PC Game Developers Say Anti-Piracy Tech Would Make Their Game Worse

PC Game Developers Say Anti-Piracy Tech Would Make Their Game Worse

“We don’t believe in DRM, and we don’t like DRM,” two of the developers behind the new game Shadow Warrior 2 recently told Kotaku in an email, when we asked them about their game’s lack of anti-piracy protection. DRM, of course, refers to digital rights management or anti-piracy systems that are widely used to keep people from stealing games and other software. “We don’t believe it works,” they said. “Nor that it’s good for the players.”

Those were words of Artur Maksara and Tadeusz Zielinski, who both do PR for their game’s Polish studio Flying Wild Hog. We were talking DRM, because, on Monday, their colleague Krzysztof “KriS” Narkowicz had said that the studio chose not to use Denuvo, the current strongest defence software defence against piracy, because it would make their game worse.

“Dont you want to ensuer [sic] the most sales possible?” a gamer named Shredder had asked KriS on the game’s Steam forum. “Do you want people to pirate your game at release date? You know that with denuvo you will force many pirates to buy the game instead of waiting months to get cracked.”

KriS’ reply: “We don’t support piracy, but currently there isn’t a good way to stop it without hurting our customers. Denuvo means we would have to spend money for making a worse version for our legit customers. It’s like this FBI warning screen on legit movies.”

It might not be obvious how anti-piracy tech would downgrade the quality of a game, but it seems that the devs at Flying Wild Hog, which employs 110 developers in Warsaw and Krakow, see the implementation of DRM as a trade-off that would take time away from making a good game.

“Any DRM we would have needs to be implemented and tested,” KriS explained to Kotaku. “We prefer to spend resources on making our game the best possible in terms of quality, rather than spending time and money on putting some protection that will not work anyway.” Some pirates have claimed to have cracked Denuvo, but it has taken them months after games with that protection have been launched and remains an arms race.

Shadow Warrior 2 is coming today and has pretty good buzz. It’s an over-the-top shooter and successor to a beloved first game. It will be sold on the GoG marketplace without DRM and also on Steam, which some might argue serves as its own layer of DRM, but it won’t use Denuvo. The developers know it will cut into sales, but they just don’t buy the idea that using that kind of tech would be an overall gain for them.

“The trade-off is clear,” Maksara and Zielinski said. “We might sell a little less, but hey, that’s the way the cookie crumbles!”

They’re banking on the quality of their game earning them enough money to counteract the lack of money coming in from people who’ll just steal their game. “We also believe that if you make a good game, people will buy it,” they said. “Pirates will pirate the game anyway, and if someone wants to use an unchecked version from an unknown source that’s their choice.”

When asked if they knew how many copies they think might be pirated and how that compares to the sales of the game they’re hoping for, Zielinski said, “‘Frankly dear? I don’t give a damn’ as the wise man said. Que sera, sera. We hope that our fans, who were always very supportive, will support us this time as well.”

And what would would the perfect anti-piracy tech be like? Maksara: “Well… the world isn’t perfect and it never will be so again. Hard to tell. In our opinion, in the perfect world, people would not pirate games and [would] pay the devs for their work. But, in our imperfect world, the best anti-pirate protection is when the games are good, highly polished, easily accessible and inexpensive.”


  • Agreed with the dude right up until the last word in the last sentence.

    “Inexpensive” is different to the other qualities he listed, it’s going to mean different things to different people.

    In a global (read: online) marketplace, there’s still a lot of room for improvement before you even start to factor piracy into it.

    Not to mention the philosophy is PC Game Development 101 (which is great) and can’t necessarily be applied to the console space.

    • Pretty sure all the other qualities in that sentence mean different things to different people too, otherwise we would see consensus on opinions of every game :p

      • The first one about whether a game is ‘good’ or not, sure. But I would say ‘highly polished’ (not too hard in this day and age of bug-ridden ‘good enough’ experiences like Bethesda’s stuff) and ‘easily accessible’ are much the same no matter who you ask.

        • Not necessarily. I mean downloadable titles are considered easily accessible, but not to someone with a shitty internet connection that can’t handle the tens of gigabytes modern titles often demand.

          • Retail, yo.

            We’re taught how to play shops before we are taught to wipe our bottoms.

            Or at least, I was 😀

          • And again, that varies from person to person. Some places don’t have particular chains anywhere nearby, so you’re restricted to the availability at whatever you do have around. And of course not everything gets a retail release anyway.

          • Literally making up reasons to condone piracy now.

            My bank is “easily accessible”. That doesn’t mean I can withdraw more money than I have actually have.

            I’m restricted, but I’m still able to find what I am looking for.

            I don’t live on the eastern seaboard so our chains don’t get the plentiful stock that ones in other states might get, but the first thing the staff will do is offer to get it to me.

            Like I said from the get go, buying online is a big difference as far as customer experience goes. There’s still a lot to criticise.

          • …where the fuck did that piracy comment come from?

            I’m not making up anything, I’m talking about actual friends I have who don’t have say a JB Hi-Fi nearby, if you’ve only got Kmart or Target to go to then your range is pretty limited in what you have available (EB > JB > Big W >>> Target >>> Kmart). And then there’s others who can’t get around to as many places because they don’t drive and public transport is shit. Which is exactly the point – “easily accessible” is *not* the same thing for everyone.

            Then of course there’s the whole factor of retail availability making bugger-all difference in terms of physical vs digital when you just have to download a whole game’s worth of patches before you can start playing anyway.

  • Eastern Europe has a bit of a different view on piracy, as due to economic factors, price of games is usually out of reach unless special regional pricing is implemented (and pirating games is how many of these EE devs got into gaming in the first place).

    Shrug, I’m already preordered for SW2 (bring on coop bitches), and Flying Hog hasn’t released a bad game yet. So support the guys I say.

  • Nice to see devs who have a more reasonable view about piracy.

    That said I won’t buy the game…or pirate it either. Just not interested in it.

  • I kind of like how the situation has spiraled into an environment when game quality is (as it should) the most important feature.

    You don’t care about piracy and DRM? Well, your game better be so good that people will feel inclined to give you money for it when they could easily not.

    You care and put in place draconian measures that disallow piracy? Well, your game better be so good that people will still want to pay what you ask instead just disregarding it.

    Now, if we could get rid of misleading marketing lying about a game’s quality…

    • How does that help people in the ‘walled garden’ that Company X or Y has established, though?

      You buy your groceries from a supermarket because of convenience, not because it’s the best possible produce or goods.

      Your logic falls apart outside of the PC space. Even then, we’re seeing online shop-fronts backed by the likes of the major players like EA, Ubisoft, etc spring up to tackle the ‘grass-roots’ types that you could say GOG’s trying to say it is.

      Customers, hell even the people who have the cheek to want to sell a game, on a PSN or similar closed environment have to worry about a whole host of overheads before the game launches, and going off what you say, that’s where they will make the bulk of their profit anyway.

  • I think at the moment the best antipiracy / anticheater / antihacker you can put into the game is twitch support… viewers keep people honest.

    I always like the hidden antipiracy glitches that catch pirates… like Talos Principle trapping players or Serious Sam starts stalking you with a monster.

    Else add a script to the game that detects your playing with a pirated copy and then broadcasts that fact to your viewers on Twitch… why is your character wearing an eye patch, you didnt buy the game but are asking for tips to play it *unsubscribe*

    • I think at the moment the best antipiracy / anticheater / antihacker you can put into the game is twitch support… viewers keep people honest.

      I reckon the majority of people who play games don’t stream

  • DRM sucks ass. Why waste your money on a hundred dollar game only to put the disc in and download the entire game from steam when it should be on the disc?

    A simple verification code is fine, but forcing you to be connected to the Internet and download content that is (Or should be) already present on the disc is downright bull.

    If we made a game, we would follow in these guys footsteps and not include any DRM restrictions. Hell, half the reason I still play on consoles is because of DRM restrictions on PC games.


  • I wish them the best. Hopefully they can generate the same goodwill that the DRM free CD Red games seem to have enjoyed.

  • Denuvo didn’t seem to hurt doom.
    And as the largest pirating nation complaining about DRM, pot kettle?

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