With the state of the video game industry as of late, piracy has been rife. It seems gamers are fed up with terrible DRM, buggy releases, silly micro transactions and expensive DLC. Who would’ve thought? With buyer confidence being at such a massive low, The Witcher 3 is such a refreshing sight to see. A completely DRM-free release, in the eyes of many triple A’s, would be commercial suicide. There would be absolutely zero protections from piracy and, for PC, it’d be as easy as sharing your install discs. Why then did I not wince at handing over the £40 for the game, not only that, but I wanted to.
But, DRM-free games, are always consumer first. DRM gives no benefit to the consumer, and is rather, a hindrance. By scrapping it, a developer is trusting consumers to purchase the game, rather than obtaining it through illegal means. Liken it to asking permission to start the game, every single time you press launch. Think back to Watchdogs. Ubisoft used uPlay as its main DRM and remember what a complete disaster that was. People who pirated the game actually had a better experience than those who purchased it! I was unable to play for the first 72 hours. And since then, I have not purchased another game from Ubisoft (nor finished Watchdogs).
Of course DRM does serve the industry positively when used well. Steam, for example, does DRM well. It’s relatively non-intrusive and does protect developers from the less tech-savvy pirates. Valve managed to find the right balance, without negatively affecting its customers as say uPlay did. DRM is put in place to make sure the Devs get paid and hopefully The Witcher will prove that that isn’t exactly true anymore.
Piracy will always exist. Frankly, any effect to eliminate it, is useless. Don’t make it harder to purchase your game, instead reward those who do. That is what the Witcher and CD Projekt Red got right. To such an extent that I bought the physical edition, for the first time in years.
Now any developers reading, take note. This is the extra content they delivered:
– Physical soundtrack
– Physical map
– Physical documentation (manual, compendium)
– An explicit thank you from CDPR
– Digital manual (GOG Extra)
– 8 Wallpapers (GOG Extra)
– Digital world map (GOG Extra)
– 6 Paper Toys (GOG Extra)
– Digital artbook (GOG Extra)
– Digital compendium (GOG Extra)
– Soundtrack in FLAC and MP3 (GOG Extra)
– 8 HD Videos (GOG Extra)
– 28 Avatars (GOG Extra)
– 44 Artworks (GOG Extra)
– Comic (GOG Extra)
– Paper toy catalogue (GOG Extra)
And of course the 16 free pieces of DLC that they are giving out post-release. Now of course all of these could be obtained using unethical matters, but that isn’t the point. The point is that its the icing on the cake. “Buy this game, and we’ll give you this extra stuff”. Not only making the asking price easier to stomach but also making you feel valued as a customer. That little thank you note goes a long way. There is always an easy way out, the challenge is to make people not want to take it.
Of course if you really are a Valve fan, they put the game on Steam too. Now if that doesn’t show consumer awareness, I do not know what does.
On top of all this, mod support! This literally gives the game infinite worth, so you value oriented gamers should have no reason to not jump on board immediately.
CD Projekt Red have not only created a sensational game, but also knocked-it-out-of-the-park on the extras. It is clear that CDPR is a company passionate and caring about their product. Hopefully this will be the start of a new generation of developers who take note of its customers and give them what they want, not what they want to sell.