The developer behind The Witcher series doesn’t think DRM discourages piracy.
As always-online DRM in videogames becomes more common, gamers have become more and more opposed to it. On the one hand, publishers are trying to protect themselves from the very real concern of piracy; on the other, legitimate consumers often feel like they’re being punished for the crimes of others, and the measures taken can limit playability. One studio that doesn’t believe in always-on DRM is CD Projekt Red, the developer of the action-RPG series The Witcher. With The Witcher 3 due out next year, Kotaku asked its creators if the game would use this unpopular anti-piracy measure. CD Projekt Red’s Managing Director Adam Badowski responded with a definitive “No.”
The question came out of Kotaku’s longer interview about The Witcher 3, and the development team’s opinions about DRM are certainly worth noting. Lead gameplay designer Maciej Szczesnik said “We are trying to get rid of DRM,” explaining, “If someone wants to pirate a game, eventually he will.” This isn’t the first time someone has voiced that particular thought, but it’s not often we hear it from the development side of gaming. Of course, CD Projekt Red isn’t in favor of piracy; Badowski acknowledges that it’s bad, “but you can’t do anything about it, so. We want to give the best user experience possible.” Interestingly, removing DRM might make The Witcher 3 and other games less likely to be pirated among certain crowds: “When we removed DRM, people on those torrents were actually asking people not to download our game.”
To be clear, piracy sucks, and obviously no publisher or developer wants to see a game on which it has worked hard for many years be easily stolen by jerks on the internet. But it’s also becoming increasingly apparent that online-only anti-piracy measures may be punishing the people who actually spend money on games, not the ones intending to steal them. There aren’t really any good answers about how to stop piracy, so I can understand a publisher’s need to feel like it’s doing something, even if that something will upset gamers. Hopefully more game creators will realize that DRM isn’t the answer and start working towards another solution.