Bioshock: DRMShock, Bad to Worse

By Shamus Posted Saturday Aug 25, 2007

Filed under: Video Games 66 comments

This is a followup to my earlier post on this topic. 2KGames, the publisher behind BioShock, is enjoying the sort of attention that only mobs of pissed off fans can give. The forums are now a place where thousands are going to unleash their impotent anger at the indifferent machine responible for marrying a game they love to a DRM system they hate. There is a thread there with over two hundred thousand views, and it looks like it’s one of a dozen on the topic.

I’m avoiding the game myself, but from reading the forums here are what looks like the primary sins of 2kGames:

  1. The game installs the copy-protection software SecuROM onto the user’s machine without warning and without asking. There is no mention of this program on the box. This means they a sneaking some fairly onerous software onto a user’s computer.
  2. The game requires online activation, and the servers for doing this became flooded and went down right after launch, meaning those that picked up the game on day one (the most avid fans, the ones who pre-ordered) couldn’t get permission play their game.
  3. There are limits as to how many machines you can have the game on at one time.
  4. There is a limit on the number of times you can install the game. Un-installing should give you an install “back”, but this isn’t working right and many people have “used up” their allowed installs just trying to get the game to work.
  5. If you “use up” your allowed installs, the process of re-activating your game is very annoying: Instead of making a phone call or providing a serial number, you have to send a scan / photograph of your disc to 2kGames. This is assuming they respond at all.
  6. When people needed help with SecuROM, the SecuROM tech support email told everyone to email 2kGames, and the 2kGames email told people to contact SecuROM.
  7. Uninstalling the game does not uninstall SecuROM. Nothing does. Once you install it, the only way to get rid of it is to re-install Windows, or dive into the registry and try to dig it out yourself.
  8. SecuROM causes conflicts with some anti-virus, anti-malware software.
  9. Most people are calling SecuROM a “rootkit”. The point is debatable, (mostly because of the varying definitions of “rootkit” everyone is using) but what is clear is that the program circumvents the standard Windows logins & permissions, giving itself “admin” powers even if it was installed under a non-admin login. This creates problems if you delete user accounts later, and it is believed that it also creates security vulnerabilities on the user’s machine.
  10. The game is available via Steam. Despite the fact that Steam already has a strong DRM system in place, the Steam version of BioShock still comes with SecuROM.
  11. Even the Demo of BioShock comes with SecuROM.
  12. Despite the presence of SecuROM, the game still requires that the DVD be in the drive.
  13. It took a couple of days to get any sort of official response out of 2kGames on all of this. When they did respond, they did almost nothing to address the primary gripes that users were having. The only substantive thing they did was increase the number of installs from two to five.
  14. As part of the response they posted a FAQ on SecuROM to their forums. Details of the FAQ have been picked over and found to be inaccurate. The FAQ is either lies or ignorance on the part of 2kGames. People have demanded further explanations, but its been two days now and still nothing more from 2kGames.
  15. In addition to the SecuROM headaches, there are lots of more common but serious problems with the game. The system requirements were already steep and required an expensive card, and now it seems that some cards which meet the minimum requirements still don’t work.
  16. Response from 2kGames support have been slow, sometimes days. When the responses do come, they rarely address or correct the problem.
  17. All of this is compounded by the fact that most places do not take returns on PC games. This means that for some the game doesn’t work, support won’t help them, and they can’t get their money back.

Again, I’m not experiencing this first hand, I’m simply going by what I see to be common themes in the forums.

Related links: The Daily Jump, consumerist, Completely Random Thoughts, hylomorph, The Rampant Coyote.

Kotaku has a response from Ken Levine.


From The Archives:

66 thoughts on “Bioshock: DRMShock, Bad to Worse

  1. Robert says:

    Until gamers learn to give a hearty middle finger to companies like this, nothing will change. How hard will a company screw you? Exactly as hard as they think they can get away with, whether that’s zero or “fetch me the baby oil and a tarp”.

    Put these people out of business, gamers.

  2. Chris says:

    Looks like I’ll be sticking with Half Life 1 mods for a while longer.

  3. Taris says:

    I’m very surprised on that Posts, tough i had not a single Problem with the Game and my Machine is 3 Years old, besides the Graphics Card. Wether with installing it nor keep the Game running.
    I just enjoy the Game, which is very good.

    I hope for all the Users out there with Problems, that they will find a Solution.
    Wish you all Luck out there.

  4. Dev Null says:

    Its funny, because I make a point of buying all the games that I like as my way of encouraging the development of things that I like. (I’m not saying I don’t wait for them to turn up in sale bins sometimes, but I buy them.) This one – this one right here – I’ll be downloading once someone manages to break SecuROM. I figure it’ll take a week or so.

  5. Jeremiah says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I was getting ready to at least try the demo. I figured it would at least be some enterainment for a little while, even though I would probably never get the full game. Now I know I never will. To hell with 2kgames. I hope this turd of a release bankrupts them.

  6. josh brandt says:

    Uh, okay. Well, I didn’t know it came with SecurROM (because I don’t read forums and pre-ordered on Steam), and honestly, I don’t particularly care. I have one gaming PC, so not being able to install on multiple systems doesn’t bother me. I don’t run anti-virus software because I don’t read mail on this system– I read mail the old-fashioned way, on a unix system. (It cuts down on email viruses like you wouldn’t believe.)

    Having the disc in the drive to play doesn’t really surprise me. I can’t think of a game in the past, oh, dozen years that didn’t require the disc to be in the drive to play. Even your beloved System Shock 2 required the CD to be in the drive, didn’t it? Remember that? I’m not sure why somebody is pointing this out now as a bad thing, unless it’s just lumped in with the other issues for the sake of having another bullet point. One of the reasons I _like_ Steam is that you don’t need the disc in the drive to play games…

    I think people are over-reacting. This sounds more like backlash to overhype than anything else, and from what I can tell, Levine has actually moved to address the issues at least a bit, which is more than any number of companies would do.

    (Plus I’m playing it on my 4-year-old 2.1GHz Athlon XP with an AGP Radeon x1600 card, and it’s quite playable at mostly-medium-with-some-high quality settings.)

  7. Steve says:

    It really sucks that it’s happened with THIS game – I bet I’m not the only one who on one hand wants to reject their product and all its DRM nonsense, and on the other hand WANTS THIS GAME SO BAD :|

  8. MintSkittle says:

    My guess would be that 2kGames will have to release a patch or mini-uninstaller to remove SecuRom from the game. Or that a majority of the games wind up being mailed to 2kGames for refunds by Christmas. Tis the Season to return stuff. (well, not now, but soon)

  9. Skip says:

    Having looked at it, it’s not a rootkit. What the SysInternals (now Microsoft) Rootkit Revealer tool finds is that it has used a technique to install registry keys that cannot easily be deleted, because they contain embedded nulls. This, in and of itself, is just rude, but it doesn’t make the software a rootkit.

    The thing that bothers me, about it, is that it refuses to run if you have run the SysInternals (Microsoft) task manager replacement, Process Explorer. This is just ridiculous, there is absolutely nothing malicious in this. As a software developer I’m running this, oh, about 100% of the time. But just closing it isn’t sufficient, you have to close it and reboot.

    I ALWAYS buy my software, because as a developer I don’t want people stealing my stuff. But things like this make me want to create a crack just on general principles.

  10. Zaghadka says:

    Please also note that Neverwinter Nights 2 (you can test this yourself Shamus) contains SecuROM v7 DRM, and puts the same “rootkit-like” undeleteable key in your registry and undeleteable files in your user profile after running it (“!CAUTION! DO NOT DELETE,” etc).

    I’m unsure if the UA7 service is installed with NWN 2, because it had already installed on my system from another demo that installed SecuROM (I’m pretty sure it was the LEGO Star Wars demo, I “disabled” it on my services panel, which you can do with the Bioshock service too).

    LEGO Star Wars also has SecuROM v7, btw. ;^)

    They do not go away on uninstall.

    So if the “rootkit” issues are what’s really bugging people, they need to find their outrage for these other titles as well. This is not a new thing. (I still don’t consider it at rookit.)

    Otherwise, the only difference is that Neverwinter Nights 2 and LSW do not ask you to authenticate with a server. I think that’s what’s really causing the outrage here. The real straw that broke the camel’s back is online authentication.

  11. Cineris says:

    I have a friend who is actually a fairly well-known (within my circle, anyway) game developer. Yesterday when talking about BioShock she mentioned she had bought the game but was waiting for the non-rootkit cracked install to actually play it. It just strikes me that you’ve got a problem when your DRM is so onerous that other people in the industry won’t even bother with your game.

  12. Zaghadka says:

    Well, I checked my archives, and it wasn’t “LEGO Star Wars” that installed UA7 as a service, but I’m pretty sure Bioshock isn’t the first demo to do so. It’s worth looking into if folks are upset about this.

  13. Zaghadka says:


    It is a sorry state of affairs when people trust some anonymous cracker more than they do a legitimate publisher.

  14. Zaghadka says:

    From “Dachannien” on Slashdot:

    The undeletable files under the Application Data tree may be protected by the cmdlineext.dll shell extension that is also installed with SecuROM (and gets a lot less fanfare than uaservice7.exe does).

    Note that cmdlineext.dll (and other versions cmdlineext02.dll, cmdlineext03.dll) can be a bit tricky to remove. Since it’s registered as a shell extension, and Explorer is invoked during startup, the file will always be in use unless you unregister it:

    regsvr32 /u cmdlineext.dll

    After rebooting, you can then (hopefully) delete the file.

    Full text:

    (And, yes, this story has been slashdotted)

  15. blizzardwolf1 says:

    As I’ve said before I think it’s atrocious that 2Kgames launches this kind of attack against it’s own consumers. Keeping the disc in the drive is a perfectly acceptable compromise for security. But asking that we accept having an unexplained and unmentioned program imbed itself in our computers with administrative priveleges, in such a way that it can’t be deleted, is not.

    This on top of limiting our ability to activate the game to five times, providing little to no support, answers, or explanations regarding problems that people are obviously having with game, such as running out of installs trying to make it work, or finding out their graphics card isn’t compatible, even when it’s listed so on the box. Not to mention requiring an internet connection just to activate the game, and finally, all of this on top of the many security measures STEAM imposes.

    I’m happy Ken Levine at least replied to people, but so far this is the only reply I’ve seen from him:

    “I’ve followed up on the circular email with securom and we are working on this issue. I agree, it sucks, and we need to get that sorted.

    I’ve been told by 2k that we will.”

    It’s not much in the way of resolution. If there’s a more up-to-date response from him I’d be happy to hear it, but I haven’t found any.

    It’s okay to like STEAM, most gamers simply don’t because of its multitude of issues obstructing their gameplay. And I’m happy some people have a set-up that renders many of the issues with Bioshock null and void. Those people will enjoy their game and they deserve to, but the majority of gamers do not have solitary computers on which to game. A majority of gamers run on Windows, and it’s unfair to suggest they switch to another OS, or establish a single-computer system.

    Gaming should evolve and shift to fit the needs of the gamer. We should not have to tailor ourselves to fit it.

  16. Dave says:

    This is gonna make the pirates a lot of money.

  17. RibbitRibbit says:

    I don’t play PC games (multi-booting WinXP just because my bank’s website doesn’t work with Firefox) but I must say this one

    “Even the Demo of BioShock comes with SecuROM”

    tops the bill.

    And that’s before talking about a program requiring AntiVirus software to shut down (take note, writers of trojans and worms, you got lotsa new suckers to screw now.. and they PAID for it!) and giving itself elevated privileges which DO NOT GO AWAY ON UNINSTALL. That’s them Pearly Gates for the zombie DDoS guys.

    I say : Put all spyware companies out of business. Anyone who uses DRM – which is to say, screws ONLY the users that actually PAID them – should go bankrupt.

  18. Hal says:

    Hm . . . I feel somewhat vindicated.

    I’ve generally had two strategies when it comes to gaming. If there’s a console game I’m interested in, I’ll pre-order and have that copy right away. With computer games, I like to wait a while and see if some of the inevitable launch issues haven’t been resolved.

    This seems to validate my strategy.

    I’m just hoping this is fixed in an equitable way. I was hoping to try Bioshock, but all this secuROM stuff is frightening.

  19. Alan De Smet says:

    The limited number of reinstalls is the real dealbreaker for me. I dislike DRM malware (and all DRM software is about limiting my freedom, which makes it malware), but it’s a tradeoff I’m prepared to make. But mandatory online activation is complete bullshit. I regularly break out 10-year-old games, reinstall them, and replay them. Will I be able to for Bioshock? What if I forgot to properly uninstall the software a few times, and few times had to reimage my system, thus using up my activations? In 10 years will they still be able to handle that special case. Heck, in 10 years will the company still be around? If they are around, maybe they’ll have been bought out by another company who decided that running an authentication system for a 10-year-old game is no longer a good investment and just shut it down? Sound unreasonable? Microsoft left people who bought “PlaysForSure” music and hardware out to dry with their new system. If you buy a Zune, your old PlaysForSure music won’t work on it. If you buy music from the new store, your old PlaysForSure music player won’t be able to play it. Google Video sold people access to online videos, then decided to get out of the market and will be cutting off access. People will get refunds, but they don’t want refunds, they want the videos they paid for. The original DIVX video format (the DVD-Video competitor, not the video codec) let people buy “permanent” acccess to videos, but required ongoing authentication. It seemed safe, backed by the retail giant Circuit City, but they eventually gave up, shut down the authentication servers, and left their customers out to dry.

    If you need to rely on a third party for something you’ve paid for, you don’t really own it. That can be an acceptable tradeoff (I’m perfectly happy to rent my apartment), but it’s not acceptable for media people want to own. This is how culture is lost, because it’s carefully locked away in a short-sighted attempt to maximize profits tomorrow at the expense of the long term. It’s complete and utter bullshit.

  20. Shandrunn says:

    I read somewhere that by limiting the way you install and play the game, 2kGames is violating their own license agreement. Apparently, pointing this out is the way to get a refund.

  21. Lacynth says:

    Seriously, this type of DRM malware should not be accepted, in any form. 2k should have piles of games sitting on their doorstep come Monday morning, from people snail-mailing the wretched thing back to them. Why would a game manufacturer do something like this to it’s customers, you ask? Greed, plain and simple, and everyone that buys the game is only assisting with that greed. We live in a society where what was once a deadly sin, is now a normal way of life.

  22. Zaghadka says:

    Here’s an article regarding the official 2kgames statement, including corrected North American support numbers (I found it helpful):

    Of course, there’s no admission that the entire DRM system is flawed in its own right, just that it has caused problems, but that’s the best you’re gonna get from any company’s legal department.

    (Don’t mind me, Shamus, I have a huge sinus infection, no blog of my own, and waay too much time on my hands. ;^) )

  23. Jack says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about all the whining.

    Soon enough we’ll only be able to game on publisher-controlled consoles, and all this can be put to rest.

    Why? Because it won’t be profitable to deal with PR nightmare that PC gaming has become.

  24. Lanthanide says:

    If 2K games doesn’t come up with a reasonable response in a week or so, we’ll probably see a lawsuit against them, a la Sony rootkit.

  25. chiefnewo says:


    The reason they put SecuROM in the demo is to prevent pirate groups from using the demo executable to figure out a crack for the full version game. However when it comes to cracking I’m pretty sure SecuROM has already been dealt with, it’s the activation by the server that will be the more difficult one (in my possibly incorrect opinion).

    Oh, and josh brandt:

    Wow, you’re so fantastic, I guess because you’re having no problems everyone else should just shut up and let you enjoy the game, eh?

  26. Marmot says:

    Oh god, what a fiasco. To add salt to the wounds, someone on forums also says that the game has already been cracked?

    a hearty LOLZ is in order!

  27. Oliver says:

    You know the worst bit about all this that I have seen so far is the way that, in many forums concerning the DRM system and Bioshock, people have begun to argue pointlessly with eachother. It’s generally along the lines of
    Chump 1 – “I tried to install the game X times and now it doesn’t work”
    Chump 2 – “That’s rubbish, I installed it X times aswell and it works fine for me!”
    at which point communication tends to break down into abuse.

    It’s just a pity that these people seem to be expending so much energy ranting at other people in the same position when they could be, for example, sending useful feedback and information (system specs, programs running, etc) to 2Kgames to aid in resolution.

    Don’t get me wrong though, I’m appalled by the system they have in place which limits the amount of simultaneous machines and the amount of installs per machine you can do. But it would be a hell of a lot more palatable if it at least worked as it should.

  28. DanK says:

    It is situations like this with games that mean the developers have lost my money. I will still play the game, once an acceptable crack has been made for it, but they will not see a cent from my pocket.

    I buy a lot of computer games – but never on release day anymore, I have been burnt too many times by DRM, activation, lies on minimum system requirements and things just plain not working. If a game is good enough, I will buy – after I have tried.

    It is ridiculous that I could be up and running with a given game quicker and easier by downloading it illegally than by actually paying for it. Purchase, install, play – if only it was this easy.

  29. josh brandt says:

    It’s not “I’m not having problems so shut up and let me play my game,” it’s “Nothing anyone is complaining about here is new with this particular game– it’s just that you wanted to PLAY this particular game, so now it’s a big deal.”

    It seems hypocritical to me. This isn’t the first game to use it, and it’s not the first to require a disc to be inserted– it’s just that enough people want to play it that suddenly it’s an issue.

  30. Kory says:

    I personally don’t mind having a disk in the drive, that’s quite ok with me. As with several of the other bulleted problems.

    However I’m quite furious over the hidden installation of software on my P.C. and the activiation limitations imposed.

  31. wrg says:

    josh brandt, I for one haven’t known many games to limit the number of installs the way this one does. Quite possibly a number of those to which I haven’t paid attention have done quite similar things, but I don’t see how it’s hypocritical for me to pay more attention to the products that interest me. I don’t see anything hypocritical about making remarks from incomplete information, either.

    I didn’t see anyone stating that Bioshock is the first game to require that a disc be inserted. It’s just a small extra indignity when the game works so hard to keep a leash on customers when they’re installing in the first place.

    Those who play games are already used to various indignities, but this game is attracting attention because it’s a popular title that’s gone, by some standards, too far. If this situation would have been objectionable the first time, I don’t see how it’s any less objectionable now.

  32. josh says:

    the program circumvents the standard Windows logins & permissions, giving itself “admin” powers even if it was installed under a non-admin login.

    Say what?! I assume Microsoft is scrambling to close this gaping security hole?

  33. Cineris says:

    josh –

    Why would Microsoft scramble to do something about it when the most frequent response to all of this criticism is “Or you could get it on a console.”?

  34. josh says:

    Cineris: Maybe I’m just ignorant about Windows. In Unix, this sort of “privilege escalation” would be a serious breach of security, worthy of urgent attention. I was under the impression that Windows has become a multi-user operating system over the years.

  35. Nilus says:

    This is why I bought an X-Box and a X-Box 360. Not only to I get to play very pretty games on a big screen TV. I know that I pop the disk in and it plays the same way as it does on any other X-Box 360.

  36. DaveJ says:

    Someone said to me that Bioshock is the best game for a good while and that quality is there from start to finish. This is probably the worst part of it all, if it is a good game people aren’t going to play.

    All of my friends have gone through multiple 360s, I don’t see what the point of consoles if they are unreliable aswell.

  37. The worst thing about all of this is that BioShock is an absolutely phenomenal game: atmospheric, innovative and engrossing. This controversy was patently avoidable, and will only serve to dampen the public perception of this amazing game.

    Oh well. Glad I got the Xbox 360 version.

  38. blizzardwolf says:

    Oliver said: It's just a pity that these people seem to be expending so much energy ranting at other people in the same position when they could be, for example, sending useful feedback and information (system specs, programs running, etc) to 2Kgames to aid in resolution.

    This seems to be the best suggestion put forth so far. While the most appealing idea is still to think of 2KGames as an evil corporate entity that doesn’t care, rather than continuing to focus on that, we could be analyzing the game and working with them to do bug fixes, and figure out practical solutions for removing this cheap activation limit and the installation of SecuROM.

    It’s no different than if you were to help someone bug-fix a game, because anyone that’s ever coded a game before knows how rare it is to fix every bug and flaw upon first implementation. I’m not defending 2K here, (I still think they’re a bunch of shits for doing this), but I’m pretty sure they’re aware by now people are not happy with them. I think it’s time we put the bitching on hold, see what kind of suggestions we can come up with to fix this problem, then resume bitching afterwards.

  39. Anon says:

    [i]This is gonna make the pirates a lot of money.[/i]
    Game piracy does not work that way

  40. Glumly says:

    Well i picked up Bioshock on 360, its an awesome game, reminds me very very much of Sys Shock 2 which was one of the best games ever imo :)

    Im obv not affected by the DRM crap but even if i ad decided on the PC version it wouldnt overly bother me, sure the limited activations thing sucks and the rootkit crap is a joke but if i hadnt checked the forums i wouldnt even know either of these things was going on!

  41. Mason says:

    I’ve been a computer gamer for over 20 years — my first was a Tandy Color Computer 2. Over the years I have spent thousands of dollars on computer games. The last one I bought and will probably ever buy was Doom 3, whose DRM *required* me to uninstall my then-5-year-old cd mastering software.

    I hope 2KGames goes out of business for pulling this shit.

  42. Anon says:

    I doubt 2k will go under for this debacle. However, it is unfortunate that a great game like Bioshock is likely to be a flop for this. They seem to be “killing us all and letting god sort it out,” if you get what I mean.

  43. HeatherRae says:

    Well, after reading about this here, I discovered that I myself have the SecuROM rootkit in my registry, and that it got there via NWN2. I ended up calling tech support for my computer (and got someone who spoke English as a first language! Whee!) and the guy was nice enough to literally navigate through my computer while I watched and he showed me the registry keys but said he couldn’t delete them himself (due to their policy), even if they COULD be deleted, and that he had no real idea of what it would do if I DID delete them. So I went and looked around and finally found a fix that SecuROM posted that pulls the files off my hard drive, but doesn’t get rid of the registry keys (they literally say that there’s no way to ever get rid of the keys).

    And the next time that I play NWN2, the files will simply be reinstalled.

    Of course, now the game actually WORKS (apparently SecuROM conflicts with the latest patch released by the publisher of the game – go figure, huh?), but I’m furious that this crap was installed on my computer without my knowledge or consent. I’ve poured over the EULA and the box and NOWHERE does it tell me that this will be done.

    Part of me badly wants to set people on fire over this. I’m a legitimate customer, and I feel like they’re punishing me for being just that. Additionally, I don’t see how it can be legal in the U.S. to install programs without a user’s permission that cause security breaches on their computer.

    Ugh! I am angry! (And not inclined to buy Bioshock, either, at this point.)

  44. nehumanuscrede says:

    Some doomsayers like to try and blame the consoles for the
    decline in PC gaming. While they may contribute to the
    problem somewhat, the issues we are seeing with Bioshock
    are far more damaging I think.

    I use my system for far more than gaming these days. I do
    not need companies like Sony ( who makes SecuRom ) loading
    software without my consent or knowledge on my system. It
    usually ends up wreaking havoc because, like their games,
    the software is buggy at best. Crippling at the worst.

    There are a few games I wouldn’t mind playing, but I am
    now extremely hesitant to load anything on my system due
    to the problems we see today.

    Besides the fact that companies are trying to get
    advertising into the games ( Battlefield 2142 ), or scanning
    software that makes sure you’re not ‘cheating’ ( World of
    Warcraft ) can someone point out the last PC game that was
    released that didn’t require some super-sized ‘ patch ‘ to
    address all of the issues it had upon release ?

    The last game I played was Battlefield 2142. That really
    pissed me off. Not only do you have to register it with
    their servers, you have to authenticate with them each and
    every time you play it. The kicker is you HAVE to play
    online via their servers in order to ‘ unlock ‘ gear to
    play with.

    Bullsh*t. I un-installed it, removed every mention of it
    from the registry and pitched it in the closet. Lesson

    Gaming on a PC these days absolutely REQUIRES a decent
    broadband connection just to download the dozen patches that
    will be required for the game to work. . . . .

    I have yet to see a console game that required a patch to
    play it. . . ( in all fairness the consoles suffer from
    their own issues, namely poorly designed hardware )

    THIS is what is killing PC gaming. The fact that the
    companies can release a shoddy product without repercussion
    and ‘ fix ‘ it later down the road with a patch. The fact
    that we trust them to load just the !%#@ game on my system
    and not a bunch of advertising or scanning software that
    reads far more from my computer than it should.

    It is unlikely I will EVER pre-order or purchase another
    game without waiting six months and reading the reviews, forums, and the microscopic dissection of the software to
    ensure it’s not doing anything that it’s not supposed to.

    This is how PC gaming will one day cease to be. Lack of
    a quality product from the vendors will drive folks away.


  45. Rustybadger says:

    Exactly. I own a lot of games – most of them unopened. I install and play the cracked, DRM-free versions available via bittorrent. I don’t play online games, simply because I live in the sticks and have dialup only. (My only choice for broadband is satellite, and the latency kills games anyhow.) I love Battlefield 2, but hate how it requires me to authenticate before even playing a singleplayer game. And yeah, the unlocks…at any rate, cracks are a great thing, and as far as I’m concerned, companies like EA should consider themselves lucky I even buy their games, since it’s way easier to play a cracked version.

  46. Miral says:

    This is one of the reasons why I liked Steam — admittedly it has some DRM of its own, but at least it’s DRM that I’ve looked over and am reasonably comfortable with, and doesn’t try to hide and do dodgy things.

    And then this game gets the SecuROM DRM *as well as* the Steam DRM. WTF?

    The sad thing is that this probably *won’t* cause the game to flop, even if it (rightfully) is drawing ire from gamers. The sadder thing is that this sort of thing is likely to continue… and it does make the warez versions look more tempting. (Shooting yourself in the foot much?)

  47. Mujubius says:

    The biggest and most terrible irony is that BioShock is strictly a single player experience. Why on earth should I even NEED the internet to be able to play a single player game?

    I’m curious to know if there are any stats out there proving that all of these DRM measures and authentication systems have actually had any impact on software piracy – I know for a fact that within a week of a release I can go to any P2P website and download cracked versions of a program, in spite of the increasing ludicrousness of these protection measures. Has the gaming industry’s continuing hysteria and invasive choices made a difference, or is it just a circle-jerk that’s leaving honest consumers victims?

    I’ve played the game on 360, and it is fantastic. It’s a shame that people will miss out on this work of art because of the choices 2K Games have made. And its a bigger shame for the Irrational Games folks who have openly said that after the financial letdowns of the System Shock games, BioShock is a make or break deal. Unless the console market saves them (and I’d venture they’re hoping it will), they’ve undone themselves.

  48. DaveJ says:

    Console games get patches now. For the guy who hasn’t seen that yet.

  49. I just read about a guy loosing his phone, getting it back, and having to do a four hour install dance to get it all back up — due to DRM.

  50. Frank says:

    An there’s someone who claims that when he ran Bioshock his PC blew up. Literally. He has the pictures.

  51. Gropos49 says:

    You guys aren’t thinking clearly. This is not a problem, there are tons of appropriate fixes if the original issues (if they were issues at all), and you guys really aught to play this game. I haven’t played a game this good since Deus Ex.

  52. Miako says:

    arrgh! too many comments to respond to…

    >Yesterday when talking about BioShock she mentioned she had >bought the game but was waiting for the non-rootkit cracked >install to actually play it.

    The game developer I know is … rather afraid to tell 2kgames where he lives (to get his free copy of bioshock). something about them kidnapping him and forcing him to live on a cot and write video games…

    From him, I get wind of “The Dark Mod” (run on doom3 engine).

  53. Miako says:

    cineris says:
    >It is a sorry state of affairs when people trust some >anonymous cracker more than they do a legitimate publisher.

    dude! almost all games crack some aspect of windows (DungeonKeeper being one heinous example).

    I’d be very surprised if the quality crackers weren’t current or former game developers.

  54. Miako says:

    Alan talks about DRM removal in 10 years.

    With doom, we could say with confidence ID would have it public domain by then.

    Star Control did it too.

    I figure if it isn’t public domain by then, the developers might just riot — and put it out there themselves.

  55. Miako says:

    People care about the games. If Bioshock can make this disappear within two weeks, they’re gold.

    I may disagree about what’s good about games with most gamers — how can you play on such a blurry TV??

    But they care about the games, not the DRM.

    Interestingly enough, the last game I bought was for the toys. (forger-level quality; yay!)

  56. Tola says:

    dude! almost all games crack some aspect of windows (DungeonKeeper being one heinous example).

    Explain yourself, please.

  57. Miako says:

    There are all sorts of hidden features in Windows — all undocumented, of course, and unsupported.

    DungeonKeeper used a “feature” that went away in the next release of windows. As a result, all attempts to play it on NT machines make the game go kablooey.

    Just like hackers, game coders know all the tricks to making their programs go fast. Most of the time, it means using exploits in the windows os.

  58. nehumanuscrede says:

    D*mn !

    Even console games have patches now ?! WTH !

    Truly a sad state of affairs we have before us now. . . :(

    I will concur on Dues Ex being one hell of an outstanding
    game. That and Planescape Torment are easily in the Top
    5 of all time for me. :)

  59. Tola says:

    Even console games have patches now ?! WTH !

    Mostly for Balance issues rather than hardware problems, I believe, but it’s true.

  60. Sol says:

    Serves people right for buying overhyped shit, especially when they could just go for the console version.

  61. Edgar says:

    You PC pirates brought this on yourselves. Developers put a lot of money and hard work into video games and people just pirate them like it’s nothing. I remenber when Oblivion came out and people were on the forums bragging about how they got the game for free. thats just disgusting. so yea you pirate scum can get lost

  62. GoofyFoot says:

    Edgar says:
    You PC pirates brought this on yourselves. Developers put a lot of money and hard work into video games and people just pirate them like it's nothing. I remenber when Oblivion came out and people were on the forums bragging about how they got the game for free. thats just disgusting. so yea you pirate scum can get lost

    Hey genius! 90% of the comments in this thread are from people who don’t hack games, but buy them legitimately and feel like they’re getting punished for it. Try reading the comments before jumping to such asinine conclusions next time.

  63. khorgor says:

    For the first time ever I pre-ordered a game…bio shock. and I get caught up in this debarkle cause I’m a PC gamer.

    does anyone know the AVERAGE number of timeyou can install bioshock? I’m quite bad with getting stuck on games, saving my save files then uninstalling. I’m worried if I do it with bioshock, I won’t be able to play it next time (or say play it all over again next year for the alternate ending)

  64. Jillian says:

    I appreciate you posting up an easy to read article about this; it’s getting increasingly hard these days to wade through thousands of angry forums posts for some correct information, you know? ;)

    Anyway, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to be printing this out and taking it to work with me tomorrow (I’m an SGA at GameStop). Until I see any kind of active response from 2K, I cannot in good conscience sell this game to someone. And I will make sure all of our GAs are aware of it, too.

  65. repairman Jack says:

    I am avoiding all PC games requiring online activation on principal that it is intrusive and aggravating. You are entitled to your opinion, mine is valid too especially when I spend my money!

    I would like to avoid Securom 7 and Starforce too (Jowood really screwed me over with Spellforce containing starfoce DRM) Can anyone recommend a reliable website listing which DRM is used with which PC games? I want to check before I buy, the packaging and magazine reviews withold this information because it deters buyers.

    Thank You

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