The Full Counter-Argument To Game Studios Claiming A Need For DRM: The Witcher 3

from the how-it's-done dept

DRM, or digital rights management, can be said to have been effective in practice at accomplishing many different things. It makes products less useful, for instance. It also serves as chaff to distract the technically proficient into disabling it instead of doing any number of actually useful things. DRM is also actually quite good at making our lives just a bit less safe. What's interesting is that none of those things are the stated reason companies use DRM. Instead, DRM is explained by companies as the only way they can protect themselves from damned dirty pirates and, without it, these companies would simply not be able to make enough money to sustain themselves.

The proper counter-argument to this assertion, as it turns out, is: "Shut up, because The Witcher 3."

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has proven to be incredibly successful for CD Projekt RED, having sold a whopping six million copies within its first six weeks on store shelves. According to CD Projekt's latest financial results (via NeoGAF), the company earned 237 million PLN ($63.3 million USD) in net profit for the first half of 2015. The publisher also noted its open-world RPG has performed well both at retail and digitally.
Yes, a game publisher, one which released its game both in retail and in the scary, scary digital realm, has spent six weeks selling an insane amount of copies of its latest game. But how is this possible? After all, CD Projekt RED long ago promised that the game would be shipped completely sans DRM. On top of that, the company also made every last tiny drop of DLC for the game...completely free. In other words, CD Projekt RED decided bucking one modern trend in gaming was too easy so it decided to go for an exacta. Were the theory that lies behind every other instance of DRM in gaming existence to be true, the game should have been a failure everywhere other than on dastardly pirate sites. Instead, the game sold six million copies in six weeks. How is this possible?

It's actually quite simple: CD Projekt RED made a fantastic and well-reviewed game, didn't hamper customers with annoying DRM or pushy microtransactions, and then went about its victory lap with about as classy and gracious an open-letter from its studio head that I can remember seeing.
One could think we have six million reasons to be happy and that’s it. We do, but that number is also a big responsibility and I want everyone to know that we, as a studio, realize that. For us, all your high praise, all the positive reviews, are also an obligation -- we’ve made a really good game but there’s still a long road ahead of us. Everyone here in CD PROJEKT RED is really attached to their work and how you, the gamers, perceive it. RED is full of artists, wild dreamers and people crazy about what they do (and sometimes just plain crazy). We lose sleep over that particular colour the sun has when it sets over Velen, and argue over arranging the furniture in a house the majority of gamers will probably never see. We’re not the kind of people who are easily satisfied and we always strive for more. I’d like you to know that.

Yes, six million copies is a great achievement for a company making RPGs, but this business is not only about that. If our games are a gallery of sound, picture and text - you are the visitors of this gallery. To an artist, there’s no sweeter sight than people enjoying their work. That’s why, in the name of all the devs in the studio, I’d like to say thanks to each and every one of you.  


Adam Badowski,
Head of Studio
This is how CwF+RtB is done. In fact, the studio has always had a reputation for being open and awesome to its customers. The release of this game, the lack of DRM, the free DLC, and the gracious attitude is merely a continuation of a culture that fans and gamers are naturally going to gravitate towards. And so they buy. Of course they buy. That they buy isn't the surprise. Instead, the surprise is how difficult to understand this all apparently is for the other gaming studios still traveling a different road.

Filed Under: drm, video games, witcher 3
Companies: cd projekt, cd projekt red

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  1. icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), 31 Aug 2015 @ 11:36am


    Of course, wasting money on DRM can only last so long before competitors take their lunch by using every available resource to serve the customer instead of punishing them for buying their games!

    I agree, but I think what CD Projekt Red is showing is the clothes-less and naked is kinda hard for the Pro-DRM Game CEO to maintain that they would have more sales when they are outpacing quite a few of the DRM-released games (though there are still people buying a lot of AAA games, but not nearly as many as who would buy them if they didn't have DRM.) I suspect CD Projekt Red is actually selling more games without DRM, just cause people are tired of spending $50 for a game that they may not be able to install and play because of DRM (I know I've stopped buying any DRM games, solely because they might not like virtualization or running under wine or on a particular version of Windows they don't like.)

    My last EA game purchased (from EA,) was about 13 years ago (Command & Conquer Generals,) which didn't work after I purchased it because of some issue with the DRM on the disk not liking my CD-ROM drive and after spending the money on a non-functioning game, I vowed never to buy any game with DRM on it ever again. Now, if it doesn't come DRM-less, I avoid it like the plague (though I still do buy some Steam games, a lot less now that I realize 6 months after they appear on Steam, they'll likely appear DRM-less on one of the DRM-Free game sites, like GoG.) And I know I am not the only one.

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