Boycott Starforce

NEWS: Ubisoft won't use Starforce anymore !

The rumor has been confirmed: Ubisoft decided that the anti-copy software used with any future Ubisoft games won't be Starforce, starting with Heroes of Might and Magic V.

Ubisoft was the largest producer of Starforce restricted games, and it's a huge step toward the end user. A big thanks to all the people who spread the word on Internet for some years ! But don't stop the fight yet, Starforce is alive and a lot of great games are still protected with Starforce. Nadeo, Egosoft, do you read us ?


A lot of PC gamers have joined together, and decided not to purchase any PC games that use the Starforce copy protection method. This site is here to provide information about the Starforce protection method, so that you can make your own informed decision.

I will provide a list of games that install the Starforce device drivers, as well as a list of publishers that incorporate Starforce. If you wish to join this boycott, we encourage you to write the publisher, or post on their forum, and let them know.

This site tries to continue the work of R.I.P., we have no clue why it went down.

What is Starforce?

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.

Why are we boycotting it?

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.

Here's a video of a user experiencing a reboot while X3's Starforce is doing its CD check:

For example, here's one of the common problems brought by Starforce: under Windows XP, if packets are lost during the reading or writing of a disk, XP interprets this as an error and steps the IDE speed down. Eventually it will revert to 16bit compatibility mode rendering a CD/DVD writer virtually unusable. In some circumstances certain drives cannot cope with this mode and it results in physical hardware failure (Most commonly in multiformat CD/DVD writer drives). A sure sign of this step down occurring is that the burn speeds will get slower and slower (no matter what speed you select to burn at). Starforce, on a regular basis, triggers this silent step down. Until it reaches the latter stages most people do not even realise it is happening.

Here's what Greg Vederman, PC Gamer editor-in-chief, experienced:

I'm okay with that in theory, but some of these anti-piracy software programs are so potent that they cause issues for legitimate game buyers. One of the leading brands, StarForce, is notorious for not only making it difficult for a small percentage of legitimate users to load up StarForce-protected games, but also for leaving potentially problem-causing StarForce software behind on your PC, even after you've deleted the game it was protecting. And this isn't just some story that I've read about online or in emails from readers. No, it happened to me.

Last year, my work PC suddenly began blue-screening (crashing) any time I popped an audio CD into either of my two optical drives. I went online and learned that other people were having this problem and that it appeared to be StarForce-related. Deleting my StarForce-protected games did nothing. I had to run a StarForce-removal utility before my system - filled only with legal, licensed software - could play audio CDs again.

Broken Starforce CD It has been reported by many users that the slowdown caused by StarForce on some recent multiformat DVD writers can cause irreversible hardware failures on those drives (they aren't recognized anymore), as they aren't supposed to write at slow speeds.

Moreover, the Starforce drivers, installed on your system, grant ring 0 (system level) privileges to any code under the ring 3 (user level) privileges. Thus, any virus or trojan can get OS privileges and totally control your system. Since Windows 2000, the Windows line security and stability got enhanced by separating those privileges, but with the Starforce drivers, the old system holes and instabilities are back and any program (or virus) can reach the core of your system by using the Starforce drivers as a backdoor.

Even the Starforce officials admits their software is not 100% copyproof, and that it's causing a lot of trouble to the users:

"The purpose of of copy protection is not making the game uncrackable - it is impossible. [...] After several months of sails even we recommand the publishers to release patches that remove the copy protection just to make the game play more comfortables to the customers." Captured source, from the official Starforce forum.

Indeed, Starforce isn't really doing its job, and it's causing so much trouble to the users that the Starforce team itself ask the game publishers to remove it. Enough said.