21 January 2010

And now for something completely different....

Or not!

Ha! Got you then.... yes, it's another post about DRM and.... wait, don't walk away yet! Bioshock 2 (PC) has gotten itself into a right tizzy with no one seeming to know what the hell is going on with the DRM, number of activations and the differences between the Steam and retail versions. Not even 2k themselves know what is going on with Steam (if you have the stomach to trawl through the pages for Elizabeth's posts). The amazing thing is that the Steam page has been "corrected" several times now so basically we still don't know what's happening.

Let me run the situation down for you and why it's bad (IMO):

Retail copy:
Securom disc check (i have nothing against this)
Games For Windows Live (GFWL) online check each time you install

Steam Copy:
Steam check/tie-in
Securom (?? We don't know why its on there at the moment)
GWFL online check each time you install

Now, originally it was said that GFWL has a 15 install limit (you can phone Microsoft for an extension of this number) and in Elizabeth_2k's own words that was "not a machine limit" which implies that even if you install on the same PC you use an install activation (this is in contrast to other types of install management DRM which allow unlimited installs on the same PC). This may, or may not, apply to the Steam version as well as the retail version but we just don't know because on the Steam page for Bioshock 2 it went from being listed as "15 install limit" to a "5 install limit" to now not mentioning installs at all (securom is still mentioned in the specifications though).

Next, well still keeping with GFWL, if you want achievements or to play Multiplayer then you need to create an online GFWL account.... which means that you need to be connected to the internet every time you want to play. If you create an offline account then you don't get the achievements or the chance to play multiplayer but you can access your save games any time you want to play. I've heard some rumblings about being able to copy over your saved game folders between the two accounts but i'm not sure if this is true or not. You can't change your account from one version into another so if you decide that you want to take your offline profile online then you have to make a new profile.

Finally, (still keeping with GFWL) because GFWL is basically attached to Xbox Live, if you're not in one of 26 countries you are screwed. What this means is that even though you buy your version on steam or in the shops where you live, if you are not in one of those 26 countries your game will not work online if GFWL knows where you really live. This is an unfixable problem, you can't just change your country setting because the cd-key or whatever is locked to that region and your copy now only works in offline mode.

And ultimately having all the extra crap on top of Steam's requirements is ludicrous. Why have securom if it's not used? (i.e. it probably is but we don't know how) Why have GFWL needing to run when the game is in your Steam list? Achievements can be done in Steam as well..... I may not be a big fan of DRM but at least have it make sense. What happens if your connection to any one of the services goes down (for whatever reason)? Do you lose access to your game?

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