How 2K Games And Bioshock Took Back The West

Anyone who minds about piracy is full of sh*t. Anyone who pirates your game wasn't going to buy it anyway! - Warren Spector

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/activation_0.jpg)

The same pirates who unleashed Tiger Woods 2008 on the illegal torrent scene before the game hit shelves have failed to do the same for one of the strongest contenders for 2007 game of the year. After over a week to hammer away at the copy protection, the PC version of Bioshock has yet to be cracked. The reasons why have stirred up old controversies and revealed what may be the beginning of the end for casual online piracy.

You may recall when Starforce, a copy protection scheme detested by paying customers and pirates alike, enjoyed a brief period in where it seemed like every PC game coming out of Europe was saddled with the invasive, unstable copy protection. The aptly named "Boycott Starforce" website cataloged problems caused by the software which primarily stemmed from the fact that Starforce installed a device driver on the customer's computer that slowly degraded system performance until it rendered the CD drive functionally useless. This also prevented games from loading and according to the site, caused catastrophic system crashes.

Even members of the Starforce team admitted the system was far from perfect. "The purpose of copy protection is not making the game uncrackable – it is impossible. The main purpose is to delay the release of the cracked version," said JM, a Starforce admin on the official forums. "After several months of sales even we recommend the publishers to release patches that remove the copy protection just to make the game play more comfortable to the customers."

If the choice is either copy protection that is so invasive legitimate customers spark online revolts, or so easy anyone can snatch your game with a few clicks on their favorite torrent site, what is a publisher to do?

2K Games has set a new precedent by requiring the user to activate their game online before allowing them to play. Unlike a Windows Vista or XP install, you can't pick up the phone to activate your key. Never have we seen a publisher require this extra step for a single-player only title. It's assumed in multiplayer games like Battlefield 2 or World of Warcraft that you aren't going to get around needing to login to a central server and verify legitimate CD key before you can play. Until now, we were also safe in assuming we could skip that step for a game that wouldn't otherwise require a net connection at all.

This added activation step has seemingly frozen game-cracking pirates in their tracks. But before the corks cleared the Champaign bottles at 2K Games, user complaints began flooding in regarding the two activations limit. Customers who had to reinstall the game after issues or upgrades were angry at the prospect of being locked out from a game they own. While uninstalling was supposed to add one activation back, it wasn't working. 2K has since come forward and increased the activations to five per copy, and promised a "revoke activation" tool to remove a computer's clearance to play the game so it can be transferred to another.

The publisher seems to have taken a "better to ask for forgiveness" approach and gradually given the user back some measure of control over their own software. The precedent will remain, however. A big budget, single-player PC game has required activation and by all accounts, it's working. The game is flying off shelves, the reviews are stellar and reports of Starforce levels of computer issues have been minimal so far.

This may be the first real strike against pirates in some time that actually slows them down without completely alienating paying customers. Even if they were to crack the game today, the damage has already been done. The lure of getting the game first has come and gone, leaving casual pirates who enjoy downloading games from their favorite sites left choosing between patience and spending their money. Even the most hardcore, savvy game pirates have little recourse short of buying the game or, oddly enough, modifying their Xbox 360. In an interesting switch, the Xbox 360 version of Bioshock was hacked and made available for download on major torrent sites on release day.

What's significant here is that a console version has been cracked while the PC version remains elusive. The more examples we see of PC games slowing down piracy efforts significantly, the more likely publishers are to take a second look at the PC as a safe, viable platform to sell to. Even though adding complexity to the install and game launching process increases the chance of problems, ensuring that a majority of players paid for the privilege is probably worth the extra trouble.

On the other hand, requiring more hoops to jump through always runs the risk of alienating customers and causing the sort of coding arms race that brought us "solutions" like Starforce. History would suggest that this will eventually be the case; few schemes can withstand the onslaught of hundreds of programmers fighting to crack your game for fun and profit. Once that happens we're right back to square one and legitimate customers will pay the price in money spent and time wasted trying to make things work.

The question remains the same for gamers. How much control are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of a healthy gaming market? Even console makers are forcing users to consider this with their handling of digital downloads. Sony has already made a move to prevent users from downloading Warhawk to multiple machines as a way of sharing the game by locking it to the PSN account that made the purchase. The collateral damage in this case are friends and family who share the same console and want to play on their own account. The Xbox 360 also has issues with DRM, replacements and multiple users accessing content.

It's a mess. All we can say for sure right now is that online activation is working for Bioshock and it's only the beginning.

- Shawn Andrich

Comments

A friend of mine split the cost of the Steam edition of Bioshock with his room mate. I hear they even played through it at the same time with no issues. 1 step forward, 2 steps back?

I think one of the fundamental points of the article is flawed, that the online activation is more secure than traditional methods and just "works" because Bioshock is selling like crazy. Bioshock is one of the big titles 2K has bet the farm on and the marketing effort shows this. Likewise, it's one of the most interesting things to come out for the PC in years, hands down. Plus it has stellar word of mouth and is generally a quality product. But the assumption is that none of those things would have mattered without the online activation, and I simply think that's not true.

A point that's made above is that the online activation isn't any more secure than disk checking, once it's cracked it's cracked. And it's probably very close to being cracked right now if it's not already cracked. The only thing that's held the wolves at bay with Bioshock is the newness of the particular method, not any inherent security in online activation. I'm sure many people have said it better many times but with copy protection you always have to give the player's machine a key at some level to let them unlock the game in order to play it. If you have to depend on the player's machine to unlock the game your system will be cracked. It's a fundamental problem with the entire scenario, it's impossible to have any real security in this case. All you can do is bide time, and the only thing that has given Bioshock any time is the newness of the approach. The next game to use this particular method of online activation will be cracked before it even hits shelves.

I also take issue that this is somehow good for us. It's an odd quirk of the copyright based industries, but the companies involved have spent alot of money convincing us that the world will end if their particular business model isn't upheld. And while copy protection does have a place and a purpose, I don't see increasing the arms race as some watershed mark that's going to save the PC gaming industry. The reason Bioshock is selling well is because it's a very good product, if this game had the same copy protection but was a bad game or even just plain mediocre I don't think we'd be writing articles about how it's copy protection is a sign of the salvation of the PC gaming industry.

As usual with copy protection this is a non-event for pirates. They'll have it cracked soon enough and they'll all move on. It's rare that a game lasts this long, but as I said it's no inherent strength in the method. The scenario itself is fundamentally flawed.

On console piracy, XBox 360 and Wii modchips for pirated software are trivial. They're also pervasive. Most people don't do it not because it's hard but because they just want to spend money then play games, they don't want to spend the time downloading torrents and burning DVDs. Entertainment is very impulse driven, people follow the path of least resistance. Notice how none of the online music stores caught on until Apple turned it into a one-click instant gratification scenario, then sales started skyrocketing.

What I find a little more interesting is how desperate PC gamers are to find some sign that the industry has any life in it. We're to the point that if a game manages to stay uncracked for a few weeks, we're ready to declare SecurROM is riding in on a white horse to save us all.

The PC platform has fallen from grace for a number of reasons, and one of them has been overzealous copy protection. As many people noted, people don't complain about the Xbox 360 DRM because it just works (Live Marketplace not withstanding). You put the DVD in and it plays, end of story. You don't get "warning your console is not authorized" errors. Plus you can still sell your DVD to your friend and it works great, as well as buy used games online. The second you start inconveniencing the user, they'll move to piracy. They'll follow the path of least resistance.

Seems like to me that trumpeting a copy protection scheme as the savior of PC gaming is counterproductive. Because this is the same scheme that left everyone unable to play on launch day, that permanently disabled copies because the uninstall utility didn't work, the scheme where the company changed their story several times and outright lied to customers who were unable to use the software they purchased, customers who had no recourse when their copies were disabled and generally made PC gaming more difficult for everyone involved, well that scheme doesn't seem like it's going to bring back customers in droves. If it's more difficult, they'll just go to piracy. If the best a publisher can hope for is getting pirates to hold off for a couple of weeks, the tradeoff doesn't exactly seem wise to me.

But hey, I'm waiting to buy the PC version till they remove the DRM, so is that a success of the copy protection system or a failure?

*edit* And to the Windows activation stuff *hahahahahahaha*. You're kidding right? Stopping Windows piracy? That was cracked before WinXP even left Beta. Anyone who wanted to pirate WinXP on launch day had it, easily and readily available. And nothing MS has done since has changed that. Same for Vista.

[mod edit]Quote removed.[/edit]
Ah yeah this ultra secure copy protection, a simple batch file would defeat it

When I need to crack a disc, I have learned from experience to hold it within the garbage bag and snap it towards the bottom of the bag, otherwise all the silvery filaments and plastic shards tend to explode across the floor and it can be a real pain to clean up. Now its a non-issue as I have bought a shredder.

On a more serious note. Maybe Take2 was a bit overly strict with the initial number of installs etc, but I agree it makes sense to have stricter copy controls in place in the beginning, especially if they do follow through with loosened protections later on. I guess a potential catch 22 is that if there are folks who claim they can't activate via the internet, then it would follow that they cant access the internet to download that later patch either.

Nice post Pyro, but you completely ignored some statements made in the article and mischaracterized others to support your defacto responses regarding DRM and copy protection.

I think one of the fundamental points of the article is flawed, that the online activation is more secure than traditional methods and just "works" because Bioshock is selling like crazy.

I don't think I made that direct A = B statement. I mean it's working because it's still not cracked despite high hype and sales.

I also take issue that this is somehow good for us.

I'm sure you do, but I never made that statement.

if this game had the same copy protection but was a bad game or even just plain mediocre I don't think we'd be writing articles about how it's copy protection is a sign of the salvation of the PC gaming industry.

We would if I was aware of it. The fact that this is a highly sought after, AAA game makes it more remarkable that it hasn't been beat yet.

hey'll have it cracked soon enough and they'll all move on. It's rare that a game lasts this long, but as I said it's no inherent strength in the method. The scenario itself is fundamentally flawed.

What scenario? I said right in the article that the protection will likely be overcome and the usual coding race will continue.

We're to the point that if a game manages to stay uncracked for a few weeks, we're ready to declare SecurROM is riding in on a white horse to save us all.

Didn't say that either, just said it will impact publisher perceptions.

Seems like to me that trumpeting a copy protection scheme as the savior of PC gaming is counterproductive.

Seems to me I never trumpeted anything.

*edit* And to the Windows activation stuff *hahahahahahaha*. You're kidding right? Stopping Windows piracy? That was cracked before WinXP even left Beta. Anyone who wanted to pirate WinXP on launch day had it, easily and readily available. And nothing MS has done since has changed that. Same for Vista.

I didn't even come close to saying that. I don't know who you're trying to counter with this post. Is there someone else in the thread you're replying to, or have you started a straw man manufacturing business and trying to increase profits?

PyromanFO wrote:

[mod edit]Quote removed.[/edit]
Ah yeah this ultra secure copy protection, a simple batch file would defeat it :)

If it's not on release sites, major torrent sites, or private sites, or forums on popular tracking sites, I'd hardly call it a cracking success.

Its not cracked.. every one so far that claims to have cracked it has been nuked. I'd be REALLY wary of installing anything that claims otherwise.. more than likely its a trojan or backdoor of some sort.. Pirates tend to get desperate and start letting their guards down after a few days with no crack.

I'd also be wary of anyone claiming that so and so crack works.

edit

It's only a matter of time before the really "cool" DRM stuff hits PC gaming.. even SP games will require a constant broadband connection.

I found the article very interesting, in particular, because I hadnt really considered the culture of game pirates and how a solid initial DRM could impact that by nullifying their ability to crack a day one release. I guess there are similarities between the game buyer culture who go into a frenzy and want to buy the titles on day one, and the game pirate culture, who want to experience the new release on day one or before. In addition, the pirating 'community' probably also have their version of leaderboards, except the achievements must center around who cracked what, who made it available, etc etc etc.

TheGameguru wrote:

It's only a matter of time before the really "cool" DRM stuff hits PC gaming.. even SP games will require a constant broadband connection.

That would be the death of gaming - whether it was implemented on console or PC...

Duoae wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

It's only a matter of time before the really "cool" DRM stuff hits PC gaming.. even SP games will require a constant broadband connection.

That would be the death of gaming - whether it was implemented on console or PC...

nahh not really.. for some I guess.. most people just dont care that much about this issue. In a couple years broadband will be even more dominate than it is now.

Like I said.. DRM and Piracy aren't killing PC gaming.. its all the other stuff.

anyone else ever think they come from narnia at times,just because we simply buy a game and play it.

without bothering to look at whats protecting it,and not caring if it needs activating.
all i actually care about is hitting that start/play button and getting a good solid hit of escapism.

if it crashes or has a bug that affects me,then i know all i have to do is tell them and it gets fixed.

i know this is why i get confused when some people spend more time complaining about the way a protection works than actually talking about the game.
i have to ask myself why they are so concerned with a protection that works.

unfortunatley the whole "civil rights" replys for me are a smoke screen.
and i think the worst until they come up with a reasonable reason to demand the protections removed.
[and thats ignoring the basic fact that they dont even have the right to tell a developer what to do with thier product,if they indeed dont like it,dont buy it]

@ Pyroman[FO]
sorry..but even i can see your twisting the quoting way too much to make some point or other.

The Article wrote:

2K Games has set a new precedent by requiring the user to activate their game online before allowing them to play. Unlike a Windows Vista or XP install, you can't pick up the phone to activate your key. Never have we seen a publisher require this extra step for a single-player only title.

Isn't this what Steam has done all along? Having never purchased a boxed copy of a Valve/Steam game I can't say how it works for games not downloaded from their service, but it was my impression that HL2 and the episodes needed to be activated before playing.

While the DRM 2K has attached to Bioshock may be stopping pirates (for now) I think you should stop short of congratulating them on a job well done. The launch of this game was absolutely atrocious because of their chosen DRM package. Downed activation servers kept people who had paid good money from playing the game when they wanted to play it. That's not acceptable, regardless of how fast the issue was repaired and how many promises you'll have that it will never happen again. Then they follow those problems with the whole '2 activations per copy' ambush tactic? That's a pretty good way of alienating your dedicated customers. Overall I'd have to say their DRM strategy was poorly thought out and executed, and if this is the kind of crap I can come to expect from PC game publishers it might be time to find a new hobby.

I'm like most here. I have no problem with developers trying to protect their hard work, I'm all for it in fact. But until they can come up with a system that publishers are up front about and that stops treating their paying customers like criminals I'll consider any DRM strategy to be a failure.

[quote=Bru]

The Article wrote:

and that stops treating their paying customers like criminals

its the pirates they are treating like criminals,its just too expensive to stamp out 2 different versions and and send them out individually to actual customers.

I'm like most here. I have no problem with developers trying to protect their hard work, I'm all for it in fact. But until they can come up with a system that publishers are up front about and that stops treating their paying customers like criminals I'll consider any DRM strategy to be a failure

Like what? what would you consider feasible.. remember that a Publisher only has the tools that are available right now.. its no good coming up with theories. When you have such a high profile game that the decision is already made that

"Yes we will copy protect this game"

Your next step is

"How can we do this?"

No theories.. just whats out there.. what works.. and how do we implement it.

EDIT.

I say we go back to Dongles.

What I find a little more interesting is how desperate PC gamers are to find some sign that the industry has any life in it. We're to the point that if a game manages to stay uncracked for a few weeks, we're ready to declare SecurROM is riding in on a white horse to save us all.

Exactly.. you promise that to a Publisher and your golden.. remember in the PC world and in gaming in general thats where the bulk of your actual sales happen.. used sales and/or discount sales dont really matter.

Its that small window of time where you move the bulk of your units that you worry about.. a month after if its cracked.. who cares? Not the Publisher.

AJ Rimmer Bsc Ssc wrote:

anyone else ever think they come from narnia at times,just because we simply buy a game and play it.

without bothering to look at whats protecting it,and not caring if it needs activating.
all i actually care about is hitting that start/play button and getting a good solid hit of escapism.

if it crashes or has a bug that affects me,then i know all i have to do is tell them and it gets fixed.

i know this is why i get confused when some people spend more time complaining about the way a protection works than actually talking about the game.
i have to ask myself why they are so concerned with a protection that works.

unfortunatley the whole "civil rights" replys for me are a smoke screen.
and i think the worst until they come up with a reasonable reason to demand the protections removed.
[and thats ignoring the basic fact that they dont even have the right to tell a developer what to do with thier product,if they indeed dont like it,dont buy it]

@ Pyroman[FO]
sorry..but even i can see your twisting the quoting way too much to make some point or other.

Use capital letters please, we try to maintain a certain standard of readability here.

Like I said.. DRM and Piracy aren't killing PC gaming.. its all the other stuff.

Got to agree with the Guru. Aside from cost, all the Pain in the ass BS that you have to deal with to get a game to even run on a PC is what hurts PC gaming, not DRM. As long as DRM stays largely out of the way and relatively non-obtrusive, I can't see how the average user is ever going to care.

For example, using Steam, I made more PC game purchases in the last month than I have in the past 2 years. Why? Because Steam let me do it (Nexus $10, CoH $26, Civ4 and Bts $49 - Can't beat that sh*t with a stick). Do I have to have Steam in order to play? Yep. That makes it a form of DRM right? Guess so. Do I care? No, as long as it stays out of the way. Hell, I like the fact that I don't have CD's and manuals taking up space. New computer? Just install Steam and I can install anything I've bought previously. Doom will set up and run in a dosbox without you having to go hunt for mouse drivers or VDMSound or any of that other PITA crap that has to be done to play old games on a new system. That's not a pain, that's f*cking convenient! If they ever add System Shock 1, I will literally NUT.

Just saying.

GameGuru wrote:

Like I said.. DRM and Piracy aren't killing PC gaming.. its all the other stuff.

I totally agree, but and this is a big but, it isn't helping the situation.

Certis wrote:

Use capital letters please, we try to maintain a certain standard of readability here.

i cant right now...6 or 7 letters not working due to a keyboard clean.

but i suppose i could be chastised for not bothering to go get another from the attic.

it does work if i really hammer the caps or shift...SEE
but my wee ones asleep.

I was thinking about down time... like when you can't access your XBLA titles if they require a connection.... the general public won't stand for it. Let alone the hardcore anti-DRM evangelists..

[edit] Damn, just checked my post and realised that inbetween my reading and replying there were a few intermediate posts.... i was replying to GG:

TheGameguru wrote:
Duoae wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

It's only a matter of time before the really "cool" DRM stuff hits PC gaming.. even SP games will require a constant broadband connection.

That would be the death of gaming - whether it was implemented on console or PC...

nahh not really.. for some I guess.. most people just dont care that much about this issue. In a couple years broadband will be even more dominate than it is now.

Like I said.. DRM and Piracy aren't killing PC gaming.. its all the other stuff.

AJ Rimmer Bsc Ssc wrote:
Certis wrote:

Use capital letters please, we try to maintain a certain standard of readability here.

i cant right now...6 or 7 letters not working due to a keyboard clean.

but i suppose i could be chastised for not bothering to go get another from the attic.

it does work if i really hammer the caps or shift...SEE
but my wee ones asleep.

Should I chastise his punctuation and grammar, Certis?

AJ Rimmer Bsc Ssc wrote:
Certis wrote:

Use capital letters please, we try to maintain a certain standard of readability here.

i cant right now...6 or 7 letters not working due to a keyboard clean.

but i suppose i could be chastised for not bothering to go get another from the attic.

it does work if i really hammer the caps or shift...SEE
but my wee ones asleep.

A new keyboard is 10 bucks around here.

AJ Rimmer Bsc Ssc wrote:
Certis wrote:

Use capital letters please, we try to maintain a certain standard of readability here.

i cant right now...6 or 7 letters not working due to a keyboard clean.

but i suppose i could be chastised for not bothering to go get another from the attic.

it does work if i really hammer the caps or shift...SEE
but my wee ones asleep.

Right but he said use capital letters which only requires a SHIFT key, not the letter keys.

buzzvang wrote:

For example, using Steam, I made more PC game purchases in the last month than I have in the past 2 years. Why? Because Steam let me do it (Nexus $10, CoH $26, Civ4 and Bts $49 - Can't beat that sh*t with a stick). Do I have to have Steam in order to play? Yep. That makes it a form of DRM right? Guess so. Do I care? No, as long as it stays out of the way. Hell, I like the fact that I don't have CD's and manuals taking up space. New computer? Just install Steam and I can install anything I've bought previously. Doom will set up and run in a dosbox without you having to go hunt for mouse drivers or VDMSound or any of that other PITA crap that has to be done to play old games on a new system. That's not a pain, that's f*cking convenient! If they ever add System Shock 1, I will literally NUT.

Just saying.

The problem you face is that you're looking a the short term. What happens if Steam's VAC incorrectly fingers you as a cheater? None of those games will work online (You'll still be able to play single player portions)....
Or if your account is hacked (password guessed etc) and credit card fraud is commited (or some other crime) under your account?

Do you know what recourse you have as a member of steam? Read through all of the Steam user agreements and the FAQ on steampowered. You discover quite quickly that you have no rights. You have no protection. You have no way to complain or dispute any decisions taken against you.

While this might not be a problem if you have just one game on your steam account... like you just stated, you can have hundreds of $ worth of money invested in your account. While steam DRM isn't problematic for me (IMO it's the best implementation of DRM on PC at this moment in time and i can't imagine a better service) the customer side of the experience is severely under-developed and there is no consumer protection as a result. Though, with Bioshock they applied a second form of DRM to the steam DRM, which i have a problem with...

Of course steam is kind of like Rapture's ideal (after reading that thread in games and platforms about philosophy). Steam allow developers/publishers to run their own "systems" within the steam framework. If VAC isn't good enough for them they can implement and police any other anti-cheat system (punkbuster for example) or they can also implement their own DRM. I would prefer it if Steam were more of a governmental system.... but i doubt that will happen any time soon...

The problem you face is that you're looking a the short term. What happens if Steam's VAC incorrectly fingers you as a cheater? None of those games will work online (You'll still be able to play single player portions)....
Or if your account is hacked (password guessed etc) and credit card fraud is commited (or some other crime) under your account?

Do you know what recourse you have as a member of steam? Read through all of the Steam user agreements and the FAQ on steampowered. You discover quite quickly that you have no rights. You have no protection. You have no way to complain or dispute any decisions taken against you.

I see your point, though those objections don't overly concern me specifically, mainly because I don't play online very much. However, what you say is a little sobering. I've considered the worst risk in buying through Steam that of losing your games if the company ever went belly-up (no real danger in that, so far). I would consider my lockout risk to be considerably low because I don't really play online, and I don't use hacks or cheats or aimbots or whatever, but still. If you get wrongly fingered as a cheater or your account finds itself otherwise locked by Steam, there has to be some kind of appeals process, doesn't there?

I was going to post something myself but i'll just PM you.... not doing so would incur the wrath of Valve/steam supporters and also derail the thread - which i don't want to do.

Certis wrote:

Nice post Pyro, but you completely ignored some statements made in the article and mischaracterized others to support your defacto responses regarding DRM and copy protection.

I think one of the fundamental points of the article is flawed, that the online activation is more secure than traditional methods and just "works" because Bioshock is selling like crazy.

I don't think I made that direct A = B statement. I mean it's working because it's still not cracked despite high hype and sales.

Then I take back what I said, that was a bit of reading comprehension error on my part. I was under the impression you were saying the DRM "worked" because Bioshock is selling well, not in spite of it. Which sort of nullifies a large chunk of my point there

Certis wrote:
We're to the point that if a game manages to stay uncracked for a few weeks, we're ready to declare SecurROM is riding in on a white horse to save us all.

Didn't say that either, just said it will impact publisher perceptions.

Will those publisher perceptions be devastated when the next game is cracked on day one? My point is that this is a temporary victory that really doesn't decrease piracy except on this one title. There's nothing inherently more secure with online activation, it's simply that this is a new version of SecurROM and it always takes a few weeks to overcome the latest version (that was the better part of a year in development). If the goal is to make PC gaming a "safe" bet again, this does not accomplish that. Nor will any DRM arms race ever accomplish that.

Certis wrote:
*edit* And to the Windows activation stuff *hahahahahahaha*. You're kidding right? Stopping Windows piracy? That was cracked before WinXP even left Beta. Anyone who wanted to pirate WinXP on launch day had it, easily and readily available. And nothing MS has done since has changed that. Same for Vista.

I didn't even come close to saying that. I don't know who you're trying to counter with this post. Is there someone else in the thread you're replying to, or have you started a straw man manufacturing business and trying to increase profits? ;)

I was specifically replying to Rabbit, I got bumped to the next page before I could finish my post.

Certis wrote:
PyromanFO wrote:

[mod edit]Quote removed.[/edit]
Ah yeah this ultra secure copy protection, a simple batch file would defeat it :)

If it's not on release sites, major torrent sites, or private sites, or forums on popular tracking sites, I'd hardly call it a cracking success.

Really? It's on all the ones I've checked. I've yet to try it myself since I got the 360 version however.

Since I misread Certis' intent with the article I'll try to salvage some kind of point from my giant diatribe of a post The gains Bioshock has made with publisher credibility are fleeting, because the DRM game itself is fundamentally stacked in favor of the pirates. Playing it only accomplishes two things, wastes lots of money and it adds another complex component that is liable to fail and frequently piss off paying customers. My example of the most successful DRM system ever made is the iTunes music store. It was so successful not because it was ultra locked down but because it gave consumers what they want. It even gave them a fairly straightforward way to remove all DRM (burn to CD and re-rip). Now you can even pay extra and avoid the DRM entirely. I'd argue Steam is another good example of such a DRM system. Until you actually use DRM to improve the customer experience you're not going to win. What 2K games did was detrimental to the user experience, it only made it harder to play the game if you bought it legitimately , so I don't consider it a success on any level. Bioshock sold well despite the DRM, not because of it. DRM is an arms race, not having enough copy protection is a detriment to sales, but having too much copy protection can be just as dangerous. Escalating things doesn't help anyone.

Like what? what would you consider feasible.. remember that a Publisher only has the tools that are available right now.. its no good coming up with theories. When you have such a high profile game that the decision is already made that

I think the point about customer communication still stands though, 2K knew exactly how the DRM worked and should've communciated that during the install and on the box so you could evaluate the DRM terms before purchase. Another problem is proper QA, if they'd tested the SecurROM they should've found out the uninstall didn't revoke the DRM and fixed it fairly early on. I think if those two terms had been met this would've been a non-issue with consumers. It's just basic competence for a software publisher that most people are asking for.

@ Pyroman[FO]
sorry..but even i can see your twisting the quoting way too much to make some point or other.

While my post did have problems which I have tried to correct, if you're going to make a point about my post please do so as I'm more than willing to discuss it.

I think this always comes down to degrees. Do you think that if they released bioshock literally into the wild -- just bits on a DVD, no copy protection whatseover, that not a single person who bought the game last week would have just borrowed and copied their friends instead?

Because unless you truly believe that, then this all comes down to edge cases -- how much is enough to keep my buddies from copying something and ponying up money they do have, and will spend on games. But how much is so much that they actually LOSE sales because people read some rant on the net and then choose not to buy.

So which is it? Do you believe 2K would make as much or more money with NO protection whatsoever?

I'm still scratching my head on how this DRM was preventing people from playing... unless they tried to install/reinstall several times it was completely transparent to me.. I inserted the DVD.. typed in my key and it installed.. I was playing on my PC in about 10 min (took a while to actually install the entire game.. plus I had to update Vid Drivers)

Unless one went out of their way to try and uninstall/reinstall several times on day 1 what was the exact problem people had playing that was so disastrous??

I never really give that much weight to the 1000 or so forum nerds that scream bloody murder about these things.. since to them EVERYTHING is a disaster.. take the official WoW forums.. you'd think the game was a broken horrible mess with 1000 subscribers if you read those forums.

When I went to install it GameGuru, I had to wait 2.5 hours for the activation servers to get back on their feet. A minor thing, but I was pretty p*ssed off at the time.

Activation server died and those who got the game early were locked out of their game that they purchased till someone said it was ok to play it. Even those who bought it on steam had the activation issue.