CD Projekt refuses to add DRM to The Witcher 2

Piracy is an ongoing battle; when game developers find a way to combat it, the pirates find a way to circumvent that. Some companies take their DRM to the extreme, while others prefer a more relaxed approach, seeing each pirate's download as an opportunity. As PC Gamer reports, CD Projekt is one of the companies on that list.

CD Projekt's CEO and co-founder Marcin Iwinski made the following observation about the number of pirates that have acquired the company's The Witcher 2 on PC:

I was checking regularly the number of concurrent downloads on torrent aggregating sites, and for the first 6-8 weeks there was around 20-30k ppl downloading it at the same time. Let's take 20k as the average and let's take 6 weeks. The game is 14GB, so let's assume that on an average not-too-fast connection it will be 6 hours of download. 6 weeks is 56 days, which equals to 1344 hours; and with 6h of average download time to get the game it would give us 224 downloads, then let's multiply it by 20k simultaneous downloaders.

With these estimations in mind the game could have been pirated more than 4,500,000 times or less, but it is a reflection on how entitled the gaming community often feels towards the games they cllaim to love. Assuming Iwinski's estimation is entirely correct, it means that for every copy of the game sold, roughly five copies were never paid for. 

And yet, despite the statistics Iwinski himself estimated, he is adamant the company will not fall back on DRM to counter pirates. He points out that from the start, CD Projekt always had to compete with free. He says their original intent was to find an incentive for making people pay for the game instead of buying or downloading an illegal copy instead. Iwinski then admits that they experimented with DRM and other protection, though watched as it was broken in a matter of days again. 

He then claims their best solution was the one that they are working with now: selling retail copies of their games with other items to enhance the experience of a purchase, such as the art books and soundtrack CDs typically found in collector's edition copies of games. Iwinsky went on to condemn DRM for inconveniencing legal gamers and merely providing a small obstacle for the people intent on not paying. He said the following:

DRM does not work and however you would protect it, it will be cracked in no time. 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?

Iwinsky ended things by telling gamers the "Excel guys" who consider piracy a lost sale are as much a problem as piracy itself to them, saying simply to vote with your wallet.

It is a rare stance to take in the gaming industry but that is not to say it is an unwelcome stance to see. Companies such as Valve and CD Projekt should be commended for attempting to find a way to tempt gamers onto the morally correct path of paying for their games, rather than punishing them for not doing so and driving them away from wanting to pay a company which uses DRM to cripple the experience otherwise.

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"...the game could have been pirated more than 4,500,000 times or less" Hmm... sounds reasonable.

You're aware that valve controls the largest DRM in the world? Steam has integrated DRM. why would you give them credit for not using drm when they did?

sweatshopking said,
You're aware that valve controls the largest DRM in the world? Steam has integrated DRM. why would you give them credit for not using drm when they did?

Yes there's a from of DRM (which is non intrusive and has an offline mode) but the real reason why Steam is successful is because it adds value, it's convenient and pretty tidily packaged. It often doesn't compete on price (except in their sales) but a lot of people will pay extra to have it on Steam - something there is working very well.

That's sort of the point - give your legit customers something that adds value and not just pain. Pirates see none of the latter - so why should your customers?

sweatshopking said,
You're aware that valve controls the largest DRM in the world? Steam has integrated DRM. why would you give them credit for not using drm when they did?

Erm, Impulse?

sweatshopking said,
You're aware that valve controls the largest DRM in the world? Steam has integrated DRM. why would you give them credit for not using drm when they did?

oh sure, a DRM that lets you download your game on as many machines as you want, from anywhere in the world, forever. Works like your email account, you just need to login and all your mail (games) is readily available.

Wasn't going to buy this game (lack of time and heard it is even more demanding on a system than BF3), but the more I read from these guys the more I want to support them.

My PC can run BF3 on Ultra @ 1920x1080P over 45+ fps. How will the Witcher 2 run?

This is why I love CD Projekt. Their view on piracy is one that other developers should adopt. The solution isn't DRM and despite the fact that the game was pirated many times, it has also sold over a million units worldwide. For a PC exclusive, it has done quite well. There's also the fact that, on the PC, DLC is free.

I used to pirate games all of the time, but that was because of being a student, I didn't have the budget to buy legal games. I bought one or two legal games a year, and that was all, because it simply was way too expensive for me.

Now, I've seen the light. I buy almost all of my games on Steam, the last game I really bought in a store was Portal 2, which really forced me to use Steam, but I don't mind using Steam - it actually enhances a game (that overlay is handy!).

Currently I have tons of games legally on Steam. 85 at the moment, and that includes a few humble bundles and an royal indie bundle. The Witcher 2 is included.
If games are good, you should pay for them. There's no excuse for pirating. Would you like to work for free ?
And I've been honest too, most of the games I pirated are now legally in my steam library.

This point has been brought up many times, but just because someone has downloaded the game doesn't mean they would have paid for a copy if the download weren't available. While piracy is a problem for the gaming industry (and really any digital media industry as anything that comes on a disc can be pirated), the numbers get blown out of proportion, seemingly to make it look much rougher than it actually is on the devs.

Slayer said,
This point has been brought up many times, but just because someone has downloaded the game doesn't mean they would have paid for a copy if the download weren't available. While piracy is a problem for the gaming industry (and really any digital media industry as anything that comes on a disc can be pirated), the numbers get blown out of proportion, seemingly to make it look much rougher than it actually is on the devs.

Pretty much. Also keep in mind that unless CD Projekt themselves have released sales data from all sources basically every online tracker of game sales doesn't include digital distribution through Steam and D2D because those companies don't release their numbers. With "most" PC gamers now buying their games through these services that's why a lot of the time the console vs PC numbers are so skewed. So it may not actually be 5 pirated copies per legit copy.

Piracy isn't all about entitlement either. In countries like the US sure, but in some places in the world it's actually really hard to find a legit copy of a game, and when you do it's super expensive. (Which doesn't make it right to pirate mind you, but that's the way it is in some places.)

Personally, I'd only pay for the re-hash games (call of duty etc) when they become pre-owned sub £10 games. meaning developers and publishers get nothing out of me, but I still buy the game. Would they miss me if I just pirated them on the day of release instead? I guess not, but maybe,... just maybe I'd consider buying them if I was to pirate them and see how fun they were at the time when everyone is hyped up about it... I'll just stick to pre-owned, its not worth the fine.

Something like The Witcher 2 where I could pirate the game and try it out, thenI'd buy it if I knew I'd be getting extra incentives other then the pride saying i have a legit copy. Witcher 2 provides the incentives over and over. I wish more games on the PC were like this..

This, Marcin Iwinski, guys has the right idea. For years now I've wondered why developers/publishers don't provide more content for gamers as an incentive for them to actually buy the game... even more so if they're going to re-hash the same content again again (ie call of duty, maddon etc). Yet right now we see call of duty being re-hashed, riddled with DRM AND they have the cheek to want you to pay for extra maps at near the same price as the original game!

I've had issues with a lot of PC games due to the DRM. Settlers, one of my favorite games from the past was destoyed and made unplayable due to DRM locking the game up every few minutes, it became a pain to play and to top it off, when I moved house I lost access to the game for over 3 months while I got an internet connection.

The Witcher 2 is an amazing game, one of the few that actually try and push PC hardware without being developed for the game consoles and ported to the PC as an afterthought.
Content is added with patches, and you don't have to worry about the patch locking you out of the game you paid for. Not only that, but the game itself is actually rather good! Its certainly a game that you should pay for.

Mabey if they stopped charging extra for AUD retail and digital edition things would change -_-

Big issue this started back when they offered that to companies lol GoG -_-

brent3000 said,
Mabey if they stopped charging extra for AUD retail and digital edition things would change -_-

Big issue this started back when they offered that to companies lol GoG -_-

Living in australia does suck in respect to this, i remember when steam used to be well priced, now it'll cost $100 for COD:MW3, a year or so ago, that would've been about $60. You have to realise though, that the high prices is not actually due to the Devs/Publishers, it's our local government making online DD services cost more so regular bricks and mortar stores can compete.

High prices definately contribute to piracy, and it's a shame we're ripped off here, and I think it's been proven time and time again, that DRM in any form is always hacked/cracked, and simply does not work.

I continue to buy games as i'm a firm believer of supporting something you like.

"it means that for every copy of the game sold, roughly five copies were never paid for."
I am sure that some of the 5 that downloaded it in the end purchased the game. I bought the collectors edition of the first Witcher

Nice to see someone in the industry actually realise that DRM only tends to have real customers, and often does nothing to stop pirates.

Back in the days of yore, there was a much less intrusive, fairer and, dare I say it, fun form of keeping your game from being pirated. It was called feelies. Ultima and Zork, two of my favorites, are shining examples of this form of piracy protection, aside from being shining examples of great games in general...

Basically, the game would come with goodies, kind of like what CDProjekt is doing. You ended up using those actual items that came with the game when during play. Now, with the internet and all, I don't know whether or not it would really work, but by integrating things like that with the actual play experience, they just might end up getting more people to pay. People love to collect more 'stuff,' especially the useless kind that gets thrown in a drawer the day after we get it.

THolman said,
Back in the days of yore, there was a much less intrusive, fairer and, dare I say it, fun form of keeping your game from being pirated. It was called feelies. Ultima and Zork, two of my favorites, are shining examples of this form of piracy protection, aside from being shining examples of great games in general...

Basically, the game would come with goodies, kind of like what CDProjekt is doing. You ended up using those actual items that came with the game when during play. Now, with the internet and all, I don't know whether or not it would really work, but by integrating things like that with the actual play experience, they just might end up getting more people to pay. People love to collect more 'stuff,' especially the useless kind that gets thrown in a drawer the day after we get it.

I remember there were things like "match the name and phone number" or "use this whee thing to match these shapes" type things. If you lost the list or wheel you were pretty much out of luck and it was annoying to do every time you started the game. Of course in this internet age you'd probably find a printable copy on the 'net.

I did like the ones that were actually a part of gameplay where you had to find something in the manual or a map or something to get forward. They usually used that in the middle of the game so if you hadn't bought it you just spent quite a bit of time without being able to finish.

The first thing I usually do with games I've bought, unless they use Steam, is to get the crack. I don't like having a DVD spinning in the drive making noise like a vacuum cleaner simply because of some copy protection. Sometimes the cracked version also has fewer problems than the non-cracked one. I'm all for ditching copy protection.

Easy solution:

Rather than exploiting poor people with a $50 price tag for what is essentially a worthless game, make money on volume byselling it for $0.99.

Not hard.

Brian Miller said,
Easy solution:

Rather than exploiting poor people with a $50 price tag for what is essentially a worthless game, make money on volume byselling it for $0.99.

Not hard.

The Witcher (which, by the way, I love) is an in depth indie RPG from Poland with graphic sex scenes. I'm not too sure about the volume appeal.

Brian Miller said,
Easy solution:

Rather than exploiting poor people with a $50 price tag for what is essentially a worthless game, make money on volume byselling it for $0.99.

Not hard.


So what you'd get like ten times as many buyers and lose money, or just make a much smaller game to begin with like people who sell things for $1 do?

Genius. I give you the award. I'm not going to tell you which award.

Brian Miller said,
Easy solution:

Rather than exploiting poor people with a $50 price tag for what is essentially a worthless game, make money on volume byselling it for $0.99.

Not hard.


go play games on your iPhone cause you clearly have no idea how a business works.. There are free games out there that people don't even play.

This guy should be banned from every accounting/administrative/business school for life! He represents a huge risk for most businesses out there

Brian Miller said,
Rather than exploiting poor people with a $50 price tag for what is essentially a worthless game

What on earth.... seriously, did you actually think before typing?

What is your definition of a worthwhile game? Or 'exploitation' for that matter.

Couldn't agree more.

Whenever I see game with DRM in it, I am thinking that is actually better to pirate it than buy legal copy whereas buying non-DRM game is never an issue.

SHADOW-XIII said,
Couldn't agree more.

Whenever I see game with DRM in it, I am thinking that is actually better to pirate it than buy legal copy whereas buying non-DRM game is never an issue.

That's the reason I never bought The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. While I have many games on Steam, even the low price of $4.99 wasn't enough for me to consider buying that game due to the added online activation. Yes, I know Steam is a form of DRM, but it's not even close to being as bad as Dark Athena's activation.

Raa said,
I bought The Witcher 2, and couldn't be happier!

Played through the first pretty much non-stop, the second one did nothing for me though