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Witcher 2 developer estimates game was pirated at least 4.5 million times

For every person who purchased a copy of The Witcher 2 legally, at least 4-5 downloaded a copy illegally, said developer CD Projekt. CEO Marcin Iwinski checked piracy websites after the game's release, and while he agreed that it would have been impossible to get an exact number, he was still able to get a good idea by following the numbers that were available. "There are no stats available, but let’s make a quick calculation. I was checking regularly the number of concurrent downloads on torrent aggregating sites, and for the first 6-8 weeks there was around 20-30k ppl downloading it at the same time," he said.

"Let’s take 20k as the average and let’s take 6 weeks. The game is 14GB, so let’s assume that on an average not-too-fast connection it will be 6 hours of download. 6 weeks is 56 days, which equals to 1344 hours; and with 6h of average download time to get the game it would give us 224 downloads, then let’s multiply it by 20k simultaneous downloaders," he explained. "The result is roughly 4.5 million illegal downloads."

Though that number is only an estimation, he explains. "I would say that’s rather on the optimistic side of things; as of today we have sold over 1M legal copies, so having only 4.5-5 illegal copies for each legal one would be not a bad ratio. The reality is probably way worse."

And yet, despite this, Iwinski stands by the company's decision not to use DRM. He explained that they tested with different DRM solutions, but found that they simply didn't work at preventing piracy, making them an insufficient solution to the problem.

You can check out the full interview here, in which he goes into more details about the game's reception. We liked it quite a bit, if you remember. What about you? Anyone out there proud to be one of the 1:5 that purchased the game legally?

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48 comments

  • ZhugeLiang - December 2, 2011 9:21 a.m.

    Even if a consumer makes the dubious claim that he would never have bought a game in the first place, if he plays it, he is still capturing the value of an intrinsic good (entertainment) that a producer is supplying - a good from which the consumer benefits and the producer makes no gains for creating. Consumers' shirking of the rules of a market only ever works to break that market down. I have to wonder if illegally downloading software would be such a vogue thing to do, and have such a vocal group of apologists for it, if it didn't have the cachet of the word "piracy" tied to it. Strip away the romanticised notions of folk justice, the rationales that downloads aren't really lost sales, all the justifications, and call software piracy what it really is - "stealing." How many people would so strongly identify with the culture then? Try replacing the words of people who have admitted to "illegally downloading" or "pirating" a game, and replace these terms with the word "stealing." How do these statements read now?
  • rabidpotatochip - December 2, 2011 11:18 a.m.

    I'm against all forms of piracy but if you're going to "call software piracy what it really is" then you should be calling it copyright infringement. Stealing is depriving someone of property they own; when you download non-free software you aren't denying the developer access to the original, you're just stepping into a quagmire. So strip away the romanticized notion that these people are thieves and have caused more financial losses than there is money on the entire planet (go ahead, look it up), stop getting into dick-waving contests about what the damages really are or whether they even exist, just call them lawbreakers and be done with it.
  • ZhugeLiang - December 2, 2011 12:37 p.m.

    Alright, so it's copyright infringement then. No matter what it's called, a consumer is deriving value from a good without the producer seeing any gains for having paid the cost to put it on the market, which by definition contributes to market failure. Which is why I stand by the ethos that if someone doesn't like a game, then they don't have to buy it - but they don't get to play it, either. It just irks me that so many people have come out to defend software piracy under one banner or another. Many of these reasons are asinine and absurdly specific to downloads. If someone steals a copy of Fallout from Best Buy, it's shoplifting. But if someone illegally downloads it, suddenly it's host to a whole slew of rationalizations and justifications that would never have been put forth for the former. I don't understand how people can make such a strong mental distinction between the two.
  • boondocks50 - December 2, 2011 12:09 a.m.

    im waiting for the xbox version, but as far as this pirating is conserned they need to find a way to stop it from being shared, copied what ever so that if you do download it, it just wont work
  • MutoBen821 - December 1, 2011 6:46 p.m.

    it takes 6 hours to download a 14GB on not too fast connection? my internet is horrendous then. It took 13 hours to download 1.9 GB. I'm sad now...
  • talleyXIV - December 1, 2011 4:45 p.m.

    I am more angry because of this than the guy making money selling it. Kinda cool that he is so calm, but that game was really good so maybe he should get more serious so his dev team doesn't go under.
  • LTS - December 1, 2011 7:01 a.m.

    I love how this guy is all like, "5 million pirated, Well, at least we sold 1 million!" instead of the usual "5 million pirated. DAMNIT! THAT WAS 5 million lost sales that could have gone in my bank account" Even though developers want and need to get payed for their games, they should look at piracy numbers with optimism and go "hey, there's 5 million people who were interested in my game"
  • SideOfBeef - December 1, 2011 2:27 p.m.

    "Hey, there's 5 million people who weren't interested in my game enough to pay for it" Better? Interest doesn't keep people employed. Pirate interest doesn't sell copies, it sells piracy.
  • ChaosEternal - December 1, 2011 4:52 p.m.

    Yeah, but some of them may have only done it because they weren't able to purchase it at the time. Admittedly, I used to illegally download some games I was not able to get. However, two years later I now own almost each one of those games. And I no longer download anything illegally. :P
  • AuthorityFigure - December 1, 2011 12:29 a.m.

    This is why PC gamers are always asserting that PCs are the best - all they have to do is buy the hardware and they gift themselves the software endlessly. The worst part is that they think they have some kind of special permission to do it. Even on this board, the people that claim to have bought still pirated it - so what hope is there?
  • rabidpotatochip - December 1, 2011 8:30 a.m.

    Wow, just wow.... Seriously? I'm a PC gamer and I friggin' LOVE these guys, not just because of their games but because of their policies. They respect me by giving me a DRM-free experience and I respect them by giving them my money (voting with your wallet works both ways). Hell, I'm supporting Poland by buying the books too! As for what's best, it's whatever the hell you want to play your games on. /argument
  • DryvBy - November 30, 2011 10:21 p.m.

    False stats, as usual. They don't consider if a person downloaded a game more than once due to errors or issues with the original torrent. They don't also take into consideration how many people BUY games after pirating. Thanks to piracy, I bought Titan Quest. I thought the demo was meh but I wanted to play it until Torchlight came out. Ended up buying it after 1 hour with the pirated copy - along with a friend who also did the same thing. We beat the game two days later.
  • minimaxi - December 1, 2011 2:24 a.m.

    it's nice of you to actually buy the game. but they also don't consider commercialized piracy (stores that sell pirated copies - god knows how many countries have those kind of stores) I think it evens out the statistic, at least I hope it *only* evens it out, not double or triple it.
  • Net_Bastard - November 30, 2011 10:01 p.m.

    I remember how shocked I was when I saw how many people pirated Hard Reset. The game only sold 4 digits on the first week and the same amount of people pirated it. I don't have a problem with pirating games from mainstream devs. they can go on with their money without your help. But if you pirate from an indie dev, and an indie dev that just started out in this case, then you're an immoral, awful human being. That's like taunting a homeless person with a dollar bill. Also, while the pro-piracy arguments on here are stupid, the anti-piracy arguments are just as bad. It's like stealing a car? How? If it were like stealing a car then the owner of the game would not have the copy anymore, and no one else would either. Here's what I think: Arguing about piracy, whether you're for it or against it is useless. Many people do it for a number of reasons. Maybe they don't like a developer's work ethic. Maybe the game was a sloppy port but it's still a good game. Maybe they're using the game as a demo. Maybe they wouldn't have bought it anyway and pirating a game is the equivalent of playing Flash games online to them. Maybe they're poor and need a break from the nasty shit life is taking on their heads. There are so many different reasons to do it.
  • FemJesse - November 30, 2011 10:39 p.m.

    Right cause everyone knows "Main stream devs" employ only robots who don't have families to feed and bills to pay.
  • Gene - December 1, 2011 4:08 a.m.

    " Maybe they don't like a developer's work ethic. Maybe the game was a sloppy port but it's still a good game. Maybe they're using the game as a demo. Maybe they wouldn't have bought it anyway and pirating a game is the equivalent of playing Flash games online to them. Maybe they're poor and need a break from the nasty shit life is taking on their heads." Or maybe they're just greedy and selfish, and the idea of paying for something is alien to them.
  • Fiirestorm21 - December 1, 2011 7:45 a.m.

    I think it'd be more accurate to say it'd be like stealing a car from the dealership. It's not so much the removal of ownership as you simply didn't give fair compensation to those who worked to create it. Hey, thanks for all that hard work, developers. Now fuck you and I'm not giving you anything for it. Really, there isn't a single good argument for piracy. You're fucking over the people who spend years of their lives just so you can have your precious few hours of entertainment without paying a damned cent. I don't care what "draconian DRM" was put in or if the game was too crappy to warrant a purchase. In that case you simply don't buy the damned game. The sense of entitlement among the gamers who pull this crap is disgusting.
  • FreshOutofWarpCores - November 30, 2011 8:41 p.m.

    I had originally downloaded a pirated copy, but upon seeing this game on sale on steam for $30 and hearing more about the company's stand on DRM and after sale free DLC I bought it. Could not have been a better idea. All I can say is the Witcher 2 is one the most mature, entertaining, substantial, clever, lush, coherent, and memorable game I've ever played. This is substantial considering I've played way too many games already being 24. My greatest regret is not catching on to this company for the first Witcher. If the Witcher 3 comes in a special addition, it will be the first special addition I will purchase. tl;dr - Pirated it and didn't play, bought on sale then played, regret pirating it.
  • minimaxi - November 30, 2011 8:38 p.m.

    proud owner of gog.com copy of witcher 2 (full new release price minus $5 preorder discount ;) ), my personal GotY. I never pirate games nowadays, but living in a third world I always see piracy in shades of grey. there's just too many variables. among those millions pirated, some would stop playing the game after 5 minutes and never touch it again, some just don't have paypal/visa and local distribution or import channel. The real culprit is the ones who actually have the capacity to legally buy, but instead pirate and play the game all the way to the end, enjoying it, but don't bother buying legit version even when on discount. but who the hell can detect those kind of people? I think the best DRM is 'fun' DRM that degrades the game as you play, with no intrusive software.
  • Fiirestorm21 - December 1, 2011 7:47 a.m.

    I think you're right, and I highly applaud the devs here for taking that exact stand with Witcher 2. Give them as much reason as possibly the legitimately purchase and enjoy it.

Showing 1-20 of 48 comments

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