CD Projekt Red Estimates Illegal Downloads Of The Witcher 2 At 4.5 Million

CD Projekt Red Estimates Illegal Downloads Of The Witcher 2 At 4.5 Million

The Witcher 2, as a PC exclusive, has sold over one million units. By most measures that’s a huge success. But in an interview with PC Gamer CD Projekt’s co-founder Marcin Iwinski claimed that roughly 4.5 million people obtained the game illegally. Despite this, he still maintains that not using DRM measures is the right way to go.

“In my almost 20 years in the industry,” said Iwinski, “I have not seen DRM that really worked (i.e. did not complicate the life of the legal gamer and at the same time protect the game). We have seen a lot of different protections, but there are only two ways you can go: Either you use light DRM, which is cracked in no time and is not a major pain for the end-user, or you go the hard way and try to super-protect the game.

“Yes, it is then hard to crack, but you start messing with the operation system, the game runs much slower and – for a group of legal gamers – it will not run at all. None of these solutions really work, so why not abandon it altogether?”

When asked why some companies persist with DRM, Iwiniski blamed a lack of understanding.

As funny as this might sound, DRM is the best explanation, the best “I will cover my ass” thing,” he claimed. “I strongly believe that this is the main reason the industry has not abandoned it until today, and to be frank this annoys me a hell of a lot. You are asking, “So why is it taking so long for them to listen?” The answer is very simple: They do not listen, as most of them do not care. As long as the numbers in Excel will add up they will not change anything.”

Iwiniski’s 4.5 million downloads is just a rough guesstimate, but even if the number is less that half, that’s still two people downloading the game for every person that purchased it. We salute CD Project Red for sticking to their guns despite the massive amount of piracy surrounding their flagship title.

Interview: CD Projekt’s CEO on Witcher 2 piracy, why DRM’s still not worth it [PC Gamer]

Thanks VG247

Comments

        • DRM free is the way to go. I’m guarenteed to be able to run games I purchase in 20 years time, I don’t get bothered by shitty DRM and it just overall makes the game I’ve purchased more convinient rather then having to deal with Securom, Starforce, Steamworks, GFWL and whatever else.

    • It’s also something called competition, the reason why Steam will never be the 100% powerhouse for digital distribution.

      But yes, as others have said Steam is a form of DRM and frequently punishes people who use it, such as “Game unavailable… try again later” when the game is clearly installed, you are just unable to contact the Steam server to launch it.

  • That’s a real shame. This is the pinnacle of what a PC game should be: gorgeous visuals, no drm, free dlc, yet pirates still are d**ks. I guess all it shows is that there will always be idiots that refuse to buy games.

  • Seeing as you could recently buy this game for $15 on one of the digital download sites (possibly Amazon), rampant piracy of this game is simply unacceptable.

  • That’s all well and good, but how about something to compare it with? Is 4.5:1 as a ratio comparable with high-DRM titles?

    • Good question.

      If MW3 sold 20 million copies, you’d expect there to be at least 90 million pirated/downloaded illegally versions on the same ratio. Higher, actually, if what people are saying about DRM causing piracy is true.

      If it’s less? Well, that says that the DRM isn’t the core issue.

  • Sigh sick of all these companies going on how they lost X number of sales as it was all pirated. Do they not realise that if people could not have pirated it they simply would not have paid for it either. Just not bothered. And alot of the games these days have no demos, so try before you buy.

    If you liked the game, support the devs and buy the game. If you dont like it well at least you got to try it before dumping $80 down on it.

    As for Witcher 2, buy it. Awesome game!

    • +1

      I’m sure alot of “pirates” would have pirated it simply to try it (with good reason too- with DRM and console ports being all too common), liked it and went out to buy a legit copy to support a developer that’s doing the right thing.

      • So…4.5 Million people “tried the game”.

        Assuming everyone one of those is the entirety of the market, only 1 million went on to “buy the game”.

        Are you telling me that 3.5 million people tried the Witcher 2, thought it was shit and not worth their time, and walked away?

        • I think you would be stunned how many of those 4.5 would have downloaded it to “collect” it and didn’t even play it or even install it.

      • Well CDPR didn’t say that of course, but many other publishers do. They look at it as lost potential sales rather than ‘people who wouldn’t have bought it anyway’
        Not that that validates piracy in any way, just that their sales measurement methods are wrong

    • Most pirates do not “try before buying”, they just steal.

      Most pirates would, in fact, buy more game if it was not possible to pirate them.

      If you believe otherwise, you are living in a fantasy land.

      Pirates have all kinds of justifications and rationale for why they pirate software, but at the end of the day they’re enjoying a product that they have not paid for.

      People got upset with Ubisoft for saying that 95% of the people playing their games on PC pirated them, and as a result, have pulled Future Soldier from the PC paltform entirely.

      When you look at numbers like this, can you blame them? Most people have consoles anyway. Let’s assume Future Soldier would perform as well as Witcher 2 (which I doubt, but anyway). They’ll probably reclaim a bunch of their lost million PC sales on PS3/360, and pick up a bunch more from pirates who will buy the console version.

      Of course some people will just pirate it on their modded 360s, but it’s still tougher to do than on the PC, and therefore less common.

      • I am probably a part of this download statistic even though I have paid for the game, I bought the AU version then downloaded the US version because something was censored in it.

        I forget what it was because it was ages ago now :p

        • If I recall correctly there’s a decision early on where you can redeem sex as a reward for completing a task. In Australia, ‘sex as a reward’ is not permitted under the MA15+ rating so they modified the game so your character automatically refuses trhe offer.

        • Steps to pirating on Xbox 360:

          Find game online and download
          Burn to DVD
          Mod console to be able to read the burned DVD, which is probably a half dozen steps in and of itself whether it’s a hardware or software mod. I’ve never researched how to do it and don’t care to.
          Note: modded console will be banned from Xbox Live so all the game is good for is playing offline/pirated games.

          Steps to pirating on PC:

          Find and download game online.
          Find and download crack.
          No consequences whatsoever.

          • Note: modded console will be banned from Xbox Live so all the game is good for is playing offline/pirated games.

            To me this is the best form of DRM there is – the threat of bricking your console is a good enough deterrent – also whatever they did to the PS3 seemed to work pretty well too.

  • A little off topic, but that’s the best in-game rack I’ve ever seen.

    Back on topic: Just like The Dark Knight, this is just further proof that people will still pay good money for quality entertainment, and piracy hardly affects industry profit.

    • But not all PC gamers. Many of a have the maturity and consideration to realise that not paying does impact the industry that gives use the majority of our entertainment. But my hope is the pirates of today will be the legitimate consumers of tomorrow.

  • The game had a huge price hike in Steam here in Australia. It was like $90 at release, which was ridiculous. Considering most games are like $59 or play-asia or ozgameshop (or even steam most of the time), I can see why a lot of people didn’t bother putting down the money.

    I was gonna get the game, but the price hike turned me off. I’ll get it when it’s cheaper.

    • “I can see why a lot of people didn’t bother putting down the money.”
      In relation to not buying it in general, or as justification for pirating it?
      Either way, they gave us Australians a decent weeks notice before they price-hiked it, and even then, the pre-order discount made it hang around $72ish. It’s no $45 (which they still honoured if you snapped it up at that price), but they did also offer GOG.com credit for the price difference. Of course they still get money out of it, and you get charged more, but it’s better than getting nothing.

    • Unfortunately this tends to be true, Black Ops has been something like $99 the whole time up until the sale earlier this week.

      The good news is games I bought MW3 & Metro 2033 via retail on DVD at a significant discount yet both benefit by installing actually into Steam. Pretty much like buying a Steam game without the price hike (Steam Tax?).

      • that price hike on steam is not put in by steam. game publishers make them charge more for the games even though there is no hard copy or freight charges.

        Greedy Money grabbing by game publishers.

  • Man, I really should go back and play Witcher 2 patch 2.0 now that it’s been released.

    As for the DRM, CDPR have much love and respect from me for doing it right, people ARE going to pirate the game anyway, why use draconian DRM that punishes the people that legitimately purchase the game.

  • The question one has to ask here, given these numbers, is if there was DRM, would the number of pirates who would have bought the game instead of stealing it be greater than the number of purchasers who would have skipped purchasing because of DRM?

  • A good chunck of those downloads would probably be in countries which don’t distribute the game.
    Russia is famous for the number of hackers per capita it produces and China has a stack of people who have a government more concerned with absolute power than copyright issues.
    Another chunk would be people who want the game but can’t afford it (kids, unemployed etc).
    In the end, these don’t convert to actual sales, just people who otherwise wouldn’t play the game.
    1 million bought the game, 4 million people who wouldn’t buy the game and probably played it once before moving on downloaded it for free and 500,000 people are pirates who coud have payed but didn’t or decided to later.

    • Technically there should be no way for kids to obtain this game legally, but I see what you’re getting at – “poor college students” is probably a better way of putting it than saying “kids” which suggest children under the age permitted for purchasing this game.

  • I really need to get on and play this game. Its sitting in my pile of shame just waiting for me.

    On topic, major points to CD Red Projekt for removing the DRM and sticking to their beliefs. I wish more developers would try something new when it comes to DRM, the current system just doesn’t work.

  • There is no major drm on a cd of music. People copy music that they do not purchase. People are thieves. People copied c64 tapes and disks. People copied 386 games. People mod consoles. People hack crack and smack others code and IP. Good on Red.

  • That’s a shame, if any company deserves it’s full support, it’s CD Projekt. Great game, free DLCS, support the game for ages. They are all a round just a brilliant group.

    Buy it, don’t crack it!

  • I think some kind of comparison is required. They should really use the same estimation techniques on another million selling game or 3 that does have DRM.
    Percentages would be a lot more meaningul than raw numbers.

    Also, they need a way to figure out how many of them are hoarders, and how many actually played the game. Put in some code that just updates some server stats somewhere after the pirated game has been played for an hour (anything less you coud call a hoarder or try before you buyer).

    • Who comes up with these figures though? Is it the same torrent tracking groups the music industry uses? ’cause they’re notorious for wildly exaggerated claims. Blaming PC is silly since there are pirates on every format and always have been.
      That said, i agree that pirating Witcher 2 is a dick move given their anti-DRM stance.

  • I would have bought it, but A – Pricehike; I won’t support the Australia-tax, and B – My backlog is still epic, so I wouldn’t be able to play it 🙁

  • While CDRP do have their mini-Steam thing going on (GOG.com) to off-set things like this.

    I got it at launch and have loved all my time with it, having read the amount of crap CDRP have had to deal with to put out such a wonderful and under-appreciated game, they deserve every accolade they (will hopefully) get.

  • I don’t know, I think 4 million is a little under. I reckon about 450 million downloaded it.

    the entire debate, and article is flawed seeing that its based on a completely out of the ass number.

    Hell I could argue that most people haven’t bothered with the Witcher 2 seeing the flood of games out at the moment. BF3, Skyrim, MW3 etc etc.

    Someone needs to develop a system that identify how many people download media in breach of a copyright agreement.

    Until then these sorts of discussions about the losses and action required are ultimately going to be flawed.

    A good way to identify if a game is pirated is to simply have a DRM that reports in secret a session back to the a server hosted by the publisher that ticks off how many copies are legit.

  • Got to ask:

    If these numbers are accurate, and it’s a 4.5:1 ration of pirate to legit, how does this at all support the recent opinions of Gabe and GoG of “Make a game good enough, or cheap enough, or easy enough to access, and people won’t pirate it!”

    a) It’s available on Steam
    b) If steam isn’t your thing, there’s GoG
    c) World wide launch price, world wide launch date

    If a game like this – DRM free, free DLC’s, pretty awesome developer – ends up with a 4.5:1 ratio, what would happen to the likes of EA or Ubi if they dropped DRM entirely, especially on their (debateably) much more main stream and popular titles?

    • There argument is that some people will pay for it. Pirates won’t no matter what, so you shouldn’t make decisions based on their existence.

      • Meh.

        Then there’ll be a debate about the debate on “lost sales”.

        It seems logical that if you have hard-to-crack DRM, that might have been 3.5:2 rather than 4.5:1, which is a real value of lost money for the guys.

      • That’s right. It doesn’t matter how the game is presented, it’s pretty hard to compete with the value of something free. As soon as something is free it gets a different form of value, where people who would have make specific decisions about their purchase can now simply have it. This is why it is practically impossible to estimate how many pirates would be converted as your services improve, although it is pretty damn obvious that when services/product improves = more sales in general.

        Don’t forget that for a lot of pirates, when they buy something it might be only a hard-copy from retail, where Digital Distribution’s fantastic prices may not be present. I only speculate on this because what a pirate gets through DD or the torrents is the same thing, with only the latter being completely free.

  • My brother was gonna pirate this game. I told him not to. He bought it the next day.

    Probably one of the best games I have ever played. Well worth the money. Now need to do another sitting with Version 2.0.

    DRM worked in my case since I used to pirate the games. I’d spend hours downloading them only to find the crack doesn’t work properly, so much wasted time. I gave up and decided to purchase all my games, hassle free.

  • wtf is he basing this off?

    if its some reporting they get when the launcher doesn’t have a key entered it shows a little pirate symbol? if so my legit GoG version did that before i entered the key so i must be one of the 4.5million :\

    • Although I guess my money helped find them to fix all of the problems. But surely it could have been released without these problems. Then more people might have paid for it. And the patch did take a long time to be released.

      I wish developers would stop blaming their lack of sales for poorly coded games on piracy.

      • While I agree with your sentiment I would say that CD projekt did do a pretty decent job overall with what we should say are pretty high sales when reported from only one of their revenue streams.

        Of course they are low in comparison to overall piracy rates, of which I beleive would always be higher?

  • Yeah its bad though I cant really blame “some” of them since like me their original retail copy wouldn’t work and constantly got stuck on the installing re-distributable screen and they probably downloaded it since it was sooooo much easier than fixing a retail version problem.

  • I like the cut of Iwinski’s jib. I’m going to go home and buy a copy of the witcher 2, I wanted to try it anyway. This just seals the deal.

  • CD Projekt/GoG have my support for their consistent stance on DRM – they’re one of the few who put their money where their mouth is.

    Playing through The Witcher right now and loving it – starting to seriously consider upgrading my system just to be able to play The Witcher 2.

  • It was even put up for $30 on GoG with all the bonus stuff. If that’s not value for money I dunno what is so I’m unsure on Gabe’s speech of making products worth paying for.

  • I really don’t get the problem with DRM. Surely it’s in every legal gamers’ interests to have a decent DRM system in place? I know that 4.5m wouldn’t have bought the game, but surely some people would? Plus knowing that everyone you’re playing has purchased the game is a nice incentive to actually buy it.

    Having said that, I did photocopy the entire manual for Frontier Elite II so I could play a copy… sorry about that David Braben.

  • “Surely it’s in every legal gamers’ interests to have a decent DRM system in place?”

    How so? If you paid for something then you know you did, there is no benefit for the product to check that you did so. If your car went through lengthy and invasive checks to make sure you were the person driving, not because it would increase your own security and stop people from stealing your car, but instead just so it can confirm with the manufacturer that you were the person who bought it, would you be ok with that?

    “Plus knowing that everyone you’re playing has purchased the game is a nice incentive to actually buy it.”

    Not only is that a difficult situation to come across because in terms of multiplayer, cracked and legal servers don’t mix, but who really does care that somebody else they know is playing the game has it legitimately or not? Especially if your a pirate… You would already know what you’re doing so you would care that other people bought it.

    • “How so? If you paid for something then you know you did, there is no benefit for the product to check that you did so.”
      Cost of game = (total production costs/number sold) + profit

      “who really does care that somebody else they know is playing the game has it legitimately or not? ”

      If you’ve ever been a season ticket holder at a sporting event, it’s very annoying when people come in for free or whatever. How would you feel if you were at a gig you’d paid $90 for, and some oik opened the side door and let an equal number of people in for free? Would you feel that those people were your mates? Would you be more or less inclined to pay for a ticket the next time the same band were in town at the same place (assuming the same lax security was in place)?

      • “Cost of game = (total production costs/number sold) + profit”

        I have no idea what you are on about? You mentioned that DRM itself was good for the consumer and I created a counter-point. What you replied above does no appear to even be a part of that conversation.

        “Would you be more or less inclined to pay for a ticket the next time the same band were in town at the same place (assuming the same lax security was in place)?”

        Well I don’t base my purchasing decisions off of what other consumers do. If the freeloaders don’t make my experience of what I have decided is worth my money, less worth my money, then I don’t need to pay attention to them. Should I also be upset at the guy who gets in for free because he is friends with the staff? Or be upset at the rich guy who can buy 100 tickets and not care for their value? No I shouldn’t because in the end what I paid for way MY ticket to get MY service. Of course this comparison works even less for media you can consume privately at home, where the experience can remain ‘untouched’ by anyone you consider unworthy.

  • i will admit i downloaded this game and didn’t buy it but i didn’t even play it for more then 2 hours and got extremely bored with it very quickly and i am in Australia so go out and pay $90 for 2 hours of entertainment i think not especially considering i am studying and cant afford to pay that for a game. i how ever did download saints row the third and played it it for 30 minutes and instantly bought a digital copy for $60 to support the devs who made a game which had entertained me for 25+ hours played time. and the post he says they made the right choice with no DRM and still made more then enough money to keep them in business. i download games to try before i buy.

  • I have a simple stance on Video Games.

    If it’s not worth paying for, than it’s not worth playing.

    If I would only pay $20 for a game I wait till it’s $20, I don’t pirate it and whinge how it’s not worth the money. I vote for a games value with my wallet and that is something even the accountants who love DRM have to look at.

    • How do you know what is worth paying money for until you have experienced it? In the end you always take a chance. I don’t understand how a pirate who whines that it’s not worth his money is any better than somebody with buyer’s remorse whining that it’s not worth the money he now lost.

  • @ZAP “.. how does this at all support the recent opinions of Gabe and GoG of “Make a game good enough, or cheap enough, or easy enough to access, and people won’t pirate it!”

    Between Steam and CD Projekt they managed to break the day one patch. I was a huge fan of Witcher 1 (tho it took a few hours to “get” me) and was going to buy Witcher 2 within days of its release. I was going to download on Steam and play until my eyes fell out of my head.

    But wait, it seemed that as you finished downloading it (9+gig worth) it then proceeded to download the ENTIRE game again, for the sake of a 15mb patch…

    Almost 20gig! thats two thirds of my entire months allowance (yes, yes – i know) Two weeks later it still hadnt been fixed and I just resigned myself to waiting for a sale.

    Im sure even Gabe himself would have to agree that in this case he was part of the problem, rather than the solution.

  • also to who ever said about modern warfare 3 and how many times it was pirated considering the private tracker i looked on and mostly downloads capped at a max of 5000 and thats on the high end MW3 was downloaded 16321
    times. i reckon 10+ million easly pirated MW3

  • I bought this game new launch day. I love it got my monies worth. Downloaded the 2.0 patch and am playing it a 2nd time through. I buy to many games and never do this. Thats how good it is.
    I also bought it again today for a friends xmas gift as it is so good that I know it will be a great gift for him. So thats a 2nd sale of the product based on one persons experience of how good the game is.

  • Almost wish I had pirated this after buying it and playing it on release.. The original was much better I felt – especially after the game had to be changed for the Australian market.

  • I purchased my copy of the witcher two but I honestly think that CDPR and anyone else who markets a successful title should just stfu and stop whining.

    you sold one million copies, you made hella money, god knows humans can never be satisfied or have enough of anything and there’s lots of people to be paid on the development team, marketing, publishing etc. etc. but one million copies! It’s not like the game failed and didn’t sell at all due to pirates, its that your rich and successful but you can’t be a filthy rich successful miser due to pirates, but filthy rich misers are worse than pirates imho.

    Chill out CDPR, you made a beautiful game, that is why I bought it and supported you. If I wouldn’t have felt it deserving of my money I would have pirated it.

    I understand that stealing is stealing and what you earn is what you earn and if you earned it you should be allowed to keep it and not have it taken or stolen from you simply because “you’re too rich and successful” but when you sell a million copies and you are hella rich and successful I don’t understand why you just go after more more more, you made a successful game and made a ton of money off of it, and you’re going to get pissed because you made millions already and couldnt get a few million more. if people cant afford it they wont buy it and so you still wont get the money. Now i’m sure that at least half of the 4.5 mil figure could have afforded it but if there was no such thing as piracy online you probably still wouldn’t have sold another 4.5 million copies, people just woulda never bought it. okay im done rambling time for a cigarette.

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