It took forever and a day (actually, just a year, it only feels longer), but From Software's popular console title, Dark Souls, is now available on the PC. The console version of the Japanese hit was generally lauded by reviewers and game critics, and for better or worse, PC gamers finally get to see what all the fuss is about in a faithful port of the title to Windows.
Remember when Namco made those ill-advised – and, might we add, thankfully never acted upon – comments about Ubisoft's Dark Lord of All DRM? Remember when The Witcher 2 entered the picture, and suddenly you got a horrible sinking feeling in your stomach as it clicked that, yeah, Namco might be planning to similarly lock the game down and throw away the key? Well, here's developer CD Projekt swooping in to save the day in a very, very big way.
See, CD Projekt also owns digital storefront/blessing Good Old Games, but it's making an exception on that “old” bit with The Witcher 2. Yep, the gorgeous-looking dark fantasy RPG will be casting its spell on GOG on day one. And – better still – it'll be, in GOG's own words, “100% DRM-free,” just like all other GOG titles. Oh, and just in case you – through some Olympic medal-worthy mental gymnastics of entitlement – were able to read that last bit and say, “Huh? That's all?,” a pre-order will also snag you any one of five free games, including Divine Divinity and Gothic 2.
Now then, join us in prostrating ourselves before CD Projekt and screaming “thank you” at the top of our lungs. Also – most crucially – please don't pirate the hell out of this. Otherwise, this seeming end to DRM will probably only be the beginning.
When a publisher starts extolling the virtues of Ubisoft’s Alcatraz-level DRM lockdown, it doesn’t matter how far you read into their words; at the end of the day, it spells trouble. And so it was when Witcher 2 publisher Namco Bandai declared Ubisoft’s system functional – if not exactly ideal. Shortly afterward, Witcher 2 developer CD Projekt attempted damage control by vaguely stating its intentions, but that backfired -- leading many gamers to fear that the dark fantasy sequel had truly gone over to the dark side.
Fortunately, CD Projekt Red CEO Adam Kiciński has released a statement that paints a much clearer picture of The Witcher 2’s DRM situation.
“Given the concerns expressed by players and growing media speculation, we have decided to make public our internal DRM policy,” he said. “Although we are the game’s developer, we obviously won’t be making a unilateral decision on the DRM protection that is applied to The Witcher 2. Nevertheless, our internal rules and guidelines should reassure players.”
“As per our policy, we will do our utmost to prevent the adopted DRM solution, if any, from making life difficult for those who acquire legal game copies. I can’t imagine using any protection that would deprive game fans of any of the pleasure that will come from playing the game, as has been the case with other notable PC game titles,” he explained.
“Notable titles,” of course, likely include Settlers 7, Assassins Creed II, and Splinter Cell: Conviction, among others. Which means that avoiding the example set by those games is part of CD Projekt’s company policy, for Pete’s sake. So take a deep breath, everyone. The Witcher 2 is in good hands.
Upon reading The Witcher 2 publisher Namco Bandai's pro-Ubisoft-DRM spiel, we imagine a decent many of you probably did double-takes as you put two and two together over and over again – always reaching the same confounding result. The Witcher 2. With DRM. Does. Not. Compute. After all, developer CD Projekt heads up Good Old Games. That's about as anti-DRM as you can get.
Namco Bandai and CD Projekt are separate entities, however. And fortunately, this is one instance where left hand and right aren't quite in agreement.
“Our distributors commented [on] the Ubisoft-like DRM securilty solutions, and we’re receiving a massive feedback about applying such in The Witcher 2,” read a post on CD Projekt's Facebook account. “There’s nothing to worry about, as nothing is decided yet.
“And still, it’s a private opinion. You know CD Projekt RED’s opinion about DRM, right?” the developer added, referring to Good Old Games.
That tree-demolishing gust you just felt? That was thousands of Witcher fans breathing a collective sigh of relief. Thank goodness, too. Geralt's not the handsomest guy around, but his ugly mug's still a far prettier sight than a big, game-obscuring “Connection lost. Please wait.” screen.
Going to the dentist sucks. It’s like mouth hell, with tongues of flame replaced by regular tongues, drills, needles, and toothpaste so awful-tasting that it makes us want to wait 30 hours before eating instead of 30 minutes. But until the day we invent super-powered ray guns that blast our teeth clean in the blink of an eye, the dentist is – sadly enough -- our only option. That, more or less, is how Witcher 2 publisher Namco Bandai feels about Ubisoft’s almost universally reviled DRM system.
"I will be very honest. I think it's a good [approach] for one reason: I have no alternative today. Is the best one? Certainly not but as of today if I can make something else I'll do it, but it's better to do something than not do something,” Namco Bandai Partners VP Olivier Comte said. “At the moment they are doing a good strategy.”
He added, however, that Namco Bandai’s doing everything in its power to craft a better, smarter successor to the DRM throne. Even then, though, the publisher still sees gray skies ahead.
"I'm convinced that whatever system you put in place you can be sure that two hours before putting it out it'll be cracked in Russia. I think that the combat against piracy is very complicated because it's very complicated to explain to a 12-year-old that drag and dropping a file on a PC is piracy - he was born with this,” Comte explained.
Between the rainbow of racial slurs on Xbox Live and now this, it seems like the solution to all of gaming’s ills is simple: eliminate all 12-year-olds. Thoughts? Seems pretty sensible to us.
In order to work in the gaming industry -- or any industry where ravenous journalists circle about, just waiting for a choice quote, really -- you probably need a fairly resilient sense of humor. After all, even if you possess an iron will and never blab a single well-guarded secret, out-of-context headlines are still perched atop websites, waiting to knock the wind out of your sails.
With that said, life isn't fair, and I have a living to make. Today's Roundup does, in fact, feature a couple of seemingly-ridiculous lines from a couple of your favorite industry luminaries. But you guys are great, so I'm sure we won't have any issues with context or mockery, right? Right?