Don’t Copy Our Free Demo?

I frequently agree with the sentiments voiced so eloquently by the Penny Arcade chaps, but never more so than today’s comments. I know a man that runs two separate boot images of Windows, purely so that he can run some games without being abused and fingered as a dirty software pirate. The offending software on his alternate partition? CD burning utilities. Because obviously, if you want to write data to a semi-permanent medium, you must be a nasty little software ‘stealing’ pirate.

I was rather agape at the comment that the King Kong demo comes bundled with some form of copy protection software, so I consulted the Oracle. Sure enough, it confirms the fact that if you install the King Kong demo, your operating system will be modified without your consent. I don’t usually like to use harsh language on this site, but what the FUCK!? Stick with me for a second here while I spell this out:

  • The producers of this software have released a limited, free, public demonstration of their game.
  • I’m guessing the idea is to get as many people as possible to use this demonstration, so that some people will decide they like it enough to buy the full version of the game.
  • The demonstration includes software to stop you copying the demonstration for other users.

I’m sure I am not the only person who is currently attempting to stop his brain exploding. Someone out there is actually paying a salary to the dude that thought of that idea. Mind blowing.

In case you’re wondering what StarForce does to your system:


Starforce is a software copy protection tool installed by PC game publishers, which is designed to prevent the casual copying of retail CDROM applications. It installs as a hidden device driver, without the end-user’s knowledge or consent.

Starforce has received criticism for installing its own device driver onto computers. The Starforce drivers are often linked to system instability and computer crashes. If these problems occur, the end-user would be unware as to the cause of the problem, and would be helpless to solve the problem.


Update: It seems Google has a finely tuned sense of irony. The Adsense bots seem to have decided that this post is all about software copying, so feel free to click on any or all of the adsense links which I’m sure describe 101 ways to get around almost all copy protection schemes. Hell, I’ve never done it before, but I’m more tempted than ever to lend my l33t skillz toward breaking copy protection just to spite f*cknuckles like Ubisoft.

I also think the Penny Arcade quote bears repeating here:


Someone needs to emphasize this in such a way that the right people see it: people who pirate software enjoy cracking it. The game itself is orders of magnitude less amusing. And their distributed ingenuity will smash your firm, secure edifice into beach absolutely every Goddamn time. There are no exceptions to this rule.


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  1. Sounds like your classical developer blunder. It goes something like this:

    “Ok, so we’ve got the game mostly running…shit Bob from management wants a demo we can ship to users early”

    “I spent all last night #ifdeffing out stuff so we can build a demo if you #define ‘DEMO_FOR_BOB’ and made him a build that I sent last night”.

    Three weeks later somebody goes “Uh hey, I think I forgot to #ifdef out the copy protection guys…”

  2. Surely not Stu, surely not.
    I mean ffs, the installer installs the StarForce driver. It doesn’t appear to be something built into the code. I guess they use a similar installer for demos and full games.

    Actually now I look at it, several other Ubisoft games use StarForce, so perhaps they’re just using a generic installer for everything? I guess in their minds the more PCs that (wittingly or not) have StarForce installed, the better.

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