (because we all know that without it, games like... Oh, say, Galactic Civ II, would never have become best sellers)?

      Next week on Slashdot: Ubisoft partners with Sony to provide their next-gen copy protection, which runs so discretely no one without the (leaked) password to the secret "remote compliance monitoring port" will even
      • There is always hope that the next scheme is decent... and not destructive. I know that game developers have released games without copy protection, and after that experience, went back to copy protection. I honestly think that you need some minor form of protection, to keep the clueless from just copying the product. I think you really run into 2 classes of gamers. The casual, "I put the CD in the drive, and it runs" crowd, and the rest that know at least how to go to a crack site. :-) I think the for
  • Better translation (Score:3, Informative)

    by iwan-nl (832236) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @01:32PM (#15122586) Homepage
    Ars reader Broomball posted a better translation:

    So, to come back to an important subject, that of "Starforce", here is something that might be of interest: It has been decided that the anti-piracy tool to be used on all new UbiSoft games will not be Starforce.

    P.s. To answer the actual question: Yes, this includes "Heroes".

  • ...that the NEW anti-piracy system will not be Starforce. It doesn't mean it won't be copy protected or that the new system will be any less malicious than Starforce.

    Something in me hopes the system will also be bad and eventually Ubi will announce that copy protection is impossible, finally acknowledging what we all knew for ages.
    • ...that the NEW anti-piracy system will not be Starforce. It doesn't mean it won't be copy protected or that the new system will be any less malicious than Starforce.

      I think it's safe to say that it will be, simply by virtue of it being so difficult to be more malicious. What would that even be? They send somebody to your house to personally demolish your computer with a sledgehammer to ensure it isn't running pirated (or any other) programs?
      • I think it's safe to say that it will be, simply by virtue of it being so difficult to be more malicious. What would that even be? They send somebody to your house to personally demolish your computer with a sledgehammer to ensure it isn't running pirated (or any other) programs?
        [me] hurries off to the patent office before it closes....
    • Something in me hopes the system will also be bad and eventually Ubi will announce that copy protection is impossible, finally acknowledging what we all knew for ages.

      Oh, it's possible. If every game came with a 330-pound bouncer who just beat the crap out of you every time you tried to copy the game, I think piracy would be stifled. They could justify it in the license agreement, just like with invasive software! Yay! They'd have to classify him as digital though, or the DMCA wouldn't prevent you f
    • ... online activation.

      Like with Sony's Blu-Ray DRM, their "region-free" PS3 or GalCiv2 we-have-no-protection online activation, don't jump on conclusions and wait for the full story...
      • You mean GalCiv2 "additional online content" in order to download patches and be recorded on the global listings.
        You can play as much as you want without cracking anything, and well... you can get patches as easy as you can d/l the whole game from P2P.

        Sony's Blu-Ray DRM is region free in a sense you can play BDs from all around the world, but possibly only on your drive...... again, can be flashed and removed.
        • I'm not really sure to understand your reply. I wanted to mean:

          - Game "X" V1.0 being unprotected and advertised as such, while Game "X" V1.0.1, which fix the cannot-finish-game-fatal-bug, being protected.

          - BR movie "Y" being watchable in HD on non-HDCP TV and being advertised as such, while BR movie "Y 2: The Return", released 6 months later, being watchable only in SD.

          - PS3 console being region-free and advertised as such, but, like with the Xbox 1 and 360, the game "Z" will only playable on the Japanese m
  • So now what are all the 15 year old little crakers going to do in the 10 minutes it would have taken them to crack the next version of StarForce?? I wonder why this was abandoned???
    • Actually StarForce is a pretty interesting copy protection. As someone who spent quite a lot of time studying Fravia [wikipedia.org]'s reverse engineering essays I've always thought a good programmer must know his reverse engineering, and StarForce is obviously made by talented people. I stopped using Windows in 1994 so I couldn't care less about proprietary software, but don't ditch StarForce's technical merits just because the company behind it has questionable ethics.

      Funny, people who use free software [freebsd.org] don't have an

  • by spyrochaete (707033) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @01:46PM (#15122692) Homepage Journal
    I'm happy that this decision was related to bad PR. Starforce posted links to torrents of pirated games that didn't use their protection, they blew off legitimate complaints as whining from pirates, they held an unwinnable contest (regarding hardware failure) that didn't address the most contested issues (software failure), and the CEO is a pompous loudmouthed ass.

    I have the utmost respect for the programmers of Starforce as it is a creative solution to a widespread problem, but such talented engineers are working for the wrong company. I truly feel bad for the programmers because their brilliance is overshadowed by their managers' childishness.
    • I have the utmost respect for the programmers of Starforce as it is a creative solution to a widespread problem

      just out of curiosity as I havn't had to deal with starforce and can't find any real information.. Just what was this creative solution.
      • I don't think it's become public exactly how StarForce works, but from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starforce [wikipedia.org]:

        StarForce is believed to operate by measuring the physical angle between the first and last written sector on the CD.
      • Most copy protection schemes simply encrypt the main executable file (e.g., GAME.EXE) to prevent crackers from reverse engineering the source. In addition to encryption, Starforce works like a rootkit to install bottom-level drivers ("ring 0 drivers") that directly control your CDROM drives by sitting just below Windows' built in IDE drivers, therefore controlling all CDROM access even for discs not protected by Starforce. Crackers have found it exceedingly difficult to squeeze code between ring 0 drivers
        • In addition to encryption, Starforce works like a rootkit to install bottom-level drivers ("ring 0 drivers") that directly control your CDROM drives by sitting just below Windows' built in IDE drivers, therefore controlling all CDROM access even for discs not protected by Starforce.

          Ring 0 drivers are not rootkits - they are called Ring 0 Drivers. In the same way, you might as well call Video card drivers to be the equivalent of rootkits as well - they need to have Ring 0 for performance reasons (at least

    • Why didn't they host torrents to their own games? They try to act like starforce was uncrackable, complete lie. I know for a fact you can easily get around their copy protection.
  • by Tadrith (557354) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @01:56PM (#15122789) Homepage
    ... they'll see an improvement in sales. I used to only do one thing when I purchased games -- check a couple review sites to see what the general opinion of the game is, and to make sure I'm not buying something fatally crippled.

    Now, I do two things... the aforementioned review checking, and checking to see what kind of copy protection scheme it uses. I refuse to buy Starforce "protected" games, and I refuse to install it on my computer. To me, they aren't gaining anything. At best, they're preventing pirates from installing their games and playing for free, but that doesn't net them any profits... because I seriously doubt those same pirates go "Oh well, I guess I'll buy the game!" and go out and purchase a copy.

    I won't lie, I download games. But I also buy any game that I intend on playing. Generally I download to either get it sooner, or have something to do until pay day, or just to make sure the damn thing isn't a train wreck. But I also have several CD cases filled with hundreds of games I've legally purchased. I don't know very many other pirates who pirate exclusively, or who won't purchase a game they really like. All Starforce does, is make them refuse to purchase the game at all out of anger.

    I don't understand why these companies think that by preventing piracy, these people are going to suddenly decide that they've seen the error of their ways and start buying software. It's not. You just piss potential fans off.
    • Do you have a preferred site for checking what copy protection mechanism is used by various games? I use gamerankings.com to check reviews, but I don't know of a site that does the same for copy protection checking purposes.
    • Even if they don't see any improvement in sales, they'll probably save some money anyway. I strongly suspect the biggest factor that led to this was the additional cost of technical support incurred by starforce related issues/calls.
    • It doesn't even prevent piracy. Starforce has been hacked since the day it came out almost. You make it hack proof and we'll make a better hack.
  • When I saw the headline "Ubisoft to Drop Starforce" for this on http://www.dailyrotation.com/ [dailyrotation.com] I thought that it meant a game project had been canceled.
    • I thought Star Force [wikipedia.org] was by Tecmo [tecmoinc.com]. Or has Ubisoft bought Tecmo? Or does Ubisoft publish Tecmo's games in at least one territory?

    • Boy did I read your post too quickly... I thought you said you saw that on Daily Rotten [dailyrotten.com] and was just a little confused...

      Yes, off-topic, I know.

      But seriously, I'm exttremely glad Ubi has ditched this in favor of a less crippling copy-protection scheme. If for no other reason than I can finally go get my copy of HoMM 5.
  • Re-release? (Score:3, Funny)

    by ShadowsHawk (916454) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @02:04PM (#15122841)
    So does this mean you will be able to obtain a new copy of an earlier game without Starforce?
    • A fine damn question, and I don't know why it was modded funny.

      I'd love to play Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory with a mouse, a respectable number of pixels, HDR...

      I know some developer(s) patched out StarForce in a later version, but even that's not good enough in my opinion. I don't want AIDS medication.
    • 'Funny' is a funny way to mod this one, especially for me, since most of my game purchases are older games.
  • Doubtful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by octopus72 (936841) on Thursday April 13, 2006 @02:43PM (#15123227)
    It is possible they will dump SF, but I don't think the reason is bad PR.
    Reason is that SF3/4 is now ineffective. Reloaded is getting grip on it, Daemon-Tools4 is owning it, while in the same time it is too expensive for something which can be beatenwhile for probably less money you can have Securom or Safedisc which still renders most simple attacks useless and sometimes can even be uncrackable or at least hard ot do it.

    Year ago, Ubisoft released SC:Chaos Theory and protection was invincible for 6 months until sfcure trick came. Probably a world record for AAA PC game title (OK, not counting USB trick, but not many people had facility to do that). It just isn't possible to have that today, although SF4 might try again.
  • If they really ditch StarForce (and don't replace it with something even worse), I'll go and buy an UBI game. No matter which one. Just to show that NOT forcing your customer is actually the incentive to buy a game.

    Not crippling the customer's machine in fear that he might consider pondering about copying it.
  • As a long time Heroes of Might and Magic player I was disappointed to hear that the new game would be protected with Starforce. I have a personal boycott on Starforce and do not purchase any games protected with it.
    I will however wait until Heroes 5 is released because I don't trust Ubisoft not to use something as insidious as Starforce in protecting their games.
  • So does that mean I can mail them my Chaos Theory DVD and get an unencumbered version that will actually work on my computer?
    I guess I can't really complain. There was an extremely tiny warning on the box that it might not work with all DVD drives. Unfortunately the only way to find out for sure it to buy it, open the box (at which point it becomes unreturnable) and pop it in the drive.
    I wouldn't be so upset if they'd at least bothered to answer the e-mail or postal mail I sent them about the issue. :P

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