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


    I cannot understand why all PC games these days aren't simply put on Steam... no nasty DRM, problem solved!

      But steam is a form of DRM.

        "no NASTY drm"

          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.

        steam isnt DRM it doesnt require you to be online to play it just automatically updates files etc. the only time DRM is associated with steam is when the game developer puts it in there. steam you can download/install as many times as you want.

      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.

        or that in this case you cant compare since its a different situation and therefore must be re analysed. half the time they put DRM in people just dont purchase the game. eg me with batman AA and AC and heaps of other games. they dont even bother pirating it.

    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!


      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.

      Errrr... they didn't say anywhere that it was "lost sales" just how many times it was pirated.

        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.

        you are forgetting consoles are easy to pirate also.

          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.

    To me it seems that a lot of PC players lack respect for developers which is quite sad.

      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 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.

        You could also buy it direct from and change your location to the US, which would give you the pre-hike price.

      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.

      I missed out on purchasing it over the weekend in the steam sale, so I'm now just waiting for it to go on sale again in the Christmas sale.

        I was in EB yesterday, and if I remember right they had it for $41 or $47.

    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 :(

      Oh, I should point out, I didn't download it, either. Reason B above!

    While CDRP do have their mini-Steam thing going on ( 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.

    Sad if true. Witcher 2 is an awesome game and CD Projekt a developer that needs to be supported.

    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.


        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.

    Witcher 2 problem? DRM issue

    DRM issue origin? Piracy


    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 :\

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