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CD Projekt RED Ceasing Witcher 2 Piracy Witch Hunt

CD Projekt announces it is now the official distributor for Codemasters in Poland. On a slightly related note, Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a statement from CD Projekt RED saying they are ceasing the recently revealed process of directly contacting file-sharers they suspect of pirating The Witcher 2, in spite of their confidence in the infallibility of such accusations. While continuing to decry piracy, this open letter from CD Projekt RED co-founder Marcin Iwinski says they have heard gamer's concerns, and that these direct contacts will cease immediately:

An Open Letter to the Gaming Community from CD Projekt RED

In early December, an article was published about a law firm acting on behalf of CD Projekt RED, contacting individuals who had downloaded The Witcher 2 illegally and seeking financial compensation for copyright infringement. The news about our decision to combat piracy directly, instead of with DRM, spread quickly and with it came a number of concerns from the community. Repeatedly, gamers just like you have said that our methods might wrongly accuse people who have never violated our copyright and expressed serious concern about our actions.

Being part of a community is a give-and-take process. We only succeed because you have faith in us, and we have worked hard over the years to build up that trust. We were sorry to see that many gamers felt that our actions didn’t respect the faith that they have put into CD Projekt RED. Our fans always have been and remain our greatest concern, and we pride ourselves on the fact that you all know that we listen to you and take your opinions to heart. While we are confident that no one who legally owns one of our games has been required to compensate us for copyright infringement, we value our fans, our supporters, and our community too highly to take the chance that we might ever falsely accuse even one individual.

So we’ve decided that we will immediately cease identifying and contacting pirates.

Let’s make this clear: we don’t support piracy. It hurts us, the developers. It hurts the industry as a whole. Though we are staunch opponents of DRM because we don’t believe it has any effect on reducing piracy, we still do not condone copying games illegally. We’re doing our part to keep our relationship with you, our gaming audience, a positive one. We’ve heard your concerns, listened to your voices, and we’re responding to them. But you need to help us and do your part: don’t be indifferent to piracy. If you see a friend playing an illegal copy of a game–any game–tell your friend that they’re undermining the possible success of the developer who created the very game that they are enjoying. Unless you support the developers who make the games you play, unless you pay for those games, we won’t be able to produce new excellent titles for you.

Keep on playing,

Marcin Iwinski
co-founder
CD Projekt RED

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44. Re: CD Projekt RED Ceasing Witcher 2 Piracy Witch Hunt Jan 13, 2012, 09:43 WaltC
 
What follows is somewhat of a rant...and somewhat of an Open Letter to Marcin Iwinski...

Frankly, I am disappointed in CDPR because this entire policy they've had up to now relative to how they handle piracy is really stupid--almost incomprehensible, in my estimation. I'll list a few reasons why I think this way...

First a disclaimer...;) I am not a software pirate-I buy the software I run--always have, and that is not about to change. IMO, there's no excuse for pirating software. I'm what's known as a "good customer"--a "loyal customer," even--and I am really sick and tired of the fact that many software companies today spend several times the energy and time on invisible, inimical, and supposedly ubiquitous software pirates as they do on customers like me. Whether it's the RIAA, the MPAA, or various software developers, the fact is that all of these entities feel entitled to use the convenient phantom of the "software pirate" as an excuse to manhandle their paying customers. I'd prefer to be treated much better than this--I'd prefer not to be insulted every time I turn around, for starters.

Does Marcin Iwinski really think that there is one living soul on this planet who is unaware of what a software pirate is and why the activities of same are harmful to software developers and game publishers? Why this constant lecturing and posing? Why the pretense of being "on board with gamers" even while he's claiming to sue bit-torrent users by way of dubious IP addresses? That activity has nothing whatever to do with being "on board with gamers"--gamers *buy* your software, Marcin. Gamers are *not* your problem. Please try and distinguish your customers from your pirates. I think you can do it if you really try.

First order of business is to own up to the fact that all of this publicity you've generated about "watching bit torrent" is melodramatic and has not been cost-effective for you in the slightest, and so you have wisely decided to drop the pretense and the sham while posing as a "friend to gamers" when the real reason you are dropping it has little to nothing to do with popular opinion (if popular opinion was ever your goal you'd never have implemented this policy in the first place.) You are dropping pursuit of these activities, assuming you ever did actually pursue them to any notable degree in the first place, because they cost you more than they net you and would have continued to do so in perpetuity. Dropping this foolishness was very wise--fibbing about your reasons for doing it is very unwise, however. It does nothing to enhance your public-relations profile. People are not so gullible--especially your *paying customers,* who are intelligent enough to have been able to amass the disposable income necessary so as to purchase your software--like me, for instance.

If piracy is a real concern of yours, though, allow me to make a couple of simple suggestions that would be immeasurably more effective that anything you have done to date:

(1) Come out of the starting gate with a software MSRP at least $10 less than the $49.95 that software developers and publishers have enshrined into a kind of religious mantra over the last 25 years. Why? You'll sell more copies. When game software MSRPs originated @$50 ~25 years ago, the entire worldwide computer market was ~2-4 million computers sold each year. Today's computer (not counting consoles) market is ~100x that size, with sales volumes approaching 400M a year. Does you a lot more good to sell 2M copies @ 39.95 than to sell 1M copies at $49.95. Do the math. The only certainty about it is that you will without question sell more copies of your software at $39.95 than you will @$49.95, and more copies at $49.95 than you will at $59.95, etc. Yet this simple point seems to elude so many.

(2) Go Steamworks 100% for your next launch. You can still sell your software through GoG, boxed retail, as well as Steam. Didn't Skyrim do exactly that--go 100% Steamworks? Their sales numbers were through the roof as a result. I cannot believe you missed that.

If you followed the above two steps I'll wager that you would have cut down dramatically on piracy during the first critical month of sales, and that you could have done so without suing, or claiming to sue, a single bit-torrent user anywhere. I'm really baffled that I can think of these things as a paying CDPR customer--but the co-founder of CDPR apparently cannot.

But really, it all comes down to greed, doesn't it? I'll take brains over greed any day, but that's just me...;) It's greedy to, like the RIAA/MPAA, fantasize that every single pirated copy on earth is a lost sale, is a retail customer whom, if he could not pirate the game, would have bought it and would have paid whatever you asked him to pay for it. That is not true--and it seems everyone except the people who would benefit most from this information already know it. Greed blinds.

Secondly, dropping the MSRP out of the starting gate means "lost money" to the greedy, because the greedy wholeheartedly believe that MSRPs are irrelevant and that just as many people would pay $49.95 as would pay $39.95--were it not for their ability to pirate software. Of course, every known law of economics disproves this lamentably erroneous theory. But that's what greed does--it blinds people.

Greed is also the main reason CDPR would not wish to do a 100% Steamworks game release--CDPR would not wish to sacrifice revenue to Steamworks. Greed makes people foam at the mouth in thinking about all that dough slipping through their fingers. Brainpower, however, would cause a developer/publisher to look at the kind of first-month volume a Steamworks release allowed Bethesda to rack up with Skyrim, and imagine that it could just as well be his game, too, breaking all kinds of volume sales records.

My copy of Witcher 2 was purchased through Steam, btw. Software piracy is an evil that will never be entirely eradicated. Instead of opposing this reality at every turn, as is true of the RIAA/MPAA in the US, it is far more productive for companies to concentrate on how they can sell more copies of their software! Instead of spending 50% of your time wringing your hands in frustration and weeping about "the sale that got away," (you think, maybe), far better to implement a strategy that will wind up breaking volume sales records--as opposed to suing bit-torrent users! Bethesda had the right ideas--CDPR, unfortunately, did not. I think the sales volume numbers categorically prove it.

Seriously--I wish CDPR the best of luck as I love the Witcher games and have bought W1 and W2, as stated. I have to tell you though that all of your posturing about being "against DRM" and being a "friend of the gamer" is sounding utterly ridiculous at this point. OF COURSE you are a "gamer's friend" because the product you are selling is a GAME...;) Heh...;) I mean, what? You want it known that you are not the gamer's enemy? Eh? Let's hope not!

Here's hoping you guys get your heads in the right place because CDPR is every bit as capable as Bethesda in creating record-breaking, jaw-dropping, sales numbers for its games! But if your head stays in the RIAA/MPAA space of "look what we're losing" (only possibly) instead of "How can we sell the most copies of our software it is possible to sell?", CDPR is unfortunately never going to get there in my opinion. Stop the condescension and start using your brains, is my sincere advice...!...;)


 
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It is well known that I do not make mistakes--so if you should happen across a mistake in anything I have written, be assured that I did not write it!
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