The CEO of Witcher 2 developer, CD Projekt, has spoken out about Digital Rights Management (DRM), saying that it just doesn't work. Either it's too light and easy to crack, or too hard and disruptive - better, he says, to abandon it altogether.
Marcin Iwinski doesn't just talk about this kind of thing, either. His company put its money where its mouth is. When it released Witcher 2, the adventure game was made available on Good Old Games with no DRM whatsoever.
And while he did admit during an interview in PC Gamer that he estimated some 4.5 million copies of the game were pirated, he said that was to be expected - and the gesture of releasing without any form of copy protection wasn't lost on the million-plus people that bought the game legally.
Iwinski said that when he started CD Projekt in 1994, the company experimented with different types of DRM, but as he succinctly put it: "nothing worked". Within days, the CEO said, copies of the developer's games would show up on the street for sale.
To combat this, instead of making the protection harder and more complicated to crack, Iwinski started to add value to the retail product, adding soundtracks, game art, digital incentives and more.
"DRM does not work and however you would protect it, it will be cracked in no time," Iwinski continued. "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 USD or Euro and went and bought it. Why would you want to make their lives more difficult?"
He went on to describe why he felt the industry had become so DRM-focused in certain quarters, claiming that systems like Online Pass and Always-On were the brainchildren of non-gamers and businessmen. "As long as the numbers in Excel will add up they will not change anything."
Iwinski said that the “only way to get the Excel guys moving” is for gamers to vote with their wallets by buying their games that come without DRM from services like GOG, and refusing to buy titles that restrict the gaming experience. He added that social networking has having an impact, thanks to people being able to post comments whenever they want, generating large public records of anti-DRM messages.
He might be right, too. Ubisoft recently announced it wouldn't be using the Always-On DRM system in the forthcoming Assassin’s Creed Revelations. We can only hope...