on Sep 4, 2007
The question has been posed to me, if you’re so upset about SecuROM in BioShock, why were you silent about it in all these other games you played? Okay, you got me: The only reason I did that was so that I could revel in flaming hypocrisy.
Actually, the simple answer is that I didn’t know it was there. Which is kind of the point, since the most unforgivable part of SecuROM is that it is installed without the user’s knowledge or permission. I’ve been the sort of reckless chump that goes around installing software from large publishers without scanning the EULA for sophistry and decompiling the software to hunt for hidden threats. If this makes me a fool, then so be it. If you can’t trust the person giving you the software, then you’re screwed. If playing videogames requires me to defend myself from the machinations of the publishers at every turn, then I’d rather abandon the hobby for something safer. Like scorpion juggling.
(On a positive note: If you run as admin like I do, SecuROM doesn’t create the process that runs 24/7. Really, it looks like most of the problems with SecuROM arise when people do sensible things like creating proper user accounts. If you’re already irresponsible about security, SecuROM doesn’t make things worse.)
The other reason BioShock raised such ire is that it didn’t just contain the invasive, deceptive, and ineffectual SecuROM. It contained that, plus a ridiculous online activation scheme which was asinine, broken, and also ineffectual.
The old-school copy restriction scheme was thus:
You must have the original CD in the drive.
The latest one is:
You must install SecuROM, activate the game online, jump through the Steam-based hoops, and the original DVD must be in the drive.
That is a lot of the user’s rights that were eroded, not to mention the annoying hassle. And yet, the steps at circumventing the system are exactly the same:
Search BitTorrent. Click download. Play game.
So, the next time a publisher adds a new layer of hassle for legit users, I’ll probably throw another tantrum. This cycle can continue until they have totally wrecked the damn hobby for everyone. They’re off to a great start so far.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.