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  • Starforce copy protection

    After reading that GRAW is supposed to include Starforce copy protection, remembering reading bits here and there about Starforce, and seeing the boycott link in jex's signature, I decided to do some more reading about it.

    Last week, a class action lawsuit was filed against Ubisoft for selling games that include Starforce. Now, why would someone want to file a class action suit against Ubisoft using Starforce? What makes Starforce so bad?

    Well, it's possible that Starforce could cause physical harm to your optical drive. If check the update on that posting you'll see that Starforce threatened to sue the author for posting it. I'm quite surprised they understand anything relating to the law because they posted links on their website showing where to download Galactic Civilizations II (TG thread about their copy protection).

    If you read that boycott link, you'll also see that Starforce grants ring 0 access to any program in ring 3 -- ring 0 is pretty much direct access to hardware without going through a driver. This means that it is possible for a virus / trojan to really hose your system if it is run while your system has the Starforce driver installed. Why would anyone want to willingly install such software? Why would I want to buy a game that will install a security hole and cause possible physical damage to my system? Why would I want to run software that can randomly reboot my computer when it feels like (I doubt BF2's random reboots are intentional ;) )?

    Here is an article that describes some of what Starforce has been doing on the PR front over the past couple months. Their little contest asking for proof of damage caused to a system was seen as nothing more than a joke.

    To be on the fair side, Ubisoft did their own little study last fall and found very few problems with Starforce. Here is a rather scathing response to that study.. Why would you contact Ubisoft if your hardware starts acting up? I know the last thing I'd think of when trying to figure out a hardware problem is some game copy protection scheme. Oh well.

    Just for giggles, here is a good (and long!) thread about Starforce. And, at least Starforce is attempting to help out.

    So, aside from jex, who else is making purchasing decisions based on the inclusion of Starforce? I was kinda looking forward to GRAW, but, if it includes Starforce, I think I'll steer clear after reading all of this mess. If you decide that you don't like Starforce then you also need to watch out for game demos.. some of them are including Starforce for some unknown reason. Like GT Legends, which seems to be popular amongst the race sim crowd here.
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  • #2
    Re: Starforce copy protection

    That right there could kill a great game, even if it isnt true. If enough people believe it, and spread things around, now im not saying it is a false finding. Since enough techs and nerds have found this problem one can only side with the masses on it.

    Great find Perry!
    that sounds like a good idea trooper.
    -Vulcan

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    • #3
      Re: Starforce copy protection

      I've got GT Legends, and therefore Starforce, installed on my PC and have had no problems whatsoever. Until I see some more substantial and credible information on Starforce, or start having problems myself, I'm not going to jump on some silly boycott bandwagon.
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      • #4
        Re: Starforce copy protection

        I ran GT Legends demo and I didn't have any problems so it wont steer me away from GRAW. I know when I installed the demo their was also a program that I downloaded that removed the starforce software. You have to have it to run the demo but when I was done I just used the program to remove starforce. I'll still be getting GRAW if it has starforce.

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        • #5
          Re: Starforce copy protection

          I installed Bet on Soldier over the weekend ($10!), and that included StarForce. So far, no issues.

          After reading all that, I don't know if I would install another game with SF protection.....ah, who am I kidding? I'm a lap-dog for the game industry. I bought Bet on Soldier because it had a blurb including Ghost Recon on the box! When GRAW launches, I assume I will be there with my $50-60 in hand.

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          • #6
            Re: Starforce copy protection

            I had Splinter Cell, Chaos Theory and atthe time I was using x64 - I couldn't install the game. Pretty much killed it for me, I lost interest before going back to regular 32-bit.

            Ubisofts response was pretty much 'We aren't going to fix it' and blamed it on Starforce, Starforce turned around and blamed it on Ubisoft for being unwilling to pay for the patching needed. Because I was using XP x64, they (UbiSoft) argued I didn't meet the requirements for installing the game.

            I guess the requirement "Requires Windows XP" doesn't include MCE, x64, etc.. and for that logic would also exclude include XP 'Home' and XP 'Professional'. I tried to get my money back from them but it didn't work.

            I haven't bought an Ubi game since.. but that might just be because I haven't seen anything interesting yet. Although, the other day - I almost spontaneously purchased a game for my son but didn't bother when I saw it was an Ubi game.. not really in boycott - it was just enough to encourage me not to go through the trouble.
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            • #7
              Re: Starforce copy protection

              Originally posted by CingularDuality
              Until I see some more substantial and credible information on Starforce
              This thread has several people that started having troubles with their computer after installing a Starforce protected game, and here you have a TGer that had problems. There's just too many problems that have arisen for them all to be coincidental -- it's enough to scare me off. But, if the hardware problems aren't enough, the ring 0 access thing should be. I feel like plenty of evidence indicating a widespread problem with Starforce is out there, what do you think is lacking?

              P8riot, what you encountered seems to be Ubi's standard response to Starforce problems.. They refuse to support it and send you away to Starforce. Starforce responds a time or two then forgets about you, and you're stuck. As your software vendor, Ubisoft should be dealing with issues related to their product, not passing you off to one of their vendors.
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              • #8
                Re: Starforce copy protection

                Originally posted by perry
                This thread has several people that started having troubles with their computer after installing a Starforce protected game, and here you have a TGer that had problems. There's just too many problems that have arisen for them all to be coincidental -- it's enough to scare me off. But, if the hardware problems aren't enough, the ring 0 access thing should be. I feel like plenty of evidence indicating a widespread problem with Starforce is out there, what do you think is lacking?
                It's all anecdotal... Red Orchestra crashed my PC with a BSOD for the first time in years and years. It corrupted my hardrive, wiped out all of my Trillian logs and destroyed Steam. Should I start a "Boycott Red Orchestra" campaign even though there are only a few people that have had such horrible luck with this game? When thousands and thousands of people buy the game and run it with no problems, and a few people complain of some problems, that means you're doing something RIGHT.
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                • #9
                  Re: Starforce copy protection

                  Originally posted by perry
                  P8riot, what you encountered seems to be Ubi's standard response to Starforce problems.. They refuse to support it and send you away to Starforce. Starforce responds a time or two then forgets about you, and you're stuck. As your software vendor, Ubisoft should be dealing with issues related to their product, not passing you off to one of their vendors.
                  Yes I agree with you and I fully expect to have the following conversation one day:

                  Me: "But I looked at the requirements and 'Intel Pentium 4 Processor' is listed there.
                  UBI: "And you have a Pentium 4 Processor?"
                  Me: "Yes, I have a Pentium 4 930"
                  UBI: "Oh, that is not supported by that product, you should contact Intel for more information"
                  Me: "But it is an 'Intel Pentium 4 Processor"
                  UBI: "We're sorry but you have a 'Intel Pentium 4 930 Processor' - As you can see if you have the box, that is not listed on the packaging"
                  Me: "But it says Intel Pentium 4..."
                  UBI: "That is correct"
                  Me: *click*
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                  • #10
                    Re: Starforce copy protection

                    Starforce is a horrible mess and a BAD solution to the various copy protection problems. Its many flaws may not noticably affect you, but it does affect you, and it affects some people in a bad way. There are enough natural flaws in games and their installations, as all BF2 and RO users know, and adding more KNOWN flaws in the name of copy protection is unfair to the customers.

                    There are plenty of other working copy protection schemes out there. Selecting one which harms paying customers is foolish.

                    Unfortunately, boycotting Starforce protected games will do nothing. Boycotts have no impact unless a substantial percentage of the market is involved. If you choose not to buy Starforce-protected games, do so because you don't like installing crap on your system, not because you want to send a message. The message won't get through.

                    The only thing you can do to influence companies not to distribute this crap with their games is to be very vocal when you are affected by it.
                    Peace through fear... since 1947!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Starforce copy protection

                      Originally posted by CingularDuality
                      It's all anecdotal... Red Orchestra crashed my PC with a BSOD for the first time in years and years. It corrupted my hardrive, wiped out all of my Trillian logs and destroyed Steam. Should I start a "Boycott Red Orchestra" campaign even though there are only a few people that have had such horrible luck with this game? When thousands and thousands of people buy the game and run it with no problems, and a few people complain of some problems, that means you're doing something RIGHT.
                      Maybe this happened because you had a game with Starforce installed. :D

                      I joke, but that is the sort of unpredicatable behaviour you can get with junk like that.
                      Peace through fear... since 1947!

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                      • #12
                        Re: Starforce copy protection

                        I've also read enough shady things about Starforce to not even want to bother installing it. I figure that, as a paying customer, why should I even think about taking a completely avoidable risk?

                        It's not so much about boycott as about "buyer beware." I have no intention of installing software with so many open questions surrounding it; mainly because I have no interest in trouble-shooting the errors that may or may not come about as a consequence.

                        It's a shame, really - I was quite looking forward to playing GRAW on TG. I already have the X360 version though, so I'll make do with that until Ubi can offer some reassurances that my system won't be pooched by their (or Starforce's) software.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Starforce copy protection

                          I'll still buy and install GR:AW, but if anything goes wrong, I will be screaming mad.
                          Peace through fear... since 1947!

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                          • #14
                            Re: Starforce copy protection

                            yeah im with icky, im sure its will be fine...its cant be any worse then the symantic root kit
                            that sounds like a good idea trooper.
                            -Vulcan

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                            • #15
                              Re: Starforce copy protection

                              I will not purchase any game with Starforce on it. Whether its true or not. Why take a chance?

                              I've had Starforce on my system before. Now, while I haven't had problems with it I did remove it upon finding it. I even do periodic checks of both my computers for Starforce.

                              I have seen and spoken with a lot of people who have had issues with Starforce and therefore not support it myself.

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