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In the world of video game bureaucracy, politics and finances, there is little actual involvement of video games and gamers. Most of the actual inner-workings of the corporate video game industry surrounds market value, demographic appeal and mainstream penetration. Having fun, producing entertaining products and making fans happy are not on the agenda in most board room meetings. The current state of Electronic Arts seems to prove this.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are game companies out there who do still respect the tried and true tradition of making great games formed from awesome ideas and delivering those games at a price that consumers feel is valuable enough for them to spend money on, again, and again, and again. This is something CD Projekt RED has learned over the years going through the ups and downs of the gaming industry, dealing with loyal fans, pirates and everyone else in between.
In an new interview with GameFront CD Projekt RED's CEO, Marcin Iwinski, continued his crusade to convince other gaming companies to learn from the mistakes of the past and to follow Valve on the path of the Jedi to treating consumers with respect and aiming to give an audience a quality, valuable product.
Iwinski stated that...
“Whatever you do, when you release a game, it’s cracked,”... “And back in the day we were thinking, ‘What do we do to stop it?’ and of course, we tried all the copy protections and they just didn’t work. We have very skilled programmers and hackers in Eastern Europe, Poland and Russia, so whatever the protection was, it was taking about a week to crack it. So pretty fast we realized, it’s not about protecting it, because that just doesn’t work — it’s about delivering value to the end consumer.”
Iwinski goes on to illustrate an example of how value outweighed piracy, back when pirates used to sell warez discs from nefarious websites (yes, back in the day you could buy CDs full of full version games usually ranging from $5 to $20 depending on the warez). Marcin explains that the bundle pack of Baldur's Gate (which they were distributing in their region at the time) came with so much stuff that it was hard to pass up getting the game legally as opposed to buying five CDs from a shady warez site for nearly the same price, since the pirates had to cover the costs of the discs and try to squeeze a profit out as well.
I can attest that Baldur's Gate was a great value for the $49.99 price tag. Over here in the USA the distributor was Interplay, and for loyal fans they even offered to let you play the game before its official release for an entire month. The game came with a thick booklet, a map of the game world, some vouchers and hefty packet containing all five CDs and replay value that absolutely dwarfs today's games. In essence, the game was awesome and lived up to its value of $49.99.
Iwinski goes on to talk about how certain contractual obligations forced them to use DRM but how that helped them to keep their games DRM-free on GOG.com, saying...
“On The Witcher 2, we realized we should go our way,” ... “We actually protected the European as, again, we had a contractual obligation, but on GoG.com, our digital distribution platform, we released the game DRM-free. Funnily enough, the pirates didn’t use the GoG, DRM-free version that was available on Day One. They actually cracked the second version.”
That example he uses never ceases to amaze me. You can go on a torrent site right now and try to find the GOG, DRM-free version of the Witcher 2 and you'll have a tough time. In fact, you'll even find yourself being reprimanded by pirates if you even ask how you can hold of the DRM-free version, because they want you to support honest developers and honest publishers. Heck, if you're getting a moral lesson from a pirate that tells you how much respect CD Projekt RED has earned from the gaming community.
EA and Activision-Blizzard could learn a thing or two from CD Projekt.
You can check out the entire interview over at GameFront.