Marcin Iwinski Interviewed about Online-Only DRM


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.

Tagged As: | Categories: Online-Only Diablo 3

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  1. Personally I don’t think that the DRM itself is a big problem.

    In fact, I appreciate the fact that it prevents or complicates cheating.

    Most people who talk against DRM are simply complaining that they basicaly can’t download and play the game for free.

    I think it could have been solved more elegant (only online requirement on game start, then both online/offline modes, would still take hacking teams a while to break the game and create a emulator if done correctly (see Assassins Creed 2), still I find it fair towards blizzard that they actually do get the money for the effort they put in (and I’m sure Diablo 3’s crazy sell counts are also partielly a result of the DRM)

    However the problem with Diablo’s DRM is that the company has to ensure a certain level of uptime and stability, especially when talking about the hardcore mode – which blizzard does not provide at this point.

    • You know these days I have to laugh sooo much about this.

      On the Blizzard hating site mmorpg.com there is this one guy who keeps mentioning he won’t touch D3 because he can’t play it on the … bus or train or… airplane…

      Of course when you ignore the guys’ posting history that he hates everything Blizzad put out in the last 10 years … you ROFL when you think about these reactions.

      — > “Diablo on a plane ?” really “EXcuse me Sir would you mind taking another seat because I need my mouse mat installed next to me…”

      — >”Diablo on a bus ?” “Hey chauffeur, you took that turn whay to steep and now I am dead in hardcore mode …”

      Really, in a time and place where EVERYONE rides with I PAds on line everywhere, I already see those guys with 10 kilo PC’s and mouse mats sitting on trains, planes and automobiles playing Diablo 3.

      How much more RIDICULOUS can it get really … ?

      • “— > “Diablo on a plane ?” really “EXcuse me Sir would you mind taking another seat because I need my mouse mat installed next to me…”

        — >”Diablo on a bus ?” “Hey chauffeur, you took that turn whay to steep and now I am dead in hardcore mode …”

        Really, in a time and place where EVERYONE rides with I PAds on line everywhere, I already see those guys with 10 kilo PC’s and mouse mats sitting on trains, planes and automobiles playing Diablo 3.

        How much more RIDICULOUS can it get really … ?”

        I guess you never heard of Laptops or Small pc Mice…

    • you two are joking, right?
      i mean i dont get it, so i have to ask – is this irony?

      because if not i would have to assume that you actually like to be thrown over a barrel and have the end of your digestive system violated.

  2. SO … WOW is DRM then …?

    Oh and I NEVER saw that discussion about DRM in ANY MMO ?

    To the guy above … what idiot would complain when he looses a connection in an MMO and would ask his money back?

    Oh but Diablo 3 is not an MMO?

    Ok then … is LOL an MMO ? Of course not. Are ALL these Web browser games MMO’s ? Of course not… Are ALL I PAd games with on line play only … MMO’s … Nope.

    You know at the moment there are around THOUSANDS of games on PC’s, IPads, WEB browsing games, Androids … ON LINE ONLY.

    What’s the fuzz with a MULTI MILLION played game with a MULTI MILLION Auction House trading system doing in this discussion then?

    You know why ? It is just the next multi billion dollar Blizzard game…

    That’s why.

    • multi-BILLION dollar game? really?

      dude Thrall, please just stop

      I’ve seen you all over this site and you rarely have any clue of what you’re talking about

      just stop being a loud-mouth know-it-all

      take a chill pill, do some research, meditate, whatever, but come correct man

      the more you post the sloppier you sound

      • Multi billion dollar is correct.

        Read the stock analists recently, they do count the full retail price and compared to the film industry…

        6.3 million copies sold at a gross revenue rate of 60 dollars = 380 million dollars in … FIRST week sales only.

        Now add the fact that the game in EU is selling at an incredible rate that most local country amazon sales are always out of stock.

        amazon.co.uk is now for the 5th time in 5 weeks out of stock.

        Proof:
        http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=diablo+3

        Holland showed the game is top 1 since 5 weeks now compared to all console games.

        Germany (a much bigger market) : http://www.amazon.de/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?__mk_de_DE=%C5M%C5Z%D5%D1&url=search-alias%3Dvideogames&field-keywords=&x=10&y=15

        it is easy to see that the first month sales will be around 7-8 million by now.

        Add the following years and RMAH with an expected income of around 20 million a month and the first billion will be attained before the first anniversary (next May 2013).

        • You managed to prove that people will pay excessive amounts of money for anything with “Diablo” label slapped onto it.

          How about you find another SINGLE PLAYER game which is online only and is as successful. Since you keep using MULTI PLAYER ONLY games (and no, Diablo 3 isn’t one of them) as examples, i think you might not know the difference.

          Also, funny how you keep saying that Diablo 3 is a multibillion game, even though it’s a blatant overestimate. It would be good if it managed to pay for the prolonged development cycle. Or make Activision-Blizzard a profiting asset which won’t be sold off by Vivendi quite soon…

          • Diablo 3 is an ON LINE game only. Period.

            I don’t think that a game with 7 or 8 million people connecting to each other with HUGE server infrastructres and trading can be considered a single player game.

            Diablo 3 is simply an integrated multi player game in BOTH dungeon crawling hack/slash as in a player driven economy.

            It is NOT because you can only with … 4 players, 99 players in chat/server and 2000 players divided among your partial server of the TOTAL server region cluster that the game is NOT massively.

            The fact that you play a game ON LINE these days is logical in view of the possibilities of the internet.

            MMO’s are being played like that since 12 years now.

            Nobody complained.

            Did you complain that a SW game became on line only ? Did you complain that a ST game became on line only? Did you complain that Dungeons and Dragons became on line only ? Did you complain that a Warcraft game became on line only ?

            Did you complain that League of Legends became on line only ?

            Did you complain that 50% of the programs, utilities and GAMES on the IPad became on line only?

            So stop pretending. Diablo 3 is a new version with an on line only mode to protect its economy against hackers, dupers and cracking guys.

            Even a 10 year old would understand you can no longer distribute PC software on LOCAL disks to be TEMPERED with. Certainly not within a trading game.

            As for the success of the sales: they continue to rise (300% growth in the last 2 weeks in EU). See VGChartz (which only shows small portions of the market like no digital sales and only 3 countries of the 27 EU ones).

            So the sales success continues despite the hating campaign. That must be a real bummer for some. 🙂

            And btw the sales WILL continue, because there is not even a cracked product in sight. Unless you want to be … hacked of course 🙂

          • “I don’t think that a game with 7 or 8 million people connecting to each other with HUGE server infrastructres and trading can be considered a single player game.”
            1) I doubt that 7 or 8 million players are still playing Diablo 3.
            2) If you think that every player playing Diablo 3 is connected to each other, then you’re greatly mistaken. You have not taken into account players who play this game solo, don’t trade and don’t interact with others. And for those players this kind of infrastructure is more of a hinderance then anything else
            3) From gameplay standpoint, there’s nothing that makes Diablo 3 MULTIPLAYER ONLY.

            “The fact that you play a game ON LINE these days is logical in view of the possibilities of the internet.”
            And it’s highly illogical knowing that technology still isn’t there, not to mention that the use of Online Only in Diablo 3 is pointless considering what it offers – i.e. nothing much apart from shoddy spam-chat, matchmaking and trading. Other game companies offer much more for their “online-only” games – just look at how DotA 2 does it.

            “MMO’s are being played like that since 12 years now.

            Nobody complained.

            Did you complain that a SW game became on line only ? Did you complain that a ST game became on line only? Did you complain that Dungeons and Dragons became on line only ? Did you complain that a Warcraft game became on line only ?

            Did you complain that League of Legends became on line only ?”
            Here’s a fun excercise for you. Imagine how playing those game with only 1 player is and compare it with Diablo 3. You’ll see that in most cases either game is unplayable, just plain boring or you have a small portion of content which can be played solo.

            “So stop pretending. Diablo 3 is a new version with an on line only mode to protect its economy against hackers, dupers and cracking guys.”
            Only a fool would think that, seeing how good of a job D3 does protecting itself. Not to mention that it has essentially a big “HACK ME, DUPE ME, CRACK ME” written all over it – Diablo 3 has become a big target for those guys.

            “Even a 10 year old would understand you can no longer distribute PC software on LOCAL disks to be TEMPERED with. Certainly not within a trading game.”
            Yes you can, since it’s been proven over and over that DRM doesn’t work. It just delays hacks, cracks and dupes. Not to mention that many don’t care about the trading aspects, and those who care can easily elievate the dupes by being a part of a trustworthy trading community.

            “As for the success of the sales: they continue to rise (300% growth in the last 2 weeks in EU). See VGChartz (which only shows small portions of the market like no digital sales and only 3 countries of the 27 EU ones).”
            Not really a great indication if Diablo 3’s commercial success will save Acti-Blizz from being sold off, is it?

            “So the sales success continues despite the hating campaign. That must be a real bummer for some. 🙂 ”
            Nah, don’t really care about it’s sales. Maybe all that income will be used to make actually a good game. But considering the latest titles from Blizzard, there’s not much point getting hopes up.

            “And btw the sales WILL continue, because there is not even a cracked product in sight. Unless you want to be … hacked of course :)”
            Why anyone would hack somebody who didn’t buy D3 is beyond me… But i guess everything is possible in the mind of a blizzdrone.

            Funny thing is, pirated version probably will offer more stable connection so i guess loyal consumers are harmed yet again, having to deal with BS service…

        • multi billion

          ha ha

          your math pretty much sucks

          and its TAMPERED, not TEMPERED

  3. I believe we have only one future: most big companies will keep diminishing their production costs (in relation to their projected revenues) to the detriment of the game’s quality, and the small companies will flourish with small price tags, better games for their particular markets, and, in turn, more relative revenue.

    Which is to say the mainstream will keep being milked like the bottomless well it is, and the niche markets will grow.

    Diablo 3 is mainstream. Do your math.

    • Sorry but I don’t waste my precious time on amateurish games where the music originates from a cheap Casio and programmed for 5 years in a bedroom with 2 amateurs coding it.

      Diablo 3 is simply a GOOD game with an average rating of 88% on the internet coming from well respected reviewers.

      That it sold multi millions copies at 60 dollars/ Euros is not my problem. Apparently it is your frustration.

      The fact a couple of hundred frustrated guys make alts on numurous forums is typical for this hating society.

      COD gets 2.2 on metacritic and Diablo 3.9 from these idiots.

      All issues are good enough to trash talk. First the down time of servers and when that is resolved it is the on line part , than it is the Blizzard security on stupid clients, than it is the balance, than it is the nerfing, than it is X, Y, Z…

      Keep it up and search for those idiotic amateur products with blue screens every 2 minutes.

      Not with my money.

      If Blizzard wants to protect their product with server side controls, I support them all along.

      I didn’t get ANY support from the disk/game crackers when they ruined my hard disks during 15 years…

      • lol, you read and care about review scores.

        Anyway, CD Projekt is great. I bought two copies of The Witcher 2 just because of how they handled their DRM issues.

  4. “there’s more and more people who want to play online”

    lol you fuggin kiddin me? in what universe would that even be remotely accurate? people play online because they’re forced to or because it’s the only mode available for a game (MMOs for instance)

    • Frankly I am fed up with playing off line games.

      I want to COMPARE, BEAT, BRAG within the games I play. The existing armory and rated ladder games are proof of this popularity.

      Take the Elite service on COD and its consoles with REAL prices etc …(sadly it doesn’t exist in the same way for PC’s because of the … local client disk hacking possibilites…)

      It is so pathetic when a guy in our wargaming club comes in and tries to talk about Skyrim. He is looked at like someone who comes in and tries to explain the story of a book.

      While ALL discussions are about on line games and the different tactics to use between … people.

      It is the same as stating the OFF line era of computers was better than using your computer on line.

      • “I want to COMPARE, BEAT, BRAG within the games I play”

        And we don’t want to be FORCED to play around people like you?

        • You are never forced in Diablo 3.

          Of ALL on line games this one has the biggest choice of them all because your Real Friends are only ONE click away… (instead of being divided on different realms).

          IF you have RL friends that is …

          See that wasn’t even too difficult to understand.

  5. Computer hacking has become a buzz word over the last decade. It was several years ago when computer security was not as strong as it is today. This made for many stories, including the base story for the movie “War Games”.
    1Y0-A22

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