CD Projekt Admits Writing Letters to Pirates Doesn't Help

Karloff

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CD Projekt Admits Writing Letters to Pirates Doesn't Help



The Witcher 2 developer got angry feedback from fans when it tried to persuade pirates to pay for their game.

CD Projekt RED, the developer behind Witcher 2, famously doesn't believe in DRM, but it did try to persuade pirates to pay for their games by writing them a pay-us-or-we-prosecute letter. That letter didn't go down so well with CD Projekt's fans, and in the end, the developer admits, it wasn't the right way to go.

"We got lots of feedback from the community," said CD Projekt's PR spokesperson Agnieszka Szóstak, "from gamers, and not even pirates, but actually legal gamers with a legal version of the game, saying, 'You know what, guys? That's not entirely right to do that.'" The fans were concerned that CD Projekt was betraying its principles, by saying on the one hand that gamers shouldn't be exploited by greedy publishers [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/117361-DRM-Is-Still-Dumb-Says-CD-Projekt], yet on the other was threatening alleged pirates with prosecution if they didn't cough up the dough.

At the time CD Projekt claimed that the method used to identify pirates was completely accurate, and therefore only pirates - not legitimate users - would be affected. Michal Nowakowski, VP of Business Development, went so far as to say that, as far as he knew, "the vast majority of people identified decided to admit to piracy and pay the compensation as a means of settlement."

However CD Projekt has had a change of heart. Even though Szóstak still thinks chasing pirates for money is fair, the developer has come to believe that the letters it sent was the wrong way to go about it.

"We're not afraid to say that wasn't the best choice and best solution we could have done," said Szóstak. "And that's why we kind of resigned and we don't do it anymore."

Source: PC Gamer [http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/10/23/cd-projekt-red-admits-sending-letters-to-witcher-2-pirates-was-a-mistake/]


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Zhukov

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Dec 29, 2009
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Oh, CD Projekt.

I do so wish I could love your games as much as I love your business practices.

Stay awesome.
 

lancar

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Aug 11, 2009
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So, basically, no matter what you do to combat piracy, you automatically lose?

While I can see how that might be true, I can't help but feel a bit sorry for CD Projekt. They're actually experimenting a bit with different takes on fighting it instead of the usual "punish customers instead of pirates" method that so many others use by default.

Valve might actually have the only viable strategy against it.
 

Taawus

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Oct 21, 2008
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Oh wow Escapist,

Title: "CD Projekt Admits Writing Letters to Pirates Doesn't Help"

Content: "Michal Nowakowski, VP of Business Development, went so far as to say that, as far as he knew, "the vast majority of people identified decided to admit to piracy and pay the compensation as a means of settlement.""

Not sure if bias or just plain old sloppy?
 

Fappy

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Zhukov said:
Oh, CD Projekt.

I do so wish I could love your games as much as I love your business practices.

Stay awesome.
Their newest title looks like it's going to be pretty awesome. Give them another shot!
 
Sep 14, 2009
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Zhukov said:
Oh, CD Projekt.

I do so wish I could love your games as much as I love your business practices.

Stay awesome.
well...

you could, but that would require actually having good taste in games :)


OT: this is good they are listening/going away from this.

Just hope in the future they can find some way to find the best alternative to get everyone to at least fork up a bit.
 

Zhukov

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Fappy said:
Zhukov said:
Oh, CD Projekt.

I do so wish I could love your games as much as I love your business practices.

Stay awesome.
Their newest title looks like it's going to be pretty awesome. Give them another shot!
You mean the Cyberpunk thing?

Yeah, I'm gonna check it out. It seems like the sort of thing that would suit their sensibilities. I'm curious to see what they could do with a more interesting setting than vanilla fantasy.
 

BrotherRool

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I wish pirates would just go and bury themselves to be honest, it's annoying to see good people bending over backwards to accommodate them and going through all this hassle and doing stupid things that annoy the fans, all because some people want to be able to have things they can't/won't pay for
 

Mromson

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Taawus said:
Oh wow Escapist,

Title: "CD Projekt Admits Writing Letters to Pirates Doesn't Help"

Content: "Michal Nowakowski, VP of Business Development, went so far as to say that, as far as he knew, "the vast majority of people identified decided to admit to piracy and pay the compensation as a means of settlement.""

Not sure if bias or just plain old sloppy?
Not to be a dick or anything, but did you even read the bloody post before you quoted it for its supposed bias? Or were you just too sloppy?

BrotherRool said:
I wish pirates would just go and bury themselves to be honest, it's annoying to see good people bending over backwards to accommodate them and going through all this hassle and doing stupid things that annoy the fans, all because some people want to be able to have things they can't/won't pay for
The world is a pretty simple place: convince people to give you money for the hard work that you've done. If enough people don't purchase the things you like, then the things you like won't be made anymore. Crying that pirates aren't paying for products does nothing. Either enough people pay for content they like, or the company should go bust. Free market people. It might suck sometimes, but that's life.
 

McMullen

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Notice the difference here between CD Projekt and EA/Ubisoft. CD Projekt actually admits that it was a bad idea, whereas EA/Ubisoft says things like "We've listened to feedback and from now on our policy is x", while not acknowledging the points made about how counterproductive their strategy was.

In summary, it's nice to see a publisher acting like a grown-up and accepting responsibility instead of evading it.
 

tautologico

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That's a downside of having this image of being "gamer-friendly". They can't do anything about the pirates, even if it hurts their profits. It's one thing to say DRM isn't good because it inconveniences paying customers. Saying "copy our game all you want, we will do nothing about it" is something completely different. But I guess they have no choice now, if they don't want to sacrifice some amount of the "good will" they have with gamers. Funny to see how this good will didn't help much with piracy.
 

Milanezi

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Heh, I don't feel they were doing wrong at all. Why were fans with LEGITIMATE copies angry? (not going into the "they might get me by mistake" scenario) I mean, fact is piracy is ILLEGAL, this is not a game under the Creative Commons rules, CD Projekt OWNS the rights, and just like anyone has every right to sue someone who, say, damages their property or the fruits that come from it in any way, so does CD Projekt carries every right to sue the pirates for infringing the law.

If the pirates "steal" the software to resell it at a lower price, then they are smuggling it, and using CD Project's PROPERTY to create their own fruits (profit from sales in this case), this means trillions of people enjoying The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings and no accurate feedback to the owner, which might prove to be a worse matter than the profit itself, since it might give the wrong impression when it comes to the success of a game in the market.

Maybe the pirates will just take the software, nut not profit from it, which is the famous "Robin Hood" scenario, they're doing it for the good of all who can't buy the game at full price, blahblahblah, fact is, again CD Project gets damaged, say 3000 people are playing the game, they're loving it, but only 1000 bought it, so as far as feedback goes, CD Projekt only "reads" 1000 purchases, which might mean the failure of a franchise depending on the damage and size of the company.

All in all, CD Projekt is not acting against the law, I don't understand how acting within the boundaries of law gets negative response.
 

lacktheknack

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Jan 19, 2009
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At this point, CD Projekt is running entirely on goodwill.

I'm not sure if I should applaud them or incarcerate them. :p
 

Tradjus

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If you're going to go full on anti-DRM for gamer support, you had better damn well commit.
Gamers are probably the most fickle group of people that exist, you can look to the recent example of Bioware for that. Bioware spent a decade building a public profile with gamers that was the envy of every development house out there, except Valve, and with just a few short screwups they pissed every ounce of that goodwill away, they get no sympathy from anyone except the most diehard fans anymore, and the majority have resigned them too "E.A Whore" status.

Now, I don't disagree with what CD Projeckt did here, but I do understand why it got such a violent backlash, any simple action that makes it look even slightly like they're "Going back on their word" is going too tank their goodwill over being an Anti-DRM company instantaneously.
Basically, they can't benefit from it at all unless they silently take the losses that piracy entails, that's all there is too it, and it's impossible for some corporate types to abide.
 

craddoke

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Mromson said:
The world is a pretty simple place: convince people to give you money for the hard work that you've done. If enough people don't purchase the things you like, then the things you like won't be made anymore. Crying that pirates aren't paying for products does nothing. Either enough people pay for content they like, or the company should go bust. Free market people. It might suck sometimes, but that's life.
Free markets do not work without laws and regulations - like those governing intellectual property rights. One can argue that the laws we have are less than ideal - and it goes without saying that the enforcement of them is barbaric - but it is asinine to claim that creators should just put there stuff out there and hope people pay them without any legal recourse when their rights are trampled.
 

Milanezi

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Mromson said:
Taawus said:
Oh wow Escapist,

Title: "CD Projekt Admits Writing Letters to Pirates Doesn't Help"

Content: "Michal Nowakowski, VP of Business Development, went so far as to say that, as far as he knew, "the vast majority of people identified decided to admit to piracy and pay the compensation as a means of settlement.""

Not sure if bias or just plain old sloppy?
Not to be a dick or anything, but did you even read the bloody post before you quoted it for its supposed bias? Or were you just too sloppy?

BrotherRool said:
I wish pirates would just go and bury themselves to be honest, it's annoying to see good people bending over backwards to accommodate them and going through all this hassle and doing stupid things that annoy the fans, all because some people want to be able to have things they can't/won't pay for
The world is a pretty simple place: convince people to give you money for the hard work that you've done. If enough people don't purchase the things you like, then the things you like won't be made anymore. Crying that pirates aren't paying for products does nothing. Either enough people pay for content they like, or the company should go bust. Free market people. It might suck sometimes, but that's life.
Yeah free market, goooo ADAM SMITH!!!! Oh shit yeah right, New York 1929... hummm crap, forget that shit.

Free Market works in theory, Socialism also works in theory. None work as they should, both lack the same thing GOOD HUMAN SPIRIT; both asume everyone will work out of their own free will obeying the law and never exploiting any glitches... You see, many of us won't buy something that's available for free, no matter if you love it or not, that doesn't make you EVIL, just ignorant of repercussions.
 

cynicalsaint1

Salvation a la Mode
Apr 1, 2010
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Milanezi said:
Heh, I don't feel they were doing wrong at all. Why were fans with LEGITIMATE copies angry? (not going into the "they might get me by mistake" scenario) I mean, fact is piracy is ILLEGAL, this is not a game under the Creative Commons rules, CD Projekt OWNS the rights, and just like anyone has every right to sue someone who, say, damages their property or the fruits that come from it in any way, so does CD Projekt carries every right to sue the pirates for infringing the law.

If the pirates "steal" the software to resell it at a lower price, then they are smuggling it, and using CD Project's PROPERTY to create their own fruits (profit from sales in this case), this means trillions of people enjoying The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings and no accurate feedback to the owner, which might prove to be a worse matter than the profit itself, since it might give the wrong impression when it comes to the success of a game in the market.

Maybe the pirates will just take the software, nut not profit from it, which is the famous "Robin Hood" scenario, they're doing it for the good of all who can't buy the game at full price, blahblahblah, fact is, again CD Project gets damaged, say 3000 people are playing the game, they're loving it, but only 1000 bought it, so as far as feedback goes, CD Projekt only "reads" 1000 purchases, which might mean the failure of a franchise depending on the damage and size of the company.

All in all, CD Projekt is not acting against the law, I don't understand how acting within the boundaries of law gets negative response.
There are a couple of issues with this practice really:
1. There's always the issue of proving that the person actually pirated a copy of the game. IP addresses can be spoofed and such.

2. The whole practice of the "Pay us or else" letter is pretty shady in general. Especially considering that much of the time the people who're sending them out probably can't actually afford to prosecute everyone they mail the letter out to.

3. Furthermore if there are false positives the cost for someone defend themselves against the claims will probably out weigh the cost of just paying up, meaning its a lose-lose proposition for anyone who gets falsely accused.

Its at best shady as hell, at worst extortion.