The Witcher 3 Developer Sticking To Their Guns On DRM

By Matt Hawkins . June 21, 2013 . 4:30pm

CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 1 & 2 have been at the technological forefront, pushing that envelope, and they’re set to do it all over again with The Witcher 3. However, there’s another frontline they’re equally known for, and that’s their fight against DRM. The studio has long been a staunch opponent of digital rights management. As a direct result, they’ve viewed by many as a trusted friend of the consumer.


Some would argue that they’ve paid a hefty price for such goodwill; CD Projekt Red has estimated that 4.5 million copies of The Witcher 2 have been pirated thus far. Still, their stance remains as strong as ever, though when it was discovered that the Xbox One would have its own DRM initiatives, a console that would eventually be home to The Witcher 3, many were confused.


I asked John Mamais, the game’s executive producer, about this, back when Microsoft’s new console was still going to require always-on Internet.


“We can’t control Microsoft’s business decisions, but we want to be on their platform, so we’re going to do our best to make awesome games for their platform,” Mamais replied. “At the same time, the PC version will remain DRM-free. That’s our policy, as a company. Those who are concerned can still purchase a copy through”


“There’s a lot of cool things about [Microsoft’s] platform. Hopefully they’re going to do really well, and hopefully Sony’s going to do really well, and hopefully PCs are going to do really well.”


So, how did it feel for CD Projekt Red, one of the front-runners of anti-DRM, to see the the subject of DRM be such a hot topic at E3 this year?


“It’s kind of a recent phenomena, to take this DRM stuff off. We were doing it early on… we were one of the front-runners of it,” Mamais said. “And because we fought this war already, and carried that flag, you could say that it’s somewhat validating to raise the same concerns that we’ve done already.”


He elaborated: “It was a constant battle; during The Witcher 1, we went toe-to-toe with that game’s publisher, Atari, over DRM. Because of the feeling that, if there’s no DRM, it’s going to leak earlier, and sales will be lost.”


“I mean, it is kind of a valid opinion… I think both sides have their good arguments. But because I’m a gamer, I do tend to not to like the DRM stuff.”


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  • Testsubject909

    It’s good to hear. When I’ll get the Witcher 3, I’ll be sure to pick up the PC version.

    Though… honestly whenever someone talks about CD Projekt Red, my mind goes straight to Cyberpunk…

    • Solomon_Kano

      Same. I immediately wonder about Cyberpunk when CDPR comes up.

  • mirumu

    They may have lost some sales due to piracy, but I’d be willing to bet they also gained a lot of sales due to their anti-DRM stance and for the fact they put their effort into making some really good games. There are many PC gamers around saying they’ll buy this game on GoG day 1 sight unseen. I plan to do the same myself. Goodwill goes a long way.

    • Testsubject909

      Not only that, they must have saved money on not bothering to either purchase or create a DRM to put unto their games.

      • mirumu

        Yes, I don’t know what it costs to license things like SecuROM or Starforce, but I don’t imagine it’s cheap, and then there’s the cost of integrating it into the game.

    • Amine Hsu Nekuchan

      Not to mention such number are always extreme and both likely don’t represent the actual number of pirates, much less don’t even consider people maybe have pirated it then bought it, pirated it, but never played it, bought it but then pirated it for some reason, etc.

    • Also DRM all it does is delay the game’s leak by a day or two. Once the crack is out its always bundled with the game wherever its shared so the DRM its completely useless. Whoever is going to pirate will pirate. But the ones who are going to buy won’t have to worry about ever having problems with DRM as a legitimate buyer.

  • MrTyrant

    I admire cd projekt because things like this. Their anti-DRM policy and how well they treat their fans, all the updates, dlcs and expantion were free. Yeah, the huge overhaul update of Witcher 2 could be downloaded for free from their main page they were not willing to charge their fans again for the same game and they even helped one guy who downloaded an illegal torrent lol

    I’ll give all my money to Witcher 3 because I believe it will be one of the greatest games and the same goes for their incoming cyberpunk game.

  • StaticDestroyer

    I downloaded the witcher 2 in my poorer days. And I’ve bought it three times over since then, I know I’m not the only one to do so and I’d wager a lot of their actual sales were from the very same people that pirated it to begin with. CD Projekt’s policies have made me a big fan and my customer loyalty is definitely theirs. I already have witcher 3 on preorder and am awaiting the day I can do the same for cyberpunk. It’s all too uncommon that developers take a stance that benefits their consumer base more than themselves and I really feel they should be commended for it, they’re a credit to their industry.

  • yo1234

    I hate the fact that people take advantage of their goodwill. But that’s the world i guess…

  • TheExile285

    No interest in these games but respect for the devs

    • MrTyrant

      You should play it, it’s a good serie with a great lore. Different from most wrpg, so you cannot compare or pre-judge so easily. It’s more action based.

  • Crevox

    In my opinion, it remains a marketing campaign and nothing more. I still don’t understand the big fuss about DRM, and to them, it’s an easy way to garner goodwill and support from people who hate it.

    • Eilanzer

      …I agree about the marketing part…Even more after this partnership with the not so old drm crap of xbone…

    • I can understand why DRM and exists and why it sounds tempting for the industry side to use it, but you can’t just paint the anti-DRM stance off like that completely. It can just as likely be an act of good will and trust towards the customer. Admittedly a very risky route for them to take, even – which would explain why their decision gets much respect.

    • mirumu

      There is definitely a marketing aspect to it, although it’s quite a stretch to suggest it’s all there is.

      A quick look across to the music industry makes it pretty clear that worst case scenarios with DRM can and do actually happen. Many people have lost everything they paid for with services like Microsoft’s Plays for Sure and MSN Music. That’s not to say there haven’t been significant DRM problems in the game industry too. Even the much praised Steam was an utter shambles at launch. The hate is so prevalent amongst those who have been PC gamers for any significant time because many have been directly burned by it. If you haven’t, that’s great. I just wish we all could say the same thing.

  • zazza345

    I’m sorry, but their goodwill is gone. They were willing to publsh on a console that was supposed to have a terrible DRM. I will not buy a product from them from now on.

    • Isaac Newton

      Sarcasm 101

      It’s The End of the world brace your safe guys!
      The Rapture is coming wahhhhh *foams in my mouth*

    • Testsubject909

      Fair enough. It’s your money and it’s your choices and your principles.

    • They were willing to publish on the Xbox One because they didn’t want to exclude the Xbox One fans from their game. Not because they wanted in on the DRM. Is it not goodwill to give your game to everyone regardless of their platform of choice?

    • mirumu

      In fairness they didn’t know about the Xbox One’s DRM until the rest of us did. Personally I would have preferred for them to have cancelled the Xbox One version once the the DRM and anti-consumer functionality was announced. I think it would have sent an important message. Of course it’s all academic now with Microsoft’s backtracking, but I can relate to where you’re coming from.

      That said, as long as the PC version existed and was 100% DRM free I’d still hold goodwill for them.

  • AJ

    Kocham Polskę!!

  • artemisthemp

    DRM only cause issues for their paying consumers, while Pirates (ARR) will crack it in 1-2 days

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