Having had an extended discussion with my brother over the Christmas holidays regarding the merits of Starforce copy protection (included on a large number of games) we now learn (possibly, this is mostly from forum postings) that Starforce appears to reboot your machine when it suspects you are doing something ‘inappropriate’ (nowhere is it mentioned how it can tell that what you are doing is actually wrong). See also Lart44’s post at this Gamespot forum explaining exactly how it works.
Starforce is infamous for what it can do to your PC. While it’s not clear how widespread any problems are, it’s been dismissed as minor hackers trying to circumvent the copy protection (for whatever reason, not all of which are illegal) by both Starforce and Ubisoft, which is known to use Starforce in some of its games (see this list). But there are far too many complaints about Starforce protected games for this to be a simple matter of a low ratio of people experiencing problems, which is considered acceptable for most types of software, or for it to be primarily confined to people attempting to circumvent it. Users have reported system instability, problems with their CD/DVD drives to the point of breaking the drive, and possible security holes (granting super user access to user programs). Now we learn it might prevent you from doing what you want with your PC by rebooting whenever it wants to. If these allegations are true, then I wonder what could possess any game publisher to use Starforce on their games – all it seems to do is irritate users with its overzealous copy protection, and creates a great deal of ill will among customers. The problems with Starforce, whether real or not, are now being widely publicized and I doubt it is a good business decision for any game publisher to opt for Starforce. I, for one, will not be buying (or bittorrenting) any Starforce protected games out of fear for what it will do to my hardware. Should any game developers see this post, you now know what your chances of getting me as a customer are if you go with Starforce. It will be very difficult to convince me otherwise, unless subsequent releases of Starforce fix its tendency to break hardware and hijack your machine.
Not that many people read this blog, but I’ve cast my vote.