Digital Rights Management technologies do not work and will eventually disappear, says CD Projekt Red CEO Marcin Iwinski.
His comments came after it was announced that copies of The Witcher 2 which contained DRM were pirated heavily whereas those with no DRM were not.
“I have to admit it was a big surprise,” said Irwinski.
“My guess is that releasing an unprotected game is not the real deal, you have to crack it to gain respect and be able to write, ‘cracked by XYZ.’
"How would ‘not cracked by XYZ, as there was nothing to crack’ sound? A bit silly, wouldn’t it?"
“The illegal scene is pretty much about the game and the glory: who will be the first to deliver the game, who is the best and smartest cracker," he said.
Within two hours of its release, the DRM version of The Witcher 2 was cracked.
“First of all let me dispel the myth about DRM protecting anything,” continued Irwinski.
“The truth is it does not work. It’s as simple as that. The technology which is supposed to protect games against illegal copying is cracked within hours of the release of every single game. So, that’s wasted money and development just to implement it. But that’s not the worst part.”
He then detailed the hurdles those who had legally purchased a game containing DRM usually had to vault, including the entering of serial numbers, online validation and authentication, or worse – having to be connected to the Internet while they played.
Quite often the DRM slowed the game down, as the wrapper around the executable file was constantly checking if the game is being legally used or not, he said.
“That is a lot the legal users have to put up with, while the illegal users who downloaded the pirated version have a clean – and way more functional! – game. It seems crazy, but that’s how it really works.
“So if you are asking me how do I see the future of DRM in games, well, I do not see any future for DRM at all… We will eventually leave DRM behind.”
Irwinski also refused to see pirated copies of games as lost revenue, despite an estimated 4.5 million illegal copies of The Witcher 2 being in circulation on the Internet.
“It really puzzles me how serious software companies can consider each pirated copy to be a lost sale,” he said.
“Maybe it looks nice in an official report to say how threatening pirates are, but it is extremely far from the truth. I would rather say that a big part of these 4.5 million pirated copies are considered a form of trial version, or even a demo. Gamers download [pirate copies] because it’s easy, fast, and, frankly, costs nothing. If they like the game and they start investing the time, some of them will go and buy it.”
The fact that the first Witcher was still selling five years later was proof, he said, and quality was the way to appeal to gamer’s wallets.
“We want them to think something like, ‘Wow this game is really great. I spent 40-50 great hours with it and I want to have it in my collection; it would be embarrassing not to buy it.’
“Whether they buy it in full price, mid-price or maybe even budget is less important. We want them to have the legal version and became fans of the Witcher franchise, as when the next game comes they will be hooked and they will go and buy it on day one.”