Sunday, January 15th 2012

An Open Letter to the Gaming Community from CD Projekt RED

A month ago, we reported that CD Projekt RED, makers of The Witcher 2 had claimed that they could identify '100% of pirates' and had started an RIAA-style 'settlement letter' shakedown (extortion) tactic in Germany. Well, unsurprisingly, this hasn't gone down too well with their customers and the outcry has been loud and strong, especially on gog.com, where their forums have been full of posts from disgruntled customers. Well, it looks like the pressure has gotten too much for them and they have backpedalled furiously on this decision and issued an open letter, published on rockpapershotgun.com. In it, they state that they want people to continue to have faith in them and stressed how they're still totally against 'piracy' of their products and appealed for gamers to refrain from engaging in it:
In early December, an article was published about a law firm acting on behalf of CD Projekt RED, contacting individuals who had downloaded The Witcher 2 illegally and seeking financial compensation for copyright infringement. The news about our decision to combat piracy directly, instead of with DRM, spread quickly and with it came a number of concerns from the community. Repeatedly, gamers just like you have said that our methods might wrongly accuse people who have never violated our copyright and expressed serious concern about our actions.
Being part of a community is a give-and-take process. We only succeed because you have faith in us, and we have worked hard over the years to build up that trust. We were sorry to see that many gamers felt that our actions didn’t respect the faith that they have put into CD Projekt RED. Our fans always have been and remain our greatest concern, and we pride ourselves on the fact that you all know that we listen to you and take your opinions to heart. While we are confident that no one who legally owns one of our games has been required to compensate us for copyright infringement, we value our fans, our supporters, and our community too highly to take the chance that we might ever falsely accuse even one individual.

So we’ve decided that we will immediately cease identifying and contacting pirates.

Let’s make this clear: we don’t support piracy. It hurts us, the developers. It hurts the industry as a whole. Though we are staunch opponents of DRM because we don’t believe it has any effect on reducing piracy, we still do not condone copying games illegally. We’re doing our part to keep our relationship with you, our gaming audience, a positive one. We’ve heard your concerns, listened to your voices, and we’re responding to them. But you need to help us and do your part: don’t be indifferent to piracy. If you see a friend playing an illegal copy of a game–any game–tell your friend that they’re undermining the possible success of the developer who created the very game that they are enjoying. Unless you support the developers who make the games you play, unless you pay for those games, we won’t be able to produce new excellent titles for you.

Keep on playing,
Marcin Iwinski
co-founder
CD Projekt RED
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41 Comments on An Open Letter to the Gaming Community from CD Projekt RED

#1
Darkleoco
trickson said:
Well I disagree. A stolen ( Pirated copy ) is still a stolen item ! What you think that just because you took it and used it that it is some how right and that you should NOT have to pay for being a thief ? You know paying double is far better than ending up in jail ! Personally I think that any one that pirates games and music , movies and software should go to jail . Just because it is some thing like this doesn't give you or any ones else immunity from the law . When you steal it hurts every one . I know that I sound harsh maybe even stupid but I can not stand thief's because the out come hurts EVERY one not just the thief !
Even double or triple would be perfectly acceptable but the point is that is not what tends to happen, the same thing goes for music and movies, their are instances where a single pirated game/movie/song even if it is not being re-distributed ends up costing someone $1000 or more and that to me is simply asinine.
Posted on Reply
#2
trickson
OH, I have such a headache
Darkleoco said:
Even double or triple would be perfectly acceptable but the point is that is not what tends to happen, the same thing goes for music and movies, their are instances where a single pirated game/movie/song even if it is not being re-distributed ends up costing someone $1000 or more and that to me is simply asinine.
Well yes I can agree with that . But lets say you go into the store and steal some shoes what happens when you are caught ? Jail time and in some cases they impose a fine .
Like the saying goes .. If you can't do the time don't do the crime .
Posted on Reply
#3
reverze
lets hope those criminals go bankrupt, not ever buying anything from them again.
Posted on Reply
#4
Darkleoco
trickson said:
Well yes I can agree with that . But lets say you go into the store and steal some shoes what happens when you are caught ? Jail time and in some cases they impose a fine .
Like the saying goes .. If you can't do the time don't do the crime .
If the fine is something reasonable then their is no issue but when someone starts looking for ridiculous sums of money for theft of something generally under $100 then thats where things start to get iffy in my opinion.
Posted on Reply
#5
Gzero
Darkleoco said:
If the fine is something reasonable then their is no issue but when someone starts looking for ridiculous sums of money for theft of something generally under $100 then thats where things start to get iffy in my opinion.
This.

Steal a car, you get a year or something depending on where you live. -no example set, victim gets what?-

Upload something with copyright, end up bankrupt for the rest of your life(unless you are a politician/work for them)? -example set, publisher/holder recovers some fees/costs-

Love how the 'common' people are always at the bottom of the pile here.
Posted on Reply
#6
Jarman
i'd have a lot more sympathy for the music/film industry etc if they were working for what I deem is a reasonable salary for the service they provide.

Say an engineer in this country who oversees a powerstation to make sure it stays operational is paid roughly 50k a year. That is a decent sum of money, but the service that person is providing is much more essential to your daily life than anything an entertainer does.

So, would *insert random famous person's name here* even notice if he/she lost that amount of money every time he/she sneezed? I very much doubt it. If say Rhianna earnt £20, 000 a year (and just doing what she does for the love of the music) I would feel a lot more for the arguement against piracy, hell i'd probably lead the charge against it, but until that is the case then I don't feel much sympathy.

Why is it in this culture that people who go on stage flapping their gums for three minutes deserve to live a life of luxury, whilst the people who make sure you have hot water, electricity etc. are paid a relative pittance?

/rant over
Posted on Reply
#7
deleted
Pirating is not stealing. Stealing is taking a product that belongs to another without the owner's consent. Games, movies, music, and other media are not products. Products are subject to supply and demand. Since there is no limit to how many times a game can be downloaded, supply is infinite. Additionally, once you purchase a product, you are entitled to do whatever you please to it. If I were to buy a car or a doll or a CD player, I could take it apart and put it back together however I please. Obviously, you don't have this option with games, as they only come in precompiled binaries. I would consider the source code to be a product, since supply is generally well-kept within the company that owns the rights to it, and once you've bought the rights to it you can make whatever changes to it you want to.

When you buy a game, especially through a digital download service like Steam, you aren't paying for the game, you're paying for the distribution service and a license to use the software. The latter is the issue that's usually brought up in court, but it's presented as thievery when it's really a breach of contract. In any case, it would be fairly easy for the groups that create the hacks to remove the EULA and therefore any criminal liability for the end user. Razor1911/Skidrow/etc would be criminals then, but not the pirates that download the games.

The other issue is the "lost profits" from the distribution service. This is the one the RIAA is fond of. The problem with crimimalizing this is that it criminalizes competition. When Best Buy sells a product similar to Circuit City's for cheaper and people buy that product from Best Buy, Circuit City just lost the potential profits from the sale of their product. Could Circuit City then turn around and sue Best Buy for damages equal to 10x or more than the value of every product that Best Buy sells? No, that would be ridiculous. But that's basically what we're seeing with these piracy cases that are being brought to court. But they're even more ridiculous, because they try to collect from the customers that chose to buy from Best Buy. They're attempting to punish people for being smart consumers and choosing the service that offers the best value.

So where am I going with this? Should studios just give away their games for free? No. But they should realize what exactly it is they're selling, and they should come up with ways to add value to it. Instead of trying to go to court and use all stick, they should find ways to increase the value of the service they offer. They can reduce the price to something more people would be willing to pay, or make their money through services related to the game other than distribution (microtransation item selling, access to servers, things like WoW's paid character transfers, etc), or use value-adds like the BF3 preorder bonuses (dogtags, skins, early weapon and DLC access) to encourage consumers to choose to buy a new copy of the game, rather than used or pirated copies which don't pay anything to the developer.
Posted on Reply
#8
Jarman
nice post deleted. +1 on anything you ever say again
Posted on Reply
#9
Gzero
deleted said:
Pirating is not stealing. Stealing is taking a product that belongs to another without the owner's consent. Games, movies, music, and other media are not products. Products are subject to supply and demand. Since there is no limit to how many times a game can be downloaded, supply is infinite. Additionally, once you purchase a product, you are entitled to do whatever you please to it. If I were to buy a car or a doll or a CD player, I could take it apart and put it back together however I please. Obviously, you don't have this option with games, as they only come in precompiled binaries. I would consider the source code to be a product, since supply is generally well-kept within the company that owns the rights to it, and once you've bought the rights to it you can make whatever changes to it you want to.

When you buy a game, especially through a digital download service like Steam, you aren't paying for the game, you're paying for the distribution service and a license to use the software. The latter is the issue that's usually brought up in court, but it's presented as thievery when it's really a breach of contract. In any case, it would be fairly easy for the groups that create the hacks to remove the EULA and therefore any criminal liability for the end user. Razor1911/Skidrow/etc would be criminals then, but not the pirates that download the games.

The other issue is the "lost profits" from the distribution service. This is the one the RIAA is fond of. The problem with crimimalizing this is that it criminalizes competition. When Best Buy sells a product similar to Circuit City's for cheaper and people buy that product from Best Buy, Circuit City just lost the potential profits from the sale of their product. Could Circuit City then turn around and sue Best Buy for damages equal to 10x or more than the value of every product that Best Buy sells? No, that would be ridiculous. But that's basically what we're seeing with these piracy cases that are being brought to court. But they're even more ridiculous, because they try to collect from the customers that chose to buy from Best Buy. They're attempting to punish people for being smart consumers and choosing the service that offers the best value.

So where am I going with this? Should studios just give away their games for free? No. But they should realize what exactly it is they're selling, and they should come up with ways to add value to it. Instead of trying to go to court and use all stick, they should find ways to increase the value of the service they offer. They can reduce the price to something more people would be willing to pay, or make their money through services related to the game other than distribution (microtransation item selling, access to servers, things like WoW's paid character transfers, etc), or use value-adds like the BF3 preorder bonuses (dogtags, skins, early weapon and DLC access) to encourage consumers to choose to buy a new copy of the game, rather than used or pirated copies which don't pay anything to the developer.
Don't mean to nitpick but I'm gonna.

Supply isn't limitless, it can be considered limited (bandwidth costs etc, is there a fee for how many licenses you make? Not checked that.).

WoW's transaction fees are crazy if you ask me, no way does it cost the amount they charge. :mad:

Most pre-order stuff isn't actually to stop piracy on PC, it was brought in for consoles to develop the account style drm for them, and us pc gamers would rage if the consoles got more product than us when we are already using the account style drm.
Posted on Reply
#10
TIGR
deleted said:
Pirating is not stealing. Stealing is taking....
If I were feeling civilized I'd call your whole post a nice-sounding but ultimately meretricious argument. I'm going to go with load of crap instead.

Breach of contract vs theft is an important distinction in the legal system, but from the perspective of developers and those of us with common sense, you're constructing a semantic house of cards.

Did you equate choosing pirating games over purchasing them with choosing Best Buy over Circuit City, and call pirates "smart consumers" for "choosing the service that offers the best value"? Maybe I'm misunderstanding.

Suggesting that studios "increase the value" and/or "reduce the price" of their games/services:
  • ignores the problem as well as market forces
  • is not concrete enough to be meaningful (increase value according to what benchmark and by how much? reduce price how much?)
  • treats games as though they are all equally overpriced and [un]valuable
  • ...
*sigh* That post just doesn't warrant me going on. It really doesn't. I only started because it'd be a shame if that nonsense derailed the thread.
Posted on Reply
#11
deleted
Gzero said:
Don't mean to nitpick but I'm gonna.

Supply isn't limitless, it can be considered limited (bandwidth costs etc, is there a fee for how many licenses you make? Not checked that.).
But in the case of pirated copies, none of these costs are associated without the developer or distributor. The seeders are paying the costs instead.
WoW's transaction fees are crazy if you ask me, no way does it cost the amount they charge. :mad
Agreed. I like the model, but not the prices themselves. Maybe if they reduced them they would stop hemorrhaging subscribers. Oh, and I absolutely don't condone paying for the box in a system with subscription and transactions fees left and right. They shouldn't charge the $60/box or whatever it is (tripply bullshit when they charge $60 for a digital download), but should keep the subscription.
Most pre-order stuff isn't actually to stop piracy on PC, it was brought in for consoles to develop the account style drm for them, and us pc gamers would rage if the consoles got more product than us when we are already using the account style drm.
Yes, but if more companies did the code for a free flavor item with every purchase of the game, more people would be inclined to actually purchase the game.

TIGR said:

Breach of contract vs theft is an important distinction in the legal system, but from the perspective of developers and those of us with common sense, you're constructing a semantic house of cards.
It's not particularly important to developers, but it's immeasurably important to the users being prosecuted for thefts they didn't and by definition couldn't commit. It ties in to my reluctance to pay for binaries in general. Purchasing software should give the buyer full privileges to change anything they please for personal use (and possibly limited distribution, depending on licensing terms)
Did you equate choosing pirating games over purchasing them with choosing Best Buy over Circuit City, and call pirates "smart consumers" for "choosing the service that offers the best value"? Maybe I'm misunderstanding.
Not quite, but that's the gist of it. The Pirate Bay is a competitor to Steam in the same way that Best Buy is a competitor to Circuit City. The difference is that the pirates know exactly what it is they're distributing, while Steam still seems to be under the assumption that they're selling a product (and charge accordingly). Steam is pretty good as far as this goes. Take a look at Origin. It's such a pile of shit that many people refuse to buy Battlefield 3 specifically because they don't want Origin on their system.

This is exactly the kind of thing that needs to stop if distributors ever want to even consider reining in piracy. They need to give users a reason to use their service rather than anyone else's. So far they've tried to use DRM to make their service the only one that delivers a playable copy of the game, but half the time it only works against legitimate customers. Take a look at Skyrim. It received a patch on Steam (that only reached paying customers) that added in DRM (which was useless because they bought the game anyway) and broke several things in he game.
Suggesting that studios "increase the value" and/or "reduce the price" of their games/services:
  • ignores the problem as well as market forces
  • is not concrete enough to be meaningful (increase value according to what benchmark and by how much? reduce price how much?)
  • treats games as though they are all equally overpriced and [un]valuable
  • ...
No, I don't agree with any of these. I can't, for obvious reasons, give a case-by-case rundown on every game ever made and say how it should be different, but I can say, without a doubt, that every pirate is a potential customer. I'll say it again in case anyone missed that: Every pirate is a potential customer. Every one. Without exception. All you have to do in order to turn these pirates into customers is to give them a compelling reason to purchase the game. For some, supporting the developer is a good reason to spend $60 for a game. For some it isn't. For *everyone*, supporting the developer is a good enough reason to spend $0.01 on a game. It's just a matter of finding the price that maximizes profits. Even then, some people will pirate the game. There's no reason to punish them, since they wouldn't have bought the game at a reasonable price anyway. Just let them pirate it and there's no harm done. There are no "lost profits."
Posted on Reply
#12
xenocide
If CD Projekt is mad their game didn't sell as well as they hoped, maybe they should make a better more appealing game. Skyrim was a similar title, and had no problems launching and selling a ton of copies. As it stands, Witcher II seems to be a very hate it or love it style game, where the people that like it, really love it, but the people taht don't can't stand it. I think Witcher II sold pretty well considering very few people had even heard of The Witcher let alone played it.

I don't think Piracy is as big a problem as big media companies make it out to be. The fact is, all entertainment companies are still struggling to adapt to the Internet-era, and realizing they will have to price their products competatively, and distribute them effectively to make the huge profits they desire. According to the entertainment industry, Cassette Tapes, VHS Tapes, LaserDisc's, VCR's, CD's, Flash Drives, DVD's, and every other medium have destroyed, or been a major threat to them. The Internet is no different. These companies want complete control, a monopoly if you will, so they can force people to buy products regardless of quality. People have been pirating products for decades, well before the internet, and did it kill off the entertainment industry? NO.

CD Projekt did the right thing by stopping their witch hunt, and I applaud them for that.
Posted on Reply
#13
adrianx
So.. hypothetical let say....

If I download and play... this game.... the CD...red will know from the software that I install .... so the software send same file or info from my pc to this company... this look like same spyware or in any case same illegal access to my pc.
also there will be some law that will be involved like, protection of your personal date, illegal access on the system, illegal tracking of the person and their activities, some adder user rights take will be passed. also I don't know if this data that company get from the user will be ok or can be used in court as prove?(in many EU countries, it is illegal to obtain such evidence and can not be used as evidence)

in my idea the company use a illegal tactic/practice to get that info. so in order to get the pirate .... the company will become a pirate ...:) the company will go over more law and deny some rights for one simple infraction

so let see what EU will have to say about that :)
Posted on Reply
#14
Specter_Phi
What they did was right in the first place. Its was just, its a shame for those who have been contacted for playing the game illegally. Whats missing here is the RESPECT in the first place. The developers have spent their time and effort just to build this project. We have to pay them back for their efforts.

In every security, there is always a breach. But sometimes, its nature's call for balance. We need hackers so that developers won't abuse us.
Posted on Reply
#15
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
Specter_Phi said:
We need hackers so that developers won't abuse us.
*cough*Ubisoft*cough*
Posted on Reply
#16
Super XP
alterecho said:
I don't get it. I wouldn't worry about their push against pirates, when i'm having the receipt of the original copy. Why are others worrying?
The point is, you don't want these people anywhere near your home. What they need to do is relax with the bloody super high profits and start selling games at a reasonable price without tbis DRM crap that only hurts the people that buy legit.

They pull crap like this again and it's going to be massive BoyCott next time. That goes for any company.
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