An estimated 4.5 million pirate DRMless The Witcher 2

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, CD Projekt’s biggest game yet, has been pirated in the excess of 4.5 million copies, the developer reckons. And that estimate may be on the low side.

Chatting with PC Gamer, studio CEO Marcin Iwinski said it’s impossible to come up with an exact figure, however: “I was checking regularly the number of concurrent downloads on torrent aggregating sites, and for the first six to eight weeks there was around 20-30k people downloading it at the same time.”

He continues: “Let’s take 20k as the average and let’s take six weeks. The game is 14GB, so let’s assume that on an average not-too-fast connection it will be six hours of download. Six weeks is 56 days, which equals to 1344 hours; and with six hours of average download time to get the game it would give us 224 downloads, then let’s multiply it by 20k simultaneous downloaders.

“The result is roughly 4.5 million illegal downloads. This is only an estimation, and I would say that’s rather on the optimistic side of things; as of today we have sold over one million legal copies, so having only 4.5-5 illegal copies for each legal one would be not a bad ratio. The reality is probably way worse.”

Instead of making use of some obtrusive DRM, which just “does not work” — “however you would protect it, it will be cracked in no time,” he says — the developer “started offering high value with the product” by “enhancing the game with additional collectors’ items like soundtracks, making-of DVDs, books, walkthroughs, etc.”

And here’s the bit some publishers refuse to understand: “Plus, the DRM itself is a pain for your legal gamers – this group of honest people, who decided that your game was worth the 50 USD or Euro and went and bought it. Why would you want to make their lives more difficult?” Amen.