Witcher 2 developer swears off DRM, says it's ineffective

By on March 13, 2012, 7:30 AM

After a lousy experience with The Witcher 2's DRM, developer CD Projekt Red has pledged against the use of such schemes in its future games. Speaking at GDC 2012, CEO Marcin Iwinski dismissed DRM as an effective anti-piracy tool, noting that the SecuROM-"protected" version of The Witcher 2 was cracked in only two hours. In fact, pirates went out of their way to crack and distribute the DRM-laden retail copy.

"What really surprised me is that the pirates didn't use the GOG version, which was not protected. They took the SecuROM retail version, cracked it and said 'we cracked it' -- meanwhile there's a non-secure version with a simultaneous release," said Iwinski. "DRM does not protect your game. If there are examples that it does, then people maybe should consider it, but then there are complications with legit users."

Many reported negative encounters with SecuROM on The Witcher 2, including reduced frame rates and loading times. In one user-conducted test, the SecuROM version took 32 seconds longer to launch, 8 seconds longer to save and ran nearly twice as slow. CD Projekt Red promptly responded to complaints last May by removing the DRM with patch 1.1, which reportedly boosted performance by as much as 30%.

"Our approach to countering piracy is to incorporate superior value in the legal version. This means it has to be superior in every respect: less troublesome to use and install, with full support, and with access to additional content and services," said CD Projekt Red employee Adam Badowski at the time. He justified the DRM by noting that the company wanted to prevent its game from being pirated before launching.

Along with swearing off DRM, CD Projekt Red halted its pursuit of pirates earlier this year. In November 2010, months before The Witcher 2 even shipped, the studio warned that it would hunt folks illegally sharing its upcoming RPG. True to its word, the company tracked IP addresses torrenting the title and mailed settlements demanding some $1,190 (essentially the scheme popularized by the US Copyright Group).

Fans disapproved, not least because of the potential for innocent users to be wrongly accused (there's no way to match activity from an IP address to a specific person with 100% accuracy). In January 2012, Iwinski apologized for resorting to "pay-or-else" tactics and promised no innocents were mistakenly targeted. He promised to stop using the scheme for the sake of maintaining a positive relationship with players.




User Comments: 19

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Guest said:

Just let you know DRM always keeps me out from buying games.

So if you wanna decrease your sales just put in DRM. :)))

Butch said:

CD Projekt Red is one of the best developers out there and their games are a day one purchase for me. One of the few developers that care about their games AND their fans. Keep up the good work! Oh, and please hold off selling out to one the terrible big publishers for awhile.

TitoBXNY TitoBXNY said:

The Witcher 1 and 2 are terrific games. Witcher 2 was a day one purchase on Steam and I commend them for their stand on DRM.

yorro said:

"You don't say?!"

Cota Cota said:

The thing about them saying that DRM is wrong, is that they need to believe what they just said...

Guest said:

I would sooner donate money to a good game without drm than pay for one that has drm.

I am fed up with all the greed... so fed up... so fed up...so fed up

Marnomancer Marnomancer said:

These people advocating represent no one but their own narrow interests, no one but their own petty greeds. The internet is actually propogating the industry, and DRM is just smothering it.

It's as simple as that. I don't see how people can fail to notice that undisputed fact.

captainawesome captainawesome said:

Have you guys seen the disgusting terms and conditions of the Origin DRM?

[link]

Quote from the TOS:

You agree that EA may collect, use, store and transmit technical and related information that identifies your computer (including the Internet Protocol Address), operating system, Application usage (including but not limited to successful installation and/or removal), software, software usage and peripheral hardware, that may be gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, dynamically served content, product support and other services to you, including online services. EA may also use this information combined with personal information for marketing purposes and to improve our products and services. We may also share that data with our third party service providers in a form that does not personally identify you. IF YOU DO NOT WANT EA TO COLLECT, USE, STORE, TRANSMIT OR DISPLAY THE DATA DESCRIBED IN THIS SECTION, PLEASE DO NOT INSTALL OR USE THE APPLICATION.

Luckily, whilst looking for the quote above, I found a way to stop (i hope) Origin from this MASSIVE invasion of privacy.

http://masseffect.livejournal.com/1262968.html

Zilpha Zilpha said:

Guest said:

I would sooner donate money to a good game without drm than pay for one that has drm.

I am fed up with all the greed... so fed up... so fed up...so fed up

It's not really about greed - it's about wanting to recover their development costs and add to their capital to fund new projects. How do you think we will ever get another game from this developer? If they just spend millions on dev and then give it away for free?

DRM was a means to protect their product, but the problem is that it's now become too intrusive. No one complained when you had to keep a disc in the CD drive because it didn't cause an impact on performance. Now the checks and balances are out of control and the players are hacking the sh*t out of games just to get back to a normal level of performance. I don't blame them.

I hope this group sets a trend for future devs to follow. I don't play games on PC because I won't jump through these hoops anymore. It will be nice if they go away, and I will start buying these games again. I am sure others will as well.

Marnomancer Marnomancer said:

Zilpha, I am in agreement with you (somewhat).

I apologize for my arrogance, but those developers definitely don't look starving.

And, by adding such DRM and privacy encroachment policies, the are turning potential customers (like me) away. I don't see them benefiting from that, eh?

Really, others (viz. EA, and maybe even Steam) should take a lesson from these guys.

captainawesome captainawesome said:

@Zilpha

One can simply not state that DRM helps them save/make more money. Look at hour much BF3, MW3 and such titles bring in just in the first week - billions. But how much money do they spend making this DRM and how much money are they gaining from it? I pre-order all games I want. My DVD covers are stacked up waist up in my house with game titles but I still go an torrent a NO-CD crack for each to get away from their absolutely ridiculous DRM. I mean you cannot possibly agree with the terms and conditions required in the Origin EULA I quoted earlier? It is despicable in the least.

psycros psycros said:

captainawesome said:

Have you guys seen the disgusting terms and conditions of the Origin DRM?

[link]

Quote from the TOS:

You agree that EA may collect, use, store and transmit technical and related information that identifies your computer (including the Internet Protocol Address), operating system, Application usage (including but not limited to successful installation and/or removal), software, software usage and peripheral hardware, that may be gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, dynamically served content, product support and other services to you, including online services. EA may also use this information combined with personal information for marketing purposes and to improve our products and services. We may also share that data with our third party service providers in a form that does not personally identify you. IF YOU DO NOT WANT EA TO COLLECT, USE, STORE, TRANSMIT OR DISPLAY THE DATA DESCRIBED IN THIS SECTION, PLEASE DO NOT INSTALL OR USE THE APPLICATION.

Luckily, whilst looking for the quote above, I found a way to stop (i hope) Origin from this MASSIVE invasion of privacy.

http://masseffect.livejournal.com/1262968.html

The part you reprinted could have come from any online service you'd care to name. Good luck finding one that <i>doesn't</i> have these stipulations. And yes, Origin is just another sorry example of the latest industry "lock-in" scheme, i.e. social network/gaming platform. Everybody wants to be Facebook or Steam, or both. Meanwhile the pirates don't have to deal with any of that garbage.

Guest said:

Wait as captainawesome posted and psycros further elaborated. Everyone does that so why the hell has google saying the same thing in their new terms of service become such huge news ? Especially when it's third parties are google, google and google versus who knows who ?

It is late so whoever said DRM save money for the developers or along those lines.

The programmers who make the DRM graciously do their work for free ?

Or the customer does not see a price hike on a game and then decide nah way too much for me ?

Guest said:

These morons actually believed they could pinpoint who downloads what on the internet. They do not seem to know that there are such things as multiple people on the same connection. I live in a shared collective with about a billion people using the same connection. Who knows what all the other guys are doing. EPIC fail; and I will never buy anything from this guys ever.

Just think of the consequences for those wrongfully accused. For shame!

Butch said:

I really don't mind DRM as it was intended. The problem sets in when it trashes my PC or hinders performance or collects data about me that it does not need. I long for the day that in impenetrable, non-invasive DRM system is invented so that these hardworking developers (notice I didn't say publishers) get the money they deserve. However, this will probably never happen and will not solve the problem entirely. When these publishers (looking at you EA) claim that more copies of their game were pirated than purchased it is misleading because the majority of the people that pirate do so because they are broke and wouldn't have bought the game in the first place. I know others may pirate because the publisher refuses to release a demo and still others to get the NO-CD cracks on game they purchased. The bottom line is if there is ever a "perfect" DRM created then it would force people to consider carefully where to spend their hard earned money and when the game they purchased is crap, they will be vocal about it. This has the tendency to force developer to deliver better games and as a bonus, they will actually have the $$ to do it. Everybody wins except the people that are pirating. And that's ok with me because guess what...I buy my games.

daweimon said:

Great to see they really care about the legit users, unlike other certain devs and distributors.

Guest said:

Good for you guys; DRM makes me avoid purchases also (as the first poster said).

To prevent piracy, it's so simple it's mind-blowing. LOWER the price to where pirating is not worth it.

EA, just had a 50% off sale for Battlefield 3 and the Karland expansion pack...I bought both. Easy. Steam had the most success (4 times the sales) when they lowered prices on games..I bought games then also. Online MMORPGs had 12 times the sales when they started free-to-play. Take $60 games and make them $30 and you will have no-brainer purchases from previous pirates. Think "Wal-Mart principle"; lower the price to where customers end up buying more than they need since they can't resist the price (note: Walmart has more revenue that the GDP of many small countries).

thewind said:

I totaly get what your saying but walmart is changing and I find Target to actually be cheaper in 90% of the stuff I want to buy. Like Head and Sholders is the same price but with my Target card I save 5% and with Target coupons I save even more. Plus Targets generic brand is way better than Walmarts generic brand. But I do get your point there is many times on steam that I will buy more than what I was going to because of some crazy good deal.

Marnomancer Marnomancer said:

This is really pure BS which just gets stinker over time. Things are getting more and more desperate. That's when I concluded I'd rather let some other chap have it, and instead gifted it to my brother at Pesah, since I was already done with the title. Now-onwards, I'm strictly playing offline, original, no-CD games.

Maybe WoW? Or Halo and Crysis?

I can only hope that MSGS and 343 Indst. don't propogate and advocate this DRM BS. :/

Phew! This discussion never ends.

Here's my solution: boycott them, and they'll be forced to stop it!

Hahaha!

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