When the CD Projekt’s Witcher 2 role-playing game hits in May of next year, torrent-sniffing companies will be keeping an eye out for folks downloading the game. According to Joystiq, CD Projekt is already preparing its legal offensive against pirates, who can expect to be fined if caught sharing the title. This kind of aggressive legal action is common in the entertainment industry, but it’s been confined largely to music and movies. Games are relatively new turf.
When lawyers go after folks sharing music and movies, there’s often outcry that piracy wouldn’t have been necessary if only the content was offered at a reasonable price and free of DRM restrictions. Anything short of free seems to qualify as too expensive for some, but at least with Witcher 2, there’s no need to worry about DRM cramping your style. Good Old Games has the rights to this PC exclusive, which will be offered completely free of digital rights management. Paying customers will be able to download and install the title as many times as they please.
Without an online multiplayer component that could require some form of authentication, Witcher 2 is essentially being served up to pirates on a silver platter. But it’s also being offered in a format that should assuage the concerns that some have over buying games online. I’m curious to see how this approach pans out for the developer, which hopes to sell 1.3 million copies of the game. The first Witcher has high critic and user scores on Metacritic, so there will surely be demand for the sequel. I can only hope that demand translates into sales, encouraging other developers to pursue the DRM-free path. At the same time, however, it’s probably unrealistic to expect would-be pirates to be deterred by the threat of legal action.