There must be some kind of crazy juice in the water in Poland, because CD Projekt CEO Michal Kicinski, the man who decided to completely remake The Witcher and then give it away, is now espousing the benefits of going completely DRM-free.
“We’re trying to convince [other publishers] there is nothing to be afraid of,” he said in an interview with GamesIndustry. “DRM-free, that is something they are really scared of, but on the other hand we can say, ‘All of those games are available pirated widely so it’s better to sell them for small money than make the customer’s life difficult and get some more revenues.'”
Kicinski said that the growing belief in digital distribution as a method of effective yet unobtrusive DRM is misguided, pointing out that even Steam, Valve’s hugely successful platform that’s widely regarded as an effective counter to game copying, is flawed and can hamstring legitimate gamers. “I had Steam but I had the problem that my internet provider could not work with it so I couldn’t use the games I bought,” he said. “I think that if somebody is paying for the game then they deserve to own it, not with a certain list of conditions and sometimes the list of conditions can be long.”
“DRM makes customers’ lives too complicated, and this is usually because of some corporate ideas, policies and trying to be smart, too smart, in how to get customers and how to keep them and not let them go somewhere else,” he continued. “We are believers in the free market and bringing freedom to customers.”
Kicinski isn’t just blowing smoke: CD Projekt’s efforts over the past year appear almost purposely aimed at proving that the industry can act in the best interests of gamers and still make a few bucks. Despite the tremendous success of The Witcher RPG , the company responded to various fan complaints by completely overhauling the game and re-releasing it as The Witcher Enhanced Edition, which it then made available for free to gamers who had purchased the original release. CD Projekt also recently launched its own digital distribution service called Good Old Games, offering classic games from years past patched to run on current systems and completely free of copy protection.
“Piracy in Poland is always much, much bigger here than in Western countries so we got used to living with piracy and we grew up in a surrounding where there was no help from governments to actually fight piracy. So we had to learn to compete with pirates,” Kicinski said, explaining the company’s unusual attitude toward DRM. “For example we believe that GOG.com makes such a good offer that it’s not worth pirating. We attract people to buy the original games instead of pirating them and that’s the most efficient way of fighting piracy.”