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Copy Protection Mechanisms & BioShock

I just found a text about BioShock and it’s so brilliant, I just had to post it. You won’t really understand it though, unless you have played BioShock for yourself. Which I really recommend you to do, it’s a great game. Then I decided, to make a twofold post: One part about Copy Protection and one part about BioShock.

Copy Protection

This will be a short article,  though much more could be said about it. Basically, I think copy protection sucks and provides only disadvantages, for both sides.  Now, I’m not for piracy. If people put a lot of thought and effort in a good game, they earn to be rewarded for this. Piracy can kill the development of high quality games, like it happened on the C64 and even more on the amiga (or was it atari?). So, here’s a short list of why I think copy protection should be abandoned:

  • Most importantly, games always get cracked after a very  short time
    • So, people who want to download illegal copies are hindered to do so at most for a short time only
  • Strong copy protection mechanism often make games more difficult to use
    • You have to activate your software. This costs time and effort, and sometimes you are even only allowed to do this a couple of times.
    • You have to have the (original) CD in your drive. I hate changing CDs all the time (yes, I’m a lazy bastard).
    • Securom and similar programs prohibit you from using useful tools like CD-emulators or e.g. process explorer.
    • These restriction do not apply to cracked games, so often these are more user-friendly than the original, legal ones!

In the end, if people want to use pirated software, they cannot be stopped, but people who want to use legal software are punished. Have a look at Spore’s site at amazon and see, how using rigid copy protection (and bad game realisation) had it’s effect on the evaluation, and ultimately probably at the sales of the game. It’s just bad – no one wins.

Of course, I am biased on this topic, so I’m wondering: Do you think I’m correct? Different opinions?


Well, I will give no long introduction to the game here. It’s said being the unofficial successor of System Shock 2. I disagree. And I like SS2 more, which is in fact (one of?) the best games ever made. But it’s still a really good game, good story, fantastic graphics, and challenging gameplay. The worst thing about BioShock is its rigid copy protection, with online activation, securom prohibiting certain programs etc. But, if you played the game, you will find the following quote just hilarious:

BioShock Copy Protection Quote

Is a man not entitled to the game he buys?

NO, says the man at SecuRom. It belongs to 2K.
NO, says the man at 2K. It belongs to us.
NO, says the man at Microsoft. It belongs to our license purchasers.

I rejected those answers.

Instead, I choose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose…piracy! Where the gamer would not be censored, where the PC owner would not be bound by petty encryption, where the buyer would not be constrained by corporate greed. And with the downloading of your torrents, piracy could become your salvation.

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