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.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.
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.
Head of Studio
CD PROJEKT RED