A Counter-Offer

By Shamus Posted Saturday Jul 26, 2008

Filed under: Rants 66 comments

I’m (sigh) installing Steam, when I see a special offer pop up:


Here’s a counter-offer, you clueless marketroids: You give me a version of the game without any of that SecuROM / Online Activation nonsense, and I’ll pay you full price. (And for those who keep forwarding news stories saying 2KGames has removed the BioShock DRM: This is not true and it breaks my heart to see 2KGames getting away with making such claims. Stop it. You’re killing me.) The game is long since cracked. You guys have nothing to gain by continuing to cling to this DRM. This is doubly true of the Steam version of the game, since you have your online activation running on top of theirs. This means that if either Steam or the BioShock servers go down, legit customers (and only legit customers) get locked out of their game.

All the pirates who want it, have it. The only people who don’t have it are potential customers like me who won’t stand for this septic nonsense.

You’re having a sale on SecuROM? How nice. Go piss up a rope.


From The Archives:

66 thoughts on “A Counter-Offer

  1. qrter says:

    Why were you installing Steam..?

  2. Thomas says:

    Shamus, out of curiosity, is there a price point that you would consider buying (“renting”) an activation-server-DRMed game? $5? $1? 50c?

  3. Zukhramm says:

    This is soemthing I have sid before, but I would accept if there was a time restricted DRM, that is removed after a specified time.

    Of course, this woud be, if there was some way to make sure they actually did remove it at the appointed time.

  4. Z!re says:

    I honestly don’t get why they keep adding DRM to new games.

    It has never helped, ever.

    As a programmer myself, I can proudly say nothing I put my name on will ever include DRM.

    Now if I could just finish that “steal all money and car from paying customer then drive off” routine that will be included instead of DRM…

    Also seconding qrter’s question, why Steam?

  5. evilmrhenry says:

    Thomas: I can’t speak for Shamus, but my price point is around the $3 range. (Depending on the game, of course.) This is based around assuming that the game will be inaccessible in a year, and has a definite effect on my purchases. For example, I would have bought PA Adventures when it was $10 lest weekend, if it wasn’t DRM encumbered.

  6. Patrick says:

    Dammit! They tricked me into buying both Bioshock (which works) and Mass Effect (whic does not). Grrr…

  7. Andre says:

    Shamus, I’ve been reading your site regularly for a few years now, and lately I’ve been noticing a drop-off in the quality of some of your posts. It seems in the last few months that some of your articles (though thankfully not all of them) focus less on presenting well-thought-out critiques of draconian DRM and broken-at-launch games and more on hurling as many insults as you can at the people and companies who draw your ire. I know that it’s the Internet, and you’re free to express yourself however you like, but I think your readers have come to expect a higher caliber of commentary and discourse from your site.

    What actually bothered you enough today that you decided to write about it? Was it the pop-up itself? Was it Steam’s audacity to offer the game for half price? Was it the fact that your boycott of the game doesn’t seem to have phased 2K Games’ DRM strategy? Or are you merely angry for being reminded of the existence of a nearly year-old game, and of your quarrel with its publishers for slapping some DRM on the game? It seems to me that you’re just rehashing an issue that, in most peoples’ minds, has been put to bed — for better or for worse — months ago. But why? There are plenty of fresh fish to fry, so why are you poking on the fish that’s sitting in the corner over there, long-dead and reeking?

    Given the beliefs and standards you have expressed in the past, the language of this post is about as close as you will get to a profanity-laden rant, and it’s all over a game that came out nearly a year ago, and only because you saw a pop-up ad for the game. You seem angrier lately, and it ain’t pretty. What gives, man? “you clueless marketroids”? “go piss up a rope”? I expect better from you.

  8. HeatherRae says:

    See, Andre, I subscribe to the notion that if it’s your blog, you can write what you want, when you want, and if someone doesn’t like it, they can go elsewhere.

    But that’s just me. Trust me, Shamus is a kitty cat compared to some of the things I have written on my LiveJournal.

  9. Kevin says:

    Okay, I thought it was just me, but I gotta go with Andre here. Not that you’re at all responsible to any of us for your content, but I have been thinking that maybe you’d changed personally, and I should go elsewhere.

    I don’t want to be critical, you can’t make everyone happy and I don’t believe you should try, but is everything okay over there? You have seemed a lot angrier recently, and much less entertaining to read. I still have a lot of respect for your intelligence and observation, but is this perhaps something you hadn’t thought about?

    If I’m off base here please forgive me and continue as you would. In any case I wish you well.

  10. Jason says:

    Andre, while I agree that Shamus has a set a standard for well thought out posts, you can see he filed this one under “Rants”. To me, this is exactly what the tag is for; for Shamus to blow off steam (pun intended) on a topic that he has covered (quite well) many times in the past. If he had another valid point to add to the myriad points he’s posted logically about in the past, I’m sure it would have been posted and tagged accordingly (under “Video Games”, or perhaps “Geek Culture”). Context is important in this case.

  11. Andre says:

    HeatherRae: Your point doesn’t hold water. He’s free to do and say what he wants, yeah. And I’m free to disagree and voice my displeasure. And I voiced it in such a way that hopefully he’ll read it and chew on it for a bit before he responds, instead of just dismissing it out-of-hand like some other, less mature bloggers would. From what I’ve seen of Shamus over the years (and I’ve interacted with him several times in the past… For instance, I’m the guy that sent him a copy of Half-Life 2 Episode One and challenged him to review it despite his dislike for Steam’s DRM), I expect that he’ll have something interesting to say in response to my comment, whether he agrees or disagrees with me.

    A blogger is free to say what he or she wants, but with expanded readership comes some degree of expectation from the readers.

    Also, I didn’t want to bring it up, but my gut instinct is with Kevin here: Shamus has seemed angrier in the past few months, and I fear that something (not BioShock DRM) has got him on edge. But that’s his personal life, which he usually keeps to himself, and I’m not about to attempt to meddle in it.

  12. The Lone Duck says:

    I said it on my last post, and I’ll say it here. If you wanna play cutting edge tech games, get a console. A standard tech platform is far better suited to high graphics games, than the PC platform, with such a wide variety of processors, graphics cards, physics cards, etc. And on consoles, the DRM issue is largely moot. Granted, you have to buy a new console every 5-10 years, but you have to do that with a PC anyway. My PS3 has better backwards compatibility than my current PC. (My PC won’t play games like Curse of Monkey Island very well at all.)
    There are reasonably priced, modest graphics games available. The gaming press is doing a crappy job of covering them. But I think for single player games, gaming consoles are currently doing a better job with games than PCs, even ignoring piracy. This may not be a popular thing to hear among PC gamers, but that’s the way the market is heading. You can play Bioshock on Xbox 360 and PS3 without having to connect to a server. That gives it greater longevity should 2K Games ever go under. Them’s my thoughts.

  13. Illiterate says:

    “Go piss up a rope” is a lovely piece of vitriolic language.

    Another I heard and loved lately (TSC) was “Go bite a fart”

    I second (third?) the motion about what price point you feel is appropriate for a game you won’t “own”.

    It actually brings up a new possible revenue stream (or steam) for these companies.. why not “rent” PC games? bandwidth is cheap, or the “inactive” discs could sit on a rack at GameStop. I’d happily pay 5 bucks for a weekend pass to play something like Bioshock (and the game could let me play a demo beforehand so I could tell how well it works..

    Oh sure, this would make it a bit easier to pirate the game, but seriously, bandwidth is cheap. Getting the game on my computer in a pirated state isn’t all that hard, or so I hear.

  14. Luke Maciak says:

    I always wondered why companies keep sticking to the DRM months after the release. Why couldn’t they simply do a “collectors edition” of the game after for example 6 months or a year, remove the DRM and increase the price by say $20-$30 for the privilege? I bet a lot of people would gladly pay extra to avoid rootkit DRM.

    Oh… Wait I know why. That’s because as soon as the game launches they archive all the source code, put it on a single hard drive, and take it into the basement and place it in that one special room which has the “Beware of the Leopard” sign on the door, never to be seen again.

    How do they make patches and bugfixes you ask? Don’t make me laugh – patches are for MMO’s. Nowadays regular games have modding community to fix the bugs so the developpers don’t even bother. :P

  15. Kennet says:

    On a somewhat unrelated note, I would like to add that if you want to know what really pisses me off take a look at this screenshot of my steam, here in Denmark. Notice the difference?

    I hate European prices…

  16. Winter says:

    Hmm… let’s see… which games do i still not have in my collection? Oh yes, Bioshock is in there. I hear it’s really good, but i haven’t played it yet…

    Shamus, out of curiosity, is there a price point that you would consider buying (“renting”) an activation-server-DRMed game? $5? $1? 50c?

    I don’t speak for Shamus, but for myself it would have to be cheap–probably too cheap for them to make money on it. It would have to be cheap enough that if i installed it and it threw a fit about one of my “l33t h4ck3r t00lz” (read: programming tools i use to make a living) or if it just didn’t install at all i would be willing to just eat the loss and move on. (Or just pirate a clean copy… but i’m guessing they wouldn’t do it that way if that was my solution, so i’m leaving that option out.)

    That means somewhere in the $1 range. Even a $1 junk rare in Magic the Gathering can still often be used, and sometimes those things get expensive when people figure out how good they are. Even if i pay $5 for a bad movie i still get to see the movie, so for an odds-are-poor shot at playing your game? Which i don’t get refunds on? Which is going to make me feel like a real sucker if the thing won’t work?

    Yeah, it’s not gonna be good.

  17. Jeffrey says:

    Andre: Perhaps it was the hassle of having to endure multiple hardware failures? And at the same time, lose all his buffer for his new for pay project?

    Frankly, I’m just grateful that he’s not taking a hiatus and we risk him quitting inadvertently. If his posts are less detailed, that’s because he currently has less time.

    The blog isn’t about you. Lighten up.

    On topic: My price for DRM tolerance would have to be around $3 or less as well. Maybe up to $10 if the game is that excellent. Either way, that’s a big drop from $50 full price, which is appropriate since online DRM is effectively a rental anyway.

  18. Allan says:

    All the pirates who want it, have it. The only people who don't have it are potential customers like me who won't stand for this septic nonsense.

    Indeed, has anyone looked at the Pirate Bay’s PC section? Bioshock is still in the top 10 most distributed games with over 500 seeds. Also Mass Effect, which came with BioShock copy protection is in the top 3 most distributed. I wish I could point that out to BioWare/EA so the fact that DragonAge will end up there aswell, whether or not it comes with securom, gets through their thick skulls. But if i did they’d just ban me.

    EA Sidenote: I recently purchased Command and Conquer The First Decade, an amazing pack that includes EVERY C&C game upto Generals: Zero hour. However, the damn thing had me enter a seperate serial key for every single one and one for the pack itself, for the pack itself even though it didn’t contain anything but the games. Madness.

  19. Zukhramm says:

    “I hate European prices…”

    And the bad thing is, now that we’ve got so much internet, regional differences is something you’d be expecting to go away. But no, “This service is currently not avalible in your country.” some random page says about some random something, stupid IP-adresses…

  20. Yonder says:

    Andre: The way I see it he has already posted on the these subjects with more articulate beefs with DRM, as well as some analysis and conjecture on their effects on sales, as well as possible alternative methods for dealing with piracy. He still links back to those posts for any newcomers or people that want to go through them again, so it doesn’t really bother me when he just blows of steam like today.

    The way I imagine it he’s already posted pretty much everything he has to say (for now) on the subject, and now he is just railing against all the people that continue to do (and expand on) the things that haven’t worked in the past. I know I feel the same way pretty frequently. Personally I think it’s good that he continues to bring it up. Even though this is the choir, and everyone already knows Shamus’s opinions, if everyone stopped talking about it then people in the video game industry may go “Hmmm, they aren’t complaining any more, that means they would probably tolerate it if we ratcheted this stuff up a tad more.”

  21. MadTinkerer says:

    Shamus, while I do appreciate the sentiment that DRM == bad, let’s have a little perspective:

    If you go out to see The Dark Knight in theaters right now, you only get to see it once for $10. That’s 2/3 of the price that Bioshock is being offered for, and DRM or not you’ll have Bioshock for quite a bit longer than 2 1/2 hours.

    As someone who does have the Steam version of Bioshock, I say: just give it up already. It might not work in four years, but you’re only paying fifteen dollars for it. If their servers go down, then you can just grab the cracked version. In the meantime, you can enjoy Bioshock for what is a reasonable amount of time given the admission price.

    You’re not immortal, so in the long run all entertainment is eating into your lifetime. You can’t enjoy a “permanent” copy of something on a permanent basis because your body is not “permanent”. Buying, say, a full season of a TV series on DVD is worth it if you want to see it a few times, or if you just want to increase your potential-entertainment-time by 30% by skipping all the commercials. But in the long run there are only so many times you can see Buffy Season 3 all the way through. There are only so many times you can play Bioshock before you die.

    If you really want to worry about playing Bioshock in 10 years, don’t: it’s a great game and there will still be torrents (or the 2018 equivalent thereof) for you to get a working version of it in a decade.

    There are worse examples of DRM to moan about: the atrocious situation with Mass Effect, for example. The probability that Spore will be just as bad out of the box. Bioshock is not completely DRM-less, but complaining about it’s current DRM setup is like complaining about communist-sympathizing college professors with tenure in the early 1980s. Yes, it’s part of a problem, but there are more important aspects of the problem to complain about(e.g. Russian ICBMs).

  22. MadTinkerer says:

    You know what? Here’s my counter-offer: Let me know what your Steam account name is and I’ll Friend you (or just Friend me: I’m “MadTinkerer” on Steam) and I’ll give you a copy of Bioshock myself. I bought it several months ago, never ever noticed any problems, and I’ll send you a copy and then you can complain about it, all right?

    I say Bioshock, as is, is worth $15 and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.

  23. Kwizz says:

    And Kennet hasn’t even added the 25% VAT yet. Sometimes Denmark does suck.

  24. Illiterate says:

    Bought some music from yahoo?


    Now you didn’t. Fortunately for their customers, they’re a big company with a name (and other assets) to protect.

    What if all this had been was a music store? Their customers would have been left with encrypted audio tracks while the validation servers were being sold at auction.

    This is why Shamus won’t buy software with the requirement to phone home (Shamus, did you buy a copy of XP? Vista?)

    Edit: thanks for unlocking my last post.. Was it the language that got it locked? My URL?

  25. DosFreak says:

    “If you really want to worry about playing Bioshock in 10 years, don't: it's a great game and there will still be torrents (or the 2018 equivalent thereof) for you to get a working version of it in a decade.”

    Heh. Good luck with that. Try finding alot of older games on torrents. (By old I mean anything 10yrs or greater). Just try. Even if you do find something have fun with the 2kbs download rate with 2-3 seeders if your lucky.

    I followed the DRM situation with BioShock before buying and new that the game had been cracked within 2 weeks of the game coming out so as soon as I bought a copy I used the crack and I’m good to go. I have my copy, can install it however many times I want and don’t have to worry about some server shutting down. I also don’t have to worry about trying to download it from some torrent in 2018.

    Frankly BioShock isn’t worth all of the hoopla anyway. Is it worth playing? Yes. Are there much better games and are the older games (SS2,Thief1/2) much better? Yes.

    While I understand where your coming from with the “Your lifespan is only so long, give into the darkside, blah blah blah”, it doesn’t work for some people. You give in on one thing and you start letting things slide. You let things slide and your lost.

    Having 1 game that requires activation is bad enough. Having 50 different games by different publishers/developers/DRM is even worse.

    If you don’t give a shit about your games and it’s just disposable entertainment where you don’t give a crap if you payed for the game or not when it’s not working then fine. For some of us we care about we spend money on it, we want the maximum value out of what we pay for and we don’t want to have to jump through hoops just to play a damn game. WE WANT TO BUY YOUR GAMES YOU IDIOTIC PUBLISHERS? WHY DON’T YOU WANT OUR MONEY?!

  26. Hannes says:

    I happily would pay ~30-40$ for hl2 if it would work without Steam.

  27. MONKEEYYY says:

    After I installed Bioshock my (a few months off from being brand new) computer started crashing more often and I experienced freeze-ups where the screen would go all funny (even when not playing the game). I’ve completed Bioshock, it was a fun game, but I’ve noticed that the crashes happen much less frequently now that I don’t play the game. The fact that my computer is less stable now is outrageous.

    People like Shamus who give this sort of software, and publishers who force this software through, bad publicity are needed to tell the publishers where they can stick their DRM.

  28. Harley says:

    I can spend $15 dollars for a movie on DVD and it can be longer than the 2 1/2 hours to see The Dark Knight in theaters. And the entertainment capabilities of the movie will also last longer than Bioshock will, because the movie won’t ever refuse to play because it doesn’t try phoning some server to see if it’s allowed to play.

    Your opening point has no real relevance. Buying a ticket to watch a performance (like a movie or a theater performance) is different than buying an object intended for longer and/or repeat entertainment (like a movie on DVD or a video game).

    The problem is is that a game/movie/song with DRM is something that one can buy that is pretty much guaranteed to deny the “owner” from enjoying it sometime after they bought it, before their own lifetime is over.

    Yes, we aren’t immortal. But if someone buys, say, Buffy Season 3 on DVD, hey, maybe they want to watch it, oh, a couple times a year for the rest of their life, for as long as they can keep a TV and DVD player that can play it working. Maybe they’d want to play Bioshock every year for the rest of their life, as long as they can keep a computer that could install and run it, except with the DRM, doing that legally is impossible, even though they bought it, because it will try to phone home and, eventually, can’t, so it stops itself from being played.

    Besides, the DRM in Bioshock/Mass Effect/Spore/etc. is somewhat similar to malware or a rootkit. You aren’t made aware it is installed or running and does not have an interface to remove it nor does it remove itself when what would use it is removed.

  29. mookers says:

    I too have noticed that Shamus has gotten a bit snarky lately. While I personally think it’s a bit refreshing to see that he’s susceptible to the same human foibles as the rest of us, I think perhaps he’s under a bit more stress than usual. I wouldn’t be too hard on him. It’s still entertaining reading.

  30. The Lone Duck says:

    @ DosFreak: Thanks for the tip regarding ScummVM. It doesn’t help with all my old games, but it’s a start. :)
    I don’t use Steam. As much as I like the idea of “sticking it” to the retailers, I like the idea of having a hard copy of the game. I tend to hold onto games for a long period of time. So the DRM server thing is a bit much. But…
    So you want to exchange money for a product (the game without DRM) that they aren’t selling. Is it stupid on the developer/publisher’s part? In light of everything, yes it is. Is it worth getting angry about? If I got angry about every stupid thing some corporation did, I’d either be in a prison or an asylum. No one has responded to my praise of the console market. Why are people so attached to the PC as a gaming platform? Yes, you can mod games. Does that alone outweigh all the crap PC gamers put up with?

  31. The Lone Duck says:

    @ DosFreak: THANK YOU!! Finally, I can play Monkey 2 again with sound! I can finally listen to the Bone song in all it’s glory! To say nothing of Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max, et al. Very much obliged! Of course, now my next month is shot for productivity. Oh well. :D

  32. mavis says:

    And I’m F*cked off that even with teh 50% discount – in the UK – it’s still $27. No excuse. Non at all for that.

  33. Jeffrey says:

    The Lone Duck: PC as a gaming platform has several strengths:

    – Generalized hardware: the PC is the jack of all trades and is useful for things other than gaming like pr0n. Not everyone is wiling to buy a specialized appliance just to game (i.e. a console), especially since they are considerably more expensive nowadays (current gen entry level: ~$250, w/out software). If gaming didn’t exist, a lot or most of us would still own PCs anyway.

    – Large install base: related to the above point, there are way more PCs than consoles and this will pretty much always be the case. Even hardcore console gamers likely have a PC.

    – Technology: PC hardware is consistently much more powerful than console hardware. Admittedly, this is a double-edged sword, as this creates the infamous graphics upgrade treadmill that PC gamers dread.

    – Backward compatibility: PC games simply have longer useful lifespans. Once a console is discontinued, its library is doomed to die with the physical hardware, though legal emulators are changing this point.

    – Internet: going online through a PC is generally far more seamless than through a console; as with other things, this too is changing as consoles gain connection ports from the PC.

    – Keyboard mouse USB peripherals: the PC can handle a far wider variety of input and storage devices, including a mandatory keyboard which is pretty much essential for online interaction at this point in time (try using Google without one–far more annoying).

    Each point in isolation can be rather “meh”, and a number of these factors are changing, but in combination they mean that there is a large population of users and developers that are invested into the PC as a gaming platform.

  34. Mark says:

    The big problem with the idea of buying it for fifteen bucks and not expecting it to be playable after that is pretty simple: certain parts of the software do stick around after it’s not playable. Specifically, the parts you don’t want, run automatically, and can’t remove.

    If it didn’t leave any residue on the computer, then fifteen bucks for a disposable game sounds like a good deal. But I can’t imagine Shamus of all people (or, for that matter, even a moderate on the issue) paying to have his computer poisoned.

  35. Nixorbo says:

    The way I imagine it he's already posted pretty much everything he has to say (for now) on the subject, and now he is just railing against all the people that continue to do (and expand on) the things that haven't worked in the past.

    Aw, I was going to say that.

  36. mingus says:

    Piss Up A Rope is a great song.

  37. MadTinkerer says:

    I’m quite serious, by the way.

    You don’t have to pay for it, Shamus. Unless you wait until after the sale is over. Let me know if you want a free copy and I’ll send you one.

  38. MadTinkerer says:


    “Heh. Good luck with that. Try finding alot of older games on torrents. (By old I mean anything 10yrs or greater). Just try. Even if you do find something have fun with the 2kbs download rate with 2-3 seeders if your lucky.”

    Okay, sorry, maybe not on torrents, but there are a ton of Abandonware sites on the web (just google Abandonware and Home of the Underdogs) as well as a Rapidshare download of every game Apogee put out before they became 3D Realms. Plus: I’ve found Full Throttle, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, Beneath a Steel Sky, Leather Goddeses of Phobos, and a bunch of games you probably never even heard of like Digger and Robot Friggin’ Odyssey. If I can find Robot Odyssey on the WWW and you can’t find other, less ancient, less obscure titles than that, I don’t think you’re trying hard enough.

    Hell, I just found Alleycat by looking at the second page that Google suggested, and I didn’t even know anyone else still had a copy. I found that just now as a random example of what you can find with the tiniest bit of effort.

    EDIT: and HOLY COW I FOUND THE ORIGINAL HEXXAGON! I had thought only the registered version, Hexxagon 2 had survived, but the original Shareware version is right there! Sweet! (I got the registered version legitimately back in the day but lost the shareware version which has different peices and a different board.)

    Pretty much any game that has a remaining copy in existence to upload, and has even the slightest redeeming value, is out there somewhere on the internet right now. Not necessarily on a torrent or on the web, but they’re out there.

    The Internet is run by geeks. Geeks tend to trend towards fanboyishness. Fanboys upload old games. Bioshock will be available to play in 2018 one way or another. You’ll need VistaBox to play it on Windows Froynlaven, and the class of ’18 will be shocked at it’s horribly low maximum resolution and lack of glormwiget smoothmapping, but you’ll still be able to play it.

  39. Zerotime says:

    Kennet, mavis: That’s what, 18 Euros? £12? The Australian price works out to AUD$28.

  40. MadTinkerer says:

    Holy friggin’ latke-in-the-shape-of-Moses, that site has EGATrek!!!!! If you can’t find a working copy of Bioshock in ten years, it could only be because you’re dead or the nukes have dropped and society has degenerated into cannibalistic mutant ghouls.

    Years ago I was concerned about preserving all my DOS games when the floppies started failing, but it looks like I really shouldn’t have worried!

  41. Veylon says:

    Consider also all the old Atari and NES ROMs floating around. Should you wish to relive the magic of Adventure, or perhaps E.T., they are easy enough to find. So finding Bioshock on the internet (or whatever it is then) in 2038 is certainly plausible.

  42. Jeff says:

    I never did beat Beneath a Steel Sky.
    That was like the first boxed game I ever got.
    I read the PC Gamer review, went “Holy crap that rocks” and purchased it when I came across it. I musta been no older than thirteen at the time.

  43. Smileyfax says:

    I finally got around to playing Bioshock a few months ago, and I’m glad I did, because it had an interesting storyline and great design.

    But the gameplay was so terrible, I don’t think I’ll ever play it again. The wrench was my main weapon for most of the game (with the shotgun and grenade launcher only coming into play on big daddies and bosses), plasmids were incredibly boring for the most part (I only bothered using them to get rid of barriers and such) and I played that hacking minigame so much that just the thought of spinning those damnable pipes around again twists my stomach.

    So don’t worry about the DRM, Shamus. Even if 2K Games never bothers releasing a patch repealing the online activation nonsense, you only need one playthrough anyway.

  44. Mistwraithe says:

    Don’t assume that the only downside of DRM is that it might stop you from playing a game that you want to play. Your potential loss is NOT just the amount you spent on buying the game. Thus it isn’t just a matter of purchase price.

    The real risk is that the DRM will screw up your system, possibly only subtly, resulting in ongoing problems. This is particularly true for software developers who often have debugging tools which DRM actively tries to get in the way of.

    So for me it isn’t a matter of how cheap a game would need to be for me to buy it… it’s a matter of how much money will they pay me back if their DRM messes with my PC and I lose time reinstalling the OS. $500? That only covers a few hours billing, what if I lose a whole day on it? Maybe they should have a cap, say $10,000, on the amount that they will cover me for if their DRM causes me to lose time I could otherwise spend doing paid work?

    If they did this, then fair enough. I could buy into their DRM. So long as they will take the risk on their DRM screwing up my system then it’s a deal.

    BUT SURPRISE!!! As far as I know they won’t pay out one cent. In fact the game licence almost invariably says they won’t pay anything for any loss you suffer.

    In which case screw them. I would buy the game on its own but not the load of septic garbage (ie DRM) they have built around it which by nature of its purpose has a decent chance of messing with other things on MY computer.

  45. Ozy says:

    Oh, wow. So it actually is a conspiracy against the consumer. How about that?

  46. kamagurka says:

    *slow clap*

  47. Zukhramm says:

    Yes, it’s a conspiracy, they are trying to kill the PC market t move it all over to the consoles.

  48. Yonder says:

    Madtinkerer: It’s probably not just the fact that Shamus does not want to pay 15 dollars to play the game, but also (and maybe more so) that Shamus does not want these people to receive any money for their game either. If that is the case then even having someone else buy it for him wouldn’t resolve his problem with obtaining Bioshock.

  49. HeatherRae says:


    You closed the comments on your latest post, so I’m posting here.

    Please get better soon. :) Being sick is no fun at all! Think of this as e-hugs sent to you from Louisiana. FEEL BETTER! :)

  50. Kevin says:

    Sorry to hear you’ve been under the weather, man. (Not “under the weatherman…” uh… sorry you were sick.)

    Anyway, I hate being sick myself and I always get bummed about it when I am. Maybe I’ll email my garlic chicken soup recipe to your wife. It always makes me feel better.

    Be well.

  51. The Lone Duck says:

    @ Jefferey and anyone else.
    Generalised hardware: In gereral, that’s the case. Almost everyone can run programs like Word, Explorer, WoW, etc. However, let’s say you wanna play a PS2 quality game. Paying $150 for a system, versus paying a similar amount for RAM and a video card, the console is certainly going to play PS2 games. The basics are there for PCs, especailly for freeware games and flash games. But for AAA titles, the PC is not the ideal platform.
    Technological Progress: Yes PCs have the potential to be better than consoles. But as I mentioned above, that progress is not across the user base. A one year old video card may not work with new games. That does not happen with consoles. One might have technical issues with consoles (Red ring anyone?), but the PC takes the cake for technical issues.
    Large install base: Yep. Large install base. Most of them have absolutely no interest in PC gaming. I think the install base is a moot point. Yes, I have a cell phone, but that doesn’t mean I wanna play games on my phone.
    Backwards compatability: Yes, I can’t play NES games on a Wii, like I can play DOS games in Windows XP. But I can play Xenogears on my PS3 a lot easier than I can play Grim Fandango on Windows XP. More importantly though, I can find an NES and get it working with a moderate degree of ease. (Blowing into cartridges aside.)
    Internet: All current consoles have internet access. Only Xbox charges for online gaming. Moot point.
    Keyboard: Usb keyboards are compatible with some consoles. I forsee this increasing in use, though headsets also help too.
    I’m not saying you can’t make a PC that games well. What I am saying is that the random person who wants to play games will be better served buying a console than buying a boxed computer from Best Buy or Wal-Mart. With that in mind, the console market is safer to develope for. And therefor, the console scene is better suited for gaming. Anyone, I don’t think we’ll convince eachother of anything, I just wanted to respond.
    Shamus, take it easy. Hope you feel better.

  52. MadTinkerer says:

    @Mistwraithe “The real risk is that the DRM will screw up your system, possibly only subtly, resulting in ongoing problems. This is particularly true for software developers who often have debugging tools which DRM actively tries to get in the way of.”

    As I keep pointing out, I’ve had Bioshock for months and it hasn’t messed up my PC. I am an “apprentice” software developer working on his first AAS degree so maybe I don’t have the specific tools you’re referring to, but at the same time I’m no 1337-speaking teenage Halo junkie who doesn’t know how many bits are in a byte.

    “Madtinkerer: It's probably not just the fact that Shamus does not want to pay 15 dollars to play the game, but also (and maybe more so) that Shamus does not want these people to receive any money for their game either. If that is the case then even having someone else buy it for him wouldn't resolve his problem with obtaining Bioshock.”

    Well if that is the case, then that’s the case. But otherwise my point is that $15 IS a reasonable price for a game of Bioshock’s quality even if it’s a “renter”. And free is even nicer.

    They haven’t gotten rid of the DRM, but they’ve reduced it to the point of only requiring online activation which is NOT unreasonable for a downloadable game that has no physical disc. What more can they possibly do? Make the software completely activation-less so that my grandmother can copy the game? That’s suicide, because grandmom doesn’t read this weblog and doesn’t know the facts of piracy.

    I know an older gentleman who’s a friend of the family. I have great respect for the guy, but he uses Limewire to get his music. Why does he use Limewire? Because no one told him he shouldn’t. (I’m still a little too embarrassed to explain it myself.) (And actually this was a while ago and he might not still be using it, but at the time I couldn’t figure out a way to break it to him that Limewire wasn’t anything like iTunes.)

    Getting rid of Bioshock’s DRM entirely is exactly the same as telling grandparents across the nation that it’s all right to copy the game as much as they want. They don’t know how to use torrents, and they probably know enough about viruses to avoid pirate websites. If the game itself lets them do anything they want, they certainly will simply because they don’t know any better.


    Okay, so you’re sick. Want a get well present? The sale isn’t over yet…

  53. Shamus says:

    MadTinkerer: Thanks so much for the very kind offer. I really mean it. But I must pass.

    Really, I’m content to miss out on the game now. When I saw the sale it seemed like a good chance to toss another brick through 2kGames’ window just for old time’s sake.

  54. mookers says:

    mmmmmmmmmmm…. extra spicy… :D

    Get well soon Shamus!

  55. DaveMc says:

    Shamus, I’ll add my “hope you feel better” wishes to the unofficial “respond to Shamus’ illness announcement” thread. (I can understand why you closed the comments on that post, but you didn’t really think it would save you, did you?)

    I should also add that if recent months have been the extra-cranky, extra-profane version of you, that’s still not all that cranky or profane. (To read the hundreds of posts on the game piracy threads and come up with the summary that “Some people’s positions are more nuanced than simply ‘Gimme'” was eminently fair-minded, and certainly far from the crankiest option available.) There’s plenty of room to expand along those particular axes, if you wanted to go that way — not that I’m recommending it!

  56. Doug says:

    I bought it and played it all night Friday night. The game is super fun and addictive as all get out. I could care less about the DRM. It didn’t affect the quality of the game at all. The best part was, I figured it would never run on my PC, but I knocked the settings down a bit and it runs great!

    I doubt I’ll repeat play it due to the fact that I barely have the time to play it now. Once I finish, it will surely be replaced by the new flavor of the month or some of my responsibilities will knock it so far back from my mind that I’ll probably never think about it again. I loved System Shock 2, but I doubt I’d have the patience to pick it up and play it again.

  57. Illiterate says:

    Get well soon, Shamus.

    Hope you’re feeling up to stealing more pixels.

  58. Alleyoop says:

    @Madtinkerer: As I keep pointing out, I've had Bioshock for months and it hasn't messed up my PC. I am an “apprentice” software developer working on his first AAS degree so maybe I don't have the specific tools you're referring to, but at the same time I'm no 1337-speaking teenage Halo junkie who doesn't know how many bits are in a byte.

    Hope rightclicking in Windows Explorer isn’t one of the tools you use:



    One update to Securom (in a C&C Kane’s Wrath patch) and no rightclicky for you!

    Those who’ve never been hit by a drunk driver and therefore declare it never happens shouldn’t be surprised when those who’ve been through it don’t take them seriously. Stuff like that and all sorts of other things can wear a body out. Moar snark is often a byproduct.

    @Shamus: sympathies and get better soon wishes.

  59. Jonathan says:

    I honestly feel that DRM is 100% acceptable. Piracy is pretty out of control, so you can’t blame them for trying to salvage the PC gaming business.

    I haven’t found any of it intrusive or too annoying yet.

  60. MadTinkerer says:

    Well in that case I guess I can understand.

    But for a game that does have DRM, Bioshock’s current implementation of it is as benign as you can get while still having it. And as I pointed out, getting rid of any form of DRM at all isn’t really an option these days.

  61. Andre says:

    Get well soon, Shamus.

  62. GeorgeR says:

    Honestly, rewarding the buyer with things is a far better idea. Make it so that if they have an official real code, they can get extras in the game. Gasp. How novel. Registering with the company will do you good.

    Not FORCING you to register and if you can’t register the way they want then getting screwed out of product.

    Has there ever been BBB action over SecureROM?

  63. Michael says:

    We’re all convinced that piracy is out of control. Something MUST be done! How did it come to this, when pirates are draining half our sales… or more! They’re everywhere!

    Or are they?

    Not the greatest numbers, but interesting nonetheless. I’d
    love to be more accurate, but I just can’t do the proper research. Shamus, what do you think? Personally, it seems making games more available (a la lower system requirements) would increase sales more than trying to fight piracy.

  64. Jansolo says:

    Related to DMR, from the mass effect forum [http://masseffect.bioware.com/forums/viewtopic.html?topic=643100&forum=125]:

    A dude made a question, another one replied: “HMMM, not registered as an owner? You should register the game so that a spoiler post can be placed in the proper forum. ”

    Glorious sentence from a third one: “Not that again…it seems with the DRM Bioware educate us to be private investigators…users spy on users, users question users…quite a nice teaching play for society, isn’t it?

    It all comes down to: “If you haven’t registered your game than you’re most likely a pirate.” Sad.

    P.S.: It’s a pity, Bioshock is a really great game. You will enjoy for sure (Note: I’m not questioning your personal choices, but telling you an objective fact)

    P.S. 2: You will enjoy mass effect as well. The RPG part (it’s an average & bad-optimized videogame that sucks in old computers, but the story and role playing are wonderful)

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