CD Projekt Red is the developer that worked on The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, and a while ago the company started an anti-piracy initiative that could only be described as controversial. The Polish video game developer started sending threatening letters to all those players who they believed had pirated copies of their game. As a consequence, players were furious and quickly responded to this “questionable” approach towards piracy.
The problem with this approach is that CD Projekt used unknown methods to track pirates and once they had allegedly spotted one, they threatened him or her with legal action. Not only was this method aggressive, but it was also not very effective. The studio is now aware of this and has recently stated that they are going to cease sending these intimidating letters to players, but at the same time they are going to maintain their DRM-free policy, something that has proven to be extremely successful.
This is what CD Projekt Red’s co-founder Marcin Iwinski stated in an open letter:
“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.”
Then he added that:
“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.”
As somebody who really appreciates the existence of a digital distribution service like Good Old Games (CD Projekt is the owner of GOG.com,) I think this was the right move for the company. I don’t believe any video game developer is happy about piracy, but applying aggressive methods like sending threatening letters can be extremely detrimental to them too. At the same time it’s great that a company is ceasing this practice just to make their customers happy as this proves that CD Projekt listens to their users. Finally, it’s worth pointing out that CD Projekt’s DRM-free policy has always been something very distinctive as not many companies are trying to push it forward. Kudos to the Polish developer for being able to create a company based on DRM-free games and I hope they keep doing it for years to come.