Oh boy, here we go again. When will game publishers finally realize that copy protection is a waste of money. It doesn't prevent games from being cracked and distributed worldwide to those who don't want to pay for them, but it does annoy the hell out of paying customers, such as myself. If a game publisher persists in using particularly lousy protection, I tend to do one of two things: avoid buying their games in the future, or download a version without copy protection for free from just about anywhere.

STALKER: Clear Sky uses the Tages copy protection software. This is my first run-in with this particular piece of crap, but it will be the last. Since installing S:CS, my system has been sluggish, and I am no longer able to burn discs reliably. Remind you of anything? Well, it sounds a lot like that other piece of dreck, Starforce. What a nightmare that was. Anyway, the Tages driver loads at startup and never unloads as far as I can tell. No doubt uninstalling the game wouldn't remove it either. Well, one way or another, that driver will be gone before the day is out.

Meanwhile, I shot off an email to Tages ([email protected]):

    Subject: Problems with Tages
    Hello.  I just installed STALKER Clear Sky and although the
    game itself seems to work acceptably, my computer has since
    been rather sluggish.  Also, I am no longer able to burn discs at all.

    Please provide a procedure by which I can remove Tages from my system.

    Regards,
    Jeff

And another to the extremely lame support feedback system for S:CS at http://cs.stalker-game.com/en/?page=support:

    Hello.  I just installed STALKER Clear Sky and although
    the game itself seems to work acceptably, my computer has
    since been rather sluggish.  Also, I am no longer able to burn
    discs at all.

    Please provide a procedure by which I can remove Tages from
    my system or provide information as to how I can return the game
    for a full refund.

    Regards,
    Jeff

I have absolutely no expectation that anything useful will come from these, but I want to have as much fun at these idiots' expense as possible. I want them to see how much time and money they will continue to waste on support (among other things) as long as they keep using copy protection.

I'll update this post as things progress (or not). Stay tuned.

UPDATE (2009Mar30): Heard back from Tages support:

    Hello,

    For sure you are mixing us with some other CP. There is no way
    we can forbid you to burn or slow down your PC: our drivers are
    not in use except when a software you run yourself ask for it.

    You will find at the following address our installer/uninstaller:

    http://www.tagesprotection.com/main.htm?page=5.5.htm

    It will be useless to fix your problem, but at least you will see
    that we are in nothing of it

    Kind regards,
    The Tages Technical Team

I fired back this reply (this is kinda fun, actually):

    Thanks for the response.

    I have a lot of trouble believing what you say: if your software
    is so innocuous, why is it in the form of a driver instead of a
    simple EXE or DLL file?  Why is that driver installed without
    the user's permission?  Why does the driver have an intentionally
    obscure filename and no internal identification?  And why is it
    necessary for that driver to be running all the time, even when
    it's not "needed"?  Any driver that is always running is going to
    affect my system's performance.

    I will uninstall S:CS, and I have no doubt that your CP driver will
    not uninstall with it - another extremely annoying characteristic
    of the worst kinds of copy protection.  Then I will run your
    uninstaller, which will probably still leave parts of your software
    installed.  I will then manually find and eliminate all traces of your
    software.  If that solves my system problems, you can be sure
    that I will never again purchase any game protected by Tages,
    and I will recommend very strongly to everyone I know to do the same.

    J

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