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CD Projekt Listens To Fans, Abandons Piracy Witch Hunt

from the winning-fans-for-life dept

You may remember that back in December, CD Projekt (the developers of The Witcher 2) had been sending out legal shake down letters to suspected copyright infringers. This move was not received very well by the gaming press and more importantly CD Projekt’s very fans. The major concern over this was that it is nearly impossible to prove that a person illegally downloaded the game based off just an IP address. We now learn that CD Projekt has listened to its fans’ concerns and has ended its shake down program. In a letter sent to the gaming press, CD Projekt states:

Being part of a community is a give-and-take process. We only succeed because you have faith in us, and we have worked hard over the years to build up that trust. We were sorry to see that many gamers felt that our actions didn’t respect the faith that they have put into CD Projekt RED. Our fans always have been and remain our greatest concern, and we pride ourselves on the fact that you all know that we listen to you and take your opinions to heart. While we are confident that no one who legally owns one of our games has been required to compensate us for copyright infringement, we value our fans, our supporters, and our community too highly to take the chance that we might ever falsely accuse even one individual.

So we’ve decided that we will immediately cease identifying and contacting pirates.

Too many entertainment, and in this case gaming, companies, get so caught up in fighting piracy that they ignore the concerns of their fans. As of December, it had looked as if CD Projekt, the poster boys of DRM-free gaming, were headed down that path as well. Based on this letter, they have seen the folly of that path and have decided to put their fans first. I am so glad to hear this news. You will never win fans for life by brushing aside their concerns. I am also glad to see that CD Projekt has recognized the damage that false positives can have on a community.

While the concerns of copyright infringement are a very real thing, and CD Projekt has some idea of its scope, it has never resorted to DRM in order to handle the problem. It stands by that business decision. This promise to stop pursuing suspected copyright infringers is the next step toward building on the good will of its fans. While it may take time for some former fans to forgive, they will be happy with this change. However, CD Projekt wants to make sure it is clear. This move does not mean that it condones copyright infringement:

Let’s make this clear: we don’t support piracy. It hurts us, the developers. It hurts the industry as a whole. Though we are staunch opponents of DRM because we don’t believe it has any effect on reducing piracy, we still do not condone copying games illegally. We’re doing our part to keep our relationship with you, our gaming audience, a positive one. We’ve heard your concerns, listened to your voices, and we’re responding to them. But you need to help us and do your part: don’t be indifferent to piracy. If you see a friend playing an illegal copy of a game–any game–tell your friend that they’re undermining the possible success of the developer who created the very game that they are enjoying. Unless you support the developers who make the games you play, unless you pay for those games, we won’t be able to produce new excellent titles for you.

I think that is a positive message to express. This is a human response to the problem of copyright infringement. We have seen such pleas succeed in turning a pirate into a paying customer, and there is no doubt that this honest plea for support will garner CD Projekt more sales and more fans. This honest apology and plea for support has certainly made a fan for life out of me.

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Comments on “CD Projekt Listens To Fans, Abandons Piracy Witch Hunt”

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Beta (profile) says:


“…We are confident that no one who legally owns one of our games has been required to compensate us for copyright infringement…”

Which is not exactly the same as saying that no one who legally owns one of their games has received one of their shakedown letters and “compensated” them out of fear of being dragged into court.

And it’s nowhere near saying that no one who does not own one of their games and didn’t download one either has coughed up some money.

Come to think of it, how can they even make that statement? They coerced thousands of people– how can they know that not one of them legally owned a copy of one of their games? They weren’t even careful enough to make sure everyone on the list had downloaded one of their games, which should be a lot easier to determine.

I think I’ll steer clear of their games for a couple of years, just to be on the safe side.

Donnicton says:

Re: lawyerspeak

This. To think I actually bought The Witcher 2 directly from their site(gog) in support of them for including a DRM-free purchase option.

If I knew they were going to take the money we gave them and use it to start extortion campaigns, I wouldn’t have bought it.

No doubt they specifically didn’t word that line to encompass people who were accused in general, as they have likely collected quite a bit of money already and I have no illusions about the fact that they won’t be returning any of it.

Backpedal or not, that they did this at all, and that they’ve made no indication that they’re not going to simply skip off with the money they already collected means that I for one will be very, very wary of purchasing another game from CD Projekt Red(as well as their gog site) in the future.

Bill W (profile) says:

Good response but ...

I agree that this is a positive response and MUCH better than “going after” the pirates but I’m not positive that the “pity the poor developer” tactic will last. Maybe a while, since it is so different from the “shoot first” stance that is so prevalent; and their anti-DRM stance is pretty refreshing (and realistic) I think they need to go a step or two farther. Maybe this is the first step, and in the right direction, but I think they need to stack some creativity on top of that to really be able to sell it.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t think this is positive at all, they still believe that they need to protect their business they will just try another way that isn’t so public or with the public for that matter.

I wonder why people feel the need to claim ownership on things that they can’t possible defend or control, people defending land I can understand, people defending physical objects I can see the point but trying to defend data that made public is a futile enterprise. Worse is the base for which bad people will seize the opportunity to do bad things to others, is the base for monopolies and tyrants.

rangda (profile) says:

The most bothersome thing of this strategy is that is’s a waste of money and resources. I’ve bought both Witcher games and I’m not giving CD Projekt money for them to hand it lawyers for lawsuits, I’m giving them money to make more games. I’d much rather they spend their money servicing ME THEIR CUSTOMER AND FAN by making Witcher 3 instead of chasing what they perceive to be free loaders.

6 says:

“While we are confident that no one who legally owns one of our games has been required to compensate us for copyright infringement, we value our fans, our supporters, and our community too highly to take the chance that we might ever falsely accuse even one individual. “

I’m not 100% sure why they don’t value their fans, supporters, community and pirates. I’ve pirated quite a few games in my time, though I don’t now that I have $. If I had $ as a kid then I probably (pretty certainly) would have spent them on a lot of those games I pirated. Besides, after you’ve had your first killer virus it all of a sudden becomes quite worthwhile to buy games.

Finally I note that I’d probably play these guys games if they made something worth a dam. Note that I even play little ridiculously low/no budget games on Kongregate if they’re a good game.

Anonymous Coward says:


They went the extortion way. They pissed the file sharing community, which includes many who bought the game. They felt the backlash and retreated.

They claimed they could know with a 100% certainty who got the game illegally. This was the thing that really pissed a lot of people, since we all know that’s absolute bullshit. Being developers they know this perfectly well. Whom were they kidding? I think that was the real stupid move that pissed everyone. That they would parrot IP facist’s dribble.

Anonymous Coward says:

I am going to be buying games from GOG again soon, since they have stopped sending those letters to people.

I am just waiting a little bit, to make sure all of this is true. I remember with the Witcher 2, I refused to even look at it since it had DRM. Then they said they were removing the DRM, so I tried finding info about the game and I was about to buy it because it looked good. Soon after, I found out that instead of DRM, they would send “pay up or else” letters to people… so I didn’t buy Witcher 2.

So now I learned my lesson: when a company does something good, make sure they don’t do something bad on the other side. I’m going to wait a few weeks and if I don’t hear anything bad from CD Projekt, I will buy games from GOG again.

Also, I will never buy The Witcher 2: CD Projekt has messed up twice with this game (first DRM, then letters). It’s important to forgive companies, otherwise they won’t have any reason to repent when they make a mistake.
However, it’s also important to punish them, so that in the future, they do not try to fuck customers in the first place (it’s too easy to be a dick and then apologize if you get in trouble).
As a result, I will buy games from CD Projekt again (forgiveness) but I will not buy the witcher 2 (punishment).

Also, while I am happy that CD Projekt has decided to act properly and do the right thing, It’s a shame that they did not do the right thing because it was right, but because their customers were not happy.
It’s like with Paul Christoforo and the Ocean Marketing debacle: CD Projekt are not sorry that they made a mistake, they’re sorry that they got caught. I’m only forgiving them halfway.

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