CD Projekt: Witcher 2 Was Pirated 4.5 Million Times
PC role-playing game Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings shipped this year with no DRM. The result, according to CD Projekt CEO Marcin Iwinski, is that the game was pirated 4.5 million times. That's a conservative estimate, too.
"I was checking regularly the number of concurrent downloads on torrent aggregating sites, and for the first six to eight weeks there was around 20-30k people downloading it at the same time," Iwinski told PC Gamer. "Let's take 20k as the average and let's take six weeks. The game is 14GB, so let's assume that on an average not-too-fast connection it will be six hours of download. Six weeks is 56 days, which equals to 1344 hours; and with six hours of average download time to get the game it would give us 224 downloads, then let's multiply it by 20k simultaneous downloaders."
"The result is roughly 4.5 million illegal downloads. This is only an estimation, and I would say that's rather on the optimistic side of things; as of today we have sold over one million legal copies, so having only 4.5-5 illegal copies for each legal one would be not a bad ratio. The reality is probably way worse."
In spite of this piracy, Iwinski believes that their DRM-free approach was the best option.
"We of course experimented with all available DRM/copy protection, but frankly nothing worked. Whatever we used was cracked within a day or two, massively copied and immediately available on the streets for a fraction of our price," said Iwinski. "We did not give up, but came up with new strategy: we started offering high value with the product – like enhancing the game with additional collectors’ items like soundtracks, making-of DVDs, books, walkthroughs, etc. This, together with a long process of educating local gamers about why it makes sense to actually buy games legally, worked. And today, we have a reasonably healthy games market."
Releasing a game without copy protection was pretty ballsy. CD Projekt showed a lot of faith in its fan base with that move. I hope the result was a tidy profit; it's tough to know whether a million copies is a good haul without knowing the game's budget.
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