FiringSquad: Have you done any studies, or are aware of any, on the effectiveness of StarForce? While the BSA likes to exaggerate the economic side of piracy by assuming that every pirated game would be a sale, it is no doubt a major part of the reason why PC game sales lag behind consoles. How much extra time does StarForce give a game before it's cracked, and would you care to guess at the economic advantages of that delay for the publisher?
Abbie Sommer: We havenít done any official studies, other than know for a fact we have protected many titles this year alone that are still not cracked. It is up to the developer to put forth as much effort as it takes to install a great protection and the payoff is obvious. I donít have any specific numbers to share, but economic advantages can be significant. Let me give an example: if a publisher decides to protect a much anticipated title and uses our protection, and a user gets frustrated by not being able to make a 1:1 copy of a friendís copy of the game, and winds up buying that Ďmust haveí game, vs. waiting for a no-CD crack, the publisher will recoup his investment in the protection technology after only about 300 or 400 of those users go out and buy that game.
FiringSquad: There's a growing feeling among the hardcore community, or rather the legitimate owners of games in the hardcore community, that they're being punished for being legitimate owners of games. Not only do they have to go through the hassle of swapping CDs now that CloneCD et al. are being detected by various copy protection mechanisms, but they're paying for the copy protection that prevents them from having those freedoms by paying for the game. Do you think this is a fine line that game publishers are walking, or simply another case of oversensitivity about rights, like the V-chip affair in TVs was?
Abbie Sommer: If a gamer buys a game and has difficulty getting it to run, they should contact the publisher and provide as many details as possible up front in the initial email. If the problem has anything to do with our copy protection and a publisher's support team canít solve it, we freely give advice and try to work out their problem, often working directly with the end-user to speed up the process. Regarding not being able to use CloneCD, our protection won't work because it must see the disc before it will allow the game to run. This is common for disc based protections. About the fine line, when you buy a game and install it, typically you are licensed to use it on a single PC at a time. Taking a disc out, or putting a disc in a drive takes less than a minute. When the game is not being played, a user can use CloneCD again.