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CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM

An interview on PC Gamer with Marcin Iwinski is a conversation where the CD Projekt CEO comments on piracy, saying now matter how many times The Witcher 2 was pirated (which they estimate may have been as often as 4.5 million times), the game's lack of DRM was still the right call:

From the very beginning our main competitors on the market were pirates. The question was really not if company x or y had better marketing or better releases, but more like “How can we convince gamers to go and buy the legit version and not to go to a local street vendor and buy a pirated one?” We of course experimented with all available DRM/copy protection, but frankly nothing worked. Whatever we used was cracked within a day or two, massively copied and immediately available on the streets for a fraction of our price.

We did not give up, but 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. 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.

In any case, I am not saying that we have eliminated piracy or there is not piracy in the case of TW2. There is, and TW2 was [illegally] downloaded by tens of thousands of people during the first two weeks after release. Still, 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?

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32. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Dec 1, 2011, 09:12 Zoom
 
They should also consider that making an actual good product (which the Witcher series is) sells well, regardless of piracy. If one makes a 4 hour campaign consolized crap, dont be surprised it wont have that good sales figures compared to piracy.  
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31. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Dec 1, 2011, 02:04 KilrathiAce
 
Some people sound like there is no piracy on consoles... lol  
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30. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 19:49 Sepharo
 
An international vacation that doesn't include guys with bootleg games/movies/music laid out on blankets on the sidewalk would be odd for me at this point.  
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29. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 18:16 Veterator
 
Ruffiana wrote on Nov 30, 2011, 12:21:
Who the hell has ever 'gone to a local street vendor and bought a pirated copy of a game'?

Lately, no..most of the smaller shops are gone now because it's all about consoles now. But earlier 2000s and late 90s they used to have yearly Computer fests that were mostly hardware but some software booths. Lots and lots of those software booths had obviously pirated copies of material out for purchase with printed CD covers and some of the CDs were even printed silk screens...with no graphics. Asking about half retail price.

That was in Ohio, USA.

I am sure they still exist somewhere, just not in established brick and mortar locations where you can walk in....more like mail order or "I know a guy" or street vendors in their "hidden stock".

 
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28. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 17:58 Mashiki Amiketo
 
Halo wrote on Nov 30, 2011, 17:19:
How did you go to Hong Kong but not China? "/
The same way I goto Singapore and not goto Malaysia.
 
--
"For every human problem,
there is a neat, simple solution;
and it is always wrong."
--H.L. Mencken
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27. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 17:49 Elwro
 
Guys, he's talking about the mid-90s and transforming the Polish market for which he should be deservedly proud of himself. In the mid-90s piracy in actual shops was rampant. Shops had a few boxes with legal games which no one would buy because of the ridiculous (really) price, and what they were really selling were pirated copies. All of this changed due to CD Projekt's long campaign of introducing cheaper games in boxes filled with goodies; no one before managed to successfully negotiate lower prices with the Western publishers.  
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26. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 17:45 Slashman
 
PHJF wrote on Nov 30, 2011, 13:44:
I will say this, Witcher 2's box is very heavy. I consider a game worthless unless it can realistically be used as a bludgeoning device.

Who the hell did you bludgeon?? Bat
 
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25. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 17:38 ^Drag0n^
 
Halo wrote on Nov 30, 2011, 17:19:
Mashiki Amiketo wrote on Nov 30, 2011, 17:11:
ASeven wrote on Nov 30, 2011, 16:58:
I''ve been in China, Russia, Thailand, Dubai ...
Read post 14

How did you go to Hong Kong but not China? "/

LMAO
 
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"Never start a fight, but always finish it."
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24. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 17:19 Halo
 
Mashiki Amiketo wrote on Nov 30, 2011, 17:11:
ASeven wrote on Nov 30, 2011, 16:58:
I''ve been in China, Russia, Thailand, Dubai ...
Read post 14

How did you go to Hong Kong but not China? "/
 
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23. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 17:11 Mashiki Amiketo
 
ASeven wrote on Nov 30, 2011, 16:58:
I''ve been in China, Russia, Thailand, Dubai ...
Read post 14
 
--
"For every human problem,
there is a neat, simple solution;
and it is always wrong."
--H.L. Mencken
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22. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 16:58 ASeven
 
Mashiki Amiketo wrote on Nov 30, 2011, 12:27:
Jerykk wrote on Nov 30, 2011, 12:23:
I think that's fairly common in places where broadband is uncommon or prohibitively expensive for most people, like Russia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, etc.
You kidding? Not sure on that. But when I was working in the industry, getting pirated copies of software through legit distribution chains was a real problem. You'd run across discs mis-stamped(said one thing, software was something else, with a valid key that was faked), obvious gold copy rips, and all the rest. That was in Canada and the US.

I''ve been in China, Russia, Thailand, Dubai and I can tell you, selling pirated software on street stands or shops is very common in all those places. You can easily get burned DVDs with games, movies, programs for a couple of dollars.
 
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21. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 15:24 ^Drag0n^
 
Well, I can't complain about Skyrim ;-)

On a more serious note; most of this stuff is done off to the side; soundtrack, artbook, maps, statues, and trinkets really doesn't take much effort (if any) from the dev team at all, so if the game's content is squandered, I wouldn't blame it on the "extras" used to entice purchase of the official copy of the game. I'd continue to throw that right where it is deserved: the design of the game to begin with.

IMO.

^D^
 
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"Never start a fight, but always finish it."
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20. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 15:17 PHJF
 
Agreed. Adjusting the way you do business to add value is the only way to win here

At what point does "adding value" to a product become "removing content" from said product?
 
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Steam + PSN: PHJF
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19. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 14:18 ^Drag0n^
 
Jerykk wrote on Nov 30, 2011, 12:23:
I disagree. If the official product is superior to the free one, people will be more inclined to buy it. Steam is a great example. My friend used to pirate everything and very rarely bought anything. However, he now routinely buys games on Steam due to it being more convenient than pirating. All his games are in one place and can be downloaded and installed with a single click, along with automatic updates.

The thing that most publishers and developers don't seem to grasp is that DRM reduces the value of your game. People don't like entering CD-keys or activating their games or revoking install licenses. Simply put, they don't like jumping through hoops in order to play the games they paid for.

Agree with you 100%. I actually bought the CE of Skyrim not just for the extras, but also to throw my financial support behind a company that actually supports and encourages mods in the PC user community.

Well, that and the dragon statue is kinda kickass... ;-)

^D^
 
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18. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 14:11 ^Drag0n^
 
Prez wrote on Nov 30, 2011, 13:03:
But CD Projeckt is doing it right. These guys are awesome. I've bought two copies of the Witcher so far and will be giving out more as Christmas presents, because this kind of goodwill towards gamers deserves to be rewarded.

Agreed. Adjusting the way you do business to add value is the only way to win here. There is no way anyone will ever eliminate piracy. It's just a fact of doing business; something that becomes even more dominant in the Asian markets.

Kudos to them.

^D^
 
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17. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 13:44 PHJF
 
I will say this, Witcher 2's box is very heavy. I consider a game worthless unless it can realistically be used as a bludgeoning device.  
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Steam + PSN: PHJF
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16. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 13:38 Dev
 
Whoa! You mean someone understands that DRM only inconveniences legitimate customers?

Seriously, almost the only times I've had trouble with DRM is when I've purchased games and used legit copies. I used to do a lot more game "acquiring" in the past, and the DRM seldom bothered me then. Now that I get my stuff mostly from steam, DRM often causes me issues when its layered on top of steam games. My legit copies of windows bug me about calling MS when I do reinstalls, upgrades, etc (and yes, I have legit copies for each computer).

I bought a $100 student version of a math program while getting a degree, so I could be legit, and it REQUIRES the CD to be in the drive at all times, which is noisy and inconvenient in a laptop, and very impractical in a nettop. The "other" version is more fully featured and doesn't require any of that.

Anyway, I love to see developers do things like this, I liked it when stardock did similar things and offered lots of extra content in patches (the carrot instead of the stick approach) that legitimate customers could get.
 
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15. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 13:03 Prez
 
If the official product is superior to the free one, people will be more inclined to buy it. Steam is a great example. My friend used to pirate everything and very rarely bought anything. However, he now routinely buys games on Steam due to it being more convenient than pirating. All his games are in one place and can be downloaded and installed with a single click, along with automatic updates.

This is it in a nutshell. In my view Valve has come as close as anyone is ever going to get in 'solving' the piracy problem until all games are "free". As in Free-2-play microtransaction abominations. **SHUDDER**

But CD Projeckt is doing it right. These guys are awesome. I've bought two copies of the Witcher so far and will be giving out more as Christmas presents, because this kind of goodwill towards gamers deserves to be rewarded.
 
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14. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 12:43 Mashiki Amiketo
 
Verno wrote on Nov 30, 2011, 12:39:
Actual disc piracy is supposedly still common in China though I haven't been in a few years myself.
Common enough, I didn't get over to china when I was in asia 6mo ago, though I did get to hong kong, the philipines and japan. I could find everything from movies, to games, to software for sale on the streets for a couple of bucks in HK and PH, though in Japan it wasn't in the open. Private nets for some stuff was the way it was going, especially with the cheapness of 100MB/fiber connections.
 
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"For every human problem,
there is a neat, simple solution;
and it is always wrong."
--H.L. Mencken
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13. Re: CD Projekt on Piracy and DRM Nov 30, 2011, 12:39 Verno
 
But is this really a rampant problem with games? Are people really going out to a local software store knowing that they're being sold a pirated copy of a game for cheap? I've always lumped gamers into two categories. Those who know you can get games for free through piracy, and those who think Wal-Mart and Best Buy make games.

I saw obviously pirated discs with fake art in a few stands when I was in Russia. Companies try to combat this with cheaper legit copies but many "organizations" have picked up on this being a nice little loophole and buy up a bunch of legit copies for cheap prices then unload them online at higher prices. Actual disc piracy is supposedly still common in China though I haven't been in a few years myself.
 
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Playing: Dragon Age Inquisition, Far Cry 4, This War of Mine
Watching: The Fall, The Walking Dead, Leon
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