The Witcher 2 has been illegally download at least 4.5 million times, developer CD Projekt has estimated.
Speaking in an interview with PC Gamer, CEO Marcin Iwinski explained that it was impossible to make an exact calculation, but added that his estimation was likely on the low side.
"I was checking regularly the number of concurrent downloads on torrent aggregating sites, and for the first six to eight weeks there was around 20-30k people downloading it at the same time," he said.
"Let's take 20k as the average and let's take six weeks. The game is 14GB, so let's assume that on an average not-too-fast connection it will be six hours of download. Six weeks is 56 days, which equals to 1344 hours; and with six hours of average download time to get the game it would give us 224 downloads, then let's multiply it by 20k simultaneous downloaders.
"The result is roughly 4.5 million illegal downloads. This is only an estimation, and I would say that's rather on the optimistic side of things; as of today we have sold over one million 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."
Elsewhere in the interview, Iwinski explained why CD Projekt decided not to use any DRM in its acclaimed action RPG.
"From the very beginning our main competitors on the market were pirates," he said.
"We of course experimented with all available DRM/copy protection, but frankly nothing worked. Whatever we used was cracked within a day or two, massively copied and immediately available on the streets for a fraction of our price.
"We did not give up, but came up with new strategy: we started offering high value with the product - like enhancing the game with additional collectors' items like soundtracks, making-of DVDs, books, walkthroughs, etc. This, together with a long process of educating local gamers about why it makes sense to actually buy games legally, worked. And today, we have a reasonably healthy games market."
Iwinski insisted that "DRM does not work" arguing that "however you would protect it, it will be cracked in no time."
"Plus, the DRM itself is a pain for your legal gamers - this group of honest people, who decided that your game was worth the 50 USD or Euro and went and bought it. Why would you want to make their lives more difficult?"