Shadow Warrior 2 Developers: We'd Rather Spend Our Time Making A Great Game Than Worrying About Piracy

from the good-guys dept

With the time we spend discussing the scourge of DRM that has invaded the video game industry for some time, it can at times be easy to lose sight of those in the industry who understand just how pointless the whole enterprise is. There are indeed those who understand that DRM has only a minimal impact on piracy numbers, yet stands to have a profound impact on legitimate customers, making the whole thing not only pointless, but actively detrimental to the gaming business. Studios like CD Projekt Red, makers of the Witcher series, and Lab Zero Games, makers of the SkullGirls franchise, have come to the realization that focusing on DRM rather than focusing on making great games and connecting with their fans doesn’t make any sense.

And now we can add Polish game studio Flying Wild Hog to the list of developers that get it. The makers of the recently released Shadow Warrior 2 game have indicated that it basically has zero time for DRM for its new game because it’s entirely too busy making great games and engaging with its fans. On the Steam forum, one gamer noticed that SW2 did not come with any embedded DRM, such as Denudo, and asked the studio why it wasn’t worried about piracy. Flying Wild Hog’s Kris Narkowicz replied:

“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.”

In a follow-up statement to Kotaku, Kris went even further.

“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.”

In other words, the studio could spend time, money, and resources chasing around a white horse in the belief that it was some kind of anti-piracy unicorn, but doing so would be business-stupid. Instead, the studio has chosen to focus on making its game as great as it possibly can while choosing not to implement software within it that might harm that great experience for legitimate customers. Other staff at the studio essentially acknowledged that not including DRM on the game might result in some lost number of sales, but that the cost to the game and legitimate customers made it so that those lost sales didn’t matter as much.

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.”

It’s always refereshing to hear when a game studio chooses to shrug off the understandable anger that must come along with finding that others are pirating its product to instead focus on what the best course of action for the business actually is: making the best product it can. Altruism doesn’t run uniformly through the gaming public, but there are more than enough gamers willing to pay for quality games to make up the difference. It’s not a perfect scenario from an ethics standpoint, but given that the alternative is arguably ethically worse in that it almost always carries with it a negative impact to paying customers, this is as good as it gets.

But does this sort of approach work? Well, you can see for yourself, as Shadow Warrior 2 currently sits atop Steam’s “Top Sellers” chart and sits at the top of GOG’s “Popular” sales tab. Hey, other studios, are you paying attention yet?

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Companies: flying wild hog

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Comments on “Shadow Warrior 2 Developers: We'd Rather Spend Our Time Making A Great Game Than Worrying About Piracy”

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20 Comments
Eric (profile) says:

I saw the article on Kotaku last weekend and a couple days later bought it just because of the DRM-free. Of course, I even chose to do so via GOG. They can’t really say it doesn’t add sales when they do something right. Just like after I read the article here about the Witcher being DRM-free and went out and bought it. I figure it important to vote with your wallet to support it and show that DRM-free is a valid choice for a game to sell well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Great game!

Been playing it, got it from GoG.com as that is the ONLY place I will pay full price for a game at.

Very fun and entertaining even for a single player game.
I am playing on “No Pain, No Gain – Insanity 1” difficulty.

The crafting does suck bawls though. Better off selling the upgrades and buying good ones from the stores.

Music at the “Palace of the Ancients” is great, and the atmospheric effects are very awesome in a lot of places!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s nearly impossible to tell, making for an excellent poe either way. The funny thing is how easy it is to flip that argument right around for other hypothetical examples.

‘Sure it’s at the top of the charts. But imagine where it’d be if it weren’t for the DRM.’

In either case you’ve got ‘but what if…’ hypotheticals, however given I’ve seen multiple people say ‘I would have bought X if it didn’t have DRM’ over the years, and not once have I seen ‘I would have bought if it had DRM’, I’m thinking the lack of DRM has a greater impact on sales than the presence of it.

twistdhood (profile) says:

Soon...

: We can’t have this! We must have laws! Laws for the sake of laws I tell you! Hollywood has told me piracy is a big problem and we need to force game makers have this DRM to protect us from terrorists! Pirates = Terrorists!

: In order to combat piracy – our latest update will prevent any game to be playable on our systems without first verifying the DRM. Any attempt to play non DRM software will notify the authorities. We have update our TOS accordingly. Also, we now own your first born child…

John Snape (profile) says:

A very old debate

I remember buying Beagle Bros. software without DRM way back in the 80s. Sure, some people copied the disks without paying, but most people wanted to give money to a software company that didn’t make you feel like they hated you or looked at you as a thief by default. It also helped that their software was great and their manuals were hilarious (if you understood computers).

PaulT (profile) says:

“sits at the top of GOG’s “Popular” sales tab”

I’m not sure about Steam, but it’s also worth noting that GoG is currently giving away Shadow Warrior Classic for free. Again, easy promotion – they’ve realised they can leverage the original for sales by introducing new gamers / reminding old customers of that game for no charge to those customers and little real outlay for the developer. Some less enlightened folk would be worrying about cannibalising sales while trying to impose DRM.

discordian_eris says:

DRM Is Not About Rights

DRM is usually an acronym for Digital Rights Management. That is incorrect and always has been. Digital Restrictions Management is correct.

At no time has it ever been about the rights of anyone, including the publishers/authors of software. It has always been about imposing restrictions on the software they sell and on the people who buy it.

Y’all should do everyone a favor and emphasize that it is about restrictions, not about enabling users, buyers or programmers.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: DRM Is Not About Rights

Of course, it also stands for other things.

There is a video-rendering subsystem in the Linux kernel called the “Direct Rendering Manager”.

There is also a userspace library, to handle most of the interaction with this subsystem, called “libdrm”.

…thus neatly preempting anyone looking to create a “standard” Digital R* Management layer for Linux, by ensuring that the namespace is already occupied.

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