Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

November 30, 2011 -

The Witcher 2 developer CD Projekt RED estimates that 4.5 million copies of its action-RPG have been pirated. The game has sold 1 million copies through various channels. Speaking to PC Gamer, CEO and co-founder Marcin Iwinski said that the number is also a conservative number.

"There are no stats available, but let's make a quick calculation," said Iwinski of the 4.5 million number. "I was checking regularly the number of concurrent downloads on torrent aggregating sites, and for the first 6-8 weeks there was around 20-30 thousand people downloading it at the same time. Let's take 20 thousand as the average and let's take 6 weeks.

The game is 14GB, so let's assume that on an average not-too-fast connection it will be 6 hours of download. 6 weeks is 56 days, which equals to 1344 hours; and with 6 hours of average download time to get the game it would give us 224 downloads, then let's multiply it by 20 thousand 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 1 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."

Despite the one sale out of five copies estimated, Iwinski is adamant about keeping his company's games DRM-free - mostly because he believes it is ineffective and hinders legitimate owners.

"From the very beginning our main competitors on the market were pirates. The question was really not if company x or y had better marketing or better releases, but more like 'How can we convince gamers to go and buy the legit version and not to go to a local street vendor and buy a pirated one?' 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.

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.

In any case, I am not saying that we have eliminated piracy or there is not piracy in the case of TW2. There is, and TW2 was [illegally] downloaded by tens of thousands of people during the first two weeks after release. Still, DRM does not work and however you would protect it, it will be cracked in no time. Plus, the DRM itself is a pain for your legal gamers - this group of honest people, who decided that your game was worth the $50 or Euro and went and bought it. Why would you want to make their lives more difficult?"

Source: GI.biz


Comments

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

I can't speak for everyone else in the world, but I appreciate the lack of DRM, and I rewarded them by purchasing the game at launch. They rewarded me with an awesome game, soundtrack, and I still have my two papercraft dolls standing by my TV. Can the pirates say that? No.

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

"In any case, I am not saying that we have eliminated piracy or there is not piracy in the case of TW2. There is, and TW2 was [illegally] downloaded by tens of thousands of people during the first two weeks after release. Still, DRM does not work and however you would protect it, it will be cracked in no time. Plus, the DRM itself is a pain for your legal gamers - this group of honest people, who decided that your game was worth the $50 or Euro and went and bought it. Why would you want to make their lives more difficult?"

*slowclap*

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

The basis for forming their piracy estimate is highly flawed and I don't doubt it is purposely slanted to make it look worse than it is.

"There are no stats available"

This shows right away they aren't dealing in facts, but unsupportable speculation based on pure assumption. Their assumption is wrong. They also don't consider that a portion of those "pirates" are people who already bought it.

Taking away the DRM was a smart move on their part, but if they really want to stop worrying about people making copies of their games and distributing them to others for free, they should stop trying to sell copies (because you can't control who copies the copies) and monetize another part of the interaction with the people whom play their games.

-Greevar

"Paste superficially profound, but utterly meaningless quotation here."

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

The stats he presented were admittedly 'back of a napkin' calculations. He was asked if he had any idea how many pirated copies had been downloaded and he threw out an estimate. I don't think he is basing any kind of business decision off those numbers.

Here is the question he was asked:

PCG: Can you offer any concrete numbers or percentages as far as Witcher 2 piracy goes?

The fact remains that CD Projekt is not concerned about piracy. That is why they don't put DRM in their games. They want to give paying customers the best experience possible. Pirates are not their customers.

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

I think there is a fault in your statement:

"The fact remains that CD Projekt is not concerned about piracy. That is why they don't put DRM in their games."

No, I do believe that they are, in fact, quite concerned with copyright infringement and that the article quote supports that. However, I also believe that either through honesty or by willingness to gather goodwill, they are ready to admit something most big players in this industry aren't ready to do. That DRM do not work and that they are detrimental to the player's experience. If you state that the DRM does not work, the only reason you'd have left to include it would be to fight second-hand market, but without the excuse of the copyright infringement, you'd be skinned alive (at least for the next year or so, at the speed things are changing...)

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

The general point I was trying to make was that his estimates are massively flawed and lead people to believe it's a far worse issue than it is in reality. It's misleading to make such grandiose estimates on nothing but a guess.

-Greevar

"Paste superficially profound, but utterly meaningless quotation here."

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

If he were using those numbers to support some policy that was detrimental to paying customers, then yes I would agree with you. However, he is not and thus his point that piracy exists and it is huge, but in the grand scheme of things not the important thing to focus on still stands.

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

Perhaps, but you know someone is going to cite this as fact and try to mislead people to believe that TW2 was downloaded 4.5 million times.

-Greevar

"Paste superficially profound, but utterly meaningless quotation here."

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

And really, just as there is nothing you can do with piracy but compete, there is nothing you can do about dishonest people other than call them on it. Trying to stamp out potential talking points of dishonest people is just as futile as trying to stamp out piracy.

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

I'm pretty sure I read that wrong, but it sounds like you're saying that in order to stop piracy, they should give the game away for free.

If that's the case, that's pretty counter-productive to being successful as a business.

If not, ignore the previous statements.

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

Yes, I am saying give the game away for free and it's only counterproductive if you can't or won't think of another model for making money from games. There are other ways to make money from games than selling copies. Whoever figures out how to build a business around that will make copyright irrelevant.

Think about it. Where does money for game development come from? It comes from publishers  and their investors of course. Now, where do they get their money? They get it from us, the consumers. So, kick out the middleman, what do we have? Consumers fund game development by paying developers directly. This is the hurdle to get over. How do you get people to spend money on a game that doesn't exist yet when it's dead easy to make copies that nobody paid for? Figure out the proper incentive and you don't need to sell copies anymore. There will also no longer be such a thing as "digital piracy". Therefore, no need for DRM and the only topic here will be fundamentalists bitching about the violence in games.

-Greevar

"Paste superficially profound, but utterly meaningless quotation here."

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

Pirates don't care if the business is successful.  Every argument for piracy has been pointed out to be a fallacy just by the amount of pirated copies of World of Goo.

There was a demo, and the game was purchasable for a penny.  It's still estimated to have more pirated copies than legit ones.

--- With the first link, the chain is forged.

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

There's lots of logical (not to say legal or "right") reasons to download games for free.

1. Games are an expensive risk investment (especially in poorer nations!). If they don't satisfy you, there's typically no refunds. The best way to avoid losing money on a bad game is to play it for free. Even demos aren't able to fully exhibit the value of the full game.

2. Games are luxury items. Consumers don't need them, but developers need consumers to buy them. Since they are a risk purchase and we don't need them, it's safer to experience the entirety of the content without limit to determine if it merits a purchase.

3. You can get a superior experience from the copy you download for free. DRM-free, more stable (DRM can cause instability), and unrestricted content.

4. Digital goods such as games are non-exclusive and non-rivalrous. Thus, my having it doesn't deprive others from having it and it doesn't remove anything from anyone's possession (i.e. loss for the author of the content).

5. You have no legal channel to get a copy because it's not available in your country or it's no longer in print.

6. Damaged disc. (this is pretty self-explanatory)

7. It's more convenient than paying. It's less hassle than going to the store, spending gas, dealing with a snarky cashier/clerk. Digital stores solve this, but you still have to deal with the checkout system which some people just can't be bothered to even pull out their debit card (i.e. lazy).

That's seven logical reasons to download a free copy of a game.

 

-Greevar

"Paste superficially profound, but utterly meaningless quotation here."

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

Yes. And I pirated the game. Because I didn't know there was a demo. Then I bought it. Then I bought it again in a bundle. Then I gave it as a gift twice. Then I bought it in another bundle. And finally, I bought it in another bundle. The number of pirated version IS IRRELEVANT! The important numbers are people playing it (or willing to pay for it, whichever you value) and bought copies. That is it. And that's only if you use THAT publishing model.

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

and here i was wondering if anyone would mention the "pirates" that ended up buying the game pushing those piracy numbers even further out the door :p

i'll be honest, in the past i've done the same. Pirated a game that had no demo, and ended up loving it so much i bought multiple copies thereafter. In fact, i still buy updated copies of some games to this day.  nowadays i just skeptically watch and wait on games i'm unsure of.

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

My Steam collection is nearing 800 games, my GoG a 100 and I've got games from other sources. I feel that as a professional in this industry, it'd be wrong to take a game without paying for it, so I make a point of buying any game I've copied at some point in the past when I come across it nowadays...

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

And it was still a tremendously successful game in spite of all the piracy.

Re: Estimate: 4.5 Million Copies of The Witcher 2 Pirated

But it *obviously* would have been even *more* successful if not for those evil, dastardly pirates! Arggh!

 
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