Strict PC piracy measures here to stay: 2K Australia

2K Australia's Martin Slater acknowledges gamer anger at PC install requirements for BioShock.

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2K's BioShock has been one of this year's most well-received games by both critics and fans, but many PC gamers were angered by the game's lengthy install process, which required users to download files from 2K's servers for the game to initially run. At launch, 2K's patch servers seemed to have a tough time, in that they went down for several hours when eager gamers tried to install their copies.

At the recent Games Connect Asia Pacific conference held in Melbourne, Australia, 2K Australia senior programmer PC team Martin Slater acknowledged that the company received plenty of flak at launch. In a keynote speech that covered 2K Australia's work on BioShock, Slater said that though the company won't be implementing the same launch install-patch strategy for future games, it would do something "similar" because piracy remains one of the biggest problems for PC games.

"When you're releasing simultaneously on the 360 and the PC, one of the things in the back of the publishers' minds and the people who want to make all the money is that we don't want to lose console sales to people ripping off the PC and the piracy issue. If they can get a cheap pirated version on PC, they may not buy the 360 SKU, which is probably your main SKU," he said.

"We went to great lengths to avoid the piracy issue. We had downloadable .EXE, we didn't ship with the actual executable on DVD. We were trying to avoid production DVDs going walkies between the manufacturing process and actually turning up on shelves. You find with a lot of games, what happens is that anywhere between manufacturing and the stores, one of these DVDS will go walkies and end up in the hands of crackers. These crackers are trying to make the day-one crack--the kudos comes in cracking the game before its release. So we went to huge lengths to avoid this.

"We achieved our goals. We were uncracked for 13 whole days. We were happy with it. But we just got slammed. Everybody hated us for it. It was unbelievable.

"It's a complex issue in the PC world, and it's something we need to actively address. It's a really hard question. As a company we need to maximise our sales so we can keep making games. I don't think we'll do what we've done before. There are other issues with downloading an executable. There is a lot of strain on our content-delivery servers and things like that, where everyone has to download a 10MB executable. I don't think we'll do exactly the same thing again, but we'll do something close. You can't afford to be cracked. As soon as you're gone, you're gone, and your sales drop astronomically if you've got a day-one crack."

Discussion

106 comments
rockdawg
rockdawg

I think what they mean is that Securom and the possibility of connecting to a server to validate an install aren't going anywhere. But, downloading executables and having a limited number of installs might be a thing of the past. I think the whole purpose is to buy time before the game is cracked and in widespread use. I don't know how it works in games, but the majority of sales for a new release DVD take place in the first week. I'd imagine games are similar.

wwonka666
wwonka666

2K/Rockstar breaking the law, now that's funny. Now following a law, that would be nice.

gbrading
gbrading moderator

Whilst I am not at all against protecting games against piracy, what I am against is the installation restrictions imposed by SecuROM. Originally, you could only install the game a limited numbe of times, I'm yet to know if this has changed. For someone who has actually bought the game, the publisher has no right whatsoever to limit or restrict the use of the product by the consumer. Anyone who has legally bought anything is within perfect right to install it on as many machines, as many times as they wish, so at the moment, 2K is breaking the law.

DarkGord
DarkGord

If someone is going to play a pirated game, would it matter to him if he got to play it on release day or 2 weeks later? And wasn't the 360 version pirated before release? But anyway thanks for the heads up, Bioshock was the last 2K game i ever bought. I also made sure i will be able to install and play it after your foreseeable bankruptcy and your servers going down!

kainen666
kainen666

scene groups will always find a way around the protection. its a game in itself, shame but true

Zennious
Zennious

"All they did, using this messed up "protection, was to shoot themself in the kneecap. What ? You'll be doing something similar with the next release ? There goes your second kneecap. Unless you are a spider, you are now totally crippled and useless." Probably my favorite quote I have ever read on this website.

bloody-hell
bloody-hell

All they did, using this messed up "protection, was to shoot themself in the kneecap. What ? You'll be doing something similar with the next release ? There goes your second kneecap. Unless you are a spider, you are now totally crippled and useless. Translated to Business-speak : You will go down and disappear from the market. :) Bought releases that cost me more pain to get them running are simply not being bought in the first place. 13 days you say ? I'm no release-day-buyer either, so I'm usually waiting a week or two anyways and by then it's clear of which way to go to get the game (or not). Learn from your mistakes. Either you build yourself up a trusting community willing to buy almost everything, or you piss them off by screwing up installers and copy protection. It's how it is with software, it WILL be cracked, no matter how complicated the "protection" is. The most user friendly "protection" currently is to make the user enter his serial number on some of the company's license servers in order to get "extra" content (be it patches, add-ons, fixes, new content, etc.) and leaving the game totally protection free, even better, don't even make the user put in the CD when running the game.

jazilla
jazilla

Pirating games is like stealing people's art. It's awful. If you pirate games, you should stop.

taurian0205
taurian0205

hmm...thats kinda gay for a single player game....i mean really? they exagerated after all the hypes about bioshock - i admit i liked the game but then after i watched the spoiler, nehh dont wanna play it anymore, lol, kinda spooky, anyway, single player games shouldnt be all that pirate proof.... its too advance for us hardcore gamers :P

stikves
stikves

Come on 2K, you're losing too much bussiness! Even though I liked the demo very much, I did not buy the game until it was %50 off in holiday sales. Why? If I'm not getting a "full" product, I do not wish to give the full price anyway. (Actually I've even thought about pirating it too. Extra activation on Steam? -- Totally unacceptable. Learn from Valve while using their platform. I'm very lucky that I've read comments before jumping on it on Steam assuming it would not have SecuROM).

Vulpis
Vulpis

First thing the game companies need to learn--make a game *worth* the price you're demanding for it, and more people will be willing to pay for it rather than getting pirate copies. Otherwise, you just end up in a rather vicious cycle of overpriced game, people pirate, company adds more anti-piracy measures (which increase the price even *more* as the company tries to recoup the cost of developing/licensing the antipiracy method(s) ), even *more* people pirate because of the inflated price, wash, rinse, repeat... As has been pointed out, games with no copy-protection at all have done just as well as any other games, if not better....though at least in part was because they were *good* games, and you got what you paid for them.

p00phead
p00phead

cracked versions are for cheap people why dont you use steam its cheap as on it

lostn
lostn

13 days, whatever. My mate was playing the Xbox 360 version still, before that one released. He beat the game before the review went up.

pidow
pidow

Look, keep the BAD guy's out , thats all well and good and needed, but put the rest of us th-ru the ringer is not a good thing.

Royas
Royas

"there were cracked versions out there within three days of Bioshock's retail release" "This is simply not true. The first attempted crack came out 3 days after release, but it didn't actually work. The first working crack came out 10 days after release. And the first proper scene crack came out a full month after release." Then, I have at least 2 friends who were playing unworking cracks within the first week of release. My mistake, I assumed that since they were shooting things up, that the crack was working. Must have been a group hallucination or something.

Poshkidney
Poshkidney

if they are worried about the pirates they should go breaking down doors and breaking skulls.

Konfusion
Konfusion

This is dumb. The pirates cracked the game nonetheless -- all they're doing with these measures is annoy the honest buyers. When will they learn? I even know people who DIDN'T buy the game because of the annoying protection. Way to go? I think not!

greater_bird
greater_bird

If people had known in advance that Bio Shock had this sort of protection on it, there would have been a lot less people buying it and using illegal copies instead. If you make it harder for people to easily use the product they buy, then they're much more inclined to use cracked versions to avoid the fuss. Plus, this sort of reputation will follow on to the next game they bring out. They did themselves no favours with this install idiocy, and I'm stunned they were so naive to think that their customers wouldn't hate them for it. Galactic Civilizations 2 has done fantastically with no copy protection on it at all, because they offer continuing support and content additions to people who can register (ie. have a legal key for the game). By contrast, Bio Shock has done well despite its protection - if it were a mediocre game, people would have returned it in droves, claiming the install wouldn't work.

rivertrolls
rivertrolls

One day all the games producers will get together with Msoft and make a program that if it has a cracked/hacked program on windows, will disable your computer and you need to pay **** loads to get out of it. This will prob not come to PC anytime soon, but look at the IPhone, 360 and PS3, the IPhone blocked ALL cracked phones from working, 360 bans you from xboxlive and PS3 ban your console and your phone number you use to dial the servers if you break code of conduct. Msoft even had the patch in windows XP with the annoying pop-ups that came up all the dam time if you didn't have lagit windows. End of the day games companys have a right to protect themselves, its like you baking a cake for 3 years, and it'll be a dam awesome cake i bet, and then someone walking in and having a slice, i bet you'd be dam p***ed

PelekotansDream
PelekotansDream

"We achieved our goals. We were uncracked for 13 whole days. We were happy with it. But we just got slammed. Everybody hated us for it. It was unbelievable. " Wow, congrats, all you managed to do was post pone the inevitable.

woges
woges

The best way to stop this is to just not buy the games that have this kind of protection on in the first place. I did buy Bioshock but I won't be buying another title with this kind of protection again.

MrAuthority
MrAuthority

frogdabog i TOTALLY agree with you. before i went into full time work and was a college guy with no money the only real way i could play games was to download pirited versions. i knwo its bad but when you have no money there is no way around it. anyway im pleased to say i buy ALL my games now as i believe if we want companys to publish games on our PC's we have to buy the game. ANYWAY my point is i found it VERY easy to crack games as i was doing an IT course. i can not stress enough now easy it was. Now that i buy games it can some times be a REAL PAIN. Bioshock was a nightmare ! after a half a day of trying to get it to work i found myself thinking why the hell did i not just download this - for free - without all this sh*t.

SetsuOkun
SetsuOkun

just put collector content in boxes already! and not only in collector boxes see what i mean?

Miollnir
Miollnir

Pah. While I do not own Bioshock, I fully believe that the music and game industry really need to stop all this DRM bull****. All of this copyright protection proves no hurdle what-so-ever for skilled crackers\hackers and only a headache for the legit end-user. Seriously, I'm starting to wonder if we are slowly starting to get to the point where people using pirated software have less problems then people with legit copies. It's just totally bloody insane.

Miollnir
Miollnir

Pah. While I do not own Bioshock, I fully believe that the music and game industry really need to stop all this DRM bull****. All of this copyright protection proves no hurdle what-so-ever for skilled crackers\hackers and only a headache for the legit end-user. Seriously, I'm starting to wonder if we are slowly starting to get to the point where people using pirated software have less problems then people with legit copies. It's just totally bloody insane.

Misfit119
Misfit119

THe sad part of this is that these sorts of things only hurt the company. Those who wanted to be loyal to the company and buy their product end up not doing so because they dont want what amount to malware on their computer (anything that you have to hunt down to uninstall because it piggybacked on another install is a trojan as far as Im concerned). My girlfriend refuses to buy Bioshock or Sims 2: Castaways because of how SecuROM (or however its spelled) are on them. One horror story due to copy protection is too many. That just encourages people to go to the pirates so that they can get a clean version of a game.

pattern_recog
pattern_recog

"We were uncracked for 13 whole days." And what about the 360 version? Wasn't that sold ahead of the proper release date and then subsequently "cracked" even before it was supposed to be released? Why do companies still persist to put all these copy protection systems in place for PC games yet fail to do anything about the console versions? Are they somehow unaware that console piracy exists? If anything, console piracy is where all the money would be anyhow -- the pirates have more chance of selling their console games to owners of modified consoles than they would to PC owners. The skill required to obtain "pirated games" for PC owners is simply basic knowledge of torrents and good google skills. Thus any wanna be pirate would never need to to pay. Whereas the skills and equipment required to get console pirated games is not going to be available to everyone, thus they'll gladly pay less for pirate games. So instead of shafting the PC owners, how about forcing (for example) downloads of EXE files for 360 or PS3 games over their built in online services? Why should it just be the non-net connected PC owners who get shafted with ineffective online registration when they could just shaft the console owners in the same manner and then boast how they weren't cracked for 3 whole weeks! And while we're at it, how about a study into how piracy *really* affects the industry? Just how many sales are really lost to piracy and how many does piracy actually generate? (You can bet there must some people out there who "pirate" a game, enjoy it, and then subsequently purchase it either retail or online. Yeah, that's one study I'd *love* to read.

Taegre
Taegre

I'm all for anti-piracy (I mean really, I hate those jerks almost as much as I hate Marijuana and Machiavelli) but they're going in the wrong direction with online registration. PC gaming is downright awful, this coming from a former dedicated PC gamer, so making the game even less accessable by demanding users have a constant high-speed connection and install the game at just the right time just adds to the blood pressure. I mean, loads of those PC gamers already made the common mistake of spending loads upgrading or building their computer for the sake of just one game. I'm not saying I know the perfect method, but if online registration only grants you 13 days of leeway against, it's not the right way. There just has to be a method out there that makes it hard enough to pirate games, pc and console, that most pirates will realize they are wasting their lives and get jobs, and the remaining will quite clearly be the biggest **** of all time.

Darkside7972
Darkside7972

"We achieved our goals. We were uncracked for 13 whole days." That's sad, but also hilarious at the same time. The game industry needs to realize that no matter what happens, piracy will always exist. I'm not saying I'm for or against it, but piracy is like the Hydra--for every cracker that gets shut down, two will take his place. Why waste all that time and money developing "anti-piracy measures" that will be defeated in a matter of days? Why frustrate and alienate your customers by forcing them to jump through hoops to play a game that they legally purchased, when the alternative is such an easier route? The game industry needs to figure the whole piracy issue out, and fast. The stuff I mentioned above that they're doing is getting them nowhere.

Tasty_Ninja
Tasty_Ninja

This is simply not true. The first attempted crack came out 3 days after release, but it didn't actually work. The first working crack came out 10 days after release. And the first proper scene crack came out a full month after release. --- This is simply not true. The first crack of Bioshock came out about 5 days before the game was actually released- the crack was for the 360 version.

Agent_24
Agent_24

It's funny, the way anti-piracy measures usually make people pirate more Take good old STEAM for example, the slow, crash-prone piece of junk that's supposed to stop piracy: Now Half life 2 is a great game, and it's awesome to play, but how can one play it when STEAM wants to download a large amount of updates (that it does at less than dialup speeds, and then manages to crash halfway through anyway)? Solution: Download cracked-non-steam release !!! you get HL2 without all the annoying STEAM rubbish! what did that just prove? STEAM makes you pirate games!!! well done valve!! hope you're happy because I know I am :D

puppiemaster
puppiemaster

great game well worth a few extra minutes installing

8sardinr
8sardinr

no worries... crackers always win

djynen
djynen

It's issues like these that make me glad I never bought Bioshock. The last game I bought was Company of Heroes (which I really enjoyed playing). Ironically enough, the original release of Company of Heroes didn't have any copy protection.

zeeeg
zeeeg

"there were cracked versions out there within three days of Bioshock's retail release" This is simply not true. The first attempted crack came out 3 days after release, but it didn't actually work. The first working crack came out 10 days after release. And the first proper scene crack came out a full month after release.

Royas
Royas

Hmm, 13 days? They must count differently "down under", given that there were cracked versions out there within three days of Bioshock's retail release. Heckuva lot less than 13 days. Lying about something like that kinda makes everything else Mr. Slater said suspect. So basically honest customers were inconvenienced to buy them 3 days (less actually, it was three days before I found the files, it was probably out a lot earlier), and they are so embarrassed by that fact they need to lie to feel better and justify their decisions. Real classy, guys. Real classy.

MasterChief725
MasterChief725

Well, I can see y they want to stop piracy, I think they went through too great of lengths to prevent it this time though. At least they wont be doing that again!

eeo10
eeo10

Paying customers are the only ones inconvenienced here and will continued to be by install limits, i think maybe this kind of thing will have an opposite effect to the one they were hoping for and drive people to pirate more. Same with movies the only people watching the "piracy is a crime!" ads and other movie ads on there DVDs are paying customers. I feel sorry for them.

bigbadshamoo
bigbadshamoo

If I wanted to play and buy Bioshock and this BS happened. I'd never buy a product from the publisher again-- Console, PC, Mobile WHATEVER. IMO, You should never treat the people that rightfully buy your product as pirates. If a company looses some profit from something that is just plain unavoidable then so be it. 2k games went forward with this knowing that eventually they'd loose. All they did in doing this was make the other side feel the same hatred. Not all consumers are rich, not all consumers have 24/7 internet access. These things need to be considered especially if they are your target audience. If your ONLY solution is to stop making games for PC and move to only consoles sooner or later other companies are going to follow the same suit, and guess what so are the hackers. It doesn't matter where you go, if you have something that people want, you'll be followed through fire and ice.

Zipper761882
Zipper761882

I've used cracked executables like forever now. I do buy my games legally but i can't stand having to put the disc in everytime I want to play a game. A cracked exe solves this problem. I do not condone piracy but I will say if the software companies ever override the ability to use a cracked exe I more than likely will not play their game out of pure inconvenience on my part.

DukeIgthorn
DukeIgthorn

In the end the pirates usually end up getting the better version regardless of copy protection. No original disc needed every time to play and well, they didn't have to pay a dime. Unlike people who actually pay, they get the worst of it with all the hoops to jump through. Publishers don't seem to care that when they put in excessive copy protection, legitimate users are the ones who get screwed over.

ow8
ow8

fear mongering... they'd sell just as many and make pc gaming a much nicer experience overall if theyd just ditch the anti-piracy measures. I have the game, and i never play it - stupid dvd checks.

maccaaccam
maccaaccam

why bite the hand that feed you.

duhNeighbour
duhNeighbour

@ ratix2: Actually, I did. StarForce screwed up my DVD drive (only had to exchange the drive at the store with warranty still good), while previous versions of Securom screwed my disc burning software and other programs: I had to reformat my HDD which was a pain in the ass because I had 90% of my 250GB filled up and Windows never installs the exact same way each time.

grarap
grarap

I sypathise with 2K and the folks who had trouble installing the game (I hade none), yet we really do have to accept that piracy is gnawing away at legitimate media and that relevant comapnies have no option but to try and keep the problem at bay. Blame the pirates, not the developers.

Bahamut-Prime
Bahamut-Prime

I'll admit to downloading pirated games but I only do it for games that would never never buy or play otherwise great PC games like Crysis and Bioshock I'm happy to lay down money for even if there is a crack

ratix2
ratix2

"I agree, this will definitely won't make me forgive them for putting that (&@$ Securom... ever. This is worst than StarForce." if you can say that then youve never installed a game that uses starforce. securom is a god send compared to starforce. its a viscious cycle isnt it. on one hand you have companies that, in order to actually make a profit and keep making games, have to put in anti-piricy measures to try and keep **** from cracking and pirating games. on the other hand youve got the fact that all of the aviable anti-piracy measures are absolute crap and are never really updated much so they dont work well at all. then youve got the gamers, for which anti piracy measures many times screws with their computers and wont let them run the games or in many cases even install them, and thus these gamers reaction is to just pirate the games instead. anyone who advocates piracy should be shot. pirating new things isnt freedom or anything like that which many pirates claim it is, its theft, pure and simple. i really dont like saying this but this is probably one of the places trusted computing needs to be implemented in fast. and to those who say its only a few pirates, its not, its literally millions of them. stalker had torrents with tens of thousands of seeders and literally millions of leechers a week after it launched, bioshock wasant to the same extreme but there were still millions of people downloading it and crysis was almost as bad as stalker was in terms of people downloading. its not a small problem, its a huge problem. and no, there are things that can be implemented that hackers cant break, go read up on trusted (or treacherous if you perfer) computing.