CD Projekt RED co-founder talks fighting videogame piracy with kindness

The Witcher 3

CD Projekt RED have long been known as the ‘good guys’ of game development, giving out generous helpings of free DLC and making their expansions almost worthy of a game of their own. Even CD Projekt’s digital distribution platform, GOG, does things a little differently, offering DRM-free games that you can install on whatever computer you wish. In a recent interview, the company explain the thought processes behind this approach. 

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Marcin Iwiński, co-founder of GOG and development studio CD Projekt RED,spoke late last month at infoShare 2016 about the issue of piracy and how the company tackles the problem.

“We released [The Witcher 3] without any copy protection,” Iwiński says, via Kotaku. “So, on day one, you could download the game from GOG, and give it to a friend (enemy as well)… and still we sold near to ten-million units across all three platforms. But the piracy factor was irrelevant, because we cannot force people to buy things. We can only convince them to do it.

“We totally believe in the carrot, not in the stick… I’ve seen many times, comments [that say] ‘Hey, I couldn’t afford the game when it was full price, but these guys are so fair, and they were never against us. They were always trying to do good, add a lot of value, give free DLC, give free content, that I bought the game from them when it was mid-price.’

“[In] lower income countries, people just cannot afford a $50 game. So maybe our price-point offering in a certain country wasn’t right. For example, we have lower prices in Russia. And there is many cases like that.”

Iwiński says they’d rather convince people to buy the game if they can afford it. Obviously CD Projekt RED don’t like it when someone steals their game, but they would rather get people on their side than put them in jail. They’ve found that this approach has led to people on forums chastising anyone who’s looking for a torrent of the game.

“Funnily enough, the more we proceed this way, the more we see them again on forums and Reddit and whatnot, we see that there is a guy saying ‘hey where can I download Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from?’ And then there is 10 people bashing them, ‘Oh you fucko, do not download the game. These guys are fair, they’re the only fair guys in the industry. You should go and buy it’,”Iwiński continues.

“And so, I’m not sure if this guy will buy it or find this link, but still, it’s a very positive attitude and it’s excellent word of mouth.”

Listen to the full interview in the following video from the 14:30 mark: