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Breaking The Chain: Bioshock DRM Now Less Evil

Those tattoos are the metaphor that keeps on giving

Gosh, all that hoo-hah about Bioshock’s limited number of installations and activation process seems like a long time ago, but I suspect it’s still an open wound for some folk. A vocal portion of Bioshock’s players were angry – “Ken Levine personally kicked my girlfriend to death” angry. Will they be any less angry now 2K’s lightened its infamously ruthless DRM (as promised many moons ago)?

Oh, probably not. Nevertheless, it’s progress.

“all activation restrictions, including install limits, have been removed from BioShock PC as of today. You don’t have to patch or install anything for this to go into effect for your copy of BioShock – it’s already done!”

So say they, and hooray say we.

Regardless of how crazy-harsh the DRM seemed at the time, removing it just 10 months from the game’s retail release isn’t bad going in the grand scheme of things, really – at least if you compare it to something like Blizzard removing the CD-check from Warcraft III 5 1/2 years on from release. [Edit – that bit was written before I ascertained the Securerom checks were indeed remaining in Bioshock. Leave me alone, meanies.]

Seems as though the game will still phone home when you install it before you can play, however – let’s hope the activation servers aren’t quietly switched off in a couple of years, or that 2K eventually provide an executable to bypass ’em.

Edit, as there’s more to this story. So much for a quick, sleepy Sunday morning post to keep you bickersome lot fed until normal weekday service resumes. Sigh. 2K’s community manager Elizabeth Tobey, battling against the bellows of a number of Angry Internet Men, clarifies the situation further down the thread:

“Our other methods of copy protection remain. You will still have to activate your copy, and you will still need to keep the disc in the drive. SecuROM has not been removed — just the activation limits on number of installs and number of computers you can install BioShock on simultaneously.

As I promised that the activation limits would go away, I can promise that if we ever stop supporting BioShock in the ways you speak of, we will release a patch so that the game is still playable. I believe, as you seem to, that BioShock will be the kind of game we will want to revisit 5, 10, 15 or more years from now. I want my copy to be playable, just as you do, and so does 2K.”

And later still:

“I am not 100% certain that BioShock will be playable until the end of time, but I am very confident that our company knows how amazing this game is, and will respect that, and our loyal consumer base who loves this game right along with us.”

Well, it will be definitely playable until the end of time (or at least until a future version of Windows drops DX9/10 compatibility, or lizard-men take over the planet), but that’s because of third-party cracks that bypass the activation nonsense. I sorely hope 2K drops the online check come the budget release – it really will be silly to have to dial up the mothership for a £5 copy of Bioshock circa 2009.

As a sidenote, I also hope the PC version gets a patch to include the new levels, foes and introduction reportedly in the upcoming PS3 port. I couldn’t give a hoot about the extra Plasmids in the last patch, but more Rapture would be many splendids.

Anyway, I haven’t revisited Rapture in a while because I’m forever having to reinstall Windows for my tech writing, so had no idea where I was up to in Bioshock installations and really had no appetite for phone calls to 2K tech support. Perhaps this sudden unchaining may be my cue to see how the thing feels almost a year on, now free from the distractions of hype and backlash.

This seems a fine opportunity to post the below again. We don’t necessarily agree with the sentiment, but we definitely agree with the funny:

(Its creator is unknown to us, but we pinched it from here).

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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