E3 2013: Anti-DRM game developer CD Projekt on Xbox One's used disc features

Poland-based independent developer CD Projekt has made a name for itself in a couple of ways. First, the first two games in its Witcher series of fantasy RPGs have been huge successes, both in sales and in praise from critics. It has also launched GoG.com, which offers both current and classic PC games for cheap prices.

Both the Witcher games and the games available for GoG.com have been released for the PC with no DRM set-ups, and CD Project execs have stated in the past their stance against using DRM. Now the developer has come under attack from some of its fans because of its plans to release "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" on Microsoft's Xbox One console, which will have restrictions on how owners can give, sell or trade used game discs.

In an interview on Eurogamer, CD Projekt co-founder and Joint CEO Marcin Iwiński stated that the company "couldn't simply not release The Witcher 3 on Xbox One." The developer wants every gamer to have the chance to play their next RPG, which will also be released for the PC and PS4.

Iwiński added:

There are people who don't mind the DRM protection and will pick Xbox One as their platform of choice. We can't punish them. Again, we always stress the fact that we're against DRM, but in the market system it's the clients who make the final decision. As developers, we need to create best content we can and make it available for as many players as possible.

The debate over the used disc game features for the Xbox One will likely continue until the launch of the console itself sometime in November.

Source: Eurogamer | Image via CD Projekt

Neowin's E3 2013 coverage is sponsored by Alienware

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GP007 said,

The same is true for the Xbox One but the part people overlook are the added sharing options you get with XB1 regardless of if the game is install from a disc or from the internet. While we still need some more details about it the fact that you can have up to 10 friends/family share your library from their own Xbox Ones, anywhere they live without you having to send out a disc is the key here. Also other things like allowing anyone who uses your own system to play any games you have on it with their own accounts.

This. I think MS did a lot more forward thinking.

Thief000 said,
Sony will hit a wall when everything goes all digital, no doubt about it. And that future is coming sooner than people think with every other retail chain going bankrupt.

MS just needs more developers like Cliff Bleszinski today that speak their minds about the current businees model ruining the entire AAA industry.

Why do you say that? EVERY SINGLE GAME for the Vita can be downloaded, right now, day and date release with the physical copies. Same with the PS4. You will have the OPTION to buy a digital copy, tie it to your PSN account, and have it run completely off the HDD. OR you can pick up a disc at the store, play it, loan it, and resell it. They are not behind, but they are not forcing the users into a DRM scheme they don't want either, it's YOUR CHOICE.

I agree with Cliffy. See the thing is that the video game market is different than any other market on the planet. Because it's graphics based, they can expire over time and things in the video game industry are changing. You might not know this now, but it will be obvious in the future with dynamic games that get feedback from players either by controller play or by Kinect interaction and that feeds back into the game play.

We have seen a lot of publishers/developers go out of business because they didn't get the money out of the title and that is even for good games. This would give them more money that they deserve. The used game market is a lot of money they are missing out on and to capture that money instead of GameStop getting it, would make a lot of sense to me.

I could understand people being upset if the DRM changed their experience with the game, but it's not like the 1990's in which we had to find a code in a book in a PC game back then. You don't have to do this. You stick in the disk, while it installs you can play it and then it installs to the hard drive and you pull the disk out and just play it on the hard drive now.

The hard drive actually makes the experience better now, because things load a lot faster and you can have much better performance with a game. Scratches on a disk will be very rare, because you never use the disk. Then there is the fact that you can play that game instantly without waiting and you can switch to it or others by just using your voice and it's instantly on.

When I am done with my game, I can uninstall it and go to GameStop and sell it back and use that money to buy more games. Just like I could before. I could also give away my game to someone or even sell it to them and let them know that their only option is to sell it to GameStop.

John Nemesh said,
Why do you say that? EVERY SINGLE GAME for the Vita can be downloaded, right now, day and date release with the physical copies. Same with the PS4.

And how do you share/resell those digital games on PS4?

Why are we even discussing discs and DRM? Once console owners experience the ease of use that Steam users have enjoyed for years they'll all stop buying discs anyway...

Sony is pushing for game downloads on the PS4, just like Microsoft on XB1 (see their "Connected" video). Game downloads won't allow any kind of resale, trading, or lending on either platform. The only difference between the PS4 and XB1 with game downloads is you'll actually be able to share your purchased downloaded games (through your shared library) on XB1, where on PS4, you won't.

Strange that everyone was excited about the Steam Box, but everyone cries foul when they found out that the Xbox One will use the exact same model that the Steam Box will (if it ever actually happens, that is).

Edited by JonathanMarston, Jun 13 2013, 3:36pm :

my thoughts exactly. Xbox One is no different than Steam as a platform just on consoles now. People act like Steam is the greatest thing ever, but how easily they forget how much people hated it when it first came out with Half-Life 2.

Steam didn't instantly become this super great service but over time and as the library grew and mainly because of Steam Sales..mmmmm....Steam is great.

If the ability for a friend to play a game from my library at the same time I'm playing the game is true than that would be HUGE. Even if we can't play at the same time if I can still leech lol off my richer friends who like to buy every new game that comes out then i'll still come out on top.

They're nothing alike. Steam lets you go offline for a month, and often sells games for 50% off. Show me a $30 AAA title on the xbox marketplace, and let me go offline for a 2 week vacation without worrying about turning my console into a brick.

Then I need the reassurance that in 10 years from now, when the xbox two comes out, that they won't make all of the xbox one games I already paid for, stuck behind a paywall, or if Microsoft goes out of business in 50 years, that my console won't become a brick.

Once all of that has happened, we can compare the xbone to steam, and start a dialog.

We don't know what sales Microsoft my have on the Xbox One marketplace. They already do have sales on downloadable games on the 360, and even have free games (Fable 3 is the current free game, I believe Halo 3 is next). It's not to the extent of Steam though (it's usually just a handful of games at a time rather than half the catalog like on Steam), but I would be surprised if they don't expand on the specials once the One comes out and even offer things like "free weekends" like Steam.

What assurance do you have that Steam won't be shut down? What assurance is there that if Valve goes under you'll still be able to play all your Steam games?

The only real argument you have is the daily online checks. That is a pain, plain and simple. There is a reason for it (shared library), but I'm not sure that the advantages make up for the disadvantages on this one. This is actually the only reason I'm still not decided on whether I'll go Xbox this generation or not...

Again you seem to forget Steam was not like that at first. I'm sure after some time if not sooner than Microsoft wants they'll relax or change the online/offline time frame.

As far as sales are concerned I recently picked up Ghost Recon Future Solider for $15 which was a 50% discount from what it normally sells at.

As I said people have short term memories and the two platforms really are similar. Xbox One is just going to go through the growing pains that Steam had in it's first year.

As far as your reassurances for 10 years from now, we don't even have that from Steam now so how could you expect that from somebody else. That was always my initial hesistation about buying anything from Steam. What if all the servers shut down and I can't authenticate my games, what then? If it happened two years from now to Steam I would be upset but considering the low price I paid for most of my library I couldn't get too upset. Somehow I highly doubt that 50 years from now, you're main concern if any will be that your Xbox One is a now a brick.

greenwizard88 said,
They're nothing alike. Steam lets you go offline for a month, and often sells games for 50% off. Show me a $30 AAA title on the xbox marketplace, and let me go offline for a 2 week vacation without worrying about turning my console into a brick.

Then I need the reassurance that in 10 years from now, when the xbox two comes out, that they won't make all of the xbox one games I already paid for, stuck behind a paywall, or if Microsoft goes out of business in 50 years, that my console won't become a brick.

Once all of that has happened, we can compare the xbone to steam, and start a dialog.

I'm with Greenwizard (and many of my friends are too). For the most part my Steam collection is games bought for $5, $10, $15 during their sales. Pretty sure my gaming friends do the same thing as we usually pick up the same games at the same time. Very few times are their mass "I already have that game" type of discussions.

As far as AAA games do, especially at launch time, we order physical discs for games that are not MMO-type online only type of games.

So as an example we all have Skyrim and Battlefield 3 on physical disc, yet those of us who toy around occasionally on Defiance bought it through Steam. 10 year from now, installing Battlefield may or may not work, and online won't work, but the campaign will. Skyrim will of course work. Defiance on the other hand will not so why bother with the discs.

greenwizard88 said,
They're nothing alike. Steam lets you go offline for a month, and often sells games for 50% off. Show me a $30 AAA title on the xbox marketplace, and let me go offline for a 2 week vacation without worrying about turning my console into a brick.

Then I need the reassurance that in 10 years from now, when the xbox two comes out, that they won't make all of the xbox one games I already paid for, stuck behind a paywall, or if Microsoft goes out of business in 50 years, that my console won't become a brick.

Once all of that has happened, we can compare the xbone to steam, and start a dialog.

Actually, I think you can ONLY have the XB1 vs Steam argument when Steam becomes the ONLY way to buy games on the PC! Until then, I don't want to hear it! Dont like Steam? Use a different method to get your games! Don't like the way Xbox handles distribution? Too bad, you don't have another option!

macrosslover said,
Again you seem to forget Steam was not like that at first. I'm sure after some time if not sooner than Microsoft wants they'll relax or change the online/offline time frame.

That's the problem though; many of us thought they would be willing to compromise, we've had discussions on the matter as well, but the official response from Microsoft (at least for now) is "Get a 360 then".

So... until Microsoft change that mentality, until they decide, "Hey, maybe we should find some middle ground," many of us won't be worrying too much about getting an Xbox One, especially considering they're starting price is a $100 more. Microsoft would really need to get us sold on the console to pull it off at that price. Sony barely managed with the PS3's launch price, but that was only because of it being capable as a Bluray player.

@greenwizard88,
the thing is that people need to buy digital copies before publishers will offer them on sale, so that will come with time, just like cheaper games in digital editions (probably). 30 day offline and no sharing vs 24hour(which they could easily change to ex. 72hours on short notice if they feel the need) WITH sharing.. That's a not even a choice, is it?

Xbone DRM infrastructure is that of an all digital gaming device, take away game discs and the restrictions make alot more sense. Then realize the game disc option is only to put the digital content on the Xbone the disc has no sue after it has been copied to the Xbone.

It is a hybrid approach but essentially Xbone is already an all digital console. They really could have explained things alot better and presented the Xbone as all digital with the "OPTION" to still buy games at retailers.

They really should have trumped up the all digital aspects, convenience, instant day one game releases, no more driving to the store, or paying for shipping or waiting on the game to arrive etc. At the end of explaining the Xbone as an all digital gaming console say as an option if you REALLY want to buy a disc in a store we give that option as well.

I assume those criticising CD Projekt for putting their game on Xbox One also criticised them for putting their games on Steam, right?!

Allowing their games on a DRM platform does not detract from the fact they support non-DRM platforms.

The DRM issue, it's a hassle for consumers and developers want to insure they get paid for there work. The issue is money.
Today we buy games finish them then trade them in, then apply the trade in value to a new game. We may by a New game or a used game at a discount.

If we buy a new game the developer makes money, if we buy a used game then the retailer makes money and the developer does not.

In this model the reseller can make profit off the same game multiple times, and the developer sees nothing.
Needless to say the developers are not happy about that.

So you work out a DRM deal with the platform and now the developers will now have more NEW sales of games because you can no longer trade in and buy used games. Resellers will have to be happy with resale profit on NEW games.
I understand, it's business. No profit, no games, no consoles, and no gaming. Back to the PCs. The consoles make gaming so easy, but the market might disappear if the publishers get too greedy.
So now we are going to be locked into a digital store for games. No more used or trade ins. So the developers will make more profit on more NEW sales since USED games can no longer be purchased.

Now what aggravates me is I keep reading how all the game publishing companies want to drive the game prices up to $70 - $80, even in the digital stores! If this is bogus then fine. But what should happen is the price of games from the digital store should come down in cost. No media to burn, no packaging, no shipping, no warehousing should all be taken away from the price of the product. I expect the cost to go down.

I'm fine with Digital Downloaded games, makes it much easier than media. But the price of the games MUST come down. Drastically!

If you want my by in to this Digital Store then this is what I want:
1. I want to download NEW games at costs of $30 to $40.
2. I want arcade and independent games for less.
3. I want downloadable demos, so if I buy a NEW game and it sucks, and I can't even trade it.
4. I want to buy a game and have it "bind" to my console so all live profiles can play it. Don't "bind" a game to an individual profile.
5. I want receipts for my purchases so if my profile gets wiped I can prove I purchased products.

This should run off the Windows 8 Store. Let developers use the same publishing rules as the Windows 8 Store. So indie developers can write games for Xbox one.

On another note
I'd also like to know how the cable TV will work with my local cable provider?
Does the Xbox One replace my digital cable box? Because I just don't see the cable companies letting that happen!

Microsoft clearly has a lot of logistical things to work out before November if they want this to be adopted.

Could be the end of consoles again!

Great ideas. Correct me if I'm wrong, but what I have seen, #4 is definitely not an issue. From what it seems, anyone can log into their own Xbox account on your console and can still play the game. But the game is also tied to your Xbox ID so you can always access it on other Xbox consoles.

Unfortunately with the Live TV thing, it requires connecting a HDMI-input compatible TV receiver. It's not likely you can get free terrestrial TV on it .

Digital Media does not work well for the entire market, especially people with slower speeds or on bandwidth caps. If the average X1 or PS4 title is going to be around 20-30Gb that is going to take along time to download and install and on top of that eat up at 20-35% of people's monthly bandwidth just for one title.

Which is why Microsoft is letting you buy a disc with the game data on it. The discs are just there to save you the download time. Unlike previous generations, the disc is not the license; the license is stored with your Live account just like a downloadable game.

JonathanMarston said,
Which is why Microsoft is letting you buy a disc with the game data on it. The discs are just there to save you the download time. Unlike previous generations, the disc is not the license; the license is stored with your Live account just like a downloadable game.

Yep

This is pretty much the same thing as the original Xbox only having an ethernet cable. Kind of painful at first but more forward thinking with how the industry is going.

Internet access is very quickly turning out to be a must have must be reliable utility service like power or water.

They could have framed their vision alot better and people may have understood.

swanlee said,
They could have framed their vision alot better and people may have understood.

Easily MS' biggest mistake - had they managed that as well as to put out all the facts about the pro's and con's then it might not of been received so badly.
Whether any of this actually affects sales is another matter - the reality is the vast majority of buyers won't be aware of the DRM (or even that interested in it) despite assertions to the contrary. That's not necessarily a good thing though..

Yea I'm not sure how Average Joe is going to handle the DRM policy juggling when we can't even get a clear answer now. Anything more than a sentace or two will be lost on the average consumer and cause alot of backlash.

It is probably going to be painful right now for MS but it will lay the ground works for 100% digital distribution and give them a leg up much like Live gave them a leg up on the original Xbox.

Xbox 360 already does this sales through digital distribution. Every week or occasionally, they offer game sales digitally because MS knew you can't sell it or traded it because it tied to the gamertag. However, the console that you purchase it from can be played from any gamertag.

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