Has it really been three years since we made this episode? (August of 2010.) I guess so. Here is what I had to say about the BioShock DRM in the original post on this episode:
In this episode I brought up the subject of the BioShock DRM. While exotic and new at the time, it’s pretty much the order of the day now for a lot of PC games. Josh mentioned it’s getting better, which is also true. It depends on where you draw the line and what games you care about. Ubisoft has taken the idea to new an absurd heights. Other companies are following the example set by Steam and are trying to sugarcoat their phone-home systems by actually offering some features in return. Blizzard is a great example of this. The new Battle.net requires periodically renewing activation (this is based on hearsay) but offers a ton of new features. Evaluating what you’re really getting for your $60 is becoming increasingly complex.
Still, I’ll always remember BioShock as a forerunner is this regard.
Interesting to see how this idea has spread and evolved. By “this idea” I mean “naked DRM”. With Battle.net, Steam, and Impulse you have varying levels of activation going on, but the systems provide service for your trouble. You can download the game again, you no longer need the disk, it keeps the game updated, etc. Now maybe these features are valuable to you or maybe they’re useless. But they do give the companies a fig leaf to cover their activation. This is different from the online activation you had in 2k Games and Ubisoft titles where activation was only there to give you permission and offered no other features. (Or worse, offered negative features by making you create an account so they could spam you.)
2K Games tried online activation, and after a few years of insisting it was awesome they gave up on it. Ubisoft tried it on an even grander scale, requiring not just activation but continuous connection. They insisted it was working, then admitted it didn’t and gave up on it. Now Microsoft is going for the big time with an always-on console. Games will be locked to the console and you can’t give or loan games. Well, you can, but titles can only be gifted once and only to people on your friend list and you can only lend games if you log in to your account on their console… or something. You need a flowchart to follow the fine print.
If all your friends jumped off a bridge, and got very badly hurt, and said that jumping off a bridge was a bad choice… would you jump off an even bigger bridge?
Note to Microsoft: Everyone is laughing at you.
Hey Shamus! Wasn’t this post supposed to be about BioShock?