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18.10.2005

The way the idea of this article occurred to me is bizarre on one hand, but very usual on the other. The usual thing is that I ran across an essay on the internet and thought I wanted to respond to it. The odd thing is everything else about it. I wouldn’t be so surprised if this article was written by a Russian and posted on some hackers’ forum. But to see it in a respected American online magazine was a shock!

The article “The War on Game Pirates” by Aaron McKenna in TG Daily seems to speak for itself. Reading the title one would think the text runs about something like the recent action by StarForce Technologies, when the company exchanged licensed games for pirated CDs and destroyed the counterfeit product. But low and behold!

The author looking at us with his cunning smile starts off excited and inspired informing his readers that DOOMIII protected by SafeDisk had been cracked and available online before it came out in stores. Certainly great news for the pirates and others who disrespect copyrights. Next line we find Mr. McKenna bewildered about the fact that “video gaming industry absurdly overestimates the impact of piracy by assuming that every download of a videogame is a lost retail sale”.

Well, allow me to return. I am confident that every download is not just a lost retail sale. I think that because of people, who seem to have certainly downloaded the pirated game and their friends who they shared it with, each download means at least two or three lost sales.

Furthermore, the author goes on showing his deep respect and sympathy for the “poor” videogame pirates who undergo much greater suffering than music and film pirates because of more sophisticated protection and competition among the pirate groups.

Let me quote another great thought by the journalist follows that “the only thing keeping the game industry from suffering as the music industry has is the fact that videogames are so large in size and unwieldy to steal. That's also why many of those who have libraries of pirated music do not have nearly as many pirated games on their hard drives”. Mr. McKenna being a game journalist should know the basics of the industry. The explanation lies in the area of progress, not file size. And people who have libraries of music own those because the music will still be listened to 500 years from now and a videogame is played for a year the longest until the next version comes out.

And half way through the article the author completely removes any disguise and states that he misses “the good old DOS days, when game developers relied on rather primitive copy protection methods, such as requiring the gamer to look up codes on user manual pages. As the CD-ROM came to the fore, we found ourselves having to leave the disc in the drive in order to play, and later entering a CD key when installing the game”. In other words Mr. McKenna says: How dare they prevent us from pirating the product of their labor? This statement referring to the days of pirates’ paradise means that Mr. McKenna at least used to be a pirate and perhaps still remains to be one.

The author certainly is a brave person. He calls the ways game publishers protect their code “rather shady”. But I don’t think we are in the dark. We offer legal ways to protect other people’s money. And the “shady way”-“self labeled” StarForce that I represent is obviously someone’s greatest enemy. Well, at least we know who your friends are. And we are mostly grateful that of all copy-protection companies in the world you choose to elaborate on our brand. That consequently means that we are doing our job well and the pirates are obviously going mad!

Another issue raised in the article deals with the StarForce driver. The StarForce just like any other system certainly doesn’t share about the technology because we protect other people’s money and it would be absurd to disclose any details about how these systems work.

The installed driver as well as the protection system in whole is a part of the game/software that you buy and when you agree to the EULA you had better read it. The driver can be uninstalled using the StarForce tool available at our website, but will be reinstalled if the protected software is run again, it doesn’t run without the driver.. And there is no need to “hunt for it across the internet”.

The compatibility problems do occur with any protection system and the statistics of StarForce lie within the standard. As for Alcohol 120% and alike there are no conflicts that StarForce would cause, because the protection system is tested for compatibility with these programs. And our technical support received zero feedback from people who had to totally rebuild their computers because of StarForce drivers. According to our research those of users that do run into compatibility problems are beginner-level-hackers that try to go around our protection system.

One has to see the difference between a copied disk and a “hacked” product. The latest versions of Alcohol 120% and alike are good enough that using the Internet they allow making exact copies and exact images . But to get it work, one has to waste a ton of CD-Rs, spend days in forums, download gigs of images and maybe then one can come up with a copy that will work.

As for cracking, StarForce offers three levels of protection – Basic, Pro and Elite. And while Basic being a budget version protects against ordinary home user, systems like Pro and Elite will be a pain, if breakable at all. In most cases the crack comes out long after the peak of sales. And sometimes like with “Splinter Cell Chaos Theory” – the game stays protected.

The article in TG Daily ends with a hope that a day will come when someone will stand up against StarForce in the court of law.

Certainly, the author is not the only one waiting. Dozens of pirate groups around the world, your friends that you share downloaded pirated copies with and our competitors are waiting for this day as well.

And while you all are waiting, we will keep on working to be more user-friendly and reliable to help the authors and publishers work without worrying about their sales and budgets.

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About StarForce Technologies

StarForce Technologies (www.star-force.com) is a leading vendor of information protection, copy protection and code obfuscation solutions for software, electronic content and audio/video files. Since 2000, StarForce has been successfully developing and implementing its state-of-the-art security solutions, providing copyright and intellectual property protection worldwide. Two of these solutions were transformed into StarForce cloud services: sfcontent.com protects e-Documents against illegal copying and distribution and sfletter.com secures emails.

StarForce is a reliable and responsible Technological Partner for enterprises potentially incurring losses due to cyber-gangs, hackers, software piracy, unauthorized data access and information leaks. StarForce’s customers are Russian Railways, Corel, 1C, Mail.ru, Aeroflot, SUN InBev Russia, AMD Labs, ATC International, MediaHouse, Russobit M, New Disc, Buka, Snowball, 2Play, GFI, CENEGA, Akella, etc.

Press contacts:
pr@star-force.com

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