Piracy is a major issue and a better part of the PC gaming community is affected by it. That is also true for consoles to some extent.
Publishers and developers do whatever they can to make sure their product is safe. A very popular solution to piracy right now is Denovu that is very hard to crack. It was used in Rise of the Tomb Raider, Just Cause 3 and many other games.
Meanwhile, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt developer CD Projekt RED released the game without any copy protection. It was one of the biggest games of 2015 so some may call is stupidity to not use copy protection. However, even without copy protection, the game sold about 10 million copies across the board.
The Witcher 3 was not affected by piracy that much.
Why is that the case? According to Marcin Iwiński from CD Projekt RED, they convinced the community to no pirate the game. Their product was of top quality and they used free DLC to entice players.
They believe in convincing players to buy their games and not in chasing them with sticks.
Generally I think with The Witcher 3 (and the was the case with The Witcher 2), we released the game without any copy protection. So on day one, you can buy the game from GOG and give it to a friend, enemy as well. But give it to a friend on a memory stick and it works. And still we sold near to 10 million units across all three platforms. But the piracy factor was irrelevant.
Because we can not force people to buy things, we can only convince them to do it. So we totally believe in the cart not in the stick. Of course, if you have the pirated version you don’t have achievements and updates.
He went on to say:
Every single game is cracked on day one, the pirated version is out there any way. We just make it very direct that we are not supporting copy protection but at the same time we are not condoning piracy, we are againts it. I have seen many comments on forums saying that “hey, I couldn’t afford the game when it was full price but these guys are so fair they were never againts us, always trying to do good, give a lot of value, offer free DLC and give free content, so I bought the game from them when it was on promotion/discount.”
Furthermore, in lower income countries people can’t afford games at full price. Affording a game at $60 isn’t really an option in many countries and stats will show that piracy rates are high in such countries. There are many aspects to piracy and it is a never ending issue.
But CD Projekt RED’s approach to piracy is unique and surprisingly it works for them.