2K have perhaps declared something of a backdown on the BioShock 2 DRM. Sadly this isn't to get rid of the godforsaken Games for Windows Live inclusion, but it is to reel in SecureROM slightly. Although to compare the before and after isn't so simple, as it doesn't seem anyone was quite clear what the before really looked like, and it's not clear that the after is as different as implied. The current status is: SecureROM check on launch, but no install limts, and now there are offline profile options for GfWL meaning you can in fact save, load, etc without being connected. GfWL will still limit you to 15 activations, but this can be reset with a phone call to Microsoft. And "now our SecuROM is less restrictive on Steam," although it's not clear how.
Here's the details in full from 2K's robolady Elizabeth:
Over the past two days, I’ve fielded a lot of questions and concerns about the DRM for both the retail and digital versions of BioShock 2. Because of this feedback, we are scaling back BioShock 2’s DRM.
There will be no SecuROM install limits for either the retail or digital editions of BioShock 2, and SecuROM will be used only to verify the game’s executable and check the date. Beyond that, we are only using standard Games for Windows Live non-SSA guidelines, which, per Microsoft, comes with 15 activations (after that, you can reset them with a call to Microsoft.)
What does that mean for your gameplay experience? This means that BioShock 2’s new DRM is now similar to many popular games you advised had better DRM through both digital and retail channels. Many of you have used Batman: Arkham Asylum as an example to me, which uses the exact same Games for Windows Live guidelines as us as well as SecuROM on retail discs, and now our SecuROM is less restrictive on Steam.
I know that the variables of PC gaming can be frustrating and confusing, and when you say there is a problem, we listen, and use your suggestions to make things better. Feedback like this does not go unheard, and while this might not be the ideal protection for everyone, we will continue to listen and work with you in the future when formulating our DRM plans.
So the victory appears to be the abandoning of SecureROM install limits, but maintaining activation limits, offline GfWL, and, er, nothing else. This comparison to Batman is a little strange too, since Batman didn't require being online at all to launch. It's muddled whether BS2 will. Earlier Elizabeth wrote, "We are using SecuROM only as a disc check method for the retail copy of BioShock 2. That is it's only use." Which isn't the same as, "verify the game's executable and check the date."
While those who chase Gamerpoints - whatever the hell they are - may want GfWL, it still seems a deeply peculiar decision by any publisher to deliberately include such derided software in their games. It provides a framework for multiplayer, but is it one that's worth the resulting agony for players? And for Steam users the confusion of three DRM systems still looks daunting.
These efforts are often to try to prevent Day 0 piracy, meaning that on release day the only way to get a working copy of the game is to buy it. And this will likely prove successful, as it was with the original BioShock. However, after a few days the cracks will be created, and those who do not buy the game legitimately, or want to make their store-bought copy more user-friendly, will not be troubled by any of this, beyond being unlikely to be able to access the multiplayer. This irony is slowly being recognised by publishers, but not yet by 2K.