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Piracy might make Jonathan Blow use DRM in his next game

the witness loved by pirates
Even the smallest of video game development teams can become victims to piracy. However, with the rise of ever-improving Digital Rights Management (DRM) the larger Triple-A titles seem to be getting ever harder for pirates to crack. But smaller independent developers don’t necessarily have those assets, or might not be able to afford them, or feel that it would take up unnecessary time. The Witness (PS4, PC) is a game developed by Thekla Inc. in collaboration with its original creator Jonathan Blow, and he’s not very happy with this situation. In a recent tweet he’s said that sometime after the game’s release date, it topped the game lists on a torrent website. He never mentions which site, but explains that it could impact the scope of the developer’s next game. That’s bad news, because the it’s one of the best puzzle games since Myst.

Game developers are constantly making strides to survive in an overcrowded market of games. They go to the lengths of “crunching” (working in the office until your butt melds with the chair), future proofing franchises, and implementing anti-piracy software in their products. All to combat piracy of their products. But file-sharing and piracy isn’t slowing down, and unfortunately smaller developers can be more prone to its negative effects.

The Witness is Jonathan Blow’s biggest game yet and it has been showered with praise so far. Some argue that the price tag at $40 is partly to blame for the piracy. Braid carried a much smaller price tag when it launched, but was still illegally downloaded in large numbers. When proposed with the idea of using DRM software, Blow was hestitant but willing to try using it on his next game.

Searches on some of the largest torrent sites showed a few relevant results, but it appears that the initial pirate surge has slowed down. Most torrents that claim to feature the game seem to be infected with malware of different kinds and those that are reported to work have but a few active uploaders. One torrent we found that used to have over 200 uploaders since it was uploaded has been removed. It could be that the social media stories and comments have impacted the game’s level of availability on the file sharing market.

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