The Witcher 2 Pirates: It’s Time To Pay Up

The Witcher 2 Pirates: It’s Time To Pay Up

Last month the developer of The Witcher 2, CD Projekt Red, estimated that their game had been illegally downloaded 4.5 million times. Now TorrentFreak reports that the company is slapping BitTorrent pirates with legal notices seeking €912 to cover their debt to the company.

Anyone familiar with CD Projekt Red, the development studio closely tied to GOG.COM, will know that the company has a strong stance against including DRM in their games. When I spoke to Marcin Iwinski, the co-founder of CD Projekt Red and GOG.COM, a few months before the launch of The Witcher 2, he said that he doesn’t believe that paying customers should be punished for the actions of pirates, and that the inclusion of DRM does just that.

Iwinski’s company, founded in the early 1990s, was responsible for bringing legal PC gaming to Poland. Prior to the establishment of CD Projekt, software was seen to have no value in Poland, and so it was pirated and distributed at a low cost and the quality was often poor. It became Iwinski’s mission to raise the standards of PC gaming by bringing localised software to PC gamers. He competed with pirates by making his product better, while also offering it at a reasonable price. Iwinski still strongly believes that paying customers should receive a superior product and experience, which is why The Witcher 2 shipped without DRM.

“As you know, we aren’t huge fans of any sort of DRM here at CD Projekt RED,” the company said in a statement to Joystiq.

“DRM itself is a pain for legal gamers — the same group of honest people who decided that our game was worth its price, and went and bought it. We don’t want to make their lives more difficult by introducing annoying copy protection systems.

“However, that shouldn’t be confused with us giving a green light to piracy. We will never approve of it, since it doesn’t only affect us but has a negative impact on the whole game industry. We’ve seen some of the concern online about our efforts to thwart piracy, and we can assure you that we only take legal actions against users who we are 100 percent sure have downloaded our game illegally.”

CD Projekt did not state how they were targeting the pirates properly, but told PC Gamer that the method they are using was developed by an external company.

[Joystiq] [TorrentFreak]


  • The best version of anti piracy software is FADE. Its freaking awesome stuff. Google it to find out what it is guys if you dont know already 🙂

    • If this is the same copy protection put on the game, Arma 2, then yes, that has got to be the best DRM I’ve seen out there, should definitely be used by more publishers/developers, would prove to be very effective!

      • I think they used it for Serious Sam 3 as well. it spawns an invincible giant red scorpion with dual gatling guns that chases you and kills you repeatedly lol. It moves so fast you can never get away from it and follows you level to level.

        • Best is the wrong word.

          It’s best in that it doesn’t affect legitimate customer’s.

          it’s effectiveness at piracy prevention is no different to any other

          • It’s effectiveness is far better. Fade has proven to be harder to crack than standard DRM at this point. Not impossible but definitely harder. It doesn’t hassle the legitimate customer but only the pirate, so yes, in this case? At this point? Fade is indeed the current ‘best’ option for anti-piracy methods able to be implemented.

  • Probably all done with the money they saved from not developing DRM.

    Way back with Witcher 1 they made a similar argument, why punish legal gamers for the actions of others?

    It’s great to see them taking this sort of action and standing by their convictions.

  • IMO, rather then forcing the pirates to pay a massive fine they should make them purchase the special edition of the witcher 2.

    • No matter how good a game is, some people will always be able to find an excuse to not pay for it. It doesn’t stop it from being theft, and if a developer has worked so hard on a game then it’s only fair that people pay for it if they want to play it.

      • I absolutely agree that the developer deserves to be paid for their game. However, piracy is not theft. There is a difference.
        Theft would actually taking the developers property and thus denying the developer the ability to even make copies of the game for release.

        • If you honestly believe that, than you are one of these pricks that always have some way to justify theft

          its theft you tool. Taking something without paying for it without permission is THEFT

          go back to school

          • Choc,
            Please will YOU go back to school. Downloading a game is not theft, Theft is prosecuted under the criminal code. Copyright infringement is NOT. It is a CIVIL matter NOT criminal. You can not be locked up for downloading a game, only selling it (as profiting from copyright violation IS a crime).
            Downloading is wrong, it can destroy the industry we love and Personally I love collectors editions so pay more than I should for a game.
            But that does not change the fact that downloading a game is not a crime, but a civil matter.

          • Calm down. He’s correct – it’s not, in the eyes of the law, considered theft. It’s considered copyright infringement:


            It’s still illegal, but it’s not theft.

            By the way, I should add that I’m not, as you so eloquently put it, “one of these pricks that always have some way to justify theft”.

        • It’s not theft? You serious. Developers get x amount of money to sell their games, by pirating, you’re taking that money from them.
          Last time I checked, that sounds like theft.

        • Seeing as when you buy a game, all that you’re paying for is permission to use the software enclosed, then yes, by pirating, you are *stealing* what’s theirs. You’re not even stealing the right to use it. Just the code.

          • “It’s not theft? You serious. Developers get x amount of money to sell their games, by pirating, you’re taking that money from them.
            Last time I checked, that sounds like theft.”

            You fail to understand economics. First of all, how can you lose something you never had? Did pirates buy the game, and suddenly raided their bank accounts and stole their profits for the game? No, you can’t lose money you never received, so CD Projekt Red didn’t lose anything, they just didn’t get any money for the games. That’s not theft, they didn’t pay for the game, and infringed the copyright of playing a game which is not authorized by them (sine they didn’t pay_ — hence: Copyright Infringement, you’re not charged with theft. The so called pirates wouldn’t have bought the game in the first place, so it’s kinda silly to throw out this claim that devs lose money on games that are “pirated” when in reality they didn’t and don’t lose any money; you can say that they “missed” their opportunity to make money.

            Plus you’re not entitled to a profit, if you release a game and no one buys it, is it suddenly piracy because no one bought the game? No of course not, but the only difference is, is people are playing a game they never paid for, not different from you letting someone borrow a physical media such as game, or movie in person — they didn’t pay for it either., so is that piracy? What about used game sales? None of the money from used games sells goes to the developers, maybe that should be illegal to.

        • So the game is not the developer’s property? Don’t be dense. It’s no different to stealing a car, it’s someone’s property, virtual or not. They created it, they own the rights to it, it’s theirs.

          • Well, obviously the developer disagrees seeing their treating it as an infringement through the civil courts, rather than theft which would be pursued through the criminal.

            Regardless, debate is pointless. Its still wrong.

          • Herein lies the problem because developers have been arguiing for YEARS they should be able to prosecute criminally instead of civilly. However they are limited in what theyre able to do.

          • Legally speaking, theft involves the intention to permanently deprive someone of their property. So, while the game is the property of the game developer, copying the game is not depriving them of that game. Thus, it is not “theft” in the legal sense.

            The key word is “copying”. Since a copy is being made of a work, it becomes a copyright issue, not a theft issue.

            Another thing which muddies the idea of it being “theft”, is that a copy doesn’t necessarily translate into a lost sale. Would the person have bought the game, if they did not make a copy? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Therefore a copy does not always mean lost revenue.

            Pirating a game (or movies or music) is certainly illegal, but it’s not really theft. Problem is, when the media companies try to advertise the concept, they want to use words that have a greater emotional impact. “Copyright infringer” just doesn’t cut it.

        • No, it’s not theft. However it’s just as bloody bad. You’re still stealing a sale from them, ergo they’re still losing money. Quit acting like “It’s not theft so it must be okay”.

          • I’d like to see the evidence where every pirate copy is a lost sale.

            Can you please provide the link.

            I Pirate Music all the time, Why do i pirate music, because at 20 bucks an album when some random indy band comes out i am not willing to risk my 20 dollar’s on it first without getting to listen to the album.

            If the Album blows i delete it. If the music’s good the album get’s bought and generally so does the rest of the band’s catalog.

            I remember pirating Oblivion just to see if it would work, guess what it didn’t. My card was above the minimum spec’s, the problem was that their were 2 version’s of my card, one with and one without a specific Vertex Shader. I had the one without. Which meant the game crashed on startup.

            Not having the money to upgrade my PC at the time i went and got the console version instead.

            If i had bought Oblivion new, i wouldn’t have been able to play it on PC and i wouldn’t have had the money to get a better GPU for a couple of months. Instead i have ended up with that game about 4 times since. I have the PS3 version, the PS3 Game of the year edition(hard copy), The PC game of the year edition and Steam PC Game of the year edition.


            I’d also cite the fact that i downloaded the Witcher 2 torrent, I’d paid for the Collector’s edition from overseas because no one in my area had any left.

            The thing took a month to show up. Technically to CDProject i’m a pirate(though i recieved no note) Yet i own a Geralt head(Which during shipping appears to have bounced a bit and had broken the velvet coated plastic leaving it a little scuffed)

          • In what part of my post did I say that every single pirated copy of a game is a theft? I didn’t. Not once. All those things you said were fine and dandy but not everybody pirates for that reason. A lot of pirated games are just because the user doesn’t want to pay for it and just wants it for free. That’s it. Quit acting like the fact that in rare cases it can be used for legitimate reasons makes the practice of piracy as a whole legitimate.

  • This was a big hit to the moral argument adopted by pirates saying they happily pay for content if they are treated fairly as customers. I really feel for CDP here. They must’ve felt pretty betrayed.
    All the same, I can only imagine the results would have been identical even if they had strong DRM, so it’s a very sensible stance for them to take.
    The figure they originally had of 4.5 copies pirated for every copy bought can’t be taken too seriously, either. There are many people who pirate a game to try it out, and decide weather they will buy it and keep playing or simply not bother playing. Small minority of people, mind.
    What was my point again?

    • Also, the basis for that figure was an assumption that all games are pirated three to one. The guy even said at the time he didn’t have any figures.

    • My point is that I have one.
      I also just remembered that preceding the release of The Witcher 2 they said they would find people who pirated the game and take legal action.
      Can’t say they didn’t warn you.

  • While I’m glad they’re going after pirates, 1 pirated copy of the game =/= A lost sale. From what I remember, at launch, there wasn’t a demo. I’m not saying every single pirate downlaoded, played the first half hour and then deleted it. Far from it. There’ll always be people that pirate it, finish it, and then not want to pay ‘cos they’re cheap. BUT: there would be some that want to demo it out and delete it if they don’t like it. How are they going to deal with that?

    • It’s not always about the loss of sales; there’s also an argument for fairness. If I spent three years of my life making this game, why should these people be able to just take it and play it without paying? Also, if I paid full price for the game, why should some dude elsewhere be able to get it for free?

      I really don’t know what the solution is or if CD Projekt’s approach will work, but I certainly have nothing against them for trying.

      • Well the fair solution to what NotoriousR is raising would be too provide a demo. An honest demo. The Crysis 2 mp demo ran on my machine but actual game didn’t.

      • I’m not denying that: There’s always going to be people who refuse to pay for something. That’s just an undeniable fact. What I was going for was more the fact that seeing as there is no way to demo the game, and I have a friend who does this all the time, is he downloads the game, plays it for an hour and then if he likes it, buys it (or plays it and then buys it in a steam sale. That’s questionable, but anyway) or he just deletes it.

        My point is, are they able to differentiate between the people who pirate to demo it and people who pirate it because they’re cheap and lazy?

        Because I love what CDP has done: magnificient game built to run well on PC, and DRM free, and really embraced their customers. And its a shame it got pirated to hell, and the people who downloaded it for free and finished the game: absolutely they deserve to get fined. But people who got it to demo it? Is that fair?

        • Do you watch the first 15 minutes of movies to see if they are worth your money too? if its bad you turn it off and delete it but If they its good you stop watching and go out to buy it.

          Seems a pretty weak justification / excuse to make yourself feel better tbh.

          • lol. We get trailers which usually make the movie look 100 times better than it actually is.

            We all hate companies that use DRM and love the ones who ditch it. No one likes to feel like they’re being punished for doing the right thing. Perhaps we can get CDProjekt to explain this to companies like Ubisoft and their ilk.

          • last i checked movies don’t charge you 100 dollar’s. And then not even work. Which is what some people have to deal with.

            But i do remember one of my Ex’s who would actually drag me out of the movie if the first 10 minute’s were shit and then she would demand a refund.

            People do do it. Personally over the 13 buck’s it cost(Student’s Woo) to get in at the time i thought it was rather petty but each to their own.

            Movie’s can be bad. But i have yet to go to the cinema and have movie where there is something physically wrong when trying to watch the movie.

            Something which can’t be said for alot of games or how they have launched in the past couple of month’s. Never seen a movie released to cinemas that you could call the Beta version like Dead Island and Sword of Star’s 2 did

          • Actually, a lot of cinemas will refund your money if you leave in the first 30 minutes, so that seems like an apt example you’ve provided. I’m not justifying piracy, rather I’m saying it is contemptuous that developers (or their publishers) fail to distribute demos for PC versions.

  • I personally feel pretty safe as I paid for the game and the pirates in this case really piss me off, but…

    I also hate this sort threatening people with massive fees tactic. I think pressuring them to pay for the game and then a reasonable service charge (maybe the value of the game again) is reasonable. When a company takes this approach their effectively trying to extract criminal punidhments through the civil courts which we really should call out given the fact they aren’t subject to same rules of evidence gathering as actual police.

    • Unless these people configured their BitTorrent client specially, they were doing more than just downloading the game. They were also uploading portions of the game to other people pirating the game. So it is quite easy to argue that they’ve caused more damage than simply downloading a single copy.

      Also remember that these settlement amounts are given as an option: the recipient can refuse to pay and take the matter to court instead, but that will likely be a lot more expensive (assuming they are found guilty). And the settlement amount seems a lot more reasonable than what e.g. the RIAA uses for music piracy.

      • Actually, that argument doesn’t have legs for the most part due to a technicality in the way torrents work. For most seeders their distributing giberish snippets across many individuals. It basically impossible to attribute fault.

        Also, if they are distributing as defined by the law, it would be criminal matter and should be pursued ss such.

        • While you probably won’t end up uploading the entire work if you’re participating in a torrent, the segments you do upload constitute parts of the work. You don’t destroy the copyright in a book by ripping it in half, for instance.

          Calling the segments gibberish is intellectually dishonest.

          • Actually, its quite literal. Individuals really do only share gibberish pulled together by the client from a crap load of sources. Do I think this makes seeding ok? No. Does it make it super hard to pursue distribution in the courts? Yes.

  • I preordered Skyrim first day I was able to do so. When the game was released, I found out that I wouldn’t receive my copy for another 2-3 weeks (shipping!), I went ahead an downloaded a rip of the game via torrent.

    So many people are having issues with the official version, I’ve yet to install it. That the DRM is causing the legitimate version to be a worse experience than the ripped version is pathetic.

    Meanwhile, CD Projekt (and on this matter, Good Old Games) have gone out of their way to be good to their user-base, they have earned my loyalty. I didn’t even like The Witcher, but I considered buying Witcher 2 just as a thank you to them.

  • I was a pirate a few years back. I was more into console than PC stuff. Not really sure why I started, but a combination of massive prices locally, RC’d games and tbh, there was a good heaping of ‘because i can’. I still bought te games i saw massive value in but anything i was on the fence with, i’d pirate.

    I always had a very strong stance against sharing so would not enable others, but i would do it for personal use. I could copy my own games from originals, mod my own machines and no-one would even know.

    There are three reasons why i stopped.

    local price issues were largely eliminated due to places like ozgame so $50 for a AAA new release was manageable. I also realised that the service (XBL in my case) was worth something to me. I enjoyed the interface, the community, friends, etc etc. I’d have to play all my pirated games off line and as a result, felt i was only getting half the game. I know that XBL does not make a game better (and I didnt really play MP), but the entire experience was just better. I wanted to feel connected to other gamers.

    Finally, I realised that the thrill of the chase was no longer there. I was always a follower>I’d just install the latest firmware revision and every time there was an update, you’d be back off line, install stuff again, wait to confirm others were banned etc. It all just became too much hassle. i just want to load a disc or a dashboard update, without it being an issue or getting worried.

    Their argument is valid. If you make your prices reasonable and create a better overall experience than the pirates create, you WILL compete. I doubt I’ll ever go back to those days, and a mate of mine is the same. We both have multiple consoles and a large stack of games that we pay for.

    I also started to change my ways a little when i got involved in developer communities and was actually seeing the games devs as real people rather than their corporate facade…

    Just sharing is all.

    I will never be violently against piracy, simply because i did it and I have no right to judge others, But I will also encourage others to get away from it as it’s just too much work.

    I have also taken this stance on music. I mostly listen to indie/underground stuff so I support these guys too!

    • Funny thing is that The Witcher 2 didn’t have fair pricing for all.

      Digitally speaking every region but the US got screwed, to the point that GoG actually had to create a packet where they sold it at a higher price but gave you a bunch of store credit to offset that.

      Which is awesome of them. Sure eventually they found another way around it but to claim that they had one global price is garbage.

      • That global pricing garbage you mentioned is false. They did be because the publishers were being arses to them, i.e. if you don’t raise it, we won’t sell it for you in AU, etc… and they had to sell. I bought my copy of witcher 2 cheaply before the fiasco of publishers bending them over.

        • Yeah so what if the publisher enforced it on them. Doesn’t matter why they didn’t have equal pricing they said they would the fact is that they didnt provide it especially if a buyer wanted a steam copy and not a gog one

          You can’t promise something then fail to deliver for whatever reason and then still act as if you did deliver it

  • There’s seriously no excuse for pirating the Witcher 2, given that you can buy it fairly cheap directly from the publisher with no DRM. Just because they don’t put copy protection on it doesn’t mean it’s all right to copy it.

  • It sounds like there’s two ways for developers to go about combating piracy:

    1. Add DRM of some sort, which is an issue for legit customers but a one-off cost.
    2. Track, ID, and sue pirates individually. Not an issue for legit customers, but is harder to target, costs more money, and time.

    To be honest, I’d rather 2. Fact is, if you aren’t paying for your pay entertainment but obtaining it for free, you’re doing the wrong thing and deserve to be sued.

    For in inevitable argument that comes after this about not being able to afford a game, being a poor student, or using it as a “trial” – go invest in a ball from Big W for $5 and kick it around a park for a few hours. If you want a trial, stiff – there’s no such thing as a risk-free purchase.

    • Warranties dude. Literally every product except games are guarnteed to work. In fact, I can’t think of many products you can’t trial. Movies maybe?

      • Yeah – I forgot to write that part, good catch!

        Movies, live plays, Foxtel on-demand, etc, and other forms of entertainment generally don’t carry warranties except on the physical product if not user damaged. Those are all risk-laden expenditures for punters – however, you don’t typically see an argument along the lines of “I want to download a movie, watch the first forty minutes as a trial, then I’ll pay for it”.

        The closest you get to that is when movies eventually make it to TV, although the trade off there is a long wait and it cuts to adverts all the time (which is what is paying for you to watch it, as ads = station revenue = buying rights to movies for broadcast). [Thom, from reading your excellent posts day in and day out, I reckon that’s all known to you, just fleshing out my post for others].

        Maybe that’s the way the industry can go on this – if this new idea of streaming remote game playing access thingy gets legs, then every couple of weeks allowing free/site-fee’d one hour access to a new release game could give people the demo they’re looking for.

    • A business model of tracking pirates and suing them? Then it stops being a videogame developer and turns into a law firm.

  • I used to pirate EVERYTHING, but that was when I was a cheap teenager and couldn’t afford games anyway. Now I work fulltime and buy everything, and I’ve been using GOG for a while and its a fantastic service. Now if I don’t like a pricepoint I simply wait for it to come down (or import) rather than pirating it out of contempt .

    Its a difficult argument to be sure, on one hand they were not lost sales, but I was using products that the developers deserved to be paid for. I’ve made a point now to buy some of the games I did pirate back in the day through GOG to atleast own a legitimate copy now, even if they don’t get the cut they would’ve when it was new.

    Honestly I think developers should take the stance that Microsoft does with piracy – it can’t be stopped, but if they’re using Microsoft products theres a chance one day they’ll start paying for them. I think this is largely true for games as well – when people have the money they will start using the legal channels, and if they can’t afford it at least they will be affected by the branding and will know who to give their money to when they do get some.

  • You’d be pissed too if your game basically sold a small fraction of what was pirated when your stance is against things like DRM. I do really feel sorry for them, they’ve been one of the few developers trying to be nice about the whole thing but to no avail in the end. It’s a damn shame because The Witcher 2 had to be one of the top RPGs this year in my opinion. I actually liked it more than Skyrim.

  • You go CD Projekt! I loved your work, and the way you support PC + free dlcs and stuff is a true gaming company. Fine them pirating bastards, and get what you rightfully deserver!

  • Its the greedy accountants and lawyers who get upset about copyright infringement. Most people involved in art/film/music/game production would be happy to have their work enjoyed by people. Sales are crucial to the games industry considering the high costs but if it was me I would be happy to simply get earn a wage to do what I loved.

  • “which is why The Witcher 2 shipped without DRM.”
    Does no one remember that The Witcher 2 actually shipped with DRM and it was patched out soon after?
    “CD Projekt RED announces the release of Patch 1.1, which brings important improvements to The Witcher 2, the highly acclaimed game released a week ago. The most noticeable change is the removal of the DRM protection world-wide. This gives players the freedom to install and play the game on any number of computers, and no activation code is required.
    Other notable improvements include frame rate increases of approximately up to 30%, especially noticeable on DRMed versions and low spec systems, better stability, and non-problematic installation of free DLCs ”


  • I’ve got a pirated copy of The Witcher 2 a mate of mine put in my hard drive. I haven’t played it, and I doubt I will, but it is installed in my hard drive.

    Just saying that not all people with pirated copies of a game are douchebags.

  • Everyone is looking at this from the wrong angle. Even you CD Projekt. You’re good to your customers? Fantastic, that’s why your games is a commercial SUCCESS. That’s why your game SOLD as much as it did. The pirates will pirate regardless, and there’s no proof they actually have money with your name on it. Instead of throwing money away on catching them/DRM just keep doing what has worked so well. Making good games that people want to buy and will enjoy with no hoops for paying customers to jump through.

    Also for the record for many of these white-knights: I’m not upset that somebody got a game for free when I went and bought it. Why? Because it’s MY game and MY purchase, and that’s what has value to me, with it’s own physical proof that it’s so.

  • I pirate old games that are difficult or impossible to find in shops, never new release games.

    What do you guys think about that?

      • Where it becomes really grey is when back catalogues are made available. There was a 10 year period where playing a snes game meant emulation – but now they’re available again… do I pay for them? I actually prefer the free PC version because it works with my snes pad.

  • I downloaded the Witcher 2 US version after buying the AU version. The other thing is that people who pirate the game would have the DRM removed anyway so I don’t think DRM is the issue.

    Also Copyright infringement isn’t theft, thats how the RIAA justifies fining you several hundred thousand dollars instead of the lesser fine for stealing a physical copy. You can’t have it both ways.

  • SOOO any pirates posting excuses about pirating. How about stop debating the difference between theft and pirating. It comes down to the fact that you downloaded a game that you didnt pay for. DEAL with that or dont do it.

    • To be fair, quite a few people admit to pirating after paying – to bridge shipping or to get the US version. Because cdProjekt won’t reveal their methods of id, we don’t know if they’ll be hit with a fine.

  • I think price is a factor for a lot of people. However, devs need and deserve to get paid for their countless hours work in creating a product we all enjoy. Personally I am happy to wait a few months till price drops or Steam sales are on to get my games. I have such a big backlog atm anyway, its easy to ignore X new game because I am still busy with Skyrim, BF3, hell, even Red Dead Redemption.

    Once those are out of the way, the next game I was looking at will be cheap. There is such an abundance of AAA games (particularly over the past 6 months) that they could keep me busy for many more months to come!

  • Take the car analogy if you will, you wouldn’t steal a car, no, but if you could copy a car, then both the previous owner would retain the car and you would have a copy of said car. Copying is not theft, since A) you’re not stealing what is theirs, and B) the sale may never have been made in the first place. Also, i bought the European version of the game, I’m not i pirate, but that being said, your convictions about pirates stealing a sale or stealing a copy are wrong. I do not support torrenters

    • There’s a reason they are on the warpath though

      This practice has been ruled illegal in some countries as the mere threat is likely to get innocent victims

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!