Marcin Iwinski Interviewed about Online-Only DRMPosted 25 June 2012 by Flux
Rock paper Shotgun posted an interview with Marcin Iwinski, the CEO of Polish gaming studio CD Projekt, in which he talks about their upcoming projects and Diablo III’s approach to online security. It’s an interesting situation, since CD Project is handling the hosting and internet support for Diablo III in the Polish market, and they’re also a game developer in their own right. The bulk of the interview is about their upcoming game, Cyberpunk, inspired by/based on the neo-futuristic computer hacker “hi-tech, low-life” fictional world.
Here’s what Marcin said about the state of DRM in online products, and Diablo III.
RPS: OK then: DRM. Not for Cyberpunk specifically, because CD Projekt’s sworn off DRM. Meanwhile, though, Diablo III recently launched with an incredibly restrictive online policy, and it’s been having all sorts of awful, uncomfortable hiccups. But a lot of developers still seem to be convinced it’s “the way of the future.” What’s your take on that? Can they please all be wrong? I’d like that very much.
Iwinski: I’ve been thinking about it a lot in general. With Diablo, we were discussing it a lot internally. Actually, we’re going to be the Polish distributor of Diablo III. We’re launching it soon. And so, with Diablo III, people complain [about DRM] on forums and things, but they still go out and buy it. And I’m one of those people. [laughs]
Yes, it probably could’ve been done differently. I wasn’t working on the game, so I don’t know exactly how. But your character is stored online and you can jump right into multiplayer. Maybe if that was better explained to users, [there'd be less of a negative reaction]. But what I’d do, I’d make the single-player part offline. It’s as simple as that. Then people would be happier.
But people ask if I think there’s a “right” copy protection for games, and my answer is simple: the protection is the experience. So if you want to eliminate piracy and go online, make it work. But yeah, I think a lot of companies – a lot of people in the industry – they want to put their worlds and experiences online because it enhances the life cycle of the product and people spend more time with it. That’s where the industry’s going, and we can already see it at this show. A lot of online games with lots of people talking about DLC.
And, whether we like it or not, it’ll probably go this way. I feel that there’s still a place for offline single-player experiences, but there’s more and more people who want to play online. So they’ll get what they want. And this will be, on the business level, a much better concept to monetize. Because, whatever single-player game you release and whatever protection you put on it, it will be cracked. It will be pirated.
I was always saying that Blizzard’s the best innovator in terms of protecting their game. Diablo II – in our experience in distributing it in Poland – is one of the best-selling games ever. People still buy it today, and it’s mid-priced. It’s not even budget yet – after 10 or 11 years, because people still want to be part of Battle.net. And it worked because you could play the game offline, and then you could go online. It was the perfect medium.
The greater irony is that Cyberpunks are all about computer hacking and cracking, and something like an online-only DRM would serve as a red flag waving before their virtual bull.