Ubisoft Ditches Starforce… But Looks For A Replacement

from the is-it-really-necessary? dept

A couple weeks ago an upset owner of a Ubisoft video game sued the company, claiming the copy protection scheme used on it, made by controversial copy protection software firm Starforce, opened up huge security holes on computers. While there had been complaints directed at both Ubisoft and Starforce for quite some time, it seems that it finally took this lawsuit for Ubisoft to decide to ditch Starforce completely. However, they claim that they’re going to replace it with another copy protection scheme, potentially putting themselves right back into the same problematic situation. Perhaps, instead, they might want to take a lesson from some successful gaming companies that have learned that you can sell more games by not treating all of your customers as if they were criminals.

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Comments on “Ubisoft Ditches Starforce… But Looks For A Replacement”

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daverules says:

Steam model

I wonder why more game companies don’t use the Steam model like Valve. Sure if requires some IT investment, but there are a lot of benefits. You can directly sell the game via an Internet download. You can also control additional content for the software, like mods and patches. Steam also requires an account login everytime you run the software. So only authentic accounts are able to log in.

Dusty says:

Re: Steam model

Because Steam can be hacked like anything else. I know someone who plays HL2 from a game he downloaded from a p2p network installed a hack for steam and enjoyed the game.

There will always be ways to counter any copy protection that they come out with, unless it’s a direct tv p5 card, still waiting for that hack.

Elzeard (user link) says:

Re: Steam model

I tried the HalfLife trial for a few days. The game certainly got the most out of my VideoCard, and the story elements were compelling. I wanted more.

But I did not want STEAM on my system at all. Setting it up was quite unpleasant, and overall made me feel paranoid.

STEAM is just another way of telling Every Customer:

“YOU ARE A THIEF. You are not getting Our Software for free, you malicious Hacker! We are watching Your Every Move. We will look anywhere on your computer that we care to, and if we find anything we don’t feel completely joyous about, we will Slam Your Freakin’ Head into a Grinder (figuratively).”

I didn’t like STEAM, so I will find my gaming jollies elsewhere.

Spacemanbob says:


EA uses something like this for Battle Field 2 Expansions. I can tell you that it is a pain in the butt. You can create multiple characters with long screen names but when you buy their expansion you can’t use those long screen names to register or play with them on that new expansion you just bought. Basically you have to make sure your character name is less than the registration login page allows.

Should have told the programmers that Battle Field has more characters than your stupid login page. Would make a lot of people happy instead of pissing us off and no longer going to buy expansions that are just download and play only. I want a hard copy. I don’t give a crap if it has some copy protection on it. I am not a thief so stop treating me like one. I buy games that are good and play them. Count me as old fashion but having a backup incase I need to reinstall due to Malware or Spyware is the best reason for not having to download everything all over again on reinstalls or a system crash due to hardware or OS malfunction.

Pat says:


I understand the necessity of a hard copy for a purchased product, but EA does attempt to do something close to this. When you log into their EA downloader, which is what you were talking about, all of your purchases are recorded, so if you were to, say, get a virus and have your hard drive wiped, all you would have to do is reinstall the original BF2, then re-download the EA downloader, log in, and it will allow you to reinstall the expansions you have bought.

JamieLee2k says:

Doesn't matter what happens

As most of you should be aware of copy protecting games is always a good idea as in a sense it does stop cheaters and I am all for that, what I am not happy is the companys charge you a stupid amount of money in order to sell there game, ok they have to make there money somehow but lower the prices a bit more wouldn’t harm them too much.

As for the copy protection, I was looking in this months PC Format (UK) and there was an article on copy protections and there effects, Star force was the only on they claim hadn’t been cracked but most of us know thats wrong, look at Farenhiet for a start. I am all for copy protecting games as it means any online game needs to be original and not hacked which I believe makes the game more playable and no cheaters.

Punkbuster has done most of the games justise by adding there anticheat client into the games and hense kickin off all the cheaters that ruin the game.

I think unless every game has every file protected then it looks like there will never be a winner.

JimmyJam says:

To tht guy who posted #5… uh, what?

Copyprotection is about theft, not cheating.

It also adds little value to the final cost of making software. So, if you think, all the sudden, the cost of your leet copy of quake 4 is going from 40$ to 20$…. think again.

Copy protection is just plain stupid at this point. Hacked and/or black market pre-gold copies are available sometimes weeks in advance of the real games hitting the streets.

Why bother to piss off your real cusomter base with something that any 12 year old can find for free on the net.

Wait for quantum computers to be able to have something that you can make un-crackable. Till then, its all lipservice and a wast eof effort.

And yes, even starforce has been hacked.

Rob (profile) says:

Steam model

That, and regardless of which Steam game you’re running (be it CS, HL2, DOD, online or offline) Steam is eating system resources in the background. I’d really prefer games without launch pads, its just more buttons to click when I’m trying to get some quick entertainment before classes.

Anyone else notice that Ubisoft’s public drama with Starforce started pretty much the same time they decided to kill Shadowbane? Maybe they planned on killing Starforce anyway, but they waited a while until they could have a story to cover up firing one of their development teams.

Brian says:

I always...

I always bust the copy-protection on my games here. I am not going to use my original CD’s on my system as I’m tired of wearing out originals. Instead I emulate from a hard drive file with either broken copy-protection or an emulated version of the same. This is not theft as I do have the originals but they are kept in a nice, safe place. It is a violation of the license terms from the licenses I’ve read, but frag them. After buying the fourth copy of one game (Blizzard), this was getting ridiculous.

I also take issue with anything that mucks with the internals of my system(s). If you require installation of a rootkit for a game, something is wrong with this picture. Systems security is one thing I take seriously (and consult on professionally). Install one of those suckers here and not only is it going to be ripped out by its roots (pun intended) but I’m going to advertise it far and wide and probably sue your ass besides. Fair warning game companies.

What’s even funnier is that my favorite games here (EU2, HoI, other strategy games) all have no copy protection whatsoever. Now true, the genre isn’t exactly going to set the world on fire, but isn’t it interesting that there is one set of developers/one game company out there that understands that I’m not going to rip them off. Heck, I want them to produce more so I’m eager to pay them.

Baal says:

Copy Protection is just a hurdle

Copy protection has it’s ups and downs. There are some out there that are out right horrible(starforce). But what the companies need to understand no matter what copy protection they throw at us, there is some techie out there proficiant enough to hack and crack. Even these games with starforce in them. I know people that don’t pay for video games and have some way around these copy protections. What they need to realize is if they make a copy protection that abolishes free gaming all together they’ll see profit drop more then what they want. Most gammers out there play a game at a LAN they’ll go out and buy it. Counter Strike:source, Battlefield 2, Far Cry, COD 1 and 2, Need for Speed series, F.E.A.R., Flatout, Star Wars: Battlefront 2, the list goes on and on. I see these cracked versions all the time at any LAN. And they have the copy protection hack avalible to play. Point is copy protection is just a thorn in the gammers side…if someone wants it bad enough they’ll get it for free with any protection the company throws out there.

Tim says:

USB Dongle

I recently purchaced a tank simulation game (Steel Beasts Pro Personal Edition) that had a great copy protection method.. a USB Dongle. Made by CodeMeter, it is a small sized flash drive that works great, and has none of the nasty side effects like starforce. Just plug it in to any available USB port and thats it.

prayingmantis says:

Re: USB Dongle

I had the unfortunately problem whereby the codemeter dongle for steelbeasts professional pe crashed and was unrecoverable. I would much rather use the actual CD that I feel wouldn’t screw up, or be outdated at some point in the future, rather than depend on some hardware device that could fail.

This hardware device failed within my having it for 4 days. Quite a pain in the neck…


Wizard Prang (user link) says:

I will not buy a game...

…that has intrusive copy protection.

Game publishers need to respect the rights of their customers if they want us to respect theirs.

All of my games are legitimately purchased, but wherever possible I leave the CD in the box and find a No-CD patch. Why? Because it is an unnecessary hassle to have to find it every time.

HINT: Use the carrot rather than the stick – try providing some kind of value-added service – updates, patches, support etc – that are only available to legit customers. Such revolutionary thinking…

Xanthos says:

Good for him. I said it was only a matter of time untill Ubisoft ended up in court. I’d have loved to have taken them there myself but I don’t have the money or the patience for it. Besides, I’d have had to go out and buy the game in question before I could actually start a lawsuit. Once I got a taste of all the crap Starforce was doing to my system I ended up uninstalling the game anyway. Although the game is great and I have fun playing it, I have not reinstalled it since and definitely have no desire to buy a copy. I don’t even pay for software that’s sub-par, why in the hell would I pay for a commercially produced virus?

Now that Ubi has ‘Seen the light’ maybe they’ll release some of those games they destroyed with Starforce minus the copy-protection. I’d love to buy some of them, they’ve got some great titles.

Rupert says:

Steel Beasts Pro Codemeter Dongle

I have to admit, that I am entirely impressed with the Codemeter Dongle for Steel Beasts Pro. I own the game (sim), and the dongle. It cost me $125 US dollars. I would LOVE to play this game on my home network with my son and is friends. However, I have searched for months trying to find a some sort of crack so I can play on mulitple computers. So, far… there is no crack available anywhere!

Don’t believe me? Go ahead and do your own search and get back to me. Start with the usual: Gamecopyworld.com, or Megagames.com

Think Starforce can’t be cracked? Armed Assault was just released in the Europe, and US release is due sometime in early 2007. Its using the latest Starforce protection scheme… it took me two days to download it on bittorrent, and I was playing it immediately. At first, we figured out that while Starforce was doing a diskcheck (after mounting the game with Daemon Tools), we could start other applications (Defrag, Google Earth, etc..) at the same time, and this would confuse Starforce enough that it would start the game, and I could play in it’s entirety. Then about a whopping 3 days later, someone came out with a cracked MDS file, that completely gets arund Starforce, and starts the game EVERYTIME. Check out this forum http://forum.mininova.org/index.php?showtopic=234983938&st=200

Anyways, the point is that the Codemeter stick (dongle) has not been cracked, and it’s not a nasty protection scheme installed on your hard drive. My hat’s off to these guys, and it looks like I am going to have to purchase a second license to play on my home LAN. Here is some more info on the Codemeter stick:

in case anybody does find a way around Steel Beasts Pro… PLEASE post it so I don’t have to keep dishing out $125!!!

test says:

Re: Steel Beasts Pro Codemeter Dongle

to the guy who wants to play lan steel beasts pro PE
I was actually doing this today

“This is a cut and paste from the original post. I didn’t take note of the poster unfortunately, and all credit must go to him. As I said, I couldn’t get it to work though. Also, I don’t know how legit or official this is – it may well be frowned on by esim (the post was deleted very soon, from both forums it was posted under) – nonetheless, I see nothing morally wrong with running the sim on your own LAN for yourself, so here it is, exactly as posted. Let me know if you get it to work:

SB PRO PE -2 Player Lan with one CM stick works.!

Guys I was dissappointed at the news that I would not be able to play Steel beasts PRO PE on my lan with one CodeMeter Stick. Well I just did it and it worked fine. You do not carry the stick from PC to PC you use the Webadmin program and set the PC the stick is in as Server then you add the IP address of the client and loopback of the server. Although it is not without some complications in implementation it does in fact work. I have tested with 2 people in the same tank and two people in different tanks…….lovin it, simply lovin it.


Install SB PRO PE on the server machine. This is the only machine you will use the Codemeter stick in. Install the latest firmware update for the CM stick and patch the game to the latest version.

1: On the server machine (The one with the codemeter stick) Start the Codemeter service and then use webadmin to access the configuration page.

2: Under “configuration” “network” tick the “Run Network Server” box and apply the settings.

3: Under “configuration” “access control” click “add” and enter the ip address of the client machine and the loopback address of the server and once again, apply the setttings.
Exit the CodeMeter service on the server.

4: Go to the client machine and install SB PRO PE. Do not insert the codemeter stick.

5: On the client machine start the CodeMeter service. Use webadmin to access the configuration page.

6: Leave the “Run Network Server” box UNCHECKED here and click “add” in the server search list. Type in the IP address of the Server machine here and once again click apply. Exit the CodeMeter service.

Your setup is complete!

After all this is done I strongly recommend that you exit from the CodeMeter sevice on both Machines, remove the Codemeter stick and follow the directions below.

To run the game do the following:

Make sure that the Codemeter service is not running on either machine when you first start this procedure.

1: On the server machine insert the Codemeter stick and start codemeter as a service. Do not start the game on the server yet.

2: Client launches game now.

3: After client is launched and waiting at menu. On the server machine terminate Codemeter as a service and then launch SB PRO PE on the server machine.

4: If client mouse is non responsive try a ctrl + alt + Del and click retry on the dialog box and then cancel on the Windows security dialog box. (This only happens some times) The game should re-commit and work fine.

I have tested this and it works fine for two players on LAN with one Codemeter stick.”

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