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Setting the record straight
Published on March 11, 2006 By Frogboy In GalCiv II News

Digg is reporting that a website is implying that we want Galactic Civilizations II to be pirated.  Absolutely not! Of course we DO NOT want our game to be pirated. We're a small company, every lost sale hurts us.

This got started because sales reports on Galactic Civilizations II have been much higher than anticipated. We've now outsold the first Galactic Civilizations in North America in the first 10 days. Last week we were apparently the #1 PC game at Walmart. 

Naturally, some peple have taken the conclusion that because we don't have copy protection on our game, that we invite piracy. That is not the case, we simply think there are other ways to stop piracy than CD checks, strict DRM, etc.

What we do is provide a serial # that users can choose to enter when they install and use that unique serial # to download free and frequent updates.

Our license allows you to install the game onto as many machines that you own that you want as long as only one copy is being used at once.

How many sales are lost because people want to have a game on their laptop and desktop and don't want to drag CDs around so choose not to buy the game?

Our company also makes utility software. We've been around a long time -- 14 years now. Our software gets pirated. We don't like it but piracy is a fact of life. And not every pirated copy means a lost sale.

The question isn't about eliminating piracy, it's about increasing sales. It's about trying to make sure that people who would buy your product buy it instead of steal it. 

Our primary weapon to fight piracy is through rewarding customers through convenient, frequent, free updates.

If you make it easy for users to buy and make full use of your product or service legitimately then we believe that you'll gain more users from that convenience than you'll lose from piracy.

We realize that some people or companies might feel threatened at any evidence that implies that draconian DRM schemes or CD copy protection may not make that big of a difference in sales. 

For example, we were quite disturbed to discover that the company that makes Starforce provided a working URL to a list of pirated GalCiv II torrents. I'm not sure whether what they did was illegal or not, but it's troubling nevertheless and was totally unnecessary.

All software is pirated, there's no way around it. We've been making software for over 10 years.  We don't like our software being pirated.  Like I said, every lost sales has an impact on us.  But there are other ways to reduce it than through draconian copy protection systems.

Incidentally, the site that Starforce's forum admin linked to "prove" how much our software was being pirated we visited, followed the instructions on the site to get our game removed and the links were removed within a couple of hours.  We'll continue to follow-up with them.

Update: Starforce has removed the URL to the illegal files.

Update: View follow-up.

Comments (Page 1)
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on Mar 11, 2006
The Starforce group of programmers and administrators are arrogant morons, I'm currently not buying anything with SF on the CD. It's not worth the security risk, possible drive slowdowns or system instability.

Call me inane or foolhardy if you wish, but the harder you squeeze, the more slips through your fingers. You can prove this scientifically by attempting to squeeze jello and keeping it all in your hands at the same time, betcha can't do it (with prepared jello, not an unopened packet or something). Just look at MicroSoft and a lot of big name items that are all pirated, maybe some day they'll all learn to take a hint.

BTW, it seems that the Digg blogger has Dug his own grave. Poor idiot.
on Mar 11, 2006
You should call them out on a DCMA violation.

They are bypassing your copy protection scheme of 'Providing value to customers'
on Mar 11, 2006
ARRRG iv always hated the starforce ppl, how could they do a thing like that! Due to the majour complaints about the starforce software, no developper is going to be stupid enough to plague their games with starforce crap for now on anyways. Starforce sucks to begin with! I hear that people simply unplug a drive to get around it, so it doesnt stop pirating by any means, plus, it lags games like hell (X3).

This whole thing is stupid, stardock is one of the few developers still worthy of respect, partially due to this protection thing. Sucks to see them taking heat for making things the way they should be.

*edit: starFORCE not starwars
on Mar 11, 2006
I bought the game for the sole reason you dont treat me like a criminal. That in itself is worth the price of this amazing game. Games will be pirated no matter what the means of protection are on them, and im glad to see a company finally doing something about the absurd means to do so (by not putting any on there).
on Mar 11, 2006
As much as I'd like to believe that claim Freelancer, the sad truth is that most publishers have totally bought into the "Piracy will be the death of us! Let us clamper down with whatever DRM and copy-protection we can cram on the CD to save our life!" And sadly, Starforce is one of the most powerful and also most annoying program out there...

But still they have no right to slander your business model. They might feel threatened for their sales because stardock is getting many sales with no copy protection? That's up to them. Have them make a better program and they wouldn't feel as threatened. Draconian piracy protection hurts game more and more and the customers are begining to get tired of it.
But still, publisher only see the simple equation "Pirated copy = lost sale" and thus, the cycle keeps on going...

But Stardock, kudos to you! You rock, keep on going, me and my friends are trying to get the most people out there to buy your game =D
on Mar 11, 2006
You've been Dugg! It's like the new "being slashdotted". I doubt this will make the diggnation podcast but it's good in one thing: GalCiv 2 just got in front of thousands of people who will have never heard of the game otherwise. Interesting how starforce may end up helping sell more copies of the game.
on Mar 11, 2006
Speaking of slashdot, someone should submit this to thier news, I'm pretty sure that anything with 'Starforce did X stupid thing' is frontpage material
on Mar 11, 2006
I'd love to see StarForce get shut down over something like this It's a great example of racketeering - "Pay us protection money, or we'll make you suffer".
on Mar 11, 2006
We realize that some people or companies might feel threatened at any evidence that implies that draconian DRM schemes or CD copy protection may not make that big of a difference in sales.

You bet they do. I can testify that companies sales do suffer because of draconian copy protection.
Case in point: Waves audio software. Hi-end sound production software used by virtually every top recording studio.
It uses Pace Interlock copy protection. A total disaster. Many name producers and top studios bought the software but use the crack. Why? see this:

A farce.

For example, we were quite disturbed to discover that the company that makes Starforce provided a working URL to a list of pirated GalCiv II torrents. I'm not sure whether what they did was illegal or not, but it's troubling nevertheless and was totally unnecessary.

Providing links to illegally download Intellectual Property is totally contemptable and beyond belief. What Starforce did is NOT professional, ethical or nice. Good manners prohibits me from saying what I feel. I would get banned from this forum. They must be complete idiots with no sense of tact, good business practice or basic diplomacy.

Don't get vindictive about this issue guys. You are above this crap. Magnanimity. Their own practices will dictate their fate.

To quote Rip Rowan from the linked article above:

Responsible copy protection is:

1. Unintrusive. Copy protection schemes that employ invasive procedures are irresponsible.
2. Interoperable. Copy protection schemes that are not compatible with standard operating systems or other common applications should be avoided.
3. Stable. Copy protection must not jeopardize the stability of the operating platform or application software.
4. Cost-effective. If a company spends all of its time supporting the copy protection, then it is quite conceivable that the cost to support the copy protection will quickly exceed the cost of piracy.
5. Available. Copy-protection that requires the user to have their software “turned on” by the vendor leaves them exposed to prolonged periods of downtime.
6. Effective! At the end of the day, if people are still stealing the software, then what was the point?

on Mar 11, 2006
You are succeeding where alot fail. Nuff said, actually. Keep up the good work! You are a true software pioneer. Here's hoping other gaming-companies will get the hint.

By the way, the dude that wrote this blog on his site understands his error and and is saying that he didn't mean to say it that way and he's trying to fix it, but the site just doesn't move due to the traffic of people so he can't do it at the moment. Which and proves just how much the game is hot plus it's even more publicity for you guys
on Mar 11, 2006
O. M. G. Thats the most evil thing Ive seen in quite a while. Anyone who had any lingering doubts over the malevolence of Starforce should be able to rest assured they need to be squashed on Principal.

Attn game developers. I hereby pledge never to purchase another game utilizing Starforce copy protection, or any re- branding or reorginization of the product thereof. I dont care how many graphs, charts, or power point displays you come up with to show how its actually the best thing since sliced cheese. I dont care how much I want to play the game...beit Half Life 3 or Duke Nukem forever. Some people need to go away on principal, or at least be forced to operate in the country the games are released, so they are bound by its laws.

on Mar 11, 2006
I for one applaud the fact that you do not use copy protection. I have already copied the two disks that came with the CE so i can store the originals in their box. I am saying this to prove that your system works as i have not yet found a game that cannot be copied via one or more medias out there in the WWW!

If anything knowing you can easily create a working backup of your games is what made me become a devout follower of Stardock in the first place. I have now in my collection Galciv 1 (retail), Galciv II (download & CE cd), Object Desktop - Network Edition, ObjectDock Plus & Orion Icon Suite all fully paid for.. This from someone that, in the past, thought nothing of using 'cracked' software!!

Keep up the good work guys, from one reformer i can say your strategy WORKS!!!
on Mar 11, 2006
Amen!! To everything in the post! I have to say that I have used pirated software when a Demo has not been available. But I always buy the software if I like it.
on Mar 11, 2006
You guys continue to BE YOURSELVES and way to go for your innovatory "piracy policy". There will always be this certain influential commercial lobby that will vehemntly try to discredit your not only fair but also highly intelligent way of dealing with the problem of piracy.

Believe it or not but you are juts at the very moment making history with your firm policy of treating the users as real valuable and cherished customers, not like customers-thieves. And this strategy PAYS OFF and thus the big commercial giant is taking notes and shaking cuzz what will they do when you will actually succeed at what you're currently doing? They will become obsolete.

The game's success has its consequences, good and bad ones. You guys at Stardock must not let yourselves be fooled by the bad ones. They will try to do everything to question you and your course of action cuzz they are simply afraid.
on Mar 11, 2006
I know what it is and why they did it. They feel threatened. Yes.
Their business probably relies on licencing Starforce to a lot of companies.
Fact: you have unprecidented re-orders for a new game. It's selling like hotcakes;
But what??? There's NO copy protection??? HUH? How DID these guys manage to be so successful without CP?
We hope other companies don't follow their example - so, lets SHOW them that their games are STILL pirated by printing lists of torrents! Yes, that will make us feel better and possibly save out sales.

Pathetic, lame, scummy. Lets all cling on to our precious philosphy like a sinking rock and undermine other's success.

'Nuff said.

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