CD Projekt CEO Marcin Iwinski has said the firm estimates that The Witcher has been downloaded illegally more than 4.5 million times, and despite this, the developer standes behind its anti-DRM policy.
Speaking in an interview with PC Gamer, Iwinski said that while it’s impossible to calculate the exact number of times Geralt’s latest has been pirated, the 4.5 million figure complied by the firm is probably a conservative estimate.
“I was checking regularly the number of concurrent downloads on torrent aggregating sites, and for the first six to eight weeks there was around 20-30k people downloading it at the same time,” he said.
“Let’s take 20k as the average and let’s take six weeks. The game is 14GB, so let’s assume that on an average not-too-fast connection it will be six hours of download. Six weeks is 56 days, which equals to 1344 hours; and with six hours of average download time to get the game it would give us 224 downloads, then let’s multiply it by 20k simultaneous downloaders.
“The result is roughly 4.5 million illegal downloads. This is only an estimation, and I would say that’s rather on the optimistic side of things; as of today we have sold over one million legal copies, so having only 4.5-5 illegal copies for each legal one would be not a bad ratio. The reality is probably way worse.”
Iwinski said that despite such a large loss of probable income for the company, it still maintains the belief that “DRM does not work”, because no matter how hard a company tries to protect its product, “it will be cracked in no time” and isn’t worth the pain and difficulty it causes “legal gamers.”
“From the very beginning our main competitors on the market were pirates,” he said.
“We of course experimented with all available DRM and 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.”