Big Daddy Is Watching You: Bioshock 2 DRM

BACK! DRM! BACK! DON'T TOUCH ME! I WILL FIGHT YOU I WILL... oh no. You are too strong. You have defeated me.

Okay. Let’s keep this just the facts, as everyone knows what they mean. The tech specs for Bioshock 2 are out. They’re reasonable enough. There’s also some fun DRM. Online verification via SecuRom, with an install limit (15 machines, admittedly). To save the game or play online, you need to be logged into Games for Window Live. This still applies on Steam – so SecuRom and Games For Windows Live are needed in addition to the Steam client. Hmm.

UPDATE: 2K Community Manager Elizabeth elaborates over at the forums. In short, it will be doing the standard Games for Windows Live activation – as in, you can play and save games offline without achievements. SecuROM is only a disc-check method for the retail copy. While final details of Steam are forthcoming, that may imply it won’t be there. Hmm.

Comments thread… go. Let me and Edwin Starr provide the soundtrack.



  1. Horatius says:

    If you pirate a game from a smaller company that doesn’t implement any annoying DRM, you feel bad. If you pirate a game from a giant company that adds three layers of DRM irritation, you feel kinda good.

    If you purchase a DRM-free game from a little company, you feel great. If you purchase a DRM-laden game from a big company, you feel kinda bad.

    I wonder how many pirates will think fondly of Bioshock 2.

  2. YachmenevSWE says:

    This is a couple of the reasons that I enjoy indie games more and more. The developers care about their customers and Microsoft have no interest in them on the PC.

  3. Pinkbeard says:

    I want BioShock 2 (Should it be shortened to B.S.2, it think it may be apt) but I’m buggered if I’m going to pay to have what I consider malware installed on my machine. So screw them and their securom and Greatly Failing Windows Lameware crap.

    Any PC gamer worth their salt knows of ways and means to avoid DRM and still play the games they want to.

    Read into that what you will.

  4. LintMan says:

    Bioshock 2 was one of the games I was looking forward to. But 3 activations, 15 activations or 100 activations – I still don’t like activations. You’re screwed if they stop running the servers in 3-5 years.

    Leaving activations in on the Steam version plus GFWL dumps a stinky brown “icing” on the cake. Maybe in a year or two I’ll pick it up for $5 in one of Steam’s blowout sales.

  5. Jaedar says:

    How can the games industry completely fail to learn anything?
    When will they realize GFWL is horrible?
    That Install limits just leaves a bad taste in gamers mouths and accomplishes nothing?

  6. Aemony says:

    Hell no. I have already had enough of GTA IV’s protections so I’m definitely not going to buy this shit until either A) a good crack has been released that removes every annoyance or B) they get their heads straight and remove at least some layer of “protection”.

    Why do the PC gaming industry still use DRM? Haven’t they understood that they are in the same predicament as the music industry? DRM only hurts honest buyers and doesn’t slow down or stop the piracy at all.

  7. yhancik says:

    Why did I think of Ceiling Cat when reading the title ?

  8. Blackberries says:

    Oh for the love of.. Well, despite not adding any new thoughts, I’ll add my outrage. Steam AND SecuRom AND Games for Windows Live-tied saving AND limited installs. That is complete crap. This will still be pirated. Massively.

    While it must grate for those who don’t get along with it, I don’t personally mind needing to use Steam too much. And I’ve even a few games which do indeed require SecuRom (not strong enough to resist certain titles). But both of those, plus a requirement to be connected to GFWL to save? Oh no. No thank you.

    I was even maybe considering getting this. Now, however, they’ve lost a sale.

    If it comes up for cheap somewhere down the line, I just -may- consider purchasing it, then using a pirated copy to free me from all that DRM.

  9. Hmm says:

    What’s Microsoft’s involvement in the PC version beyond GfWL, how do they make money from it? Do they pay for devs to use it then get a percentage for each sale?

    • Koozer says:

      As I understand it devs have to buy the right to use GFWL, need to have all their output verified by Microsoft, are obligated to include 2000 pointless gamerscore points, usually in 50 achievements, oh and also have to pay Microsoft for every patch they want to release. In return they get…actually, I can’t think of anything.

    • Jad says:

      However, for any game that also comes out for the Xbox 360 — and that is most of them these days — the developers already have to deal with all those issues. If you already have made up 50 achievements for XBL (and trophies/PSN), have already dealt with Microsoft’s matchmaking system, profiles system, etc, then doing the same in GFWL is probably easier than re-doing all that in Steam, or Gamespy, or doing your own system.

      Which is why that statement Infinity Ward made during the dedicated servers fiasco, “But we put all this work into!”, made slightly more sense than many made it out to be — because it did require more work than many other companies put into their PC version. (Not to stir up the controversy again, but that still doesn’t mean they couldn’t have had dedicated servers alongside matchmaking, all within the profile system. All I’m saying is they did put more effort into MW2:PC than 2K is putting into Bioshock 2:PC)

    • Hmm says:

      Oh wow, so I totally fell for propaganda about MS paying off devs then. Except the other way around is worse. :/

  10. bitkari says:

    What worries me about this is that Take Two might do this to a game that I give two shits about:


    And that, ladies and gents, will be a dark, dark day…

  11. Heliosicle says:

    Well I’m not getting this then.

  12. Legendary Teeth says:

    Well, if they want to make the game a rental, I’ll buy it at rental price when it goes on sale on Steam in a year or two. Whatever. Not like there aren’t a billion other games coming out, or that I have from Steam’s Boxing Week sale that I have to play.

  13. rocketman71 says:

    Wow, two of the biggest turds of the industry combined in a single game. Only Rockstar Social Club missing.

    Well, if they don’t want my money it’s their loss.

  14. valli-r says:

    I won’t buy this game because of all that, but you can be sure I am gonna play it. (I usually buy games I love)

  15. Crusoe says:


  16. Vhati says:

    Consider this.

    They are developing for 3 different systems. Since they already use Xbox live for match making. It is alot easier to keep it for GFWL for match making, than spending a ton of extra money making it use steamworks, or using Gamespy.

    In the case of this game. Steam is the culprit that doesnt need to be involved in the process.

    Gotta love all the ragers that cant actually think something out.

    • Crusoe says:

      I spy with my little eye, not a lot of rage, just a lot of disapointed gamers, and with good reason.

    • hoff says:

      We’re not raging about why they did what they did. We are just annoyed they didn’t take the small effort of making the experience for PC gamers a little less nerve-wrecking. It’s not like Bioshock made half of its sales from PC gamers… oh wait, it did!

    • Vinraith says:


      Most GfWL hate centers around the save game account association nonsense, not the matchmaking. They could have used the latter without implementing the former.

    • Shalrath says:

      Wait, if it’s on Steam already, isn’t Steamworks FREE? How would they be paying ‘tonnes more’?

      I’m not really disappointed at all, because come on, who is looking forward to Bioshock 2 more than virtually anything else coming out in 2010. I’ll be playing Mass Effect 2, probably going back to Dragon Age, etc, long enough to not even need to bother with this game.

      So really… meh?

    • Vhati says:

      Yes, steamworks is free, you dont have to pay for the time required to develop match making for it, or the net code, nothing like that. Considering you already have it basically done and finished because you designed it for xbox live already.

      The small amount of people in multiplayer wont be affected by peer to peer.

    • Lilliput King says:

      “Considering you already have it basically done and finished because you designed it for xbox live already.”

      I’m a consumer.

      I don’t give a shit what’s best for them. I want what’s best for me. Steam is functional, GfWL just isn’t. Every bloody game I’ve played online with it has the same problems. I wait ages to get into a server (DoW2 being the worst culprit), from then a third of the games will lag horrifically due to poor networking and another third will lag due to frame rate loss. In both situations the end result is usually my opponents or allies quitting and trying again. Then you have the pathetic attempt at steam’s friends list that for no adequately explained reason can’t handle instant messaging, instead using some kind of weird email system, and literally the worst integrated VOIP I have ever come across, which succeeds only in making everyone sound like someone farting in the bath.

      And then you have all the save game palaver, on top of a frankly dire update and log in frontend that steam handles better on both fronts, and which has in many cases for me and others made games unplayable.

      I can work it out just fine. I can also work out that what’s on offer here isn’t worth my money.

  17. bwion says:

    I’m not one to get up in arms about DRM and such, but for me, it’s quite simple. I can put up with a bunch of hassles to play a game I kind of want to play. Or I can play the three dozen other games I also kind of want to play that don’t require those same hassles.

  18. Ragabhava says:

    GFWL needs to be shoved down our throats really hard and quickly or else it dies they figured at MS.

    Also, this probably is a test run to see how much DRM the market can bear as of now.

    Or else there really are idiots running the show.

    • VHATI says:

      What do you kind sir, suggest for we use for match making if not GFWL?

    • Psychopomp says:

      A server list.

    • RobF says:

      Something which isn’t shit would be a nice start.

    • Shalrath says:

      Anything (no gamespy!) Seriously, other than a name I won’t mention (gamespy, which sucks) you’d be hard-pressed to find a WORSE option to use.

    • Vhati says:

      a server list. so who is providing the servers? who is providing the server list? gamespy? Gimme a real answer.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Players provide the servers. Steamworks provides the rest. The idea that they need GFWL for matchmaking is ludicrous, as most pc gamers hate matchmaking, for good reason.

    • VHATI says:

      Thats exactly what GFWL does, players provide the servers, and GFWL provides the server list, or match making.

      I am pretty sure as many people like matchmaking, as there are that dislike it.

      You cant effectively have a ladder or any sort of statistic tracking without it. If you attempt to, all you get is padded accounts.

    • Psychopomp says:

      GFWL is P2P. Bioshock 2 is a shooter. You do the math.
      Not only that, GFWL is really bad at its job. Lag everywhere.

    • Lilliput King says:

      “Thats exactly what GFWL does, players provide the servers, and GFWL provides the server list, or match making.”

      In the words of Noel Edmunds from the quiz box in my local – “No you’re wrong there.”

      “You cant effectively have a ladder or any sort of statistic tracking without it. If you attempt to, all you get is padded accounts.”

      Wooo, stats.

  19. Smurfy says:

    I thought everyone stopped using SecuROM after the DRM Wars of 2008.

    • Heliosicle says:

      The war never ended, they just stopped using DRM for a while so to lure us into a false sense of security..

    • Driadan says:

      dragon age for mac does use securom, also blood bowl uses securom if i recall correctly

  20. Crusoe says:

    Mmm and Kudos, KG, I for one lol’d at the supplied soundtrack to this particular thread

  21. Riesenmaulhai says:

    War! Hu!
    What is it goohood for?

  22. medwards says:

    I was interested in Bioshock 2 until I heard about GWFL. Don’t even really care about the DRM, had bad experiences with Dawn of War II (excellent game, terrible GWFL)

    • VHATI says:

      I am on the otherside of the boat. Never ever had a problem with GFWL in Dow 2. The only problem ive had with it involves steam. Whenever it decides to drop the authorization servers and cause any game you are in to be disqualified and then everyone is kicked out, you then wait for 20-30 minutes to see if the auth servers are going to stay up so you dont launch back into another match only to have it drop again and kick you out of another match 5-10 minutes in.

  23. Plinglebob says:

    While I don’t mind SecureROM too much as I’ve never really had a problem with it and you can easily find a crack if necessary, I’m against it because its completely pointless as its worked around within 24hrs. However, GfWL is the biggest pain in the arse since I last had hemmeroids. Had to restart games multiple times to get it to log in offline and even then you can use a fake account code. Never had any problem when I bought Fallout 3 after playing a less then legal version.

    If Steam had also been required, I wouldn’t have bought it as I’ve not liked Steam ever since I had authorisation problems which meant I couldn’t log in and play my legally bought games for 6 months.

  24. Miker says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong here, but GFWL in Bioshock 2’s multiplayer means that it’ll be peer-to-peer lobbies like the console version. I can’t see this improving the multiplayer experience, and I’m surprised more people aren’t in rage about this — probably because not that many people are that excited about multiplayer?

  25. jokermatt999 says:

    Well, so much for any shot of me giving them money.

  26. Nimic says:

    Good chances I’ll be pirating this one, then.

    And yes, that’s the reason.

  27. l1ddl3monkey says:

    Securom, Steam and GFWL? Previous games I’ve tried with a combination of any two of those have been catastrophic fail.

    I don’t have a problem with DRM, I have a problem with DRM which renders something I paid my money for unusable.

  28. MadTinkerer says:

    To save the game or play online, you need to be logged into Games for Window Live.”


    I have to be logged on to GFWL to SAVE MY SINGLE PLAYER GAME IN BIOSHOCK 2 !?!?!

    This… can’t be true, can it? I am SO glad I didn’t preorder it yet. GFWL was annoying enough with DoW2, but that was just multiplayer. This is an insult.

    I didn’t have any problems with Bioshock’s DRM because I waited until they cut it down to the “can’t tell it’s there unless you look hard for it” version. THIS is obnoxious. Yeah, I think I’ll pass on Bioshock 2 until it’s on sale AND they fix it.

    • phuzz says:

      With Batman:AA that was exactly the case, so I guess it will be with this as well.
      And yes, it was exactly as crap as you’d expect, I lost my first hour or so in the game twice, and had to replay through before it deigned to actually save my progress when it said it was.
      I could kind of understand if your savegames were being backed up to their servers or something useful, but as far as I can make out it’s just to lock you in to using GfWL, which surely is a monopolistic practice? From M$, what a surprise :|

    • MWoody says:

      They lock down your saves in an attempt to prevent cheating on your gamerscore, since GFWL games can combine their achievements with 360 ones. It’s not really “monopolistic” since games that use GFWL only use GFWL regardless of save-game issues; it’s not like you could use some competing game-matching service if it weren’t for that facet.

      Now, don’t get me wrong: this is still fucking stupid. It’s just get-achievement-whores-to-buy-our-games stupid, not woo-hoo-we’re-locking-you-out-of-gamespy stupid.

  29. SheffieldSteel says:

    Wow, DRM and GFWL too? And I thought the PC was an open platform.

    Never mind, there are plenty of other good games out there.

  30. Serenegoose says:

    Are the installs refundable? Otherwise it’s a rental, and they should be advertising it as such.

  31. Harbour Master says:

    Man, and everyone bitched about the DRM on Bioshock. Who knew it could get any worse? I guess they really have amped up all the product features in the sequel. Sad that the bright, burning shiny DRM lighty of DRM has blinded me to the anything else.

  32. Flakfizer says:

    Fuck DRM and all who sail on her. Can’t decide if it’s incompetence or evil but it’s this shit that’s killing PC gaming.

    The tech specs don’t mention keyboard and mouse support. Will they be paid DLC ?

    • Lilliput King says:

      PC Exclusive Features.

      I hear in-game text chat will be patched in after a couple of months free of charge.

  33. The One and Only says:

    I can only assume and hope that the bit about having to be logged into GFWL in order to save is some kind of misinformation because that is really absolutely unacceptable.

    I’m usually not one to pass games due to DRM unless they really overdo it (GTA IV for example I wouldn’t have bought, had I known beforehand about the annoying login procedure each time I just wanted to start the game). And this sounds like overdoing, if implemented as reported.

    I don’t see that happening with Civilization, btw. Not mainstream enough. Also, I doubt they can actually top Civ IV in terms of gameplay so I don’t expect Civ V to be worth it anyway. Unfortunately. I hope they prove me wrong.

    Anyway, back to topic: I won’t get Bioshock 2 if it really comes with these limitations. It’s good that Bioshock wasn’t that good anyway (compared to, e.g. System Shock), so the loss is not too bad. I’d still like to play it, though.

  34. cliffski says:

    wow, you go away for a few hours to writwe some code and come back to this.

    I never finished bioshock 1, so won’t be buying this, but this is great news for anyone who doesn’t use DRM as it just means less competition for the anti-DRM gamers attention :D

  35. qwertylicious says:

    Spent a while trying to find an email address of someone at 2K Marin to politely tell them why they will be losing sales. Could find no forms of contact for anyone appropriate. So skipping the politeness; they can go fuck themselves if they think gamers like me will buy into this shit.

  36. Optimaximal says:

    Interestingly, why aren’t they using the new ‘anti-piracy’ features of GFW:L 3.0?

    Whilst it isn’t necessarily the lesser evil in the equation, surely it would be more advisable than implementing SecuROM, which has singlehandedly killed off many a games sales through review manipulation of Amazon et al.

    Personally, I haven’t had much problem with Games for Windows: Live since they actually decided to make it a PC app and not just a half-arsed attempt at the Xbox blade system w. mouse support.

  37. Chris says:

    Still buying it.

  38. Valentin Galea says:

    I don’t understand this hate for GFWL – I never had any problems with it – lately i’ve played Resident Evil 5 with 2 profiles active and was smooth as silk.

    • Nick says:

      Sadly your personal experience does not account for other people.

  39. MWoody says:

    Preorder canceled.

  40. Fell says:

    What a joke, it will be cracked within a week. The cracked versions will not have to go through any of these annoyances. However, anyone wanting to legally play this will.
    Little ironic that protective measures, such as these, are only in effect if you buy the game.

  41. jackflash says:

    GFWL = no sale at a price point of above $9.99.

  42. c-Row says:

    I was looking forward to the collector’s edition, but not for the price of bending over and getting ***ked up the ass. So to speak. Neither did I pick up GTA4, even during the Steam holiday sale, just because they totally pissed me off with all this crap as well.

  43. DarkNoghri says:

    I’m kind of laughing here. It seems most people here would have been fine with one or two out of the three (not necessarily the same one or two), but the fact that it uses all three has EVERYONE up in arms.

    • Vinraith says:


      Steam’s only required if you’re dumb enough to actually buy the game on Steam. A lot of people seem to be misreading the article in this respect.

  44. Apex says:

    Welp. Console version for me then.

  45. Orange says:

    “To save the game or play online, you need to be logged into Games for Window Live”

    Deal breaker for me unfortunately, just had so many problems with GFW on my PC and never able to get it fixed. The only programme I’ve ever had that of kind of trouble with.

  46. Hi!! says:

    I don’t care about the activations, but not being able to save without being logged into GfW Live?


    I was so looking forward to this.

  47. Evernight says:

    I find it sad that companies like 2K are contributing so heavily to the death of PC gaming. I am pretty sure this is a backhanded attempt discourage gamers with both a console and a PC from buying the PC version.

    I use Steam almost exclusively right now and is there some problem that people buying from Steam are hacking games? No. So why in the hell do we have to go through so many hoops to play when we use Steam? Publishers are just retarded.

  48. peter says:



  49. Kirrus says:

    Someone mentioned they couldn’t find an email address for 2K. Here is one:

    Have fun!

  50. bhlaab says:

    Attn: Games for Windows Live

    STOP. IT.