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DRM Software Games

Patch For The Witcher 2 Removes DRM Shortly After Release 166

A reader writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica: "A little over a week after its release, The Witcher 2 is getting its first patch, and with it all versions of the game will now be DRM free. 'Our approach to countering piracy is to incorporate superior value in the legal version,' explained development director Adam Badowski. 'This means it has to be superior in every respect: less troublesome to use and install, with full support, and with access to additional content and services. So, we felt keeping the DRM would mainly hurt our legitimate users. This is completely in line with what we said before the release of The Witcher 2. We felt DRM was necessary to prevent the game being pirated and leaked before release.'"
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Patch For The Witcher 2 Removes DRM Shortly After Release

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I bought it from gog so there wasn't any DRM in the first place for me. Still, great attitude for them to take. Hope more companies follow suit.

  • Finally, a company that understands the DRM is irrelevant past the release date.

    • Re:Someone gets it (Score:5, Informative)

      by Svippy ( 876087 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:12AM (#36294252) Homepage

      *cough* paradoxplaza.com/thewesterfront/2010/9/the-drm-dilemma [paradoxplaza.com] *cough*

      What the summary fails to mention is that the company still will actively be looking for pirates on torrent sites. Paradox Interactive's approach is not to bother at all, but rather provide those with unique CD-keys additional benefits.

      • Re:Someone gets it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MareLooke ( 1003332 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:32AM (#36294336) Homepage
        Which is just another form of DRM and it makes the resell value of your game basically zero (which of course is the entire idea). 0-Day DLCs and forced online activation (so you get access to all the content you already paid for) are even worse than the other crap as they require you to give up personal info (to be able to sign up) to companies that have your privacy as a very high priority (hello Sony)
        • Heck the only personal info you give away is a custom login and a CD Key and an email address. You still can play the game without registration, you still can get the patches without registration, and given CDPs history you probably will get the additional content without registration in the long run as patch. (They did the same for the enhanced edition)
          All there is is that you get the DLC (which is free) early if you register.

          • This might be true in CDPR's case but they aren't exactly the norm when it comes to these kinds of things (they've proven to be nice guys that are passionate about their games, let's hope some big publisher doesn't come along and fuck them up *cough* EA *cough*), loads of games require registration and validation to get access to release day "DLCs" (EA/Bioware is starting to get on my nerves with this, for example) requiring varying amounts of personal information on signup and resulting in varying amounts

        • Re:Someone gets it (Score:5, Insightful)

          by evilbessie ( 873633 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @06:19AM (#36294742)

          When I buy a used car I don't get the original owners warranty or any free stuff which may have come with the original purchase, free services, road tax, insurance offers etc. Not entirely sure why you think a secondhand purchase should be the same as buying new. Being as this is a relatively effective and less intrusive way of reducing piracy it's better this direction than others have taken.

          If you can come up with a good solution to reducing piracy and rewarding genuine purchasers of software then you could make a lot of money.

          Also when I buy a car I am generally required to give lots of personal information, are you suggesting that you should be able to just have software like a book. Well it comes with some services (online content, updates, support) and it is reasonable to request registration for such services.

          You however seem to want the moon on a stick, which I am unable to assist you with.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            When I buy a used car I don't get the original owners warranty or any free stuff which may have come with the original purchase, free services, road tax, insurance offers etc.

            Perhaps it is different in the US, but in the UK you can transfer benefits like free services when you sell your car. Obviously they don't recreate the exact same sales package as they do for new games.

            Pretending that this is the same as 0-day / new only offers in games is naive or misleading. I doubt many players have any issue at all

            • I don't understand why companies like EA don't simply make their games so they don't work at all if not bought new, or require a ~£5 payment to activate a 2nd hand copy. At least that would be clear, easy to understand and honest (even if I don't like it).

              Epic Megagames did this with Bulletstorm.

              I've been a paying customer of Epic Megagames since Epic Pinball, I've purchased every game they've ever made, some multiple times. They've made great progress, even introducing a female heroin (Jill of the Jungle) who saves the Prince to buck retarded gender roles. The were once a great company...

              I have two Xbox360s and two game players in my home. Only one of us can be playing one copy of Bulletstorm at a time. The "game" servers are other players' consoles;

          • by Kjella ( 173770 )

            When the online content exist only to reduce a sale into a non-transferable personal license, don't expect consumers to be happy about it. Software licenses for single player games have all the essential characteristics of a sale - a one-time payment for a one-time delivery, except you don't get any of the rights and benefits of a sale.

            • by tepples ( 727027 )

              Software licenses for single player games have all the essential characteristics of a sale

              Then the studios' solution is to end development of single-player games.

          • When I buy a book it only rarely comes with half the pages stuck together, missing chapters or set to self destruct when you reach page x.
            It's also rare to have the book tell you : 'If you want to know what happened in chapters 3, 5 and 9, please send 10$ to the author now'.
            And buying a used car doesn't allow the manufacturer to prevent you from getting it registered.

          • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

            "When I buy a used car I don't get the original owners warranty or any free stuff which may have come with the original purchase,"

            really? you must suck at buying used cars.

            My honda Civic came with the original warranty and the free oil changes that were left from the new car purchase. I even have the floor mats, manual, dvd, and the honda first aid kit that was in the back.

          • by sremick ( 91371 )

            When I buy a used car I don't get the original owners warranty

            Not sure what brand you're buying. Maybe you need to buy a better car brand. When I bought my used car (private sale, not a dealer), it still had almost 2 years left on the warranty. And I know it transferred because I made use of it.

            It was a SAAB, and I live in the USA.

          • When I buy a used car I don't get the original owners warranty or any free stuff which may have come with the original purchase, free services, road tax, insurance offers etc.

            And because that's common practice, that makes it OK?

          • are you suggesting that you should be able to just have software like a book.

            That's a fine idea. I should start a publishing company that sells you books; but, if you want to read all of the book, you're going to have to come to my website, agree to a 9000 word EULA, and bind your book serial key to your facebook account so I can verify that you are the only reader who gets to read the whole book.

            After all, both products are only covered by copyright (meaning only I can copy, but anyone can resell), so the only way I can prevent you from loaning or reselling the book I sold you is t

          • When I buy a used car I don't get the original owners warranty or any free stuff which may have come with the original purchase, free services, road tax, insurance offers etc.

            Incorrect. If you transfer the car while it is still under the manufacturer's warranty, the warranty transfers with the vehicle. Been there, done that.

          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            I don't know where you live, but where I live, most dealerships offer at least 1-3 year depending warranties on used cars. The little el-shittio shop(aka fly-by-nights) may have deals with warranty farms for the same thing. So yes, if I buy I used car, at least in most of Canada? I have a warranty. And in general it's just as good as a new car.

      • by mcvos ( 645701 )

        What the summary fails to mention is that the company still will actively be looking for pirates on torrent sites.

        I don't care. Since my version is DRM-free, I don't need a torrent.

        Of course there's also try-before-you-buy. I don't think there's a demo for The Witcher 2, which is unfortunate, because that would have killed that reason to torrent.

      • Which part of the article you linked to said "Weill actively be looking for pirates on torrent sites"? All I see relating to the web in the article you linked to is this: "This does not mean, however, that we support piracy or think it is ok to share our games freely over the web. We still believe people should pay for the games they play. After all, this is what keeps this industry running." There's nothing I can find about pursuing pirates online, unless I am missing something? After reading the article
  • I bought the game from GoG because they offered a DRM free download. I would not have purchased the DVD edition.

    We see a lot of ATARI victims on the GoG forums crying about their games running slower then ours. The DVD version comes with built in DRM so customers can finally see the difference.

    DRM sucks!

    • We already knew that from the previous Witcher, which was notorious for the insane loading times (up to 5minutes in some cases!) and crashes caused by the DRM. Good thing they removed it eventually (and fixed a bunch of other issues with the game). Shame they didn't just release the second installment entirely DRM free through all channels to start with though, guess the publishers still had to have their way.
      • It was mainly the publisher, the CDProject guys never were happy about the DRM to begin with. Btw. the same goes for the price fixing on the publishers side. They wanted the same price for Europe and the USA, the publisher wanted to charge more in Europe and hence GOG (which is owned by the same company as CDProject) simply gave refunds for various other games in their catalogue to make up for the price difference.
        CDProject are really nice guys and I hope they sell a load of games everyone who pirates this

        • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

          Not sure how "charge more" part came to life, other then the fact that we pretty much always pay more for games here in Europe in general.

          That said, GoG was about 30% more expensive then play.com when it came to buying w2.

    • I bought the game on GoG($45 USD) because it was $30 cheaper than the Steam version($75 USD) on the Aussie store. [steamprices.com] DRM free was just the icing on the cake.
      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        Personally I love ordering from amazon.co.uk to Norway. Since it's just below the 200 NOK import duty limit and amazon gives me free shipping, I got the DVD version for about 22.86 euro, or less than half than on Steam's 49.99 euro. Steam is silly expensive, they just got people hooked.

  • by Brianech ( 791070 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @03:50AM (#36294168)
    This is a new take on DRM and piracy. On the plus its temporary, BUT if it fails to prevent being cracked before the release it could just annoy legit buyers for a week. I for one think its an interesting and positive strategy. They could gain with day 1 sales, and legit buyers get a DRM free product in 1 week. Personally I would put up with it, some may disagree. If you are super anti-drm simply wait 1 week before playing. Seems like a new, positive step in the right direction, and I'm at least happy to see a company try something new.
    • I think I am one of those super anti-drm people - but I agree with you. I just wouldn't buy the game until the DRM has been removed. When the DRM has been removed, my concerns are gone and I'll be happy to pay money for it. Ok, I'll have to wait one more week, but I can deal with that.

      • by mcvos ( 645701 )

        Or in this case you could buy the game from gog.com, where it was DRM-free from the start.

      • The problem is that the game on the DVD will still have the DRM and you have to deal with it. For instance, I own DIRT 1. It has tons of on DVD DRM that, later can be removed by patch. However, I can't install the game without it wanting to install all the DRM tools in the first place.
        • EXACTLY what I was thinking. I can see the patch removing the need to be online/what-ever while playing, but 50% of DRM issues are encountered at INSTALL TIME. Hopefully this means that future sales of the game will come without the DRM to start with (sort of a patch slipstream). As for already purchased copies, I hope they make some tools to make installation as easy as possible.

          Actually, this is a PERFECT example of how DRM is useless. If the game company is able to make a patch to remove the DRM of a
    • I made a similar suggestion on an old Ubisoft story as to how to counter piracy. At that stage I thought 3 months would be a good period. A week sounds a bit short, but let's wait and see.

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        The thing is, they saved money with this move. Vast majority of issues with the game that strained their tech support was DRM problems. They either had to massively up the tech support costs or drop DRM.

        And with the fact that cracked game ran much better because it stripped DRM, they were left with very little realistic choices.

      • I think removing the DRM after a week was a brilliant marketing strategy, everyone's talking about it and it's a small enough window that less people who are on the fence about DRM will pirate it.

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Who buys games on release day anyway? Not only is there DRM to deal with, but prices are highest then too. It's not like you miss anything by waiting 6 months for the price to drop. There are plenty of other games to keep you occupied until then.

      • Depends on the game - the strategy we're starting to see more of now is DLC content free with pre-orders, paid for everyone else. I suspect it's things like that that drive a lot of day one sales for most games (aside from the odd anomalous "Triple A" title that everyone wants to play right away). If you know you'll be getting the game anyway, and the price of the DLC is greater than what you expect the price drop to be in six months, it still makes sense to buy it early.
    • by gmueckl ( 950314 )

      That's totally in line with what copy protection schemes are actually expected to provide for the publisher. No (good) manufacturer of copy protection software claims that their scheme is unbreakable. It can be done with time and effort. Their goal is to extend this time span so far that the initial release sales peak is covered as much as possible, i.e. cracks start spreading only after a majority of the copies have been sold. After that it doesn't matter if the protection stays or gets removed.

    • The other thing it gains is that they don't have to support unlocking the game in perpetuity. I'm surprised companies like EA haven't figured out that their profits would go up if they didn't have to support a call center for people who installed Spore more than 5 times.

  • slashdot gets to the story..

  • Very nice. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anomnomnomymous ( 1321267 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @04:23AM (#36294296)
    Wow, I'm really liking this move, and I think it makes sense. Still, quite admirable that they don't leave the DRM on there for longer.
    The first few weeks is when a game is most at risk of being pirated. Nonetheless, this game is already on several torrent sites, so it's not as if the DRM worked in the first place.

    Anyhows, this is sortof obligatory: Penny Arcade's view on The Witcher [penny-arcade.com] :-D
    • Actually Penny Arcades view is not entirely correct. First the fight is not the first one, it is just the first one if you play that submission before another one which comes earlier int he intro story.
      Secondly, the game has in game help but in the middle of a fight it is hard to read the hings, but luckily they are also stored in the journal and there is also a manual which explains a lot.
      There is only one thing which the game definitely does not do, it does not do handholding and you cannot master the fig

      • The points you mention in your first paragraph are addressed in the PA article - the comic is exaggerated for comedic effect (the first game was similar, you could run around and fight things and always run away if they were too powerful, but the unavoidable fight at the end of the first village was tough if you went into it underpowered, and unavoidable if you went into it too early, it was a "point of no return" situation).

        As for dying 47 times, he does also mention that he was trying to do something that

    • Nonetheless, this game is already on several torrent sites, so it's not as if the DRM worked in the first place.

      As others have mentioned here, this game was always available without DRM if you bought it from GOG.com [gog.com]. Presumable it was this version that got pirated. Even if it wasn't that version, I doubt that they paid top dollar for the best DRM solution if they knew that they would abandon it so soon.

      I just noticed something annoying. When you go to the page that I referenced above from an Australian IP address, you end up paying over US$75 for the game. Bloody region crap! I wont blame GOG for this too much, as I

      • Re:Very nice. (Score:5, Informative)

        by tdelaney ( 458893 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @06:58AM (#36294930)

        GOG no longer relies on IP geolocation services to determine what country you're in, although they use it as an initial determinant. But if you happen to have one of the very very many IP addresses that are "incorrectly" identified as Australian, you can go into your profile and tell them what country you're "really" in.

        Strangely enough, GOG decided to stop relying on geolocation services shortly after they were forced to give higher prices to Australians on The Witcher 2 by the local publisher.

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        1. Version that was pirated first was DVD version.
        2. Game included two layers of protection:
        a. You must activate the game online
        b. Securom protection

        There was a crack for both in the DVD version that was online the day after release. Funnily many of people who bought DVD version like myself, ended up getting the crack to strip securom because it caused so many problems.

        P.S. As far as I know, online activation part of DRM is still in the game, even after this patch.

  • by flimflammer ( 956759 ) on Tuesday May 31, 2011 @05:06AM (#36294472)

    The DRM was causing severe issues with the game. The only logical move they could make aside from telling their users tough luck was to remove the DRM.

    It's certainly a nice story but it's not for the right reasons. They're just aiming for some good press by putting a positive spin on the fact that their DRM was defective to the point of breaking the game for its users.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, they always intended to remove the DRM ASAP. I have been a supporter of CD Projekt since they took similar action with The Witcher 1 (removing the godawful TAGES crap).
      Originally it was their intent to have no DRM on the Witcher 2. When I found out they did a U-turn on that (a month or two ago) I contacted their customer support to express my disappointment. I got a very nice e-mail back telling me exactly why they included DRM on some versions of the game (publishing requirements, stopping before

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        "Godawful TAGES crap" stayed in the game up to version 1.4, at which point they got tired of paying for tech support having to keep answering people about problems with it.

        Witcher 2 DRM was pure marketing. GoG got "exclusive DRM free" game which is sold for more then many other retailers, and everyone else got screwed by broken securom, which apparently caused vast majority of technical issues with the game. Just like original.

        This time, folks at CD Project decided they didn't want to pay too much for tech

    • by mcvos ( 645701 )

      They're still nicer than Ubisoft or Sony, who would have told their users to suck it.

    • They're just aiming for some good press by putting a positive spin on the fact that their DRM was defective to the point of breaking the game for its users.

      They also released a DRM-free version from the start. I have this romanticized notion that the DRM was deliberately bad to make a point and that this will push more users to ask for DRM-free games.

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      It's certainly a nice story but it's not for the right reasons. They're just aiming for some good press by putting a positive spin on the fact that their DRM was defective to the point of breaking the game for its users.

      While that's true, they sold the game DRM-free from day one through gog.com. From what I understand the DRM was only there because the retail publisher demanded it.

      And from what I've read the DRM was cracked by day zero, as the Polish retail version was available a day before the rest of the world and apparently available on torrent sites.

    • CD Projekt, the developer/publisher of the game, also owns GOG.com. The version they sold themselves was completely DRM-free, as is every other game on GOG. Why do you think that is? It's because, like they said, they have a stance against DRM. They hate it as much as we do, and they removed it very shortly after release not just because it caused issues, but because they never planned to keep the DRM on all versions of the game (which would that be stupidly inconsistent if they didn't remove it). What evid

    • by PhxBlue ( 562201 )

      The DRM was causing severe issues with the game.

      And that's different from most other DRM how, exactly?

  • About time - maybe they learned something from customer feedback about the first game which is a pile of drm-facepalms. The DVD version has protection that won't work on 64bit Windows7 machines properly. It also has server-authentication. And good luck with their customer support, I think they try their best but English is not in my experience the language you will get serviced the best.

    • by paziek ( 1329929 )

      I have bought Witcher 1 a few days ago, its Platinium edition or whatnot, patched to latest 1.5 and DRM free. No need for any activation or whatever, but I hear it was bad before they removed DRM. Back in the days I doubt they expected it would get much attention outside of Poland, so they might have lacked ENG support - it was pretty big surprise for everyone, that this game got so popular. Witcher was well known even before its got its game here - heck, my dad knows Witcher, so their target market was loc

      • by zyzko ( 6739 )

        Well, I have the DVD which doesn't install on Windows7 64bit - it is so bad that it once messed totally up my DVD drive and I had to dig through forums to find uninstall for the DRM driver. So not very funny because there is chicken-egg problem here. But if I get adventurous I'll try if I can manage to get the 1.5 patch installed without ruining my access to DVD's.

        Right now the GOG version of 2 does it for me (it was expensive compared to retail but DRM-free from day 1 so I bought it despite my lack of conf

  • Been DRM-free from day one on gog.com. So no big surprise there, also the idea that you need DRM to protect it before release is not meaningful. Encrypt the whole thing, release a universal one-key-to-decrypt-them-all on release day.

  • I read about this a couple of days ago. I wasn't sure if I was going to buy the game or not, with a wife, kids, and career I have to be careful where my gaming dollars go. As soon as I read this I went out and bought the game, if for no other reason than to encourage more acts like this and I couldn't be more pleased. It's a fun and beautiful game.
  • If I'm not mistaken, Atari has been publishing CDProjekt Red's games; I'd like to hear their opinions on this whole ordeal. It's not that surprising to see a developer against DRM, it'd be interesting to hear the same from a major publisher.

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