View Full Version : Galactic Civilizations II, Copy Protection, and Piracy

03-21-2006, 12:34 AM
Galactic Civilizations II, Copy Protection, and Piracy, setting the record straight

StarDock webboard thread, by Avatar Frogboy (Stardock).
Read on ~> http://forums.galciv2.com/?ForumID=161&AID=106741

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 people 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.

<span class="ev_code_yellow">For example</span>, 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.

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etc.... ~> StarDock GC2 forums http://forums.galciv2.com/

03-21-2006, 12:42 AM
Follow up ~> http://forums.galciv2.com/?ForumID=161&AID=107193

Copy protection follow-up, Sales, copy protection, and commentary, by Avatar Frogboy

The auto-track back system our IT guys developed certainly got a work out over the weekend with the copy protection news item.

We received email from StarForce today apologizing for the incident. We appreciated them taking down the link. It also gave us the opportunity to request the various meta-torrent sites to remove links to illegal torrents.

In every case, the torrent list site in question responded quickly to our request. One might make the argument that a simple polite email to a meta-torrent search site is as effective as copy protection.

There is probably some irony that this whole thing occurred just before last week's EBGames.com top selling games list got posted on their site. They list Galactic Civilizations II as the top telling PC title and the #2 overall (all platforms). And that was before this incident.

I don't want us to come out like we're on some sort of anti-copy protection crusade. We just don't think CD copy protection is an effective means to increase sales.

Here's the basic question that every publisher/gamer/developer could ask: By requiring the CD to be in the drive to play a game, even assuming that protection unbreakable, do you increase your sales?

I ask that because many gamers who are on the fence on a given title won't purchase a game if it requires them to treat their CD like a dongle key. Why? Because let's face it, we lose our CDs eventually. Or we damage them. And so what happens is that people who are on the fence on a given title simply choose not to buy the game.

By not having any CD copy protection, people who are on the fence about our game can see that it's only $40 and once it's installed on their machines (plural) they don't have to fuss with the CD anymore. And we do have a type of copy protection -- free updates for customers. Tomorrow we'll be posting the v1.1 feature list based on your suggestions.

So which method gains the most sales? There's no definitive answer for that. I think a given game's demographics have a lot to do with piracy rates in the first place.

Meanwhile, Gamespot followed-up the issue. I spoke to them briefly today on the issue. You can see that in the link below.

I think the most effective way of increasing sales is probably to make games people want to buy. But I'm an engineer, not a marketer so what do I know?

Click here to view link.
gamespot http://www.gamespot.com/pages/news/story.php?sid=6145864&page=0

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03-21-2006, 01:20 AM
Very informative, Lexx. I truly hope the powers-that-be at Ubi will hear of this. I really want to buy any future Maddox titles, but the more I read about Starforce, the less I like it. It's starting to bother me, thinking I may be forced to install SF on my machine to run them.

Why not just a simple serial number, like stated here? It works for Cousin Billy. And anyone who doesn't have a proper serial number to key in wouldn't be able to download the patches when they come out. Makes sense to me.

03-21-2006, 02:47 AM
wow, a display of intelligence.

03-21-2006, 03:54 AM
Yea, got this game and was quite amazed to find I could run it without the CD! Then I saw the above statement on their site and their philosophy on Piracy and copy=protection. WOW. I was impressed.

I had LOTS of problems with Starforce, even having to waste 30 on a new drive, so, even though I didn`t like Gal Civ II that much, i`ve kept the game (given to my daughter) as a thankyou to them. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

03-21-2006, 05:06 AM
I don't even like Sci-Fi games, but I've bought a couple of copies of GalCiv just to support them for their sanity, common sense, and progressive "customer first" attitude.

03-21-2006, 06:23 AM
Now this engineer\marketing genious is truly onto something here. He has made more sense in explaining their position than any publisher has explaining why they want to use SF. I believe I will also go out and purchase this game as a gift to my nephew. He is into the sci-fi PC game thing.

03-21-2006, 03:40 PM
Wow! StarDock just made three sales that they wouldn't have gotten otherwise just because they don't treat their paying customers like criminals when they use the software that they bought. I hope other companies take note of this.

I bought the Lock-On Gold editon with the Flaming Cliffs and couldn't play it because StarForce wouldn't accept the CD that came in the box that I payed $30 US for. Now LOMAC has another add-on coming out and guess what--I ain't buyin' it. Not because it has StarForce or any other kind of anti-piracy software, but because I don't want the hassle. Sure, I know that if I called their 800 yadda, yadda, yadda..., but no game is worth that kind of hassle.

I used to fly LOMAC when I neede a Jet fix, but now I either fly Falcon 4.0 Allied Force or Wing Over Vietnam, even though LOMAC might be a better game than these, but these work.

03-21-2006, 03:53 PM
I can honestly say I'd only been perhiperally interested in GalCiv II and probably wouldn't have bought it until I saw all the copyright flap. I've been getting progressivly more peeved at copy protection schemes for the last decade, so I voted with my wallet and bought GalCiv II. Turns out its a pretty darn good game to boot. Bravo!

03-21-2006, 03:56 PM
That's four and I might take a look at it too,
That's five.

03-21-2006, 07:10 PM
Well, my wife likes Civilization IV, and I've never heard of Galactic Civilization, but after reading this, and the replies herein, I think I'll keep my eye out for it. It would make a good gift to her, and I will be supporting a worthwhile cause.

03-21-2006, 09:17 PM
I have a gamer friend at work who has mentioned two comments, multiple times lately:
1.) Star Wars: Empires at War was not fun.
2.) Galactic Civilizations 2 was VERY fun and would be taking up all his free time for a while.
I downloaded the Empires at War demo and liked the graphics but ultimately was greatful that the demo saved me the $50 bucks, as my friend was correct...not much fun.

My friend's GalCiv2 positive comments had me curious, but my experience with Empire at War had me milling about with my hands in my pockets feeling gun shy about purchasing another game I might not enjoy. The comments posted here have tipped the scales for me and I will be buying the game as soon as I see it on the shelf anywhere (probably tomorrow).

Congratulations on your success StarDock and continued good fortune.