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. Grey_Ghost says:

    Games For Windows Live? Thank you! I’ve now lost all interest in your game, and will now be able to spend my money elsewhere.

  2. Tom says:

    Oh my God, the madness.

  3. d. says:

    Well screw this and let’s play some more System Shock 2 (which will probably turn out to be superior anyway)

  4. Spacegirl says:

    I dont really care about install limits or crap like that. I plan on getting Bioshock 2 the day it comes out.




  5. Carra says:

    Bah, I’ll wait for the patch half a year later that removes all that crap.

  6. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    I’ll wait for the holiday sale next year, when it goes on sale for a price that compensates for needing Games for Windows Live.

  7. Forscythe says:

    DRM Sucks!

    Anyway, to go off topic for a moment, can I ask a question of those of you who are subjects of the United Kingdom? Periodically in these comment threads somebody (today it was Lambchops) brings up something called the “high street retailers,” stores, or shops.

    Is there some specific “high” street that you all go to to buy your games? Or is it some more general term for a specific sort of store?

    Just curious, thanks!

    • Azradesh says:

      The “High Street” is the the general name for the street in a town/city that all the main shops are on.

    • kupocake says:

      So I suppose the American English term would be ‘Main Street’?

    • Count Elmdor says:

      No, the American term would be “Wal-Mart” or “The Mall” because we’re lazy fucks who prefer to drive and have endless parking lots in all directions rather than actual streets with businesses along them and sidewalks that you can walk down from place to place.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      Subjects? Maybe in The Falkland Islands… there was a time when you could find plenty of British Subjects in Hong Kong but not any more.

      The vast majority of legal residents of the UK are British Citizens.

  8. Troy says:

    another game that will not be in my library less a game for windows live removal tool is made for it.

  9. Ogg says:

    One thing is sure, they won’t have my money.

  10. mikebiggs says:

    basicaly highstreet is just a word to describe the sort of street that’s part of the main shopping area of a town or city, so you’re talking the main chains as opposed to smaller back alley shops. Ish. However these days i’d say it’s basically just a term for a brick and mortar shop instead of an online retailer.

    Never really thought about it before though, just one of the terms you grow up with.

    • Lambchops says:

      It’s a shame but there hardly seems to be any little independant game shops anymore. I can only think of one or two off hand in Glasgow and the only one near Glasgow University, which was a great little shop, closed over a year ago now. As much as Game and GameStation are decent for second hand and have some good deals there was just something a bit more satisfying about buying from the little guy and I tended to take their recommendations much more seriously.

  11. Alex says:


    A high street retailer is a term used in Britain for common chain stores expected to be found on many “high streets” (I believe the US term is main street) throughout the country, like Subway, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc.

    Britain’s high street game retailers are GAME and GameStation (owned by GAME, so they’re practically similar). Blockbusters and HMV also carry games.

  12. Jahkaivah says:

    “What is the difference between a man and a pirate? A man builds games. A pirate asks ‘Where is my share?’ A man creates DRM. A pirate says, ‘What will the neighbors think?’ A man invents DRM. A pirate says, ‘Watch out, or you might tread on the toes of God… ‘ “

  13. Nameykins says:

    Games for Windows Live is a really, really huge negative thing for the game, especially if the online matchmaking is done by it. I honestly wasn’t all that exited about the game to begin with and this pretty much nails the last coffin in the game for me.

    I’ll wait for a discount, kthx.

  14. Urthman says:

    So basically, the developers for Bioshock 2 took a look at games like Deus Ex, Planescape, KOTOR, Grim Fandango, Diablo 2, and then looked at their game and said to themselves:

    “Did we just make a classic game that people will still be playing 10 years from now?”

    “Nah, Are you kidding? No one’s gonna want to install this 5 times, much less 10. So 15 installs is more than anyone could ever possibly need.”

  15. leeder_krenon says:

    can’t wait to see all the reviews giving it a one on amazon. zzz. shit, it’s a game dudes. who cares? if it’s awesome, they could insist that i play it whilst being repeatedly kicked in the nads by a a lion. DRM – the most overblown, overthought, yet entirely irrelevant issue in the history of the world. if only people gave so much of a fuck about something that mattered.

    • Psychopomp says:

      See you in ten years when you can’t play your game anymore.

    • Dominic White says:

      Given that 95% of DRM is cracked within a week, that hardly seems likely. On a more legitimate note, some publishers remove most of the DRM after a year or two of sales, and Securom, while giving you limited activations, will give you more if you just email them and ask.

      It’s a minor annoyance, but I’d mark it far below things like poor multiplayer support or lack of moddability.

    • Serenegoose says:

      Actually, I can best you Krenon. Check -this out.

      Angry reactionism to anti-DRM people. The most overblown, overthought, yet entirely irrelevant issue in the history of the world. If only people gave so much of a fuck about something that mattered.

      I mean really. What’s more sad. the people who dislike DRM, or the people who get SO MAD by people who don’t like DRM that they have to SCWEAM AND SCWEAM.

      DRM is unethical. It’s worth getting angry about corporations screwing us over, even if they are doing it with videogames, because NOT getting angry about it gives the impression they can do whatever they want.

    • Fede says:

      The funny thing is that the biggest drawback is Games for Windows Live, not the rather resonable DRM

    • Maltose says:

      I don’t care about whether or not DRM is right or wrong. What I do care about is that DRM restricts what I can do with a game, which means the people who pirate the game actually get more than I do. This doesn’t apply so much to games with a multiplyer component like Bioshock 2, but you can use the first Bioshock as an example. What did the people who bought the game get? Limited activations, CD checks, the works. What did the people who pirated the game get? No need to activate, no need to insert a CD, and an extra $50 in their pocket.

      I have no problems paying for a game with DRM. I do have a problem paying $50 for a game, and the seeing that a week later, the pirates get everything I get and more for the lovely sum of $0. Example: Dragon Age. I buy the collector’s edition for $70. A few days later, pirates get the same game, for $0, except they no cd checks and all the DLC, including every piece of preorder DLC (each store had its own exclusive preorder DLC, which means that most people who bought the game could only get one piece of preorder DLC). Why the hell should I buy a game when the stupid DRM ends up treating pirates better than a legitimate purchaser?

  16. LionsPhil says:





  17. Stabby says:

    I fucking hate GFWL. What has it ever done for us but cause grief?

  18. SpakAttack says:

    GFWL is a deal breaker – will not buy.

  19. TheSombreroKid says:

    pre-order cancelled, problem solved.

  20. Stupoider says:

    GFWL, huh, yeah,
    What is it good for?
    Absolutely nothin’,

  21. Forscythe says:

    Thanks, mikebiggs and Alex! Mystery resolved.

  22. impar says:


    Its not 15 limited activations, its 5 limited activations.
    Check Steam store, botom left:
    link to

    Correct the article ASAP before it gets linked elsewhere.

    • Blather Blob says:

      @impar: I’m pretty sure the steam page has been updated a few times today. After starting out with a mention of requiring an internet connection to activate at install, and requiring the installation of “SONY DADC SecuROM” down in the “Other Requirements” small text at the bottom hinting at limited Securom activations, it then got updated later with the “15 machine activation limit” text; everyone else is reporting that number too. It now says 5, but I like the way they phrase it down at the bottom of the page “SecuROM offers unlimited activations on up to 5 PCs”. Which of course is the same thing as 5 activations.

  23. TheSombreroKid says:

    to be clear i cancelled my pre-order because of the Insall Limits, not GfWL which i’m not quite ready to boycott yet, i’ve only had issues with it with Batman.

  24. Marty Dodge says:

    Excellent, don’t need to spend the money to get that game at release now. What an idiotic move… yeesh.

  25. Magnus says:

    Well, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to buy it. Now I know that I’m not gonna bother.

    And knowing is half the battle!

    Plenty of other games to take my money without massively stupid DRM measures.

  26. DJ Phantoon says:

    So I’ve heard one of the reasons GFWL exists is to combine achievement points from the PC and Xbox.

    What do achievement points actually do?

    • TheSombreroKid says:

      are you joking, they’re marvelously usefull they mean that instead of not achieving anything when you are being entertained, you now achieve something! i wish movies and music and books could have microsoft achievement points, as i feel like the time spent on these mediums of entertainment is time lost compaired with hunting down every secret trinket in ‘modern minority masacre 6’ over a period of 18 hours.

    • Hmm says:

      Put them on your resume.

    • elyscape says:

      I want you to know that I am seriously considering doing that thanks to you. I hope you’re happy with yourself.

  27. the_magma says:

    i saw edwin starr play to 4 people in chambers nightclub sunderland the day i passed my a-levels – FACT

  28. Bonedwarf says:

    I would SO pirate this if I actually gave two shits about it and felt the first Bioshock was just a slightly above average shooter and not Jesus recreated in FPS form.

  29. Forscythe says:

    This seems like a good opportunity to repost my comprehensive, frequently updated anti-GFWL rant:

    Despite various technical problems I have encountered, GFWL has been, overall, relatively stable for me. Nor do I have any objection to the concept of the service. The problem is that, as it exists now, GFWL simply sucks hard.

    First off, GFWL inexplicably makes it impossible to copy or preserve savegames. This alone makes it a nonstarter for me.

    The “community features” like messaging and chat are so laughably primitive and clunky they make Steam look like the ultimate collaboration tool. It takes upwards of one minute to manage to receive and read a message from a friend and then reply that you are in the game and can’t chat right now, by which time you aren’t in the game anymore, because you just got killed, respawned, got killed again, respawned again, and then got kicked for being idle too long.

    And of course, worst of all, you can’t even use GFWL’s miserable communication services unless you are already in the game – yes, there is still no out of game chat client after more than two and half years.

    The multiplayer matchmaking has never even come close to working well for me in any of the GFWL games I have played (Universe at War, Lost Planet, and Red Faction). The presence of GFWL guarantees a game will have a dead, uninteresting multiplayer with no community (even if the multiplayer in the game is actually quite fun, as it is with RF:G). You will find more people online playing C&C Red Alert 2 on Westwood Chat than you will find playing any GFWL game.

    The only potential advantage that GFWL can offer us is the XBox Live integration, which makes it surprising that the integration with XBox live is also embarassingly bad (even forgiving the unfulfilled promise of cross platform play). You would think that, since GFWL and Xbox Live are the same network, I could compare my achievements in a game with my XBox friends playing the same game, right? Wrong, because the “PC” version of the game is considered a different game by Live, so the achievements can’t be compared.

    Using GFWL involves being reminded every time you play that MS considers the PC an inferior second cousin to the XBox. The examples go on and on. On the XBox, if you gain an achievement while playing offline, that achievement will be uploaded to your live profile the next time you log in. With GFWL? Sorry, you just won’t get that achievement, period. Play the game again if you don’t like it.

    Perhaps the best example of this lousy integration (and of what an amazingly bad fit GFWL is for the PC) is the fact that, astonishingly, it costs $10 in Microsoft Silly Money just to change your Gamertag, and that, surprise surprise, this can only be done from an XBox 360.

    Despite allowing you to pay actual money for full games, the DLC can only be purchased with the ridiculous MS Points, which are designed to make sure you spend just a little more than the DLC actually costs.

    I could write a whole essay about how the supposedly “PC Friendly” in-game overlay GUI is an unusable disaster, but that will wait for another time.

    Add on to all of this this the myriad limitations and costs that GFWL imposes on game developers, the unwelcome control it gives Microsoft over our game experiences and purchases, and the availability of dramatically better alternatives, and I do find it insulting that any developer would subject us to GFWL. I don’t boycott games that use GFWL, but I do find them significantly less attractive.

    • malkav11 says:

      At least two items of your long list are flat out wrong. I have specifically copied and preserved game saves in Fallout 3, which ties them to your GFWL profile, and achievements earned offline are uploaded when you go online with any GFWL game. It sometimes takes a bit for them to show up, but they definitely do.

      And I suspect that vis-a-vis multiplayer community, you have picked three games that were never particularly popular in multiplayer and have fallen off since release. The only one that I would expect to have any significant multiplayer presence is Red Faction: Guerrilla, and I suspect most people that are interested in that game’s multiplayer are doing so on a console, especially since the PC release of same was delayed by months. By contrast, on a PC only title – Dawn of War II – I have had no trouble scaring up people to play the Last Stand multiplayer mode and I believe the traditional multiplayer is still thriving.

    • Vinraith says:


      I have specifically copied and preserved game saves in Fallout 3, which ties them to your GFWL profile

      Fallout 3 is friendlier about that than a lot of other GfWL games. I tried that trick in RFG and it didn’t work, cost me about 10 hours of play time.

    • Forscythe says:


      Thanks for pointing out my mistakes. Like I said, I don’t object to GFWL in principle and I don’t want to make it sound worse than it is.

      You’re quite right about Dawn of War 2 – it certainly does have an active community which I forgot about, although I’ve never actually talked to anyone in that community who is happy about GFWL. I was wrong, but I do stand by my overall point that GFWL does significant damage to the online multiplayer popularity of any game that uses it.

      Apparently GFWL does have the capability to earn achievements offline, as you said, although that feature certainly hasn’t worked at all for me in Red Faction. I guess that’s just a technical glitch in my case rather than a missing feature.

      On the savegame thing, though, I do think it really is just as bad as I said. If you google “GFWL saves” (or just browse this thread) you will find a staggering amount of savegame problems people are having with every single GFWL title, old and new, including Fallout 3. I’ve experienced serious save game problems myself with every GFWL title I’ve played. I’m glad it worked out for you, though.

      Overall, I think my long list still demonstrates that GFWL in its current form is complete trash.

    • malkav11 says:

      I really don’t think you’ve presented any sort of evidence to support the idea that GFWL damages a multiplayer community. I’m not even sure it’s possible to do so. It’s not the best matchmaking system out there, certainly. Steam would probably be better. But it’s been fairly painless the few times I’ve used it. The system that deserves true vituperation, as far as I can tell, is Gamespy, which is a horrible mess of a system that’s given me severe (and recurrent) issues in both Saints Row 2 and Borderlands without even the consolation of achievements.

  30. FunkyLlama says:

    I should point out, the steam page did say 15 earlier.

  31. Bkevin says:

    Whats the point of having DRM?!
    i mean cmon basically its saying u dont actually own the game once u buy for full price alright 15 installs later omg i cant install again! but i bought the dam game for full price!

  32. Colthor says:

    I feel sorry for 2K’s poor community manager. The Powers That Be at Take Two must really hate her.

  33. invisiblejesus says:

    Wow, I wasn’t especially excited about this game anyway but now it’s gone from a “probably not gonna buy” to “totally out of the question”. Nice job, Take-Two!

  34. malkav11 says:

    I don’t care about (actually rather like, if only for achievements) the GFWL integration, but server check / activation limit DRM is an absolute no sale. I’m only glad that I heard about this in time to cancel my preorder.

  35. terry says:

    GFWL is a worthless crapfest. Not interested in buying this anymore.

  36. somnolentsurfer says:


    At least it’s the purchasing decision solved. Not a boycott. GWFL just slows Dawn of War 2 to a crawl on my two year old laptop. Maybe when I’ve a new computer and it’s £3 on Steam.

  37. AsubstanceD says:

    What a load of Bollocks! No intelligent debate can be made of this shit! Only forum style anger may be expressed! Fuck em, good job I didn’t want this game.

  38. CalmHorizons says:

    GFWL is why I can’t be bothered to play GTA 4. Bloatware ahoy.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Because it’s shit is the reason I can’t be bothered playing GTA4. Friend lent me his PS3 for a couple of weeks when we was on holiday (mainly to watch his Blu-rays). I had a pretty long play of it which was enough to convince me it isn’t worth wasting my gaming time on it even when it was £5 in the Steam Christmas sale (same goes for Assassins Creed).
      I have GTA3, Vice City & San Andreas for the PS2 & have played them to completion & beyond.

      On topic, I have BioShock, enjoyed it thorougly (not quite finished it yet, stuff like TF2, L4D2, AI War etc keep getting in the way) but won’t be buying the sequel as GFWL puts it in the list of “Games to never buy but I’d quite like to” along with DOW2, Batman, Fallout 3 to name but a few. Thankfully some of these will be console releases which I’ll be able to hunt down when I get around to buying one of the current gen of consoles (I often buy used console games & may make a point of it for games like these so the publisher/developer get no extras £s from my purchases)

  39. Nimic says:

    Don’t say it here people, say it there ;)

    link to

  40. WoopShoop says:

    GFWL means I will not be buying this game.

    I went through that horrific experience with FO3 DLC and later GTA IV – never again. In the case of GTA IV, not only did it bitch at me to login before I could save my games, presenting some annoyingly slow, distracting and cumbersome pop-ups in the proccess, but it then decided to corrupt all of my save game files.

    What a useless pile of utter shite.

  41. Wulf says:

    Augh, Games for Windows Live and limited installs? Blech.

    * bonks idiot developers/publishers on the head.

    If they have to use something, couldn’t they at least use Steamworks? Lesser evil and all that?

    I can’t say I really have any interest in this though. Since I saw the picture on Steam of the new Big Daddy, I’ve just been put off it. The new guy looks like a steampunk spaceman, and it loses the diving suit aesthetic that previous game had. The aesthetic was 98.5% of the reason for any of the love I had for BioShock, it was so well done in general.

    This new entry though, eh… it looks like the team of artists they have working on it just don’t really get what made BioShock… well, BioShock, at least visually.

    So this one’s off my list.

  42. Serenegoose says:

    Wait, -and- it’s £39:99 (unless you pre-order)? I knew that Modern Warfare 2 would do this to gaming. I seriously despair sometimes. £.99 for the game, and £39 for the advertising, no doubt. Wowie. It’s really almost like they don’t want people to buy it. I mean I was on the fence about sinking £15 into this game when it came down in price low enough, but yeah. Ridiculous. I really do think it’s developers with a share in the console market that are trying to kill PC gaming, not the pirates. (not that I’m going to pirate this, because that would be only add weight to their diversion.)

    • Colthor says:

      It can be had for £24 from Coolshop and £25 from Amazon etc., so that’s probably just 2K’s digital pricing squad smoking crack being hopelessly optimistic.

  43. Lambchops says:

    I have to say that although on principle I’m against it, in practice limit activations isn’t a problem for me. I can count on my fingers games that I’ve installed multiple times and they are either pre DRM or so small that I can keep them installed (I also don’t updgrade regularly and have fortunately avoided technical problems with my laptop so far). However being against it in principle (because it is pretty stupid I can’t play something I’ve bought) isn’t quite enough to stop me buying something I want – it’s not something I quite feel strongly enough about.

    Being a shit system for multiplayer; while a legitimate complaint, isn’t anywhere near the same scale of stupidity as the implementation of limited activations or the inability to save a game.

    Although on the basis that i got it working eventually I’ll probably buy Bioshock 2 – but I’ll wait till it’s discounted as i’ve got plenty to be getting on with.

  44. Leperous says:

    These are all exactly my sentimonies.

  45. Jason Moyer says:

    Once I managed to get it fully updated and working in Arkham Asylum, GFWL stopped giving me problems. Unfortunately, getting the latest version involved more than just going to the GFWL website and grabbing the latest version for some insane reason.

    I wonder if they’re going to add a disk check again. That would put them one form of copy protection shy of GTA4’s all time record. I can deal with S-Rom the way EA was using it (one time activation, no disk check) but if they do all of this and still insist on using my optical drive as an expensive dongle I may have to re-consider picking this up.

  46. Vanderdecken says:

    Sounds like a certain developer didn’t learn any lessons from the original BioShock. How pig-headed can you get in the corporate world?

  47. po says:

    I bought 3 copies of DoW2 so me and my friends can play it together.

    I made myself a GFWLive account, and for me it works fine.

    One of my friends tried to make one, but when he tried to use it to log in through the game, it told him his username or password was not recognised.

    He tried recreating the account, but it told him the email address was already in use.

    He sent a password reset request, and followed the instructions he got in the email. Part way through the process it told him the password he’d entered was the same as the existing one.

    No change, and all M$ can suggest is to turn of all the firewalls, open a bunch of ports, and then it will somehow miraculously work.

    Meanwhile my account can log in fine from the same computer.

    So basically it comes down to a ‘F*** you M$’, me making a couple of fake accounts using my endless email address supply, b******* to M$’s terms and conditions, and all 3 of us avoiding GFWL games in future.

    Looks like a really good excuse to leave Bioshock 2 until it’s in a stupidly cheap Steam sale, like next years xmas sale.

  48. abhishek says:

    The Steam page has been updated. The activation limit has been reduced from 15 (which I presume was a typo) down to 5.

    Brilliant :|

  49. dragon_hunter21 says:

    Personally, I don’t give a rat about the limited installs. However, let’s look at the DRM setup here. First, STEAM. Very effective in and of itself. Second, SecuRom. I’d just like to go on-record here by saying that SecuRom can go suck an egg. That’s two different kinds of DRM right there, and it’s totally unnecessary. Then, GFWL on top of that? STEAM provides achievements AND community support. Why both? As it is, I’ll be abstaining from ordering Bioshock 2 until such a time as they reverse this decision, or until the next Holiday sale.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      1 – Steam is only if you buy it through Steam. One assumes if you buy it on DVD or any other digital distribution system you don’t have to use Steam at all for this game.
      2 – They’re using GFWL because the PC version of this game is a lazy Xbox 360 port. Adding in something like Steamworks support for example instead of GFWL would require extra development time & extra QA time. They don’t want to do this, it’s cheaper for them to simply replace the relevant DLLs, ship it & fuck the consumer.

      Everyone bitching in this thread about DRM is missing the point. The DRM is a symptom of the problem not the problem itself. The actual problem is lazy “PC porting”. It’s not even really porting when you develop a game using the DirectX API for XBox 360, all they’re really doing is making an installer for the PC version & if we’re lucky they’ll make a decent attempt at implementing some PC specific control systems.
      You can thank Microsoft’s Games/Xbox division for that.

  50. Andrew Wills says:

    Shame, I was all set to buy this tonight, been saving up for it. But GFWL forced saves and SecuROM? No thanks, at least they were a bit more generous with the activation limits this time, but its not enough to warrant my credit card details zinging their way over the Steamwebs. No buy.