“To me it was quite some news that our lovely DRM, in this case SecuRom, can screw up game performance so much. Would you like a little taste?” a TorrentFreak reader reported to us this week.
He was referring to the DRM present in certain versions of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, the hot new title from CD Projekt. His calculations revealed the following:
* With SecuROM: 41 sec game launch, 16 sec savegame, 16-43 fps
* Without SecuROM: 9 sec game launch, 8 sec savegame, 24-73 fps
Although the performance hit is dramatic, only retail versions of the game are affected since Steam versions and those from GOG.com are supplied DRM-free.
“I bought the game from Amazon,” said our concerned reader. “I am an idiot, apparently.”
However, after listening to complaints like these around the web, today CD Projekt will release a patch which will remove DRM from all versions of the game.
“Our goal is to make our fans and customers happy and to reward them for buying our game and DRM schemes does not support our philosophy as they might create obstacles for users of legally bought copies,” reports CD Projekt’s Adam Badowski, refreshingly.
“Our approach to countering piracy is to incorporate superior value in the legal version. 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.”
Interestingly, TorrentFreak had already been in contact with CD Projekt who told us their main concern was avoiding a pre-release situation, something they achieved.
“Nowadays most PC games are available for download with a working crack at least couple of days before official release,” Agnieszka Szostak of CD Projekt told us. “We’re happy we were able to avoid it with our game.”
While CD Projekt’s approach to DRM in this instance is to be commended, and piracy can indeed be deterred by making it more worthwhile to get the official copy, this announcement should perhaps not be read in isolation.
As reported last year, CD Projekt already warned that DRM aside, they might take another and even more controversial approach to dealing with piracy.
“Of course we’re not happy when people are pirating our games, so we are signing with legal firms and torrent sneaking companies,” CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwinski explained at the time.
“In quite a few big countries, when people are downloading [The Witcher 2] illegally they can expect a letter from a legal firm saying, ‘Hey, you downloaded it illegally and right now you have to pay a fine’,” Iwinski added.
A couple of weeks ago TorrentFreak heard rumors that a pre-released but uncracked version of a Witcher 2 torrent on The Pirate Bay had been put there as “a trap”. Our investigations didn’t show any evidence to back up that claim. So, along with a link to the company’s earlier statements about getting law firms involved, we contacted CD Projekt and asked them outright – is this torrent a trap and do you still intend to go ahead with tracking illegal file-sharers?
We received no answer on the first question, but we did on the second.
“Yes we will track illegal file-sharing hoping people will find the game good enough to actually change their mind and be willing to pay for it,” Agnieszka Szostak told us.
If CD Projekt do indeed go ahead with their threats, this will be the second time that a Witcher title has been involved in these so-called “pay-up-or-else” schemes. In 2008, large numbers of Internet users started receiving letters from notorious file-sharing lawyers Davenport Lyons in the UK demanding cash settlements. Among those letters were demands for payment on an Atari game with a familiar title – The Witcher.
We asked CD Projekt if that scheme had been successful. We received no response.