CD Projekt Red Does Everything Right With Witcher 3 DRM & DLC...And Breaks Sales Records

from the +1-broad-sword-of-awesomeness dept

If you need an example of a game developer doing something (well, a lot of things) right, look no further than CD Projekt Red and their latest multi-platform role-playing game, Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. The developers are aggressively breaking all of the usual obnoxious video game industry norms: they're releasing most of the title's downloadable content (DLC) for free (two each week), they've avoided annoying pre-order exclusives, they're receptive to fan feedback, and perhaps most importantly to many gamers, they've taken a repeated, strong and vocal position against DRM.

They're effectively the anti-EA and Ubisoft, and fans are rewarding them for it. Witcher 3 is a gamer darling over at Reddit, reviews have been nothing short of incredible, and the company is breaking sales records with the title without using any of the above-listed annoying tricks of the industry trade:
"Sales of the third part will be many times higher than with our earlier games. Preorders indicate this," CD Projekt's chief executive Adam Kicinski said in an interview. "We broke into the mainstream. It is such a moment in our firm's history that after some years people will look differently at CD Projekt before and after this release." DM BO Brokerage analyst Tomasz Rodak said he saw the new Witcher's yearly sales at 7 million copies, which could bring a record net profit of 369 million zlotys ($97.5 million) in 2015.
And again, they've done it without resorting to the obnoxious, nickel and dime tactics so many game companies have an unholy addiction to.

It's also worth noting the game itself is really, really good. I was one of the few avid RPG fans that found the first two titles to enjoyable but relatively clunky affairs. I'm a sucker for open-world games however, and with the shift of the series to a truly open world, I've been absolutely blown away not only by the sheer size of the game world, but by how fleshed out the storytelling is for a lot of the side quests. It's a fully inhabitable fantasy-nerd paradise. While the writing still stumbles around the usual stale fantasy gender tropes (which scantily-clad sorceress shall I seduce next?), overall it's an incredible accomplishment.

The company's also showing it has a sense of humor. Long critical of DRM, CD Projekt Red's not only not using DRM for the title, it has found marginally-entertaining ways to mock DRM in game. From a grimoire on "Defensive Regulatory Magicon" found by one user while they were busy exploring:
The game does have an atrocious, headache-inducing font problem the company's planning to patch, so here's the text:
"The Defensive Regulatory Magicon (or DRM for short) belongs to the above-mentioned group of the longest-lasting, most effective and hardest to break defensive mechanisms. In order to recognize the individual administering it, it makes use of a portal mounted at the entrance of the area it is to defend. This portal passes streams of magical energy through the body of the person entering and can, in the blink of an eye, determine if this person has the corporeal signature (eyeball structure included) of the entitled administrator. As a result, the only unauthorized individuals that can possibly hope to enter are mimics.

DRM thus makes for an extremely effective and near-unbreakable security measure - but you are in luck, for you hold in your hands the key to bypassing it, namely the present tome, Gottfried’s Omni-opening Grimore, or GOG for short. In the pages to follow you will find innumerable methods for deactivating DRM, or, even better, bypassing it altogether (…)"
A Bill Hicks level joke it ain't (GOG is also short for DRM-free games outlet Good Old Games, run by CD Projekt), but the full quest is notably more amusing, with said "DRM" trapping the owner of the magic technology in a tower after failing to recognize him. Not only is CD Projekt Red doing everything right in regards to DLC and DRM, it's doing it with a little flair. Offer a great product, treat your customers well, don't obnoxiously nickel and dime people like it's going out of style, and customers respond positively. Who the hell knew?

Filed Under: dlc, drm, fan friendly, witcher 3
Companies: cd projekt red


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2015 @ 12:50pm

    Re: When Microsoft stops using mega-DRM, I'll believe that it doesn't work.

    Um, this particular game company succeeded without DRM in all of its games. The original game had DRM for a while until it was simply patched out due to consumer complaints. The second and third game didn't have any at all. Their game service, GOG, sells DRM free games, and they created the service with funds from their first game's sales. It's now grown to be a legitimate competition with Steam. Incidentally, Steam does not require DRM; many games can be run straight from the executable without authentication with Steam service (e.g. Kerbal Space Program). It's up to publishers and developers whether or not they want to use Steam DRM or their own.

    The article isn't saying that the games were successful because they didn't use DRM, the article is saying they were successful despite not using DRM. In other words, if the games can succeed just fine without DRM, what is the point of DRM? It's arguing against the common assumption that DRM is necessary for a game to succeed by giving an example of a game series that succeeded without it.

    Also, "GAMES cost almost nothing to make, up-front "sunk (or fixed) costs" are small, potential profit high, so that's a viable strategy" is absolute bullshit and completely highlights your ignorance on the topic. Games are almost entirely made with fixed costs. You clearly don't understand economics in the slightest. The game costs the same to make whether it sells zero copies or a billion copies, and the price of the distribution ranges from minor (physical copies) to practically nothing (digital).

    As a matter of fact, you can just ignore everything else. It's impossible to discuss the nature of game sales with someone who clearly has no clue what they're talking about.

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