The Witcher 2 Pirated "Roughly 4.5 Million" Times, Says Dev

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The Witcher 2 Pirated "Roughly 4.5 Million" Times, Says Dev

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Despite an estimated 4.5 million illegal downloads, the studio behind The Witcher 2 says DRM still isn't worthwhile.

CD Projekt, the studio behind The Witcher 2, has always been clear about its belief that the games industry would be a better place were it DRM-free. To that end the studio released The Witcher 2 on its site in May this year without any DRM, leaving the game to accrue what CEO Marcin Iwinski estimates to be 4.5 million illegal downloads. Despite this apparently huge number, however, Iwinski says that his studio remains firmly no-DRM (and anti-pirate).

In an interview with PCGamer, Iwinski described the tradeoff between real legal sales figures and guessed illegal download figures. "As of today we have sold over 1 million legal copies, so having only 4.5-5 illegal copies for each legal one would be not a bad ratio," he said, before reiterating that his number is only an estimate. "The reality is probably way worse," he added.

Iwinski also talked about his studio's (failed) experiments with DRM, and the solution he and his workmates arrived at to tackle the piracy problem - namely, proper pricing. "[We] came up with new strategy: we started offering high value with the product - like enhancing the game with additional collectors' items like soundtracks, making-of DVDs, books, walkthroughs, etc.," he said. "This, together with a long process of educating local gamers about why it makes sense to actually buy games legally, worked. And today, we have a reasonably healthy games market."

"DRM does not work and however you would protect it, it will be cracked in no time," he continued. "Plus, the DRM itself is a pain for your legal gamers - this group of honest people, who decided that your game was worth the 50 USD or Euro and went and bought it. Why would you want to make their lives more difficult?"

He also added that, as far as he sees it, gamers should "vote with their wallets" and use social media to get big publishers and studios to stop involving themselves with DRM. "If they hear that they have a couple hundred or thousand negative comments on Amazon, Metacritic, Twitter, etc, they will most probably do something about it. Some of them already did," he said.

While Iwinski might be onto something with the value-added approach to games, estimating up to 4.5 million illegal downloads with the addendum "and it's probably way worse than that" doesn't seem like the best way to assuage community worries about a DRM-free industry. Still, Iwinski does offer up good advice for change; vote with your money and make your opinions known, and change should follow. German gamers who were angered by Battlefield 3's mandatory PC Origin access made some progress towards change, after all.

Source: PCGamer

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Man those Poles are good sports. Besides the game itself is punishing enough!

This is why I can forgive them for not releasing a SDK for The Witcher 2.
Also they release free DLC.

They have good policies regarding DRM. That's as far as my praise of CDP will stretch.
But yes, excellent attitude regarding value of product.

And amazingly I was not one of those that pirated for once.

I like these guys. Still, it sucks how much it got pirated, this studio doesn't really deserve it.

This guy has the right idea, they don't try to fuck over consumers *cough*ubisoft*cough*

I bought The Witcher 2 on Good Old Games a fair while ago. I've not really touched it yet as I've got a crapload of other games at my disposal but what little time I've spent in this game has made me very happy that I acquired it for my games collection, along with the original game.

As long as we have developers/studios like this in the industry, there will always be a glimmer of light, so to speak.

This makes me sad.

The fact it was pirated after the dev went to such great length to be "For Gamers by Gamers" and everything.

Another reason why Poland is made of Badasses. The first are Winged Hussars.

LiquidGrape:
They have good policies regarding DRM. That's as far as my praise of CDP will stretch.
But yes, excellent attitude regarding value of product.

They have bad business sense is what they have. 4,500,000+ copies pirated is kind of a large number. A really large number.

If those people paid even a single penny for the game, that's still $45,000+ lost. More than what most people make in a year.

laryri:

But adding loads of DRM wouldn't make that number go down. They probably gained loads of sales by not adding tons of DRM because of all the good press it got them.

Unless someone builds a time machine, we'll never know how it would have turned out differently if they'd used DRM.

The "win your enemies over" method does seem more appealing than the "try to stop your enemies with tiny roadblocks that take them a few hours to overcome" method...

Kopikatsu:

LiquidGrape:
They have good policies regarding DRM. That's as far as my praise of CDP will stretch.
But yes, excellent attitude regarding value of product.

They have bad business sense is what they have. 4,500,000+ copies pirated is kind of a large number. A really large number.

If even half of those people paid a single penny for the game, that's still $22,500. Half of what most people make in a year.

But adding loads of DRM wouldn't make that number go down. They probably gained loads of sales by not adding tons of DRM because of all the good press it got them.

Well I bought The Witcher 2 twice (both new copies near launch) because of CD Projekt Red being so incredibly cool about DRM in an industry that seems continuously posed to fuck with their own customers.

If it weren't for developers like CD Projekt Red then we'd already have another 1983 on our hands.

Those bastards! Pirating such a great game 5 million times. How dare they have the audacity to take 50 million copies of such a wonderful game. Really, do you people not realize you will cripple all video game development when you steal 500 million copies like what happened with the Witcher 2. How would you like being a starving artist hoping to feed your family when those horrible horrible consumers steal 5 billion copies of your game like what actually happen with the witcher 2. Seriously what does anyone need with 50 billion copies of one game?

Yeah, the numbers seem a more than a little bit over exaggerated to the point of out and out lies.

Well, all I know is that I bought Witcher 2, and specifically did not buy Battlefield 3 because of Origin. (And TF2).

Kopikatsu:

LiquidGrape:
They have good policies regarding DRM. That's as far as my praise of CDP will stretch.
But yes, excellent attitude regarding value of product.

They have bad business sense is what they have. 4,500,000+ copies pirated is kind of a large number. A really large number.

If even half of those people paid a single penny for the game, that's still $22,500 lost. Half of what most people make in a year.

Well, I honestly doubt that truth would have been considerably different even if they *had* imposed strict digital rights management.
If a pirate aims to pirate a game, the pirate will pirate the game. They are predictable that way.

If anything, this whole thing probably earned CDP a lot of consumer goodwill for future projects. I don't understand the adulations for their work myself, but I can recognise they have an audience.

Kopikatsu:

LiquidGrape:
They have good policies regarding DRM. That's as far as my praise of CDP will stretch.
But yes, excellent attitude regarding value of product.

They have bad business sense is what they have. 4,500,000+ copies pirated is kind of a large number. A really large number.

If even half of those people paid a single penny for the game, that's still $22,500 lost. Half of what most people make in a year.

And what exactly have they done that shows they have a bad business sense? What they have is an intelligent public relations sense.

I still don't get why people look at the number of pirated copies and go "oh my that's so unfortunate".

Well, I DO get it. They're misjudging the situation. The most conclusive thing a high pirated copies number says about the game is that it's popular. Mostly everything else is decided by the actual sales figures. Those are the ones you should look at, not how many people pirated the game.
And a game being popular is by all means not unfortunate if you happen to be a fan of the game or company.

I'm going so far as to ask myself if there's any pirate out there going "man, if only this game didn't have DRM, I could get it for free. Now I'm forced to buy it because of that pesky DRM".
I mean, seriously. What's this number compared to other games? Do we have conclusive evidence that DRM would have made the number of pirated copies significantly lower?

I like the part of the original article where the guy says there are no real statistics, then proceeds to go through a list of assumptions.

Kopikatsu:

They have bad business sense is what they have. 4,500,000+ copies pirated is kind of a large number. A really large number.

An ass-pulled number, but still. IT'S REALLY REALLY BIG!

If those people paid even a single penny for the game, that's still $45,000+ lost. More than what most people make in a year.

Assuming they would have paid a single cent is still a pretty big assumption.

He is correct that DRM does not work and is nothing but a hassle for paying customers but then he makes big assumptions about connection speeds and download times and number of downloads, then uses math on made up numbers to get to 4.5 million. Then he says he's low balling it. NO. You released a "hardcore RPG" for the PC, specifically higher end gaming PCs, which translates to a niche of a niche of a niche. If you want 5.5 million copies sold, you need to look at consoles or mass market.

I appreciate that he is trying to use numbers to show the futility of DRM, but when publishers hear "4.5 million pirate downloads" they think "DRM! DRM ON EVERYTHING!" While I feel bad for the people that are working hard and potentially not getting their due for it, even if there were that many downloads, one pirated copy is not equal to one stolen/bought copy.

viranimus:
Those bastards! Pirating such a great game 5 million times. How dare they have the audacity to take 50 million copies of such a wonderful game. Really, do you people not realize you will cripple all video game development when you steal 500 million copies like what happened with the Witcher 2. How would you like being a starving artist hoping to feed your family when those horrible horrible consumers steal 5 billion copies of your game like what actually happen with the witcher 2. Seriously what does anyone need with 50 billion copies of one game?

Yeah, the numbers seem a more than a little bit over exaggerated to the point of out and out lies.

Personally, I don't think 500 billion copies pirated is all that bad. Call me heartless, but 5 trillion is just a drop in the bucket.

poiumty:

I'm going so far as to ask myself if there's any pirate out there going "man, if only this game didn't have DRM, I could get it for free. Now I'm forced to buy it because of that pesky DRM".
I mean, seriously. What's this number compared to other games? Do we have conclusive evidence that DRM would have made the number of pirated copies significantly lower?

There's probably a few. Maybe tens. Not enough to make a significant different in any case. At least, I severely doubt it.

I really like CDP and I really enjoyed the first Witcher.... but that 4.5 million number is bullshit and his way of calculating it a complete joke (anyone curious should read the original article, second question, first paragraph).

If anyone needs me, IŽll be over here, in one of my approximately 144.3 million beds.
That on the pessimistic side of course. I have probably more.

Zachary Amaranth:
I like the part of the original article where the guy says there are no real statistics, then proceeds to go through a list of assumptions.

Kopikatsu:

They have bad business sense is what they have. 4,500,000+ copies pirated is kind of a large number. A really large number.

An ass-pulled number, but still. IT'S REALLY REALLY BIG!

If those people paid even a single penny for the game, that's still $45,000+ lost. More than what most people make in a year.

Assuming they would have paid a single cent is still a pretty big assumption.

To be fair, it's not like they can ask the internet 'If you've pirated our game, and be honest now, please fill out this survey.'

Anyway, why is it a large assumption? By taking the time and space on their harddrive to pirate the game, they've obviously shown an interest in the game. Most people could find more than a penny's worth of money after searching for 30 seconds. (Hint: Check the couch)

Besides, even if you want to play the 'Most pirates wouldn't pay for it anyway' card, only 750 of those hypothetical 4,500,000 people would have had to buy the game at full price in order to make the same amount of money as everyone paying a penny.

I'm kinda annoyed that of all things to pull from that interview 'Pirated X amount of times' was what the Escapist went with, especially when it's just a number the guy came up with on the spot as rough estimate at best. Now there's going to be three or four pages of people just saying "I don't agree with that estimate".

Great interview however, read it when it was first posted on PCgamer. I thought it was interesting how he talked about Poland and early issues with piracy when they were still a small start up company.

Huh, I think I'll be buying Witcher 2.

I feel really bad for them. They are trying to do a good thing, yet people still are pirating their game, which from what I heard was really good.

Over 1,500 people are still pirating it right now.

Asshats.

Articles like this don't do any good for the anti DRM crowd. People are still defending piracy too...

sigh

EDIT: The really shocking part of this is that The Witcher 2 only sold a million copies.

Kopikatsu:

Anyway, why is it a large assumption? By taking the time and space on their harddrive to pirate the game, they've obviously shown an interest in the game. Most people could find more than a penny's worth of money after searching for 30 seconds. (Hint: Check the couch)

But downloading the game from their servers would cost CD Projekt more than a penny, so it would still be a net loss for them. It's the Humble Indie Bundle situation all over again.

That's why you can't think in those terms. Most people pirate because it's fast, it's easy, it's accessible and they don't have to go through any sort of channels to give money out of their own wallet. If there was this magical way to subtract a penny (transaction cost-free) from everyone who pirated the game and put it in the developers' pocket, then maybe you'd have a point.

while i absolutely hate pirates in the game industry, because the developer is always the one that gets punished, i am fully supporting CD projekt, god do i love their games and website, and by god are they badass in general. glad to know that they are sane normal people who listen to their customers instead of things that rhyme with...

shmubisoft

dyre:

Kopikatsu:

LiquidGrape:
They have good policies regarding DRM. That's as far as my praise of CDP will stretch.
But yes, excellent attitude regarding value of product.

They have bad business sense is what they have. 4,500,000+ copies pirated is kind of a large number. A really large number.

If even half of those people paid a single penny for the game, that's still $22,500 lost. Half of what most people make in a year.

And what exactly have they done that shows they have a bad business sense? What they have is an intelligent public relations sense.

No, clearly making a successful PC-only game that sells in the millions and earns them reviews such as "best RPG of the year" and so on, is really bad business sense. Establishing goodwill and sympathy and respect, strengthening your brand...stuff like that is really bad. Horrible. What are they SMOKING?!

Acrisius:

dyre:

Kopikatsu:

They have bad business sense is what they have. 4,500,000+ copies pirated is kind of a large number. A really large number.

If even half of those people paid a single penny for the game, that's still $22,500 lost. Half of what most people make in a year.

And what exactly have they done that shows they have a bad business sense? What they have is an intelligent public relations sense.

No, clearly making a successful PC-only game that sells in the millions and earns them reviews such as "best RPG of the year" and so on, is really bad business sense. Establishing goodwill and sympathy and respect, strengthening your brand...stuff like that is really bad. Horrible. What are they SMOKING?!

You probably should've quoted the guy I quoted, not me...preaching to the choir :P

Kopikatsu:

LiquidGrape:
They have good policies regarding DRM. That's as far as my praise of CDP will stretch.
But yes, excellent attitude regarding value of product.

They have bad business sense is what they have. 4,500,000+ copies pirated is kind of a large number. A really large number.

Sure is a large number, but spending money on putting in a DRM system wouldn't have shrunk the number by an significant margin. Most DRM programs are cracked within a day of release, and sometimes it's cracked before release. The most successful DRM I've heard of was Ubisoft's always on DRM which took a few weeks to crack. Even Steamworks games aren't immune. Basically what they've done is take the money they would have wasted on a worthless DRM program and put it to some better purpose. Not to mention the sales generated by goodwill alone for not inflicting a DRM program on their customers. Seems like quite good business sense to me.

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