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Default The Witcher 2 - 1M Sales, 4.5M Pirated?

November 30th, 2011, 22:25
Eisberg sends in an interview between CD Projekt CEO Marcin Iwinski and PC Gamer about The Witcher 2 sales, piracy and DRM. Iwinski estimates The Witcher 2 has been pirated over 4.5M times on the way to sales of 1M:
PCG: Can you offer any concrete numbers or percentages as far as Witcher 2 piracy goes?
MI: There are no stats available, but letís make a quick calculation. I was checking regularly the number of concurrent downloads on torrent aggregating sites, and for the first 6-8 weeks there was around 20-30k ppl downloading it at the same time. Letís take 20k as the average and letís take 6 weeks. The game is 14GB, so letís assume that on an average not-too-fast connection it will be 6 hours of download. 6 weeks is 56 days, which equals to 1344 hours; and with 6h of average download time to get the game it would give us 224 downloads, then letís multiply it by 20k simultaneous downloaders.
The result is roughly 4.5 million illegal downloads. This is only an estimation, and I would say thatís rather on the optimistic side of things; as of today we have sold over 1M 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.
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November 30th, 2011, 22:25
Hahaha, 6 hours on average to pirate a 14GB game? I think the only thing optimistic about this estimate is the presumed fidelity and seed ratios of high popularity torrents.
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November 30th, 2011, 23:17
Also downloading doesn't imply playing or even wanting to play anytime soon. To consider each download a lost sale is ridiculous.
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November 30th, 2011, 23:34
Maybe I'm blind, but I didn't see him ever try to equate an illegal download to a lost sale. Almost nobody does - it's just a few people in the industry trying to justify (or sell) DRM who count downloads as lost revenue and use it that way.

But it's equally stupid to assume that NONE of these freeloaders would have bought the game if piracy was magically not an option. Somewhere between full price and free, they all would have acquired the game (since, you know, they did). For how much? Maybe 1/10th would have bought it at full price, 2/10th at half-price, 4/10ths at quarter price? If so, then that's the equivalent of another millian-and-a-quarter full-price sales, which is still *a lot*.

It's all speculation, But the thing these numbers do reveal is just how rampant piracy is. I refuse to by Ubisoft games with their ridiculous DRM, but seeing these numbers, it's easy to see why they had that idea. When your store is being burglarized every week, you can move or shut down your store, improve your protection against burglary, or pass the cost off onto your legitimate customers so they can subsidize the criminals. Or a combination of all three. Take your pick.

I can only volunteer this anecdotal evidence (which I share on an upcoming Matt Chat interview): Immediately after the pirated copies of my game appeared on the net, my sales dropped in half. And stayed there. You can see the trend take a steep dive and never recover. Maybe that would have happened anyway, but it's suspicious.
Last edited by RampantCoyote; December 1st, 2011 at 00:02.
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November 30th, 2011, 23:42
Originally Posted by Thrasher View Post
Also downloading doesn't imply playing or even wanting to play anytime soon. To consider each download a lost sale is ridiculous.
Exactly and sorta what he said:

"If they do not want it and they pirated it, it means we did not have the right offer for them – maybe the price was too high and they will buy it later on a year or two after the release when it will be more affordable."


A great read, really. It is amazing how they approached the situation here in Poland. Indeed when I was still living in Germany and just visiting Poland from time to time, I got the impression that here games are simply not bought. When I moved to Poland 4 years ago the situation was totally different and on most boxes you had the CD Projekt logo. I also like his attitude - his and Michal Kicinski's, Co-Owner of CD Projekt. Interviewed him a couple of years ago when they were about to get started with GOG and it is really nice to see that he wasn't just flooding me with PR speak but that the promises made about GOG were in fact true.

Originally Posted by RampantCoyote View Post
I can only volunteer this anecdotal evidence (which I share on an upcoming Matt Chat interview): Immediately after the pirated copies of my game appeared on the net, my sales dropped in half. And stayed there. You can see the trend take a steep dive and never recover. Maybe that would have happened anyway, but it's suspicious.
Did you ever leave a comment on some of the larger torrent sites? Something like "Blabla, I'm the dev, thanks for downloading, if you liked the game and want to support my drug habit AND eventually play a sequel please head to my LINK and buy the product". I don't know in what range your game is selling, but IF that would make a difference then numbers might be low enough to eventually see a spike a day after you posted on 30 torrent sites. I might be overly optimistic here.

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November 30th, 2011, 23:50
It would be interesting to see if a DRM version of the Witcher 2 would have been pirated as much* or not after it was cracked. Unfortunately, we need to live in another reality to see that.

*Way of speaking, 1 seed/leech doesn't equal one full download. Also, torrent isn't the only place to download stuff illegally making "estimating" this a nightmare and equivalent to pulling numbers out of your ass.
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December 1st, 2011, 00:02
Originally Posted by RampantCoyote View Post
But the thing these numbers do reveal is just how rampant piracy is.
But they don't - the numbers used were rough and highly inaccurate guesstimates so they tell you nothing about "just how rampant" it is. I think people tend to see numbers in an article and presume they're meaningful when in many cases, such as this, they're pretty meaningless. The true figures could be anywhere from a couple hundred thousand to 9 million easily enough - depending on how many downloaders actually complete downloading, actual download times, and also other channels of transfer such as IRC.

Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
*Way of speaking, 1 seed/leech doesn't equal one full download. Also, torrent isn't the only place to download stuff illegally making "estimating" this a nightmare and equivalent to pulling numbers out of your ass.
Yes. This.
I'm not arguing piracy isn't rampant - I'm arguing that the figures and estimates provided off the top of the interviewee's head are borderline meaningless. Luckily those figures were, more or less, not pertinent to the point they were making.

I can only volunteer this anecdotal evidence (which I share on an upcoming Matt Chat interview): Immediately after the pirated copies of my game appeared on the net, my sales dropped in half. And stayed there. You can see the trend take a steep dive and never recover. Maybe that would have happened anyway, but it's suspicious.
That sort of sharp drop after initial sales pretty much describes everything from video game sales to ticket sales for first-run films in theaters. That includes games with pirated copies available before release (as they often are for console games.) Again, piracy likely does effect sales but it is a mistake to conflate natural sales trends with the perceived effect of piracy. If the sales of every other media product ever are any indication - it is not a "maybe" that it would have happened anyways but very much to be expected.
Last edited by jhwisner; December 1st, 2011 at 00:17.
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December 1st, 2011, 00:26
Well even if these figures are guestimates at best it does show how bad "the gamer" in general has become. This is not a war against DRM for most people but an attitude towards free content via the internet.

I am a very proud owner of a GoG.com DRM free version of this game!
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December 1st, 2011, 00:27
Way of speaking, 1 seed/leech doesn't equal one full download. Also, torrent isn't the only place to download stuff illegally making "estimating" this a nightmare and equivalent to pulling numbers out of your ass.
Yeah, there have been other approaches, especially with online-playable games… they put in a sneaky way of determining whether you are playing with a legit license or not. They don't go into details, but it sounds like it would be a pretty accurate estimation, and with that methodology they are reporting 80%, 90%, or higher percentages of non-legitimate players.

People immediately question those numbers, too, because most of us can't believe piracy is that widespread. The estimate he provides here jibes with numbers I keep seeing from numerous alternative approaches to counting piracy. There are quite enough data points by this point now to suggest that a 3:1, 4:1, 9:1, and even higher pirate / customer ratio is not uncommon.

Did you ever leave a comment on some of the larger torrent sites?
No, I have not. I justify it by saying it's not worth my time, but I don't really know that.
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December 1st, 2011, 01:18
Originally Posted by RampantCoyote View Post
Yeah, there have been other approaches, especially with online-playable games… they put in a sneaky way of determining whether you are playing with a legit license or not. They don't go into details, but it sounds like it would be a pretty accurate estimation, and with that methodology they are reporting 80%, 90%, or higher percentages of non-legitimate players.
People question those numbers and find them hard to believe because they appear to be at odds with more comprehensive and rigorous studies of piracy rates in different countries and regions. At the high end those rates are barely compatible with the estimates for piracy in general for traditionally less profitable markets such as the Ukraine and Russia.

http://portal.bsa.org/globalpiracy2010/

Perhaps it is partly that general studies on software piracy do not focus on game piracy, but in the largest markets these rates do seem out of place compared to the rates found by more rigorous studies which show them to be closer to 20-40% in the largest markets (with the US being at around 20%.)

The only large market where the rate is high enough to even potentially explain such high perceived rates of piracy would be China - which is also one in which many of these games are simply not even offered for legal sale.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cr…re-piracy-rate

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I see no distributor for The Witcher 2 for china for example. It may be availible in Chinese but it does not appear to have distribution there.
Last edited by jhwisner; December 1st, 2011 at 01:31.
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December 1st, 2011, 01:31
Actually for a 14 GB file it would likely take more like 10 hours to download. From doing a quick search for The Witcher 2 torrents there are virtually no torrents that show the amount of downloads so he must be going by the amount of leechers on the torrent. In that case his numbers are totally flawed since anyone who didn't download the entire torrent would be shown as a leecher until they remove the torrent so probably a good deal of the leechers counted probably were seeding instead.

PS. Based on the about I would at lease halve that estimate.
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December 1st, 2011, 01:50
Piracy costs game company a huge amount of sales. I have no problem with somewhat draconian measures to ensure a legal copy as long as safeguards are in place for the consumer with legitimate issues such as in the armed forces and not able to play while having an internet connection (just as an example).
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December 1st, 2011, 02:05
I'm confused. Why would someone start to download it then stop? Why would anyone download it and never play it? If it's only just 1/4 of his estimate then isn't that still way too much? 1 copy stole for everyone sold.

If I walk into a store and steal it of the shelf but never play it did I steal it? If the cops come to my door and I say but I never played it. will they tell me ok have a nice day, sorry to bother you?

It's just ridiculous. No one steals if off a shelf because of the threat of going to jail but they think it's perfectly fine to download it.
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December 1st, 2011, 02:15
The math of torrents is this: total download speed = total upload speed.

So lets see how that plays out when we plug in Eisberg's assumptions. Specifically he assumes the average downloader (peer) gets 14GB in 6 hrs. That in turn equals 2.333 GB/hr which calculates to be 0.03888 GB/min, which calculates to 0.00064805 GB/s. IF we assume a seed/peer ratio on average of 1/1, i.e., one to one, (bear in mind that is a very optimistic assumption as most torrents have fewer seeds than peers), then we find that the average seed (uploader) in these torrents must be uploading at an average speed of 5,567 kilobits/sec (see conversion table at http://www.speedguide.net/conversion.php).

Granted I live in the US which has rather slow internet speeds; but I do have a high speed internet connection; and my MAX upload speed is 384 kilobits/sec. But even with this I cannot actually upload at 384 kb/s because part of what I am uploading is headers (each internet data packet includes a header that specifies where the data is going and other stuff); so my max upload speed is actually about 350 kb/s (assuming a 10% loss due to headers). And at that upload speed I have used up my entire bandwith — I cannot do anything else on the internet — and this also assumes that my torrent client is somehow 100% efficient in being able to use all of my available bandwidth (a virtual impossibility).

Net of these calculations; the average seed in Eisberg's hypothetical torrent transfer is continuously and constantly uploading at a speed of 5,567 kb/sec for 6 hours. That is an upload speed of nearly 16 times my max upload speed.

These assumptions are totally unreasonable. The total downloads need to be cut by at least a factor of 5 to 10 (probably more).
Last edited by RPGFool; December 1st, 2011 at 02:31.
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December 1st, 2011, 02:23
Originally Posted by azarhal View Post
*Way of speaking, 1 seed/leech doesn't equal one full download. Also, torrent isn't the only place to download stuff illegally making "estimating" this a nightmare and equivalent to pulling numbers out of your ass.
In a way yes and in a way no .

First, even a single download would theoretically suffice since it could easily be copied and duplicated millions or actually infinite times.

Secondly, though his method might be questionable, he clearly stated that it was still a conservative estimate and that the real number is probably much higher which he figured from the comparatively low 1:4.5 ratio alone.

Thirdly, I think we need to be aware that in quite a lot of countries only the really dumb people still use BitTorrent. Torrents can be tracked and they are being tracked like mad.
In Germany we have a lot of young, bored, underpaid lawyers with nothing else to do but tracking down Torrent users for downloading music, games, and movies etc.
Then they send out cease & desist letters and collect hefty fines & fees depending on how much someone downloaded.
That's why in Germany any pirate with half a brain has long resorted to file hosting services like Rapidshare which allow for risk-free stealing. Only dumbfucks still use torrents.
Since I believe the situation is similar in quite a few other countries I don't think I really want to know how high the number would be if we factored in other sources than torrents.
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December 1st, 2011, 02:41
Help me out here; which hosting service would you suggest for a 14 GB file? How many pieces would the 14 GB file need to be made into so that the normal downloader would not be required to pay to use the file hosting service? (Many if not most hosting services require an expensive paid subscription to download large files). How long would the average user have to wait between downloads of the partial files? (Most file hosts require a waiting period between downloads).

Just asking.
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December 1st, 2011, 02:55
@RPGFool: I'm not going to post a step-by-step guide to file hosting service piracy but let me just say that the answer to every single one of your questions is about as trivial as it gets.
In the end the user just needs to fire up a download app (like JDownloader) and click on a single link to a container file that contains the links to the individual chunks. No one needs to manually add dozens or hundreds of links. That would be boring, slow and stupid and totally 1990s .
Waiting times are no issue either. RapidShare currently has no waiting times and with a program like the above mentioned JDownloader you can automate everything so that even if there were waiting times you could just set the program to disconnect after each download and get a new IP for you, continue downloading, finish, disconnect, get new IP, download next chunk, rinse, repeat until finished.
Finally, a lot of people might be too cheap to buy games but they are not too cheap for an annual RapidShare subscription which eliminates all waiting requirements anyway.
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December 1st, 2011, 03:07
@Moriendor — Funny thing; Rapidshare hosting service disagrees with what you say. There IS a waiting period between downloads for free users (https://www.rapidshare.com/#!buyrapids — click on "learn more").

What you claim to be trivial, or "boring, slow and stupid and totally 1990s" is actually just plain wrong.

Downloading a 14GB file via any of the file hosting services is a long and drawn out process that is anything but trivial (more like a nightmare). That is the real world of 2011.
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December 1st, 2011, 03:35
Originally Posted by RPGFool View Post
@Moriendor ó Funny thing; Rapidshare hosting service disagrees with what you say. There IS a waiting period between downloads for free users (https://www.rapidshare.com/#!buyrapids ó click on "learn more").

What you claim to be trivial, or "boring, slow and stupid and totally 1990s" is actually just plain wrong.

Downloading a 14GB file via any of the file hosting services is a long and drawn out process that is anything but trivial (more like a nightmare). That is the real world of 2011.
You missed the part where he said the program automatically disconnects, and reconnects and thus your IP(which in most cases is dynamic) changes and you can redownload with no queue whatsoever since the sites tracks IPs to determine who's downloading what.
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December 1st, 2011, 03:46
At least for the numerous IP services I've used in the US, I've never found one that relies on dynamic IP addresses. Indeed it is because of static IP addresses that the internet user can be identified by their IP address. Perhaps things are different in Europe; but I suspect not since virtually of the file hosting services require a waiting period between downloads; and they all rely on IP addresses to determine whether a waiting period is needed (some, but not very many, also check cookies as a redundancy check). If most addresses were dynamic (as you imply), the system that all these companies use would be totally inoperable, which hardly seems likely.

[Edit] Even with broadband providers that do use dynamic IP addresses, the fact of the matter is that the addresses are rarely changed because the address leases are normally set for a long time. But more significantly, the IP address is assigned to the high speed modem (not your computer), so changing the IP address, even if that were available, would require rebooting the broadband modem. But the softwares cited by Moriendor do not reboot the broadband modem after every download. [End Edit]
Last edited by RPGFool; December 1st, 2011 at 04:02.
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