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CD Projekt – Pirated games are not lost sales, DRM is “a lot” for legitimate users to put up with

Saturday, 19th May 2012 19:36 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

GOG’s managing director, Guillaume Rambourg, has said that surprisingly enough, it wasn’t the DRM-free version of The Witcher II which was pirated the most, but the retail version which shipped with DRM.

The reason, according to Rambourg and CD Projekt CEO Marcin Iwinski, has less to do with sharing and more to do with the reputation gleaned from cracking a title’s DRM.

“Most people in the gaming industry were convinced that the first version of the game to be pirated would be the GOG version, while in the end it was the retail version, which shipped with DRM,” Rambourg told Forbes.

“We were expecting to see the GOG.com version pirated right after it was released, as it was a real no-brainer,” added Iwinski. “Practically anyone could have downloaded it from GOG.com and released it on the illegal sites right away, but this did not happen. My guess is, that releasing an unprotected game is not the real deal, you have to crack it to gain respect and be able to write: “cracked by XYZ.” How would “not cracked by XYZ, as there was nothing to crack” sound? A bit silly, wouldn’t it?

“The illegal scene is pretty much about the game and the glory: who will be the first to deliver the game, who is the best and smartest cracker. The DRM-free version at GOG.com didn’t fit this too well.”

Back in December, Iwinski estimated the game had been pirated over 4.5 million times, and by now, that figure has probably risen significantly. Still, these numbers do not constitute lost sales, according to the CEO.

“It really puzzles me how serious software companies can consider each pirated copy to be a lost sale,” said Iwinski. “Maybe it looks nice in an official report to say how threatening pirates are, but it is extremely far from the truth.

“I would rather say that a big part of these 4.5 million pirated copies are considered a form of trial version, or even a demo. Gamers download [pirate copies] because it’s easy, fast, and, frankly, costs nothing. If they like the game and they start investing the time, some of them will go and buy it. This is evident in the first Witcher, where the total sales are 2.1 million units at present and the game is still doing well, although it is already five years old.”

Iwinski went on to say he doesn’t see a future in DRM, as it simply “does not work,” and the technology, which is supposed to be protecting a company’s investment, not only gets hacked within hours of release, but does nothing more than alienate the consumer.

“DRM, in most cases, requires users to enter serial numbers, validate his or her machine, and be connected to the Internet while they authenticate – and possibly even when they play the game they bought,” he explained. “Quite often the DRM slows the game down, as the wrapper around the executable file is constantly checking if the game is being legally used or not.

“That is a lot the legal users have to put up with, while the illegal users who downloaded the pirated version have a clean–and way more functional–game. It seems crazy, but that’s how it really works.”

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19 Comments

  1. OrbitMonkey

    “This guy talks to much sense… Send in the Boys to teach him a lesson!!”

    -Ubisoft

    #1 2 years ago
  2. endgame

    I love this guy! :D Meanwhile I’ve reinstalled Witcher 1. F**k Diablo! F**k DRM!

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Maximum Payne

    @1 LOL
    Finally , smart developer.If now only others could follow …

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Edo

    @1 :) .

    #4 2 years ago
  5. JB

    I wanna have his babies…

    and it seems to be in line with BSA`s own findings…

    http://www.vg247.com/2012/05/17/study-57-of-pc-users-have-pirated-software/

    Young males are highlighted as the primary offenders. On the potentially bright side, those who pirate seem to own more software in general.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Christopher Jack

    I agree with him, but I also disagree. I like how he’s putting legit consumers first, but I know people who pirate because they DON’T want to pay, rather than they CAN’T afford it, some good DRM always makes them bend-over & pay for an official copy.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Dinasis

    The music and movie industries need to be listening in on this one.

    Also, never thought I’d be able to suggest it, but winds at Ubisoft do seem to be changing with CD Projekt’s help (via GOG.com). FarCry 2 was just released on GOG.com, and a while back the original Assassin’s Creed and Heroes of Might and Magic V were. We all know how hellbent Ubisoft normally is on DRM. In my opinion, the bigger news yet is the Steamworks-free releases of Alan Wake and Alan Wake’s American Nightmare on GOG.com

    Exciting times.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. NiceFellow

    Dang these guys are great. Wish other developers would take note. I’m convinced DRM has simply reduced overall sales without stopping piracy at all – i.e. it’s been a huge failure.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. silkvg247

    Any game that I buy which requires the disc to play, gets instantly pirated. I don’t feel too bad since I bought it anyway. Thankfully not many games are like this now.

    Any film I buy that has 10+ minutes of unskippable ads/anti piracy vids gets sold, then pirated, so I can watch it as soon as I press play.

    It is about service. Not what I can afford.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. bo_7md

    @6 I would agree with you if DRM works, the problem is, it doesn’t. The result is always the same, paying customers suffering two or three logins, failed servers, slow connections, while hackers play problem free and sign-in free.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Christopher Jack

    @10, Depends on how intrusive it is. I personally have no problem with games that require Steam & only Steam to function, but even that can be bypassed. Not to mention it’ll also piss off legit consumers who do not want to use Steam, although that becomes a smaller & smaller crowd who all end up reluctantly using it. But any game that requires online access other than the activation to use, (bar online only games of course) are pure crap. Running Steam in the background is bad enough, but that can be ran in an offline mode- annoyingly though, I’ve had numerous issues with it in the past, I’d think most people who use Steam on multiple computers would also suffer some similarities in offline mode.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Mineral4r7s

    And right now I cant play Diablo 3 because the servers are down on maintenance. On a sunday. In the best playing time. wtf?

    <– germany

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Phoenixblight

    the EU servers must suck or something because our Maintenance in the states was only 2 hours. How long has the maintenance been going for?

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Lord Gremlin

    He’s spot on.
    But I can tell you why DRM is happening. Because scammers – those who produce DRM – want to milk producers, who need to assure investors that game is protected. Since neither investors nor producers know anything about games, DRM or hacking it all works and DRM scumbags get their share.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Phoenixblight

    @14

    The entire point of DRM is to stop pirates from pirating game for a certain point they know someone will hack and break through it but its to put an obstacle so that they can gain as much profit within the first 6 weeks. Its not a scam studies have show DRM does exactly this while always on DRM like Blizzard and Ubisoft have proven the most effective in doing this.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Fin

    @15

    Yeah, it’s all about the day-0 crack. If a publisher can prevent a cracked copy being available the day of release, even for one day, it’s a big win.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. OlderGamer

    I really like this guy.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. nklh4x0r

    SKiDROW FTW

    #18 1 year ago
  19. Gnosis

    “That is a lot the legal users have to put up with, while the illegal users who downloaded the pirated version have a clean–and way more functional–game. It seems crazy, but that’s how it really works.”

    This.

    #19 1 year ago

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