Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/03/06/games_copy_protection_cracked/

Games' copy protection cracked in days, says newsletter

StarForce struts its stuff

By John Lettice

Posted in Software, 6th March 2003 14:42 GMT

Russian copy protection specialist StarForce Technology has stepped into the gap left by the DoJ's repurposing of ISONews. Not, we presume, deliberately, but it's a funny coincidence all the same.

Prior to becoming an antipiracy propaganda site, and indeed prior to getting involved in Xbox mod chips, ISONews produced lists of software that had been cracked, and names of the teams that had produced the cracks. We have no idea why anyone would find such information useful, nor why ISONews did this, but you can always take your pick from one of these.

Granted however that someone, somewhere found this sort of stuff useful, then they'll no doubt be interested in StarForce's new newsletter, Copy Protection Review, which you can sign up for here. Aside from providing news about what's what in the copy protection business, CPR proposes to publish a regular list of cracked copy protection, and how soon after launch it was cracked.

It makes interesting reading. Says StarForce on SafeDisc 2: "Out of six games listed in the table one... stayed uncracked during two days after the official release. The other five were cracked before they even came out." Which is not very good, really. For four games using C-Dilla 2.x the record was three days, and they claim the same for SecuROM, although the way we read the table it looks like one achieved a staggering six days uncracked.

But overall, it's still not very good, is it? You might say that stats like these provided an argument against bothering with copy protection in the first place. Given StarForce's line of business that would be a very silly thing for them to argue. Instead, StarForce is recommending its own systems, StarForce Professional 3.0 for "the ultimate protection of popular games" (which may in itself be a risky thing to say), StarForce Basic Edition (which we think is largely intended to discourage people), and StarForce CD-R 3.0, which is aimed at professional pirates. Er, at stopping professional pirates.

As yet StarForce-protected software does not appear in the company's hall of shame, but as it's now boosting its European presence that will no doubt change. Nevertheless, we wish them the very best, and hope they have a happy CeBIT. And to be fair, the aim does not appear to be to do the impossible and produce an uncrackable system. Says the company: "Usually games publishers use copy protection to keep the maximum sales during the first two-three weeks after release." Which seems about achievable... ®