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.