StarForce Sucks, or A brief editorial on copy protection

I want to write a heartfelt “Thank You” to Stardock for their policies regarding copy protection. In an age where we are faced with increasingly draconian measures to ensure compliance (StarForce, I'm looking at you) Galactic Civilizations II is utterly, totally and completely bereft of such measures.

Such measures are ultimately only temporary and only punish those of us who are honest with our games. Stardock has taken the most reasonable stance on copy protection that I have ever seen. There is no copy protection. There is nothing to keep people from pirating their game, they have decided to forgo the expensive and ultimately useless gossamer armor of copy protection. No burden is placed on the honest consumer save that they register their CD key to be eligible for updates and bonus material. Such material is ostensibly unavailable to those who pirate the game.

I don't want this to be seen as a plug for Stardock or for their games – although I will say that I do thoroughly enjoy both Galactic Civilizations games as my upcoming review will show, not undeservedly. I simply want to articulate what I think a well reasoned stance on piracy and copy protection should look like. I wish more companies would follow the example of Stardock to save themselves the licensing fees for copy protection and save their honest and loyal customers the headaches of invasive measures like Starforce.

It upsets and angers me when people say that Stardock “wants their game to be pirated”. Protection Technology incorporated, the makers of the infamously invasive and potentially dangerous StarForce copy protection software, deliberately posted a link and later removed it to Galactic Civilizations II torrents to show what a “disaster” the game had become because of lost sales. StarForce and gamers who say that Galactic Civilizations II wants to be pirated are mocking Stardock for their honesty and willingness to believe that treating their customers fairly and with respect instead of like a pack of filthy thieves will get them more sales. That's what we need, publishers who will treat us with respect and not treat us like criminals and not a bunch of Russian thugs who want to sell publishers dangerous, infectious and invasive malware on the hopes that their game won't be pirated for the first thirty six hours after launch. Remember that copy protection has a cost - and every penny spent on that posterboard shield is a penny less going towards playtesting, bug fixing, patching and developing.