Sony Rootkits, Bioshock Protection

From time to time I read the weblog of f-secure, the anti virus company. The blog is always very interesting and keeps you up to date with the latest development in the malware area. This week, for example, they wrote about a new sony rootkit they discovered, wow. Interesting is also that before blogging about this, they say they contacted Sony, but did not get a reply from them. Doesn't look like Sony will every learn.
They also shortly mention Bioshock, confirming that that game doesn't include a rootkit, it only includes the already known restrictive copyright protection software. Which is the reason why I won't buy that game, btw, HL2 already teached me: I'm not going to spend money for a product which I don't have control over where and when I want to install or play it. Not even if the developer says the restriction will reduced maybe somewhere in the future.
Now, I'm going to play some Progress Quest again instead. :)

fourteen comments, already:

bioshock is pretty much the best game I ever played. even with the stupid copy protection it’s worth every penny.
buhatkj - 29 08 07 - 17:34

> Which is the reason why I won’t buy that game, btw, HL2 already teached me
Me too, there are very nice games without that stupid copy protection.
stef_ - 29 08 07 - 18:10

Once again, a very effective copy protection that scares away paying customers, and that doesn’t affect the downloaders in the slightest. Bravo, Gaming Industry. I guess “learning from your mistakes” is not exactly your field of experience.
TheGolem () - 29 08 07 - 18:16

That’s where Steam comes in. You can download and install HL2 on any computer at any time where ever you want. I don’t see how HL2 on Steam is restrictive… it frees you of CD’s and allows you to install anywhere. The same goes for Bioshock, only you have to remove the restrictive software, a.k.a. rootkit, first. And the rootkit is completely removable, just do a Google search and you should find a way… I know there’s a method posted for Bioshock already.
Andrew - 29 08 07 - 21:02

@Andrew: just out of interest ( because i dont know much about steam ) what will happen if you want to sell the games you bought and downloaded via steam? can you sell your account somehow?

i’ll wait until the buget version of bioshock will be released in some years :D hopefully its without copyprotection then if it still is of interest for me
Thomas - 30 08 07 - 00:37

Well, it’s your loss.

As they’ve said, it’s not a rootkit, it’s simply an activation key which is unique to your major hardware config. It’s exactly the same as the way you activate XP, and authorise a machine for iTunes.

I’ll be the first to lambast Sony’s rootkit copy protection, but this is not remotely the same thing, despite what some overexcited people on the net have been ranting about. Sure, it sucks that they feel they have to do it, but if you expect anyone to release PC games without some kind of copy protection now, you’re deluding yourself. The issue is what mechanism they use, and this one is a relatively light touch. Yes, it means you can’t sell your game on if you’ve used up the 5 (!) activations, without using the ‘deactivate’ feature (again like iTunes) which is soon to be released, or calling customer support anyway. Personally I don’t usually sell on games and Bioshock is never leaving my shelf.

I think you’re letting an over-zealous viewpoint stop you playing what it probably the best PC game in a long, long time. The online ranting about this particular copy protection is way out of proportion with the reality. Like a lot of things on Digg and online forums of course ;)

Yes, it
steve () (link) - 30 08 07 - 01:04

@thomas

i think its not allowed to sell your steam-account but i dont know exactly.

but i like steam and i like hl2. you can go to a friend of yours and download all your games and dont have to worry about cds and stuff. thats really cool. i updates your games so you dont have to worry about that too. its really cool i think. in the first days it was slow and had some bugs. but today its a nice tool. it would be nice if there would be an open-source alternative based on torrent-technology :) so that all the os-games could be published more effective

and i dont think that a copy-protection is needed for pc games. games like company of heroes had none and they selled fine.

i think only crappy games need a copy-protection ;) good games will sell anyway XD
jens - 30 08 07 - 05:56

the problem I had for example was that I lost the password for my legally purchased HL2 copy, and valve needed 6 months to resend me a the password, so I wasn’t able to play that game for half a year. So IMO it was an error to buy such a cripled piece of software, and told myself not to make that error again. :)
niko - 30 08 07 - 07:04

Wow I saw my country – Malaysia at F-Secure website. =D

Sunday, August 19, 2007
International Hacking Competition 2007 at UiTM, Malaysia (iHack 2007)

wow hacking competition?...
Virion (link) - 30 08 07 - 07:45

@Thomas

Actually, you can sell your Steam games! I bought my Half-life 2 at a used games shop. All I had to do was send in a picture of my activation code next to the game box and CD’s and they moved the game from the seller’s Steam account to mine. I’m not sure if you can sell your steam account, I’ve never checked, but that would be pretty cool.
Andrew - 30 08 07 - 08:17

Personally I wouldn’t even compare Bioshock’s copy protection to Steam. Steam’s insistence that you have to be able to connect to a remote server regularly to play the game, and that you have to remember a password is retarded. Bioshock’s approach is much more sensible, all you need is the serial number, which is on the manual. Protection against using that number multiple times is just a once-off online key registration per machine, and you still have 5 machines you can put it on – what non-pirate has more than that? Unless you lose the manual you’re fine, and if you do, well you’re just careless ;)

I might blog about this subject myself because I consider there to be many graduations of copy protection / consumer empowerment and there are far too many people on the net who make blanket claims that all copy protection is evil. Provided it doesn’t get in the way of me enjoying my product, I don’t care. Bioshocks protection is actually one of the most sane I’ve encountered in modern times.
steve () (link) - 30 08 07 - 12:43

I can see the problem, I have to admit that I’m guilty of borrowing games from friends and playing but never buying them. However, I am one of those people who think that all forms of copy protection are bad. Almost anything is possible with technology nowadays, which makes it more important to decide which things you don’t do.

The other reason I will not buy Bioshock is because the option to buy is not available, the game is rent only. If I’m without an internet connection, I choose to deny access to my connection, or their activation servers stop working – I can’t play it. The DVD is just an ornament if it doesn’t come with any rights of ownership. As pretty as it may be, I’m not going to shell out for a worthless piece of plastic.
gaz () (link) - 30 08 07 - 18:24

You don’t need to buy a game to play it. I might play BioShock, but I can’t buy it out of principle.

I don’t consider that stealing either, because I don’t take anything away from anyone and I can’t buy it anyway, so it makes no difference to them.
—A pirate who thinks you should be ashamed of yourselves, because you lack principles. ;P
Matthias - 01 09 07 - 19:04

@Steve
I don’t know if you knew this or not, but you can get Bioshock via Steam and run it in the same manner as HL2, Counter-Strike, or any other Steam-based game.
Andrew () - 03 09 07 - 05:21


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