Bioshock: The Future of Copy Protection?

By Alec Meer on November 22nd, 2007 at 11:20 pm.

I seem to recall that one or two people were slightly unhappy with the anti-piracy measures on Bioshock. There was no big deal about it, was there? Of course there bloody was. Folk don’t take kindly to being told they can install something they’ve just paid real Earth money for a limited number of times. Now that the shouting’s died down, Gamespot’s reporting on a recent talk by 2K Au… 2k Austra… 2K Arrrrgh, no, can’t do it, sorry – Irrational’s Martin Slater about the controversial measures.

“We achieved our goals. We were uncracked for 13 whole days. We were happy with it. But we just got slammed. Everybody hated us for it. It was unbelievable… You can’t afford to be cracked. As soon as you’re gone, you’re gone, and your sales drop astronomically if you’ve got a day one crack.”

I agree and sympathise with him – those torrent sites are very busy these days, and I really can’t believe it’s not hurting developers – but I did feel Bioshock’s measures were far too stringent. If you crossover from protecting your game into insulting the guys who have keenly thrown their money at you, frankly you’ve gone too far. Seems Irrational are somewhat on the same page: “I don’t think we’ll do exactly the same thing again, but we’ll do something close.”

So it is going to happen again. And hardly surprising, really – this piracy thing isn’t going away, is it? DRM, when in a form that prevents me from using something I’ve bought on any device I want to, makes me angry (and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. I stammer pathetically and get flecks of spittle in the corners of my mouth). However, I’m broadly in favour of a system like Steam uses – you can download and play your game on any PC hooked up the web, just by logging into an account. It’s DRM, but it’s not DRM tied to a specific machine. The trouble with it is that, as demonstrated by the almighty poostorm kicked up upon the retail release of Half-Life 2, it locks out the guys who don’t have broadband, plus anyone uncomfortable with the regular messages to the mothership involved. So really, the only answer is forcible, even violent, re-education of everyone who’d still rather buy a game in a plastic box than download it through a legitimate service. And horrible, screaming death for any publishers not yet signed up to Steam, of course.

Anyway, enough sociopathic babble from me. There’re some compelling, and honest-sounding, insights into quite how piracy affects developers in the report. Well worth a read if you’re one of those convinced it’s not hurting PC gaming.

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114 Comments »

  1. Cigol says:

    I bought Football Manager from Sports Interactive and found that despite owning the game it wouldn’t recognise the disc – I tried everything recommended to no avail. So in the end I had to resort to downloading a crack and voila; the game I paid money for suddenly worked.

    This got me banned from their official forums because apparently it’s illegal to use cracks (?) but I’d wager it’s a little less than ethical to sell a game that at the drop of a hat can decide it’s no longer going to work.

    Their copy protection prevented me from playing the game I paid for and forced me into the position of using a crack, that they didn’t respond to my emails (or concerns) and I remain banned to this day only means they’ve lost a customer and a once vocal supporter of their game at that.

    There are many, many stories of copy protection actually hurting sales and IP’s in ways that might not be readily apparent but the bubble has burst for me and it will for those of you ignoring this post one day also.

  2. Brog says:

    Solution to anti-piracy measures that screw over the legitimate buyers: get the cracked version.
    (I mean, have one copy that’s legit, and one copy that’s usable. I’m not suggesting not buying a copy, that would be bad! But piracy does good in allowing us to actually use our legally purchased products.)

  3. Marcos Castrillon says:

    I download quite a few games because:

    1- It grates me to pay the same price filthy englanders pay when my wages are, comparatively, like a fifth.

    2 – I can’t stand cheap-arse spanish translation and dubbing of games. E.g. God of War. I *ahem* tested the english version, got so enthralled by it I rushed to the shop to buy it, then became appalled by the stupid, lifeless dubbing, and I turned it back.

    3 – I refuse to install stupid DRM in my computer.

    The problem it’s not torrent sites. People who don’t want to spend their money in games won’t do it, no matter what you do. And alienating your customers will only make matters worse.

  4. bobince says:

    > Everybody hated us for it. It was unbelievable.

    Boo hoo. Unbelievable, or completely deserved perhaps?

    So now they’ve had the benefit of their 13 uncracked days, can we buy working activation-free copies of Bioshock now? No? Oh well, guess we’ll have to stick to downloading from torrent sites then. At least the pirates don’t do their best to get in our way at every turn.

    Steam (like iTunes) may hide the pain under a layer of pretty interface, but the problems don’t go away. I can stick my original Half Life CD—from, what, 9 years ago?—in my drive today and play. Will the same be true of Half Life 2?* With the rate at which games publishers go out of business, it’s questionable.

    (*: well, no, it won’t, because I don’t have a disc for HL2, as I refuse to buy any software that requires external permission to run. But still.)

  5. Muzman says:

    I’m not surprised by developers putting up a fight, but I’d love to know what insider info they base their…outlook on. It seems so warped; 13 days is an achievement? How? Downloaders don’t wait thirteen days? Since when? (Too many questions?) X-number of people who bought it in the first week might not have if the game was cracked earlier, would seem to be the reasoning. But I can’t see that X being a very big number at all. Christmas comes and the game’s still cracked.
    I’m inclined to think its all just a lot of self justified nerd willy waving at the heart of it, “yeah! we got em for 13 days! THIS IS 2K! Hooahhh!”

  6. Ging says:

    Muzman, it took 13 days for a working crack to appear, which allowed the game to appear on torrent / “warez” sites for everyone to download. A lot of downloaders do it because “it’s there” rather than any other reason, if it’s not there and it’s a game they want to try, they’ll probably go out and buy it.

    Considering that the majority of sales occur in the first 3 / 4 weeks, going half that without a pirate copy being available is quite the feat (I believe codemasters did well with their “fade” tech in Op Flashpoint and Spyro – going well beyond the 4 week period) and something to be celebrated by developers.

    While it’s true that DRM / copy protection isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread, I do see the need for it – even when it does annoy the crap outta me and stop me from being able to easily enjoy a game I’ve purchased (Chaos Theory springs to mind – it would view the disc as valid once in every five attempts).

  7. Caiman says:

    I hope they use Lenslok (TM) for Bioshock 2! Let’s give the gamers of today a taste of what we old ‘uns had to put up with.

  8. Brant says:

    Time for another tale of woe!

    I legitimately (and proudly) purchased BioShock the day it came out, but I got burned because I occasionally run SysInternals utilities to monitor hard disk and registry activity. See, if you’ve dared to do so much as launch Process Monitor since your last reboot, SecuROM just won’t allow you to play the game. Reboot and try again, you filthy wannabe cracker! How frustrating.

    I haven’t purchased (or successfully launched the demo of) the first episode of the new Sam & Max for the exact same reason. Same copy protection, same problem. It’s not that rebooting is such a big deal, but it’s the principle of the thing, damn it. I’m being punished just because at some point in the last few days I’ve launched a utility that does no more than monitor system activity in a way that could theoretically be useful to somebody trying to crack the game.

  9. Brant says:

    (Oh, and I was thrilled once I found out that BioShock had finally been cracked, because it meant I could play the game whenever I felt like it again. Thanks, Internet! Maybe I’ll poke around now for a S&M S02E01 crack so that I can buy that game, too.)

  10. roBurky says:

    When it reaches the point that the easiest way to play a game you’ve bought doesn’t involve opening the box, something is wrong.

    We reached that point quite a while ago.

  11. Robin says:

    “So now they’ve had the benefit of their 13 uncracked days, can we buy working activation-free copies of Bioshock now? No? Oh well, guess we’ll have to stick to downloading from torrent sites then.”

    And here we have, in a nutshell, the reason why the PC games market is in trouble. Whenever a problem gets reported with particular copy protection system, you can bet that it will get jumped on as an excuse to pirate any and all PC games.

    The problem with Bioshock’s copy protection was that it did not work as intended when it was originally deployed. The issue with limited activations has since been fixed, I understand.

    “I refuse to buy any software that requires external permission to run.”

    What OS are you using out of interest?

    “13 days is an achievement? How?”

    Because as the article says, many games get cracked some time between going to duplication and going on sale. A large proportion of sales of most big-name PC games happen in the first two weeks. I don’t know if the situation has improved recently, but as of a few years ago it wasn’t unusual for copy protection vendors to give estimates of the effectiveness of their products measured in hours.

    In general, I think copy protection/DRM has reached a pretty good equilibrium for PC games. It’s usually no more inconvenient than downloading a no-cd crack (with more and more games not even needing that), and really bad systems (like StarForce) usually get enough bad press to keep them at bay. Of course it would be nice to have no DRM at all, but the mix of cheap PCs, abundant bandwidth and kids with no money precludes that for now.

  12. Muzman says:

    “A lot of downloaders do it because “it’s there” rather than any other reason, if it’s not there and it’s a game they want to try, they’ll probably go out and buy it.”
    It’d love to know where this notion comes from or why its thought to represent such a large number of sales. Downloaders are patient. Sharing of games is prevalent. Sure its a worthy ‘market’ to leverage, but all the license fees, man-hours, infrastructure etc to make this SecuROM thing work; I have trouble thinking that it’s really earning its keep, so to speak. (Copy protection is largely symbolic, I think anyway. Token obstruction to remind people of the moral status quo. Which, I think again, is why there’s such difficulty discussing it properly. Piracy must be kept taboo. Openness invites permissiveness)

  13. josh g. says:

    “A lot of downloaders do it because “it’s there” rather than any other reason, if it’s not there and it’s a game they want to try, they’ll probably go out and buy it.”
    It’d love to know where this notion comes from or why its thought to represent such a large number of sales. Downloaders are patient. Sharing of games is prevalent.

    Macrovision has done market research via anonymous polls on gaming websites that shows that the majority of people who download a cracked game would probably just go buy it if the cracked version weren’t available within the first week. They aren’t just making this crap up. Neither are they pretending that there aren’t hardcore warez downloaders who will wait for a crack. But since those are in the minority, and wouldn’t buy the game either way, they aren’t really what DRM is trying to reclaim.

    (I’m sure other game DRM companies know this as well, I just mention Macrovision because I’ve seen one of their pitches where they presented this data.)

  14. Ging says:

    The notion comes from experience Muzman – I’ve talked to a lot of people who have said just that, if a crack is slow to arrive or doesn’t work properly, they will make the purchase. Sure, it’s not a huge number, but it’s worth the hassle at their end for the extra sales. Especially from a developer stand point, where returns are horrifically minimal in the majority of cases.

    The majority of downloaders are far from patient (at least, in my experience) – if that were true, there wouldn’t be release races to see who can get the first working crack out for a new game. Nor would there be a horde of people at torrent sites / release listings asking where the “big” release is and why it hasn’t hit the ‘net yet.

    You made the point yourself – “Copy protection is largely symbolic” – in this case, it wasn’t, it stopped the “scene” from being able to release the game for 13 days. In those 13 days sales will have been made that would not have been had a pirate copy been available – so as far as the developers / publishers are concerned it’s a win. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they believe that their copy protection schemes are foolproof, they’re used to slow down the process as much as possible – not to stop it outright (at least, in the majority of cases).

    Admittedly, the Bioshock DRM may have been a tad over the top for the purchasers, but that was recognised as a mistake by the developers and rectified (though a lot of people failed to realise it had been resolved and continued to throw toys out of prams about it). Ken Levine has also stated that the entire thing will be removed at some point in the future – though he didn’t provide a time scale for that.

    It’s also worth noting that just this sort of issue (the ease with which people can access pirate titles and play them) is one of the reasons that developers are working with consoles as their core audience and not the PC. ids Carmack mentioned that recently – I have no idea as to the actual impact of piracy on individual companies income, but it can’t be insignificant, which is just a bad thing to happen, especially to PC-centric developers!

  15. Roman Levin says:

    I second (third?) the demand for some actual numbers regarding the impact of piracy on game sales. At least for the PC. Has any serious research been done on this? By someone who doesn’t sell copy protection?
    Also, was Bioshock really uncracked for 13 days? I seem to recall seeing it all over torrent sites.

  16. Chemix says:

    “Kills sales,” last I recall, PC games are still selling very well despite being cracked, hell, released the day before the game actually ships.

    If games weren’t increasingly expensive and increasingly homogenal (similar), you probably wouldn’t see piracy nearly as prevalent today as you do.

    When something isn’t worth buying, it won’t be bought, but when one has the option to get it without paying money they don’t feel the title is actually worthy of. Of course, “how some people feel about the worth of something, does not determine it’s worth,” but it does give a hint.

    Perhaps I’m a foolish, naive, altruist that is alone in the world in that respective combination of qualities, but if I can buy something and I feel it’s worth it, I will, but if I can’t… well theoretically I could get a reproduction, but theoretically, I could have blue skin, pink hair, and red teeth, theoretically.

  17. dekoy says:

    I won’t lie, I didnt buy Bioshock simply because of their extreme measures. Root kit? Limited Installs? Yeah that’ll cause me to never support your software.

  18. The_B says:

    Also, was Bioshock really uncracked for 13 days? I seem to recall seeing it all over torrent sites.

    The files may have been there, but they were unplayable until someone actually cracked the exe to run them. That and I’d be willing to bet a fair amount would have been other things masquerading as Bioshock.

    Steam (like iTunes) may hide the pain under a layer of pretty interface, but the problems don’t go away. I can stick my original Half Life CD—from, what, 9 years ago?—in my drive today and play. Will the same be true of Half Life 2?* With the rate at which games publishers go out of business, it’s questionable.

    This point of view manages to cause me a lot of annoyance lately. Sure, I suppose it’s fine if it was levelled at anyone else, but Valve? For all the people who say “Valve is just a money grabbing company these days” over the whole cancelling of the Black Box then have the cheek to claim they might go out of buisness? In the semi-words of Pheonix Wright: “CONTRADICTION!”

    OK, some will say this without having said that Valve are a money grabbing company, still have to remember that Valve are one of the biggest PC games companies, they generated a revenue of $70 million dollars in 2005, and then this year have released the Orange Box on both the PC and 360, and have a PS3 version coming out – they’re not exactly going to be closing any time soon are they? And if they did I’m pretty certain they would somehow ‘unlock’ all the Steam games.

  19. Brog says:

    And if they did I’m pretty certain they would somehow ‘unlock’ all the Steam games.

    Somehow, by magic.
    Dammit, I want to still be able to play Portal even if the USA is destroyed in a barrage of thermonuclear weaponry this instant.

  20. Thomas Lawrence says:

    13 days IS an achievement. Most videogames make like SPURIOUSLY_MADE_UP_PERCENTAGE of their sales in the first month of being on the shelves. A good chunk of game are then taken OFF those very same shelves. The first few weeks are everything to a game developer.

  21. Muzman says:

    josh.g
    “Macrovision has done market research via anonymous polls on gaming websites that shows that the majority of people who download a cracked game would probably just go buy it if the cracked version weren’t available within the first week. They aren’t just making this crap up.”
    I’m sure they’re basing it all on something. I still have trouble with this whole ‘first week’ business, mostly because I never buy/ see/ rent anything in the first week and few people I know do, which doesn’t mean the stats lie.
    Ging says
    “The majority of downloaders are far from patient (at least, in my experience) – if that were true, there wouldn’t be release races to see who can get the first working crack out for a new game. Nor would there be a horde of people at torrent sites / release listings asking where the “big” release is and why it hasn’t hit the ‘net yet.”
    True, but surely this is all just typical hacker competitveness and those feeding off it are keen to ‘stick it too the man’ as early as possible and couldn’t be representative of those libel to give up the first sign of resistance and spend money.
    While any insider info is good and I’m probably a bit behind the times and far from the real info on how games sales go, I am still pretty comfortable with my suspicion that the industry view on piracy is desperately incomplete and the waters very muddy thanks to a lot of security industry scaremongering. The idea that every day every day they go uncracked equals, in any direct way, people turned away from downloading who will purchase seems like Voodoo Economics to me (and their big record is a mere two weeks). Any research that supports this stuff I’ll seems like it’d be the thinnest of science. Maybe I don’t understand how everyone is an early adopter but me, or hype, or something.

  22. CrimsonAngel says:

    The Best Copy protection i have seen is the one for GalaticCivilasation.

    You need a serial and that is all and other then that there is nothing.
    The advantage the Serial gives you is you get access to a lot of free stuff in the form of patches and support from the Developers.

    The Witcher uses some of the same principles and i can only commend them for that.

  23. Radiant says:

    It’s also not cost based either.
    We made a game and sold it for £4 and it still got downloaded thousands of times from just one torrent tracker.
    I mean 4 pounds!
    You don’t have 4 quid?
    I can understand you don’t have a credit card but we accept paypal!

    To circumvent piracy we’re gonna start to incorporate community aspects to the casual games we make.
    That way you have to get online auth’ed to play and we can combat piracy in a steamish/quake3 cd key way.

    As for the people who say that they aren’t connected to the internet.

    1) How did you get our game? We’re download only.
    2) This isn’t 1999 anymore my 70 year old mother in-law has always on internet.
    3) Yes I am old thanks.

    But yes there are elegant ways to do copy protection and then there are the idiotic securom/invasive ways that dedicated copy protection companies use.
    And 13 days is great for Irrational [who get into Dixons and EB] but not so much for companies like us.

  24. DosFreak says:

    “This point of view manages to cause me a lot of annoyance lately. Sure, I suppose it’s fine if it was levelled at anyone else, but Valve? For all the people who say “Valve is just a money grabbing company these days” over the whole cancelling of the Black Box then have the cheek to claim they might go out of buisness? In the semi-words of Pheonix Wright: “CONTRADICTION!”

    OK, some will say this without having said that Valve are a money grabbing company, still have to remember that Valve are one of the biggest PC games companies, they generated a revenue of $70 million dollars in 2005, and then this year have released the Orange Box on both the PC and 360, and have a PS3 version coming out – they’re not exactly going to be closing any time soon are they? And if they did I’m pretty certain they would somehow ‘unlock’ all the Steam games.”

    Companies that made more money in their time and far better games have died long ago. Valve will die eventually. and “not closing any time soon”?

    How soon is soon for you? PC gamers have a far greater memory and collection than most console gamers. We also love to play our older games (Of course the same can be done with Consoles but most console gamers do not save their games).

    I stopped buying PC games for 2 years because I was fed up with all of the Securom/Safedisc BS. The game that brought me back was Oblivion (the only copy protection that games uses is a simple CD check).

    I stayed away from STEAM and games that uses activation until BioShock came out. When BioShock came out I knew it would be cracked very soon and I also bought the game to see if my stance against activation was warranted and it was. A couple of days after I bought Bioshock I found the NOCD and NOACTIVATION cracked BioShock executable and I burned it to another CD which I keep in the same case as my original BioShock CD. I can install BioShock on however many computers I want now and not have to contact the internet…..the way it should be.

    I mentioned above that I stayed away from STEAM because of the activation. Well when the Orange Box was released I bought that and did a little research on the STEAM emulators that were out there. So I installed the Orange Box and downloaded all of the updates, added my original HL games and Prey games to STEAM and downloaded them all. I then used the STEAM emulator and now I don’t have to worry about needing to authenticate to the internet to play my games.

    I’ve been playing PC games since I was 6yrs old in 1986. I have tons of PC games and emulators and I even play games that were released long before I was born. I will not put my trust in any company because a company just cares about $$$, caring about the people is so far down on the list as to almost not even be considered. Games are not a disposable form of entertainment for me like most modern games, when I buy a game IT’S MINE AND I CAN DO WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT TO WITH IT (within reason) AND I WILL WANT TO PLAY IT HOWEVER THE HELL I WANT AND WHENEVER THE HELL I WANT TO.

  25. Ging says:

    “when I buy a game IT’S MINE AND I CAN DO WHATEVER THE HELL I WANT TO WITH IT (within reason) AND I WILL WANT TO PLAY IT HOWEVER THE HELL I WANT AND WHENEVER THE HELL I WANT TO.”

    Actually, no, it’s not and no you can’t – when you “purchase” a game, all you’re doing is buying a license from the publisher that allows you to use the software that they are providing as part of the “contract” (the EULA). You certainly don’t own the software (you own the physical bits, but not the actual game) and they legally control anything you can do with that software as laid out in the EULA that you agree to when you install the software (or in some cases, just open the box).

    Admittedly, there has been some muttering recently that EULAs are unenforceable in a court of law, but I’m no lawyer, so I don’t fully understand the hows and whys of that particular argument.

  26. Andrew Doull says:

    I can completely appreciate the need for copy protection in games.

    The doubling of the price of Call of Duty 4 overnight for people living in Australia is, however, completely unjustifiable.

    Region code can go take a flying one while I’m at it…

  27. JakethePirate says:

    I perfectly understand the need for copy-protection–piracy is an issue and does undermine sales. I don’t pirate games (despite my name) although I do tend to get cd-keys off the web because I can never keep tack of those goddamn codes.
    I don’t mind DRM all that much as long as it’s not terribly intrusive, I love Steam and use it as much as I can because it does control how I use a game, but it also makes acquiring and keeping track of the game much easier (no disks, no cd-keys not game store).

    What really bothers me about most DRM is the concept that I’m being punished for following the law. Something about that is really deeply disturbing about that; it’s like the Book of Job but somehow worse because the tormentor is trying to maximise his profits instead of prove some point about the human spirit (or whatever, I know a lot of Biblical stuffs but I haven’t studied Job specifically). I don’t feel this way with Steam because it is rather convenient and provided feature the pirated copy doesn’t have (Community, auto-patching and others)

    Of course, people who follow some kind of ridged set of ethics are going to have a harder time those who follow a more lenient set (or none at all) but it seems to me that there is something wrong with a system that punishes people whose ethical standards include following the law and support the system and rewards people who break the law and undermine the system.

  28. Anthony Damiani says:

    “Actually, no, it’s not and no you can’t – when you “purchase” a game, all you’re doing is buying a license from the publisher that allows you to use the software that they are providing as part of the “contract” (the EULA). You certainly don’t own the software (you own the physical bits, but not the actual game) and they legally control anything you can do with that software as laid out in the EULA that you agree to when you install the software (or in some cases, just open the box).”

    Just because that’s what the EULA says doesn’t make that so. As a consumer, I have the moral right to own my purchases.

    As to the larger issue of copy protection– I have a gaming laptop. I’m on the go a lot. There are frequent times where I will be without wifi access, and would like to play my games. Anything Steam related is out the window (Likewise, Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts– or, more naturally, any MMO). I can play a number of games that require a CD, but because I have a laptop on the go, I can’t really lug all my games with me.

    I’m not a pirate, I don’t intend to become a pirate– but something is seriously wrong when the illegal versions of the product are functionally superior to the one I’m paying good money for.

  29. Jan-Tore Berghei says:

    “As to the larger issue of copy protection– I have a gaming laptop. I’m on the go a lot. There are frequent times where I will be without wifi access, and would like to play my games. Anything Steam related is out the window (Likewise, Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts– or, more naturally, any MMO). I can play a number of games that require a CD, but because I have a laptop on the go, I can’t really lug all my games with me.”

    Actually, Steam has an Offline Mode, and only requires that you connect to the internet, log in to your steam account and activate your games ONCE before you can turn it on. That way you can play your Steam games without ever hooking up to the net ever again. Of course you will miss all the game updates and such, but it is very much possible.

  30. Mike says:

    I had to reformat my hard drive, effectively raping the permissions on the 6 games I had bought and downloaded from Direct2Drive. After two rounds with their awful customer service department when trying to run two separate games I had bought and paid for, the third time my “request for more activations” was accompanied by a nasty letter. Two days with no response and a quick visit to a crack site later and I was playing my game the way nature intended.

    I torrent plenty of games that maybe have a single player element that is just good enough to try out but not drop $50 on. I also purchase plenty of games. The convenience of downloading games legally is great, but I shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get into my game. Developers will never defeat piracy no matter what DRM they come up with, so instead why not worry about making your paying customers happy by not treating them like criminals? Oh wait, then they might share the game with their friends. Damn freeloaders.

  31. Brog says:

    Actually, Steam has an Offline Mode, and only requires that you connect to the internet, log in to your steam account and activate your games ONCE before you can turn it on. That way you can play your Steam games without ever hooking up to the net ever again. Of course you will miss all the game updates and such, but it is very much possible.

    We had a lot of trouble with this in the early days of steam. I was on dialup back then, and sometimes we had lan parties without internet access. Half the time steam’s offline mode would not work. No idea if this has gotten any better since.
    This time around, with the Orange Box, I’ve had no trouble with steam at all. It seems as long as you have broadband everything is fine. Not everybody does.

  32. Piratepete says:

    I would just like to state that despite the name I buy all my software, don’t use bittorrent, and had have no trouble with either steam or Bioshock. Is it just a vocal minority who have had the problem with Bioshock?

    No i tell a lie i had a copy of some game from a friend once but it was bobbins anyway.

  33. Stuart White says:

    Perhaps Games should be forced to state on the box what kind of copy protection they use. This would at least inform you about exactly what you are letting yourself in for, and are signing up to, when you purchase the game.

    Any Half Life 2 game says (in small letters) that you need an internet connection to play which is good even if it doesnt explain exactly why it needs it.

  34. Katsumoto says:

    Moral Right? Hmm? Interesting standpoint, but legally he’s right – you don’t “own” any of your games.

    And I agree, this whole thing was a fiasco – but what was worse was that I couldn’t play it because 1.0 is so bugged to shite, and they still haven’t released a patch, months down the line, meaning it is still unplayable for a lot of people. Luckily I bought a new PC in the mean time, so have since completed it. It’s awesome. Shame the launch will have permanently soured it in the minds of many.

  35. Akis says:

    Apart from protection measures, there are other ways as well.

    Give your registered users extra things, like content updates, patches, images, music, competitions, developer diaries, podcasts, ladders, chats/forums with the developers etc. There are way too many choices.

    Make real packaging for the games, with ofc extra content. Artbooks, Figures, DVD’s, Soundtracks, Maps, Keyrings, Posters, Stickers, Cups, T-Shirts etc etc. The list with the things with no actual cost-or a small one- is unlimited, and most of the PC Gamers I know love these kind of stuff.

    Apart from things like these, meaning “extras”, the most important things are innovation, replayability, gameplay, etc etc.

    What I’m trying to say, is that even though I don’t have any statistics to prove anything, I find way more important to actually try and expand your buyers group, motivate more ppl to play your game, and trust you in your future works, than delaying cracks. And ofc, from my personal experience I see that most ppl that get illegal copies don’t really care for 1,2 or more days, since after all, not buying the game more or less means that they don’t care.

  36. Kieron Gillen says:

    Idly, you know what single-player game has unbeatable copyprotection?

    Guild Wars.

    I may get around to blogging about that sometime.

    KG

  37. Adam Hepton says:

    I think it’s an absolute fucking liberty that people who make their living selling legal copies of their own intellectual property dare to have the audacity to do everything they can to try and stop people taking copies for free.

  38. The Sombrero Kid says:

    it’s simple economics, people will choose the best product for the least money, the legal barrier being slighty conductive to people buying legit versions the equations simple

    ((quality of legit product/price of legit product)/(quality of pirated product/price of pirated product))*Legal Bias = the likelyhood of someone going with the legit version

    i think i got that wright, basically the higher the preice of your game and the worse the game relative to the pirated version the more likely people are to steal it as with the music industry DRM makes people more likley to steal your product it probably lowers thier legal bias as well since the legal system allows DRM to infringe peoples rights and this makes them more likely to take the law into thier own hands the music industry learned this the hard way.

    the best way to reduce piracy is to match the pirates for the distribution medium allowing you to lower the price and yes activly attempt to lower the pirated games quality but NOT AT EXPENSE OF YOUR OWN otherwise you are negating the effect

    valve have managed this by tying the way the games work to steam pirated copies are always a bit schizo if you know what i mean

  39. Robin says:

    “I won’t lie, I didnt buy Bioshock simply because of their extreme measures. Root kit? Limited Installs? Yeah that’ll cause me to never support your software.”

    Bioshock’s CP does not and never has had a ‘rootkit’, and the limited installs issue has been fixed.

  40. Iain says:

    I like the irony that all the people who complain about corporations being money-grabbing bastards (and so use torrents) are thieves…

    Anyway, if you want to get your games for free, you don’t even need to break the law: just become a games journalist.

  41. AndrewA says:

    I have to say all these people saying ‘I stopped buying games because of DRM!!’, It’s just bollocks. Stop masquerading as some sort of videogame martyr. You pirate games because you want free games it’s as simple as that. If your really so fervent in your hatred for DRM then don’t play those games at all. Only play games which come DRM free, don’t download pirated game and as an afterthought claim your striking a blow against the man and his DMM.

    Alternatively if you really hate DRM but like game, then buy the games and download a cracked version. I have a few of these simply for convenience, no-cd cracks on my laptop.

  42. Kieron Gillen says:

    I break the law all the time as a games journalist, and have the corpses to prove it.

    KG

  43. AbyssUK says:

    I torrent most games.. and buy the good ones. I can’t afford to buy every game! I don’t trust demos and I don’t trust reviewers.. if people in the games industry stopped lying to us about games I’d pirate less and buy more.

    For example; I mean minimum PC specs on games these days are just plain old lies.. have you tried crysis/bioshock etc on there minimum specs ITS UNPLAYABLE!! completely pointless even putting the specs on the box.

    Also why are computer games 30-40 quid when movies (which normally cost more to make) are like a max 20 quid for the DVD ??

  44. Graham says:

    Piracy just isn’t as good as it used to be. I used to make regular trips to the Barras in Glasgow with my Dad. We’d make our way through the crowds and browse the tables of Amiga disks operated by intimidating men with stubble and sallow skin. We’d pick up some games – £1 for the first disk, 50p for every disk thereafter – and then pick up some freshly baked doughnuts from a van before heading home.

    Piracy nowadays is so impersonal.

  45. Iain says:

    AbyssUK:

    Sorry, but you’re rationalising.

    DVDs retail at £15-20 because they’re the producer’s second bite of the cherry when it comes to making money (the first being at the box office). Films also shift a hell of a lot more units than your average videogame, too – they make the profit in shifting volume, not using high profit margins, which is why you see lots of DVDs retailing for under a tenner.

    Videogames only get one real chance to make money (budget re-releases aren’t highly profitable – again, the money is in volume shifted, rather than margin), so if your initial sales at retail are being killed by people torrenting, that just forces developers and publishers to become more conservative in the games that they make. Perhaps saying that torrenting is killing the industry is a tad melodramatic, but it does force publishers to be less innovative or ambitious, because each game becomes such a financial risk to make, they have to make games that will sell and make a profit.

    So what if you can’t afford to buy every game? Boo hoo. My heart bleeds. Prioritise what you want to play and buy those. Not having the money to buy a game doesn’t give you the right to steal it.

    I can’t afford an Aston Martin DBS, but I’m not going to go out and steal one. And no – there’s no difference between stealing a car and torrenting a videogame: they’re both theft and both illegal.

  46. fluffy bunny says:

    If people don’t agree with the copy protection measures a game uses, or don’t want to pay the high price asked for it, or whatever, really, they should not buy or play the game.

    None of these things are valid excuses for piracy.

  47. Jon says:

    Could we not go back to the old days of decoder discs?

    I remember losing the one for Zool on the Amiga when I was little. I think I cried a little.

  48. Peter Clay says:

    A couple of links:
    http://www.boingboing.net/2007/11/07/mlb-rips-off-fans-wh.html
    (person buys DRM protected videos, finds his ability to play is switched off, no refunds)

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071121-uk-retailers-to-record-labels-drm-is-killing-us.html
    (self explanatory URL)

    By the way, infringement isn’t theft, and if done privately on a very small scale isn’t illegal in the UK either, just actionable. I’d say that taking money for something and then turning off the DRM server (as above) is much closer to theft (or at least what the US calls “wire fraud”)

  49. Dragon says:

    The excuse that “I want to play the game but I can’t because I don’t have internet/broadband access” is frankly ridiculous these days. It’s like saying “I can’t play Crysis because it requires a Dual Core processor* and I’m still gaming on a 486″ or “UT3 needs a DX10 top-of-the-range graphics card – that’s totally unfair to those of us with a Voodoo1 card”. I don’t know how well Steam works over a 56k modem – frankly, seeing the trouble my mother-in-law has accessing most webpages these days, I wouldn’t want to even try. But if you’re using the ‘net a lot or even thinking of (legally) downloading software, music or videos then what the hell are you doing without broadband?

    *requirements made up – I have no idea what it needs except that it’s more than my PC is currently capable of.

  50. Brog says:

    Laptops. Tiny huts in darkest Africa. Trips to the moon.