BioShock 2, Loaded Up With Annoying DRM That Pisses Off Fans, Cracked Immediately Anyway

from the lotta-good-that-did dept

When will the video gaming companies learn that DRM really only pisses off your legitimate customers? Despite having seen this happen over and over and over and over, it’s happening again. With the release of Bioshock 2, the decision was made to include annoying SecuROM DRM. Did it do any good? Nope, on the day of release there’s a cracked version available immediately (thanks AJ, for sending this story in). Oddly, that writeup uses this to suggest that the use of DRM made sense, but I can’t see how you get from there to here. The DRM didn’t stop it from getting cracked and being made available to anyone who wanted it. It didn’t stop any unauthorized access whatsoever. If they hadn’t put the DRM on it (which cost money both in licensing the technology and in additional Q&A and customer support issues) they would be in exactly the same position today with the app being available for unauthorized download (except they’d have a bit more money). Oh yeah, they also wouldn’t have pissed off a bunch of customers. So what good did the DRM do exactly?

Filed Under: ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “BioShock 2, Loaded Up With Annoying DRM That Pisses Off Fans, Cracked Immediately Anyway”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
PopeHilarius (profile) says:

I imagine it’s just an ass covering mechanism to placate corporate higher-ups. If they didn’t include a DRM, and it was available to download for free, then there would be lots of angry meetings. By slapping a DRM on it, even if it gets cracked immediately, they can just wave their hands and say they tried.

That still isn’t sensical, but I imagine the general way it goes. Eventually video game DRMs will have to go the way of music ones. You can’t sustain selling a product that is demonstrably worse than one that is free. It’s some sort of bizarro RtB, where they package their product with a Reason to Pirate.

Tom Landry (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I imagine it’s just an ass covering mechanism to placate corporate higher-ups.

that’s exactly what it is. Is gives the false impression that the company is “doing something ” in the eyes of shareholders. Also, there’s many vendors who wont put the game on their shelves unless it has some kind of protection embedded.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Illusion of Security

> It gives the false impression that the company is “doing something”
> in the eyes of shareholders

It’s the exact same reason we have ridiculous card key readers that open the roll-up doors of the parking garage where I live. The doors do nothing to stop unauthorized entry (anyone without a card can just sit off to side and wait for someone else to come along and open the door, then follow them through) but they do manage to annoy the legitimate residents who have to stop and wait for this silly door to trundle open every time, not to mention having to roll down your window to put the key card on the reader– that’s a real joy when it’s pouring rain and you have to let yourself and the inside of your car be drenched just to get in the garage.

In short, the electronic doors provide zero security while at the same time making life just that much more difficult for the legitimate residents. At best it’s the illusion of security– it allows the management to point out the “state-of-the-art keycard security” to prospective tenants, knowing full well that they’ll have already signed the contract and moved in before realizing it’s rubbish.

Pretty much the same thing with DRM.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:


In my experience — the best “legal” way to play a game.

1) Go buy a copy.

2) Open said copy long enough to get your ‘key code’ (or whatever it’s called)

3) Download cracked copy.

4) Installed cracked copy, using real ‘key code.’

5) Enjoy!

For both Sims 3 & Spore (what can I say, Will Wright owns my heart) this has been a successful technique for getting the best of both worlds.

scarr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Reality

To clarify something: using a pre-hacked version of the software isn’t circumventing the protection, and isn’t against the DMCA. Using a tool that will crack/hack the software itself would be a violation.

I’m not certain where a basic key generator would fall though, since using a key is doing exactly what the software is designed to do.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Reality

That’s kind of what I meant in my comment below – a fully pre-cracked, working game might be okay. But a lot of cracked games require some small action on part of the user, be it running a program or replacing a system file with a cracked one or similar. Keygens are an even more grey area as you say, but you can guarantee the lawyers would push to have them declared circumvention.

Modplan (profile) says:

I should add that the game has 3 levels of DRM for people buying through Steam:

Steam: forces updates on you, Need to be logged in to authenticate a game

Games for Windows Live: Activation Limit of 15, need account with the service

SecuROM: Does nothing the other 2 don’t already provide, whilst being scaled back to make it a pointless inclusion

Modplan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There’s some really good posts by a particular user pointing out all the smoke and mirrors and bs that 2K has been pulling with this game:

Originally Posted by 2K Elizabeth
BioShock 2’s DRM is different from the first game. Yes, there is still online activation (and we’re using GFWL now, which is for a host of reasons that are gameplay related) but the install limits – both number of times and on machines – was a huge deal for many consumers in 2007 and that is entirely gone.

Smoke and mirrors. Then there’s her next post:…&postcount=837

Originally Posted by 2K Elizabeth
This is and is not true – You don’t have to be connected to the internet if you want to play the game. You can go on, install, make an offline profile, and never go online again. If you don’t like going online on the install, I understand that, but you won’t have to be constantly connected.

As for the other limit, I know I stated this before, but it’s something that comes in the GFWL package – and the package was what we wanted, overall, not just for the limits. But I called those out because even if a lot of games have them and it’s standard, I thought it would be important to you guys to know.

So she instantly contradicts herself, then passes the blame on to Microsoft as if their employees were being forced to give up their first born children if they didn’t choose to go with non-SSA GFWL. It’s 2K’s friggin’ game; It was their call. Blaming Microsoft for a decision that 2K made seems pretty underhanded.

And what’s with her thinking that it’s a standard for games to have activation limits? I own ~80 games on Steam, none of them having activation limits. Smoke and mirrors. Power of suggestion. Some games have activation limits, but by no means is it a standard. And if you were to purchase every game available in the Steam store, or anywhere else for that matter, you would find that most games DON’T have activation limits.

:) says:

PC games.

I don’t have those problems the games I play now don’t have DRM they are all open source.

But I remember how bad it was in those days when I still bought games.

I think they want people to stop playing PC games all together and flock to console based ones.

I like the GLEST mod games and to fly. I tried freecol but it hung up a lot then I discovered why, it was written in JAVA(facepalm! why do people use that language)

And there is the 0 A.D. I like RTS games.

minijedimaster (profile) says:

Re: PC games.

I think they want people to stop playing PC games all together and flock to console based ones.

The funny thing is about that, and I’m sure it’s true, is that when you go to the major torrent search engines and see all the latest “games” posted for download 95% of them are all console games… ie Nintendo DS, Xbox360, PS3 etc. What a bunch of toolbags these publishers are. I laugh in their faces and don’t buy their crap games that either suck or are loaded up with DRM… or both.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: PC games.

The funny thing is about that, and I’m sure it’s true, is that when you go to the major torrent search engines and see all the latest “games” posted for download 95% of them are all console games… ie Nintendo DS, Xbox360, PS3 etc.

they want you to stop playing PC games, where each game requires it’s own crack, and start playing console games where you crack the console and every game is instantly cracked.

the other fun thing about cracked consoles is that given enough time, an emulator comes out and you don’t even need the console anymore 🙂

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: PC games.

“the other fun thing about cracked consoles is that given enough time, an emulator comes out and you don’t even need the console anymore :-)”

People keep saying that, but how long has it been since rumors of a fully usable PS2 emulator was being worked on? AFAIK, there still isn’t a good one to date…

Anonymous Coward says:

Here’s a great comment from that site (

I’m Andrew Ryan and I’m here to ask you a question.

Is a man not entitled to play a game on time that he legally paid for with the sweat of his brow?

“No,” Says SecuRom “You will steal it.”
“No,” Says Games for Windows Live “You must activate when we say”
“No,” Says Steam “You must wait till Tuesday 6 O’Clock, then download it while our severs are slammed with others doing the same thing resulting in you getting the game a day AFTER it’s release date or worse”

But I rejected those answers. I choose….BITTORRENT.

minijedimaster (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Another comment on that thread I thought was funny:

and the funny thing is that the pirates will be able to save whenever they want, play, install as many times as they want and as a bonus: not even infect their pc with phone home SepukkuROM!

HOW does THAT bring value to a PAYING CUSTOMER? it’s like paying to get r@ped, while others make love. and for free!

LOL…How true.

Pontifex (profile) says:


Thankfully, EA has recently realized that DRM only pisses customers off. Their more recent games (at least the Bioware titles) have included free DLC for those that buy the game new, and charge those who buy it old. While they’re still using it to get around the first-sale doctrine, it’s much nicer that they’re using the carrot instead of the stick.

letherial (profile) says:

What pisses me off is logging into MS live to save the game, that is fucking stupid. I should not have to be on the internet to play a game i just spent $50.00 for. Every time i pay for a game i regret it. I would love to buy a game that i am happy to support, bioshock, civ among many others, but no, i get punished with stupid ideas…no i dont just get punished, i get fucking tricked. Maybe its written somewhere in some small print, i dont know, i dont care, i dont buy a game to read fine print.

I am giving my ultimate oath to not buy any game that supports any DRM from now on, i am not going to get tricked, screwed, manipulated and disrespected all in one blow. Any game that is created can be cracked, and i will from now on go that route. I hope many many many others join me.

Tom Landry (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The cracking groups could care less about the quality of the games they crack (though really high profile games like MW2 do carry a certain cache), its more of a race to see who cracks it first. The fact of the matter is that the DRM proposed a significant challenge.

Lastly, I’m NOT a fan of DRM at all, I’m just pointing out that some DRM software seems to be getting more sophisticated.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“I’m NOT a fan of DRM at all, I’m just pointing out that some DRM software seems to be getting more sophisticated.”

That doesn’t change the fact that, even with this “sophisticated” DRM, it only took 3 weeks to crack. After that point, whatever problems the DRM causes (and DRM *always* causes problems), those problems only ever affect legal owners of the software. Maybe they got a few more sales, maybe they didn’t. Maybe the annoying DRM was the last straw and they crated a new “pirate” or new 360 gamer instead of a new sale.

Quite literally, people who download illegally have a *higher* quality product than those who buy it legally, because they lack the issues that owners of DRMed product face. That’s the issue, not whether it takes 4 hours or 4 weeks to crack. Did the “pirates” rush out to buy a copy when they realised it wasn’t cracked yet, or just wait for the cracked version? I suspect the latter.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Can you provide any references to the claims you are making? I stay pretty close to the tech groups and usually it is the big names that they care about, they don’t really care about cracking things that no one will play.

You claim they actually spent a lot of time and effort into cracking Avatar, I say prove that they had more trouble cracking it than Bioshock 2.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As these folks pointed out, there probably wasn’t anywhere near the same push to crack the Avatar game as there was to crack something so highly nerdticipated as BioShock 2.

But even if there was, and the new DRM was effective for three weeks, what difference does it make? If that DRM system became popular, it would very quickly get cracked all to hell and soon everything would be getting same-day cracked again. It’s really, really silly to believe the studios can win a technological war to control copyable content – it will just be an ongoing and expensive uphill battle.

JB says:

Re: Re:

There was an Avatar game? They really marketed the crap outta that game!? One thing you might want to look into is the relationship between time-to-crack and the popularity/hype of the game. If the game is highly anticipated, then more enthusiasts will be ready when the announcement is made that the game will have some form of DRM. Imagine what happens when you tell a child not to do something, it becomes a challenge to them; same with game crackers.

The key is to add value to the game instead of taking it away. I don’t know how many times this needs to be said, or how it can be said in a way that these hard-headed executives will understand. Customer service is your business, not selling boxes, discs, papers or bits. Treat your customers right and they will return the favor. Disrespect your customers and we will find another service (inevitably one that does not support you).

Less resources on DRM, more resources on game plz. says:

I was able to find it a week or so ago on private trackers. Sad.

Just be happy with the money you make from the people that want to own a copy. The other people will not necessarily buy it if they couldn’t torrent it, so forget about them. We all used to burn our friends CDs and copy their floppies before torrenting, so get over it already. I would think at least the gaming industry which must have some people with some degree of logic and reason would be able to figure this out.


scene vs p2p

“One thing I wanted to point out though is that another anti-piracy program,the Tages system, is having some effect. The recently released Avatar game took about 3+ weeks to crack. The result is that it brought the game through the critical early sell-through period without giving people the option of a pirated copy.”

no it took 3 weeks to get leaked out to p2p the scene does not support p2p , it skeeps to itself and only when it gets leaked out by some jerk does you lot get stuff

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: I came looking for TAMs comment on this one.

And I would have responded with “maybe potentially might have stopped ONE PERSON from BUYING the game!”

I’m still probably going to get it for the 360 but I’m not going to buy it for the PC. I’ve started picking up games for the 360 and then, once the modding community gets into the swing of things, get it for the PC as well. Well, that trend just stopped.

PaulT (profile) says:

Ever-increasing minimum specs had their influence, but DRM was the number one reason I stopped playing PC games years ago. DRM often functions in the same way as spyware, I don’t always have a constant internet connection at home and I should NOT have to dig up the CD for a game I installed 2 years ago if it’s installed on my f**ing hard drive! I usually installed no-CD cracks for the games I *legally* purchased, but I soon tired of that, especially with the dangers of viruses.

So, I stopped buying PC games and switched to consoles. I miss the mouse/keyboard combo at times, but I’m safe in the knowledge that MY copy of Bioshock 2 isn’t going to cause me all that hassle, ’cause it’s not the PC version…

If only the developers could recognise their own influence in their failure, rather than going “waaaah! Piracy! Need more DRM!” every time their sales figures are released.

REM(RND) (profile) says:

Constant issues with 2K

I installed Bioshock 1 with non-stop issues. Called 2K about 10 times over 2 weeks with no solution. I e-mailed them constantly. Essentially there was no way to get it to work, and 2K was absolutely no help. I finally got it working by updating to Windows 7. Now that’s I’ve finished it, the ending was such a let-down it’s as though no one there cared about the ending. “Let’s just finish it and get our paychecks.” Now that Bioshock 2 is out, yes I’d like to play it but I’m not going to buy it. They don’t have a demo I can try to see if it will work out-of-the-box. I had considered downloading a torrent of it, but I’m not going to do that, either. 2K has essentially lost a customer due to past DRM issues, bad programming, and poor customer support.

markryder (profile) says:

Mike your either a real full on twit or ?..

Mike Masnick I see you write a lot of stuff on many subjects so you must just be getting paid to do it so how about I just pass all the stuff you write to all the papers everywhere for free publication I won’t bother putting your name to it I’ll just copy what I want and maybe even sell it on to any mag that will pay for these rubbish articles that stir up people only due to their dumb comments.
You see you must want to get paid for writing this dross and if everyone treated your work as you so quickly dismiss others I bet you would really want drm and a way to control your income supply.

Yes there is always some geek that can break protection but why not take your comments to the extreme and take all the locks off your house because it’s a waste of your money to invest in trying to protect your home.

Your either a very stupid person or its your intention to write rubbish to get comments? Either way your doing it to get paid an so there is a value in it for you so if its stolen and you can no longer get paid to do it then how long could you continue with it l?

Piracy is a crime and people have a right to be paid for the work they do and no one has the right to say they cant or should not be paid of try to protect their work from thieves

Andrew (profile) says:

Re: Mike your either a real full on twit or ?..

I assume your a regular on this site but since when has Mike been scared of his work being used by other people. Its a blog for crying out loud and there have been times when people just used his work without linking back to him (I don’t have a link but i am sure some other poster can help you with that one).

We aren’t debating that piracy is a crime, we don’t support it but at the same time its stupid to think that pirates will go away with a new idea of protection. One thing that really annoys me about this protection is that it really pisses off legitimate users. A lot of industries are trying their best to stamp out piracy but the more they stamp it out they more turn up all over the place. Until they learn the fact that piracy isn’t going anywhere then they are screwed.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Mike your either a real full on twit or ?..

“Yes there is always some geek that can break protection but why not take your comments to the extreme and take all the locks off your house because it’s a waste of your money to invest in trying to protect your home.”

Dumb post, so I stopped reading after this…

OK, here’s how it works: DRM *only* affects legal customers. Once it’s broken, the cracked copy is the ONLY copy that’s floating around on P2P servers. Nobody who downloads that version has a problem – it operates in exactly the way it should with no hassle to the player.

Meanwhile, the LEGAL buyers of the software have to jump through hoops. They have to have their CD in the drive at all times, they have to register with servers (and hope that the DRM servers never get deactivated, or their internet never fails). There are many stories of people who have not been able to run their *legally purchased* software because the DRM mistakenly fingered their copies as being pirated versions, or who have had to reinstall their OS due to misbehaving DRM.

DRM does NOTHING to stop piracy, and ONLY affects legal customers. This is not a good thing. Deal with it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Mike your either a real full on twit or ?..

Someone once said “Intelligence is invisible to the man who lacks it”.

Not only have you misunderstood virtually everything you commented on, you cannot even logically apply reductio ad absurdum correctly. Something of an achievement to look so dumb whilst trying to show how dumb everyone else is. Well done.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Mike your either a real full on twit or ?..

“Piracy is a crime and people have a right to be paid for the work they do and no one has the right to say they cant or should not be paid of try to protect their work from thieves”

Were I thieving, leaving you nothing
To be fastidious in my crime
I’d copy, over and over
Trying to exhaust your supply.
What needs protecting?
How might I comply?
When, should I be thieving,
All I seem to take is my time.

If my poetry can have grammar, so can you!

AJ says:

Pre-Ordered // Paying Customer

Since I pre-ordered the game, I’ve been watching the forums very carefully for any interesting comments prior to it’s release. Quite a few of the posts were about the DRM.

Lets be honest here, the only thing all that DRM did, was piss off the PAYING customers. It didn’t do shit to protect the media, the damn game was out “DRM FREE” on torrent, the day before it was released in the store. Now they have a forum full of pissed of people, and worse, people making fun of them, because they put multi layer DRM on a game that was cracked and out before the paying customers got theirs.

We don’t want the stinking DRM, if you wont give us what we want, we will find someone who will. The need is there, that is why pirates exist. If big media really wants to win the “war” against pirates, they will have to first surrender to their paying customers……

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, you keep using bits about how people are wrong when they say that a lost download does not automatically equal a lost sale. If you accept that, then how can you say “It didn’t stop any unauthorized access whatsoever”? It works both ways.

It wasn’t as if the DRM crack instantly propagated at FTL speeds and magically replaced each and every instance of DRM’d software. SOMEONE, probably several someones, did have unauthorized access prevented. Assume a non-zero, non-unity portion of them went on to buy a copy of BioShock because they did not have the DRM crack. DRM acts as a speedbump, slowing a few folks down and diverting some non-zero number of people into buying, until such time as the DRM crack is so widely available that it utterly outnumbers the DRM’d version.

If the profits from that speedbump were greater than the cost of implementing that DRM, then that strategy “worked” for the company.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“DRM acts as a speedbump, slowing a few folks down and diverting some non-zero number of people into buying, “

Does it really? How do you know this? How many people are diverted into buying, as opposed to those who are diverted into never buying a DRMed game again due to problems, or diverted to another platform (whose version might be made by a different developer)?

The point remains. Whatever DRM does, it only does so temporarily. After that point, it only ever affects legal owners of the software, making it less likely that those who have problems will buy future DRMed games. Every thread on this subject is rife with people who say that because of DRM, they stopped buying PC games. Given that the PC format seems to be the only modern format to be suffering in recent years, it’s not hard to see that DRM is damaging more than it helps.

Anonymous Coward says:

“additional Q&A and customer support issues”
There really isn’t any of that. After trying to explain the securom guys again and again that their program prevented me from installing the game, so that I simply couldn’t run their diagnostic program on the installed executable as they asked, they stopped awnsering my emails. I guess I was just collateral damage.

I will never again buy anything from that publisher, or anything with securom on it.

Anthony (profile) says:


I’m wondering if DRM is really only for insurance purposes. If the game developers have insurance for their game being pirated they might be required to have DRM for the insurance company to pay out if the game is pirated. Maybe the more ingrained the DRM is the cheaper the premiums are. As an example, car insurance. If you leave your car unlocked and it’s stolen/broken into/etc. then the insurance company won’t pay you for your claim (if you tell them it was unlocked). The lock doesn’t stop anyone from breaking in, it just takes them a little longer to do so. If you have alarms/special locks/etc. it usually means cheaper premiums but still doesn’t stop anyone from breaking in. House insurance is the same. Locks don’t stop anyone, but insurance companies won’t pay out. I don’t know if game developers have insurance(or even if they could get insurance) but if they do that might be the reason for the existance of DRM.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...