CDProjekt RED’s Example: What other’s need to learn

First of all, Steam has a great sale on both The Witcher Enhanced Edition Director’s Cut and The Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition for about another 14 hours on steam. Getting both for less than $6 has me purchasing them through their service, even though I already own both on disks.

Second, I have to commend CDProjekt RED for doing something few other companies with its presence in the gaming industry do: it puts the game and the players who play it before the profit. Given, I don’t know the people who work at CDProjekt RED personally, but my experience as an owner of The Witcher games supports the points made in this article on PC Gamer, which is that satisfying the players who purchase their games is more important than trying to ring every penny they can get for every minute addition that they create for the game. This is the exact opposite of what infuriates gamers more than anything: day-one DLC (the non-free kind).

On top of this, CDProjekt’s games don’t require disk-checks, at least not following all of the updates that I applied to them upon installation. I believe the first game may have asked me for the disk before I updated it to current, which I had to do manually by seeking the update file online and applying it (learning of the Director’s Cut convinced me to do it quickly). However, the second game updated automatically with prompts as soon as I installed it (never asking for the disk when playing). Either way, I have both games and can play without any no-cd cracks and still free of spinning my disks in the drive. CDProjekt isn’t broke, but I have to assume that its bank isn’t anywhere near as dense as companies like Bethesda, EA and Ubisoft. So, why do they act as though nerve-wrecking DRM is so crucial to their survival? Do pirated copies of their games truly make such a dent in their return? How many die-hard fans of past SimCity games had to deal with disappointment on day-one of playing their pre-ordered copies of SimCity thanks to EA’s paranoia? How about Blizzard’s Diablo III? Find a chart that displays how much these games brought in from initial sales (pre-order and day-one), and tell me if the DRM used was truly necessary to the point taken. A starting company releasing a new game franchise with these tactics would never have seen returning customers for a sequel. It would have been its undoing.

Truth be told, I have always been a bargain-hunter with games. Few games have seen a pre-order from me over the years. I even waited until The Witcher games were both below the $20 mark before I bought them, despite my praise for the company (note: I wasn’t familiar with the company or its games prior to purchasing them at the bargain prices). On top of that, I’ve always sought after the security of physically owning the medium that I buy the game on (preferring disk over download). Yet I’ve been forced to transition to cloud-based purchases through services like Steam because owning the disk is nearly useless now. You’re given a disk with the data on it, but the activation key for the game is the only real item of value, which usually still requires you to download the game in-full from the net without using anything on the disk. In the end, the disk is worthless without a Steam, U-Play or Origin account – unless someone produces a hack that allows you to install the game using the disk’s data independent of those services. In other words, piracy – or the potential for it – remains either way.

The main point I wanted to make of CDProjekt here though is that they don’t use DLC to amplify their profit from a single project. I have always waited on the past Elder Scrolls games, because I knew the likelihood of an edition including all DLC would be released and dropped to a bargain price. The same goes with BioWare and 2K Games titles. But if you look at what CDProjekt did with Witcher 2, you see that whether you bought the standard game on release-day or bought the Enhanced Edition after it was released, you ended up with equal overall content for the game without dishing additional out-of-pocket to get it.

It’s obvious to me as I read online to research a game’s DRM requirements before purchasing that more people are growing to accept the presence of services like Steam as we move forward, and the cries of foul over over-priced and day-one DLC have diminished as well, but I simply couldn’t help but point out how the evidence from CDProjekt’s success in the gaming industry shows that the excessive DRM path, as well as leeching customers for additional content, is surely not necessary for a company to thrive from its product, let alone successfully create and distribute a product that meets or exceeds the standard. Here’s to hoping that their practices continue, and perhaps they may influence others to share the same strategy.