By John Walker on March 8th, 2012 at 7:44 pm.
CD Projekt will never use DRM again, said joint CEO Marcin Iwinski at a talk at GDC. Speaking to a rather thinned crowd, presumably dented by the post awards celebrations of the night before, Iwinski was explaining CDP’s philosophy for success with a PC exclusive game. And one element of that was to completely abandon DRM, since “It doesn’t work at all.” The talk also revealed how The Witcher 2 had sold over a million units, mostly in retail, but only 75,000 of them in the UK.
Beginning with quite the bias, Iwinkski explains that he doesn’t know how to help sell a shitty game. The Witcher 2’s impressive sales suggest he’s in the right place. It’s interesting to see the spread of the game’s sales. The biggest market was the US, where it shifted 269,700 units, followed by Russia at 234,215, Poland with 185,123 and Germany, Switzerland and Austria picking up 130,053. In the UK it only sold 74,225. But why did a hardcore RPG from a small developer pick up such big numbers?
The mistakes so many developers make, he argues, is that they fail to say who their game is for. And a big part of that is making sure gamers find out it exists in the first place. To do this, Iwinski strongly argues that developers need to be actively communicating with gamers, appointing one person on your team to be responsible for PR and marketing. Even if it’s just Twitter and Facebook, someone needs to be focused on it,
Another important thing to do is developer diaries. For the hits these get, it’s incredibly good value for money. Then of course there’s screenshots – something we can attest developers and publishers get wrong all the time. CDP took half a day to generate ten of them, slowing the game down, meticulously ensuring it’s well balanced, features crucial game content, and is eye-catching. Good grief, we wish more people followed those rules. Then there’s cover art, doing interviews, attending trade shows (by guerilla tactics if necessary, he explained, pointing out you don’t need an expensive booth to meet with press).
Also revealed were the nature of how the game sold. Remarkably, only 24% of copies of The Witcher 2 were digitally distributed. Retails was still a huge factor, but possibly because of the game’s huge success in Eastern Europe and Germany, where retail remains a dominant force. Because in North America things were quite different, where 70% of those 270,000 sales were digital.
DRM he explained at the end, just does not work. Iwinski explained it makes no difference to piracy, is instantly cracked no matter what, and only hinders people’s enjoyment of the game. And he pledged that the company will never use it again. Another error acknowleged was retailer-specific DLC, which the CEO strongly argued others should stop doing as well, because as much as it pleases retailers, it upsets the players – a problem they eventually dealt with by giving away all the different DLC two weeks after release, for free. Which of course wasn’t entirely popular with the retailers.
There was no word on a Witcher 3, with the company currently focusing their efforts on the 360 release next month. Maybe after that they’ll stick to their own advice and start making people aware as early as possible