BioShock 2: Purchasing Looks Less and Less Appealing Thanks to DRM

BioShock 2 releases in a couple of weeks, and from the way things are going it appears publisher 2K Games is doing everything in their power to keep people from buying it. Previous details about the game’s Digital Rights Management indicated a tight lockdown, but recent statements from 2K Games claim a so-called ‘scaling back’ of DRM measures. Here’s the full release from them:

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.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but that still sounds pretty unappealing to me. If you purchase BioShock 2 through Steam, you’ll have to go through three layers of DRM before being allowed to play your game. First are the usual checks Steam does before launching a game. Next, checks by the notoriously unreliable SecuROM are run. Finally, once the game has launched, you are required to login to a Games for Windows Live account. This is done every time you want to play the game. Thankfully there won’t be any activation limits imposed by SecuROM, but that feels like a small victory when a ludicrous amount of DRM still remains.

Measures like these are taken to prevent pre-release and release day piracy, but what happens after that? Once the game is eventually cracked, these ridiculous measures still remain to pester legitimate consumers. Thousands of people who payed full price for the game will inevitably have trouble running it, while those who pirate gain the luxury of not having to put up with such restrictive measures.

When will publishers and developers learn that restrictive DRM does nothing but hurt the game industry and frustrate their paying customers? Independent developers like 2D Boy (World of Goo) and Positech Games (Gratuitous Space Battles) have found success with completely DRM free releases, but larger publishers still insist on driving away the consumer.