Digital Distribution CEO: Publishers Are Scared of DRM-less Games

Are video game publishers afraid to operate in a DRM-free environment?

They are, according to Michal Kicinski, CEO of digital distribution company CD Projekt and its GOG (Good Old Games) service. Kicinski told

We’re trying to convince [game publishers] there is nothing to be afraid of. DRM-free, that is something they are really scared of, but on the other hand we can say ‘all of those games are available pirated widely so it’s better to sell them for small money than make the customer’s life difficult and get some more revenues’.


…I think that if somebody is paying for the game then they deserve own it, not with a certain list of conditions and sometimes the list of conditions can be long… DRM makes customer’s lives too complicated, and this is usually because of some corporate ideas, policies and trying to be smart, too smart, in how to get customers and how to keep them and no let them go somewhere else. We are believers in the free market and bringing freedom to customers.


Piracy in Poland is always much, much bigger here than in Western countries so we got used to living with piracy and we grew up in a surrounding where there was no help from governments to actually fight piracy. So we had to learn to compete with pirates…

GP: To be candid, I was not aware of GoG until I checked it out for this post. It’s apparently not live yet, but is supposed to start up this month. And they’ve got Fallout and Fallout 2 displayed. I’ve been wanting to replay those with the new Fallout 3 coming out soon…

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  1. oto kirlama says:

    I’m all for freedom of ttnet vitamin speech and allowing rent a car game makers to put whatever they want in games, but there’s one thing about this app that has me scratching my head.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but from araç kiralama the previous article araba kiralama on this I gathered that players can use Google maps in-game to find the other (real-life?) dealers in their area.  If this is the case, has travesti anyone considered what’s stopping someone from using this app to actually move drugs between hands for reals?

    But majority araba kiralama of their outrage araç kiralama stems from what it could DO TO children, not the content itself.  Talk to one of these people and you’ll find they don’t think any books kiralık araba should be banned from children.  Mention American Psycho and they talk about kiralık araç the redeeming value of using imagination to construct a story.  Reading, no matter what the content, is largely viewed as a consequenceless activity for people of any age.  The reason why I mention American Psycho is because of the content itself.  Gaming never has and likely never will have any scenes where someone has sex with a severed head.  Not gonna happen.  Yet despite this, they’ll fight tooth and nail to protect their children from two boys kissing in Bully but whatever they read is harmless… yeah.

    The entire arguement is kiralık oto based upon a social normality inflicted by luddites who can’t figure out the controls for Halo so it’s frightening and terrifying and obviously the cause of youth violence on the rise even though, in reality, it’s in decline (which is actually a HUGE suprise given minibüs kiralama the economies status).  In  a perfect world, we would have parents that actually parent.  The idea of sales restrictions on media on oto kiralama any form to accomidate parental unwillingness to get involved with their child’s life is the real problem to me.  Here I am, 32 years old, and being held up at a self-scan rent a car needing to show ID before I can buy a $10 M rated game all because Soccer Momthra can’t be bothered to look at the crap Billy Genericallystupidson does in his free time.  It’s too hard for her, so I have to suffer?

  2. Lysenko says:

    CD Projekt is a smallish but well-established polish developer. They started out doing localizations (I think their big claim to fame in Poland is being the Polish translator and localizer for the classic Bioware/Black Isle games), and hit it fairly big with The Witcher last year. They’re hardly a fly-by-night operation, and the reason that only Interplay and Codemaster games are up ATM is that those are the two companies they’ve negotiated successfully. So far the only specific companies they’ve talked about on the forums there is LucasArts, and unfortunately the news was that "it doesn’t look good" for getting any LucasArts titles there in the forseeable future.

  3. Bob says:

    But will this GOG site have System Shock?!? It seems in order to play them now, piracy is the ONLY option (that or sit on eBay for a while…but it looks like most people who have copies are hoarding them…I don’t think I’ve ever seen the first one up for sale.)

  4. Anonymous says:

    That’s true.  If I buy a game I should get to make as many copies of it as I want for my own use, and I should get to play it indefinitely and I should get to resell it when I’m done with it.  That’s true ownership.  If a game company can’t deliver that for me I’m not interested in their product (unless someone else can modify it to give me those rights).  It’s as simple as that.  Currently I only buy games if they come with infinite installs and if there’s a no-CD patch for them somewhere on the web.

  5. hcf ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  We don’t seem to know anything about CD Projekt except what’s on their website.  If Poland is rife with piracy, how can we trust that CD Projekt has the rights to the games they sell?  It may be we can, but I don’t see this validation performed.  I also hear you can download mp3s from Russia for cheap.  Not everyone was universally pleased with this.

    Also, when playing kingmaker, it is important to choose your next king wisely.  Otherwise you wind up replacing one despot with another.  In your Stardock kingmaking, and cheerleading, you should be aware that Stardock is primarily a money making venture, and that they will abandon these marketing positions they’ve sold you on just as soon as they can make a larger profit by doing so (they have already shown that they will sell out their customers for profit).  As Apple dreams to become Microsoft, able and ready to visit upon us all their tortures, so does Stardock dream to become EA.  How can you be sure one is really any better than the other?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’ve always been anti-piracy, and I don’t mind DRM if it’s done in a way that doesn’t inconvenience me, but lately it’s getting so ridiculous that I’m seriously considering just going along the path of least resistance and just downloading pirated games for free (something I’ve never done) in the future and not bothering with legitimate copies at all.  Like a lot of people I’m not made of money, but I was more than willing to pay for a game if I believed the developer and publisher were truly trying to make a good product, and if I feel they respected me as a customer.  This latest DRM debacle is the final straw, and it shows me that the folks who put these so-called ‘anti-piracy’ measures (which should be called ‘anti-customer’ measures) hold me and every other customer in contempt.

  7. JGordon says:

    I just got in on the Beta, and for those of you interested here’s the game list.  Pretty limited so far, but it looks like they are regularly adding games.  I’ll probably pick up Fallout 2 and Freespace 1 to play through.

    racing, arcade, off-road 474.3 MB

    racing, arcade, rally

    not rated yet
    2.9 GB


    strategy, turn-based, historical
    75.5 MB


    shooter, fpp, sci-fi
    546.8 MB


    shooter, fpp, sci-fi
    797.5 MB


    action, adventure, fantasy
    482.2 MB


    action, adventure, platformer
    136.3 MB


    shooter, tpp, sci-fi
    443.8 MB


    simulation, combat, modern
    281.1 MB


    rpg, turn-based, sci-fi
    505.4 MB


    rpg, turn-based, sci-fi
    579.6 MB


    rpg, strategy, sci-fi
    1.6 GB


    simulation, combat, sci-fi
    829 MB


    simulation, combat, sci-fi
    1.6 GB


    shooter, tpp, sci-fi
    787.7 MB


    strategy, real-time, sci-fi
    522.5 MB


    shooter, fpp, modern
    729.6 MB


    rpg, strategy, historical
    669 MB


    strategy, turn-based, tactical
    407.8 MB


    action, adventure, fantasy
    not rated yet
    258.6 MB


    shooter, fpp, modern
    337.1 MB


    rpg, action, fantasy
    699.4 MB


    strategy, turn-based, sci-fi
    613.4 MB


    shooter, tpp, sci-fi
    74 MB


    shooter, tpp, sci-fi
    219.2 MB


    shooter, tpp, sci-fi
    408.5 MB


    shooter, fpp, modern
    not rated yet
    732.6 MB


    strategy, real-time, sci-fi
    978.3 MB


    strategy, real-time, sci-fi
    1.3 GB


    shooter, fpp, modern
    605.1 MB


    strategy, action, fantasy
    562.6 MB


    action, fpp, sci-fi
    474.9 MB


    shooter, fpp, sci-fi
    248.5 MB


    strategy, real-time, tactical
    1.4 GB


    rpg, action, fantasy
    425.4 MB


    racing, simulation, touring
    not rated yet
    5.3 GB


  8. mogbert says:

    I’m playing the Witcher EE and I pretty much like what they’ve done witch copy protection.

    Sure, there is the slightly annoying CD check, but that is about it. The CD key you get with your game isn’t used to play the game, it’s used to create an account on their web page which provides you with a lot of small guides, the updates, mods, and access to the forum. Also, I think there is other things, like access to some sort of online game that is loosely related to the game (Witcher Versus).

    Also, a company that releases a half baked game with lots of bugs takes ownership of the problem, fixes the problems, makes the game so much better it’s almost a sequal (but not quite), then rereleases it for free to anyone who already bought the first game, and for a discount to anyone that hasn’t bought it up to then. CDProjekt has gotten a lot of respect for this. Load times just going into a small hut used to take several minutes by all accounts. Now it is down to about 5 to 10 seconds.

    The problem is that the publishers aren’t the ones with the DRM. DRM is actually provided by sepperate companies and licenced to the publishers. The CEO’s don’t hear us screaming, they hear the sales reps with their own data showing that without their DRM, companies would be left in a financial ruin. We know that statistics can be made to say anything. These publishers feel that we are the unwashed masses with no facts or logic. The feel that they have the truth from the DRM sales people who have told them they need DRM.

    This is why they won’t listen to us. The DRM is the Wormwood whispering in the kings ear.

  9. Anonymous says:

    DRM needs to be made so that in installs a giant laser on the computer and if someone tries to pirate the game, they get blown to Kingdom Come 😀 It also needs to be apart of the base program, meaning every pirate gets wiped off the face of the earth.

    …Am I the only one hoping that this will happen, just so we can hear stories about people being blasted into swiss cheese by lasers? <.<

  10. ZippyDSMlee says:

    DRM with a consumer minded approach.

    The point of DRM is to slow illict copies not hassle the consumer, first off off line installs must be easy to do and can be done either on the phone or via a dailup friendly website.. it dose not matter if the off line mode has loop holes that can be exploited to play the game off line as much as you want the instant you make it beholdant to online mode and DRM is the instant vaule is lost in the product.



    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

  11. DexX ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    For as little as five bucks a game, why bother making illegal copies at all?  Just tell them, "No, I won’t copy it for you – but I’ll tell you where you can get it legally for only a few bucks."

    Another point, has something better than DRM to keep us honest: constant patching.  They are working hard to make sure all the games run perfectly on all modern PCs, but problems happen.  If you’re legal, you can get regular patches and have an up to date, fully-functional product.

  12. TheEggplant ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    To futher the love yes is great and well worth the money to any lover of old games when it goes live. Just to clear up a couple of earlier posts though the version of Freespace 2 on the site appears to be the original retail one not the the "Game of the Year" or the "Anniversary" edition.

    To the point about transfers though. Since it is a DRM free file they are trusting you not to distribute it. If you want to give the game to a friend you can burn it to a disk and delete all copies from your possession. Just like in the old days. At $10 or less though I’d rather try to convince my friends to set up their own accounts

  13. DexX ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I’m in on the beta.  Snagged Kingpin and Messiah for a grand total of six bucks (Messiah was a freebie for buying another game during the beta period).  Kingpin doesn’t seem to like my hardware much, and next time I try running it I’ll let know about my problems, but Messiah runs like a dream on my Vista-based machine with a brand new video card (Radeon 4870).

    What I find very encouraging is that, even still in beta, many of the games are already up to versions 1.3 and 1.4 – they are obviously listening to their customers and working on getting the emulation and hardware support right.  When I report the problem with Kingpin (fell over halfway through the first cinematic) I am sure they will get to it and have a patch out quickly.

    Even cooler, most games have bonus content, often just a wallpaper or two, but also including some really good stuff.  Messiah came with a free MP3 (DRM-free) copy of the Fear Factory soundtrack for the game, for example.

    I’m very impressed.  I just wish I had more time to game.  I’ll be grabbing Sacrifice some time soon – I borrowed it from a friend when I first played it and I want to buy my own copy and play it through again.  That was a criminally under-appreciated game.

  14. Anonymous says:

    And I quote:

    "We’ll be accepting sign-ups for the exclusive access until Monday, September 22 at 11:59 p.m. (EDT)."

  15. Thad says:

    While GoG is a big step in the right direction, they overstate their case somewhat in saying "I think that if somebody is paying for the game then they deserve own it, not with a certain list of conditions."  In point of fact, GoG games are non-transferable; you can’t resell a game to somebody else.  GoG is not compliant with first sale doctrine; they’re still selling licenses rather than products.  That their licenses have far fewer restrictions than most companies’ is to be lauded, but the fact is that you STILL don’t truly own a game you buy from them.

  16. beemoh says:

    The early access freebie finished earlier today.

    But: I’m on the GoG beta, and it is just that little bit awesome.

  17. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Seriously, I want to hear some valid argumments for including DRM in retail versions when pirates have it stripped out.

    Seriously, what is  the point?

    All of the games listed on the GOG website already have pirate copies available all over the internet, so why do publishers insist on DRM?

    I hope more companies learn to follow the likes of Stardock and CD Projekt.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page:
    Facebook Page:

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  18. freakish light says:

    GOG is a pretty fantastic service.  It’s also not too late to put in your email to get your early access beta key – but just barely.  If you submit it tonight before midnight EDT you should still be able to get in.

    All games are 100% DRM free and you can download them as many times as you want.  Fallout 1&2 do indeed run in DosBOX, but you generally don’t need to, as they install and play in XP and Vista perfectly.

    Not only do you get your game, but with the early access it’s buy one get one free – as soon as you get your first game, they send you a coupon code for one free game.  And each one comes with extras, like wallpapers, manuals, soundtracks, reference cards, and more.  Furthermore, each game is between $6 and $10.

    Go sign up now!  You won’t be sorry.  Though you can wait for the general launch, I don’t know when that’s going to be.

  19. BravO))) says:

    Most of my games I buy now are from STEAM.  STEAM has to be one of the best game utilities out there.  If only more publishers would use valves program, we would have a lot less issues with this.  All I have to do, is buy the game, and download it from anywhere on any computer.  I carry my entire collection on a portable hard drive for when I travel, all i have to do is copy and paste and connect once in order to play my games (takes less then ten minutes).  There are no product keys to keep up with, no cd’s or dvd’s to protect for scratches.  When will we see a standard like STEAM come into effect?

  20. Lysenko says:

    There’s some linux support as well. The GOG team has also asked the beta users if they’d prefer .zipped or .7zipped archives so that they could use their own choice of programs rather than the packaged and pre-configured DOSbox+frontend combo that they currently used, so the option of just getting the game resources may become available.

  21. lumi says:

    Unfortunately, they’re not supporting Mac at this time.  Possibly in the future, but for now it’s a PC only service.

  22. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Maybe, I am not clear on all the details, but you should be able to stip out what you need if not. That is if the games are not provided for Macs.

    I have a copy of the original Warcraft from a company called Sold Out. It came with its own DOS emulator. I just made an image of the disk and took out what I needed and installed it in DOS box from that.

    So if these games are handled in a similar way, I am sure you can install it on a Mac.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page:
    Facebook Page:

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  23. insanejedi says:

    Can’t you say the same about SecureRom though? Everyone thought that Steam was an awful way to ensure you had a legal copy of the game as well because you always needed to be connected to the internet. Now it’s become the norm to do so.

  24. Anonymous says:

    And yet at the same time, Steam was the first of its kind.  A stand-alone application devoted to acting as an online distrubutor and game management system.  It was an experiment of sorts – Valve had just as much to lose as they had gained.  Going in, I was expecting bugs and the odd occasional mishap.  Such is the state these days with half-finished applications and the crutch of using the internet for rapid patch deployment.

    I’m not going to lie – the transition from WON to Steam was a royal pain in the ass.  But when you look at how Steam has progressed since then, Valve has something they can be proud of.

  25. insanejedi says:

    Obviously someone here wasn’t here 4 years ago playing Half Life 2. Steam sucked back then. It wasn’t your fancy pancy amazing store it is now, it was absolutly hated by everone who used it as it always crashed, was buggy, didin’t registar your game properly, required internet, auto patching people thought were invading on their rights, VAC wasn’t an effective measure in stopping hackers, WON was a much better service, VAC also banned people using external messaging programs like MSN for some time and freinds list and server listings woulden’t keep properly or freinds list wasn’t even implemented at all, not to mention steam took up tons of memory and processing speed as people back mostly had single core processers and limited RAM. STEAM SUCKEDDDDD for a very very long time.


  26. Anonymous says:

    Of course.. but Valve is doing it the right way.  Tie the game to an account, and install anywhere you’d like – only one copy of the account is active at a time.  No installing nasty stuff onto your PC.  It also automatically patches games, provides an online, downloadable store in the same UI, etc etc.  If you compare the install experience on Steam vs. the experience finding a pirated version, most people will do Steam.  Downloads are fast, and there’s effectively zero chance of catching a virus through steam.  The pirated version is free, but you are running an executable from an untrusted source.


    Compare that to Spore:  It comes with install limitations (5 uses, ever), and the install executable -guarantees- you will have something installed that you don’t want (SecuROM), that may potentially damage your system and/or cannot be removed.   The pirated version, on the other hand, has no install limitations, and you only have the -chance- of getting a virus.  Ethical issues aside, the pirated version is far superior.


    Valve seems pretty trustworthy with Steam.  I get nervous thinking about Steam technology in EA’s hands – Steam can track every game you play, for how long, with what hardware you have, etc etc.  It’s logged into my account, so it’s not an anonymous ID.  EA has already tried in-game advertising, tracking what ads you see, from what angle, how long you look at them, etc..  imagine that, with Steam’s ability to track you ACROSS games.  Add a little code to scan for/place cookies in your web browser, and suddenly they can do uniquely targetted in-game ads based on your browsing habits.  So much for privacy.

  27. Solipsis says:

    Oh yes, they’ve proved amply that it’s all about what the users need. Didn’t you know that only 1% of gamers need more than three installs?

    They assumed we understood the problem of piracy.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Remember Lenslok that shipped with the non-BBC Micro versions of Elite?

    That actually got withdrawn as a health hazard in the end iirc.

  29. Haggard says:

    Sadly Crysis Warhead also contains the DRM and limited installs, which is a shame and also extremely bizarre, because unlike Spore, Warhead’s target is the very hardcore PC gamers, whom regularly swap machines, hard-drives and upgrade, each of which requires a new installation (upgrade only for the motherboard though).

  30. Anonymous says:

    Well, there is one particular publisher that isn’t actually afraid, they just seem to enjoy being assholes.

    I don’t think I need to Elaborate on which publisher I’m talking About.

  31. sheppy says:

    Thank you, I love how this game is getting ignored.  It usually fetches a ton of money on Ebay.  Having a copy for $6 that actually WORKS with the current windows environment is one of the greatest things ever.

  32. Anonymous ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    -to both of your comments-

    That is the way I would say it best to do it with the CD keys like they have for a long while now.

    That and the half finished games are killing the industry as a whole.  Finish the games, dont have DRM, treat gamers kindly (aka no saying ‘we assumed our consumers understood…’), and test your games like crazy before releasing them, especially computer games.  (Oh no’s I don’t have the same graphics card as the developers did, now I am SOL)

  33. Zaruka ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    i agree with ^^^ i would rather just have cd keys yes they can be crack but so can ea spore drm plus if the cd in the drive that should be enough tho i like cracking my old singleplayer games so i can kept the cd safe.



  34. GrimCW ( User Karma: -3 ) says:

    i don’t mind DRM, even things like D2D’s activate once DRM isn’t so bad, but the limitations and spyware EA has put into their games is what irks me.


    DRM free would be neat, but i do agree SOME for of protection needs to be made. The thing is, they said the SecuRom was supposed to stop Day 0 cracks and pirating… anyone noticed Spore was up nearly a WEEK prior to release?  granted it wasn’t as early as say Warcraft 3 was (i recall that i read that one was up nearly 3 monthes before release!… wow)

  35. Insanejedi says:

    Valve stopped many pirates dead in their tracks when Half Life 2 rolled along. Primarly because they were super parinoid because their source code leaked, and the took like 1000 percatiouns in order for the game to not be pirated. I know many pirates who didin’t pirate Half Life 2 because of how Valve cracked down on all the torent sites and the torrent downloaders.

    There’s your one DRM measure that actually works. And frankly I think it’s the only one.

  36. Derovius says:


     Closest thing to curbing piracy were those little spiny code discs that came with your Dungeons and Dragons game. Even though that wasn’t fool proof, you really had to WANT to pirate those games to go through the effort of making code tables / copies of the discs. Then there were those code sheets inked in barely legible yellow ink so you couldn’t photocopy them.

     Its one thing to make your customers blind trying to use your product, but taking their computer hostage is low.

  37. kurisu7885 (can't log in) says:

    PRovided that DRM doesn’t wreck your computer as well as reduce the CD to a fancy drink coaster.

  38. Zevorick says:

    Show me A DRM measure that ACTUALLY prevents piracy and then they’ll have a right to be afraid.

    Publishers… no matter what you do, your game WILL be pirated. Deal with it. You’ll get plenty of revenue from us good ole gamers who actually enjoy paying for our games legitimately. You’ll be fine :p

  39. Dark Sovereign says:

    Publishers’ fears are understandable, but EA has taken the wrong step. There are a series of "anti-piracy" efforts, such as product keys and requiring disc for use, that many consumers will gladly accept. What consumers shouldn’t accept is near-impossible-to-remove spyware and install limits.

  40. Zaruka ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    and a another mark has been put against ea and their drm and anyone else who use it stoping be wussies make a great game and it will sell in the pc market. dont blame your bad half finish games on priecy and make worst drm evertime a game comes out from you.



  41. Geoff ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The publishers are just going to have to deal with the idea that there will always be pirates out there that will crack whatever security feature they implement.  Not condoning the practice but it’s just an aspect of the computer age that will never go away.  DRM probably ends up scaring away more customers than anything else.  True titles that can reach over the core-casual divide like Spore will make revenue because of that fact, but "core" games will only suffer from intrusive DRM since the "core" crowd tend to be more tech savvy and up-to-date with the "goings-on" of the industry.  (Damn, I was doing pretty well with my vocabulary until that point. 🙂 )  As a result all they end up doing is alienating the "core" crowd, the group of people that will be there to support the industry if/when the gaming industry crashes and the group of people who buys much more software than the "casual" crowd.

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