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Published on January 13th, 2012 | by Dan

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Witcher 2 Developer Stops Trying to Hunt Down Pirates

With stunning visuals and open world gameplay, CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings was one of the most acclaimed PC titles of 2011. As such, the game became very popular with both legitimate buyers and pirates alike.

In a misguided effort to defend their intellectual property, CD Projekt RED claimed that they could track every single person who had pirated The Witcher 2 and very accurately determine who they were. The studio had stated previously that they strongly opposed the use of DRM as an anti-piracy measure and had not included it with The Witcher 2. No details were ever released as to how they were supposedly able to pinpoint the pirates individually, but they didn’t appear to be lying; they sent out letter after letter threatening legal action to individuals who allegedly pirated the game. They threatened to sue, but offered to settle with these individuals for around 750 euros (roughly $960 USD)–just slightly above the game’s original $60 price tag. As you can imagine, this caused an uproar in the gaming community.  A company who had built up good will with two great games had destroyed much of it. The worst part was that the studio seemed very sure of itself the whole time, as if it wasn’t doing anything wrong.

In December, the backlash came to a head in the form of a response from Rock Paper Shotgun. RPS published an article citing why this response to piracy is exactly the wrong thing to do and then offered CD Projekt RED the opportunity to respond. And yesterday, RPS posted the studio’s response.

In the open letter below written to “the gaming community,” CD Projekt RED co-founder Marcin Iwinski said that they will cease legal pursuit of pirates.  The main reason? The mistrust it caused in the community. It is great to see a response like this to such a controversial and divisive topic.

An Open Letter to the Gaming Community from CD Projekt RED

In early December, an article was published about a law firm acting on behalf of CD Projekt RED, contacting individuals who had downloaded The Witcher 2 illegally and seeking financial compensation for copyright infringement. The news about our decision to combat piracy directly, instead of with DRM, spread quickly and with it came a number of concerns from the community. Repeatedly, gamers just like you have said that our methods might wrongly accuse people who have never violated our copyright and expressed serious concern about our actions.

Being part of a community is a give-and-take process. We only succeed because you have faith in us, and we have worked hard over the years to build up that trust. We were sorry to see that many gamers felt that our actions didn’t respect the faith that they have put into CD Projekt RED. Our fans always have been and remain our greatest concern, and we pride ourselves on the fact that you all know that we listen to you and take your opinions to heart. While we are confident that no one who legally owns one of our games has been required to compensate us for copyright infringement, we value our fans, our supporters, and our community too highly to take the chance that we might ever falsely accuse even one individual.

So we’ve decided that we will immediately cease identifying and contacting pirates.

Let’s make this clear: we don’t support piracy. It hurts us, the developers. It hurts the industry as a whole. Though we are staunch opponents of DRM because we don’t believe it has any effect on reducing piracy, we still do not condone copying games illegally. We’re doing our part to keep our relationship with you, our gaming audience, a positive one. We’ve heard your concerns, listened to your voices, and we’re responding to them. But you need to help us and do your part: don’t be indifferent to piracy. If you see a friend playing an illegal copy of a game–any game–tell your friend that they’re undermining the possible success of the developer who created the very game that they are enjoying. Unless you support the developers who make the games you play, unless you pay for those games, we won’t be able to produce new excellent titles for you.

Keep on playing,

Marcin Iwinski
co-founder
CD Projekt RED

As we have said many times, we patently oppose piracy here at KBMOD, and we respect a studio’s right to protect their intellectual property. However, as evidenced here, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about combating the problem of piracy, and taking legal action against everyone who you believe has pirated your game is never a good approach (just ask the music industry).

Kudos to CD Projekt RED for a response that hits all the right notes and shows that they do care about the gaming community. Now let’s show our appreciation by supporting these kinds of developers so that they can keep making great games.

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11 Responses to Witcher 2 Developer Stops Trying to Hunt Down Pirates

  1. Dan nipnops says:

    great response, and the fact they don’t use DRM hurt them here, but they aren’t budging on that stance as well. strong.

  2. Seventy2 says:

    pirate all the things

  3. DamnedNiggar says:

    the game is awesome, i bought 1 for myself and 2 for my friends for christmas

  4. I don’t get why people are getting so pissed about what CD Projekt did.

    A company tries to fight piracy with DRM, everybody whines.

    A company tries to fight piracy without DRM, and still everybody whines. I wish CDP didn’t cave to a bunch of crybabies sitting on the sidelines.

  5. Clit Commander says:

    Just once, I’d like to see this supposed “gaming community” get wholesale and unequivocally pissed AT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE PIRATING THE GAME when a company releases a product with (reasonable) DRM, or goes after people who pirate, instead of the company.

    This righteous indignation bullshit is tiring. Nearly every single piracy/DRM story in the gaming media goes as follows:

    HEADLINE: COMPANY X PLANS TO RELEASE NEW GAME WITH DRM
    GAMING COMMUNITY RESPONSE: THAT’S BULLSHIT I’M NOT GONNA BUY IT LET’S ALL SIGN A STUPID PETITION

    HEADLINE: COMPANY UPSET ABOUT PIRACY OF NEW GAME
    GAMING COMMUNITY RESPONSE: WELL MAYBE PEOPLE WOULD ACTUALLY BUY IF IT DIDN’T TOTALLY SUCK

    HEADLINE: COMPANY FILES LEGAL ACTION AGAINST PEOPLE WHO PIRATED NEW GAME
    GAMING COMMUNITY RESPONSE: THEY WENT ABOUT THIS THE WRONG WAY

    I mean, I can understand being upset at what some may consider unintelligent knee-jerk litigation, but for fuck’s sake, they released a couple titles that people apparently loved, and they got mad that people were stealing their newest product. The gaming community doesn’t have a leg to stand on, here.

    Use your powers for good, kids. Weed out the idiots who give the hobby a bad name, don’t demonize a company who is legally protecting their right to make money.

  6. dchild says:

    in my eyes, the pricing of pc video games is, generally speaking, way too high.

    noone should have to spend more than 30 dollars for a title, period.
    anything more, and i feel the consumer is not getting a fair shake.

    • Clit Commander says:

      Take this into consideration:

      How many people does it take to go from concept to package at your door?

      Now realize that 25 years ago, Nintendo carts cost about the same amount of money.

      Do you get more enjoyment out of games that are released today, versus 8-bit console titles from 25 years ago?

      Taking inflation into account, games themselves are actually cheaper now than they’ve ever been.

      • dchild says:

        take into account the average income gamer (im guessing less than 20,000 a year) put some rent/daily expenses into that equation, what’s left is a very limited budget for things like games, imparticularly ones that generally run 50+..

        i think the gaming industry is in the process of transitioning to new ways to get their product in gamers’ hands and part of that equation i would hope is to cut costs in the whole process, imparticularly the ridiculous amounts of money these big companies spend marketing..

        • Clit Commander says:

          The majority of online gamers are console owners and casual gamers from middle income households ($35,000-$75,000) aged 25-44.

          Granted, those numbers are from 2007, but still.

          Now, if you want to narrow that a bit and eliminate console gamers entirely, then I’d say that the average price for a pc game is actually lower, because you’re not seeing Humble Indie Bundle and Steam sale-style prices on console titles.

          However, I will agree with you that the amount of money spent marketing a game is ridiculous. But what you have to also realize is that the decision to spend millions of dollars on a commercial campaign is made primarily by the publisher, not the developer, and in this day and age the two are generally not the same company.

          I’m not an economist by any stretch, but you need to think a little bit about how businesses work before you can make a blanket statement and say “noone should have to spend more than 30 dollars for a title, period.”

          Regardless, there are plenty of $30 games out there. You can’t get MW3 or Skyrim for $30? Well, that’s because the market has proven that it is willing to pay $60 for a AAA title, and BECAUSE the market is willing to pay it is precisely HOW the developers and publishers can afford to develop these AAA in the first place.

  7. dchild says:

    a follow up: besides, with a lower price, more gamers, bigger base for more
    games to be bought.

  8. Dex says:

    @dchild you are completely missing the point.

    They didn’t do anything wrong here. They didn’t ship a game with crippling DRM. They went after the assholes who STOLE the game. If you can’t afford to purchase a PC title, then get your mom to buy it for you console. I make well over 20 grand a year and I spend quit a bit of money every year BUYING PC games. I end up suffering because there are so many others who refuse to do the same. If I don’t think a game is worth my hard earned cash…. I just don’t buy it. If I can’t decide which game I want, then I wait until they both come down in price and get them both (right now I am doing this with Arkham City and Skyrim).

    I wish more companies did this and went after those people. Pay 60 bucks now, or 1000 bucks when they nail you in the future. Your choice.

nipnops

DanDan

I put the OO in Swagoo.

One of the founders of KBMOD. I stream on Twitch as well as writing and editing for the website.


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