The Witness is getting pirated hard ó creator Jonathan Blow warns itíll impact future projects

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The Witness is getting pirated big time — creator Jonathan Blow warns it’ll impact future projects

Above: Some great puzzles in here.

Image Credit: Jeffrey Grubb/GamesBeat

A lot of people are playing the The Witness, but they’re not all paying for the privilege.

Celebrated indie developer Jonathan Blow took to Twitter to point out that his new PlayStation 4 and PC first-person puzzler is currently the most popular game on a “certain popular Torrent site.” Unfortunately, piracy is pretty rife with games, especially on PC, and it seems Blow didn’t have time to create a fake version of The Witness to distract from the real thing — as other developers have done in the past and Blow himself did on his previous game Braid.

Blow said that he’s happy lots of people are playing and enjoying the game, but he also warned that he won’t be able to build another similar project without sufficient sales.

It seems The Witness is the #1 game on a certain popular torrent site.
Unfortunately this will not help us afford to make another game! :(

I'm glad that a lot more people will be experiencing the game! But I also want to be able to make another comparable game next! Just sayin'.

Some followers pointed out that The Witness’ $40 price might be the reason for so much piracy, but Blow was quick to dismiss that by sharing that Braid — a $10 game — also had similar problems. Interestingly, the highly acclaimed $5 mobile game Monument Valley also had massive piracy issues — with only 5 percent of Android players paying and most of the rest playing illegally — showing how price really isn’t the main problem.

Blow said he might reluctantly think about adding digital rights management(DRM) to any future game to help combat the issue of piracy. “I don’t like DRM because I think people should have the freedom to own things they bought,” he said. “But I also want to design video games.”

One way to frustrate potential pirates is to fill torrent sites with deliberately incomplete or broken versions of a game — it’s actually something that Blow did with Braid, apparently, but he was too busy this time around to replicate the idea.

@Jonathan_Blow I like the idea of seeding torrent sites with a version of the game that cuts out half the content.

@TommyRefenes I did that with Braid actually! This time I was way too busy just making sure the game was the best it could be.

Blow also had a quick message for players who are finding The Witness too tough, and that’s to take a break instead of looking for easy answers on the Internet. “I see a lot of people going to forums immediately if they can’t figure something out,” he said. “Don’t do that! It makes the experience a lot worse. You are smart; you can do it! If you don’t know now, sleep on it. Take a walk. Watch a good movie, or go to a different puzzle!”

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And this is why games should be released on consoles first before PC. it's messed up when most games on PC are pirated more than they are actually bought. Especially single player games.

It's the price that's doing it. I don't pirate as I wait for games like this to hit £5/10 on a steam sale, but I know a fair few gamers who can't believe the cost of this thing and are skipping or yarring it.

Right now on steam you have stuff like Rise of the Tomb Raider £35.99, or the Witness at £29.99. I'm not doubting a ton of effort went into it. But you can't price so close to AAA for a vastly smaller downloadable game.


The game basically gets free marketing, it's on the store front of both steam and the PSN. There's no avoiding this game, it's everywhere! I didn't even hear about it, nor did I care at all. But I just keep getting advertisements that want me to buy that game! Somehow it's hyped as fuck and I don't even know why. And now this guy is crying because of those bad bad pirates? Give me a break. I'm ver certain that the game is selling just fine. He's probably just pissed that it isn't the next Minecraft or something.

Official member of VGC's Nintendo family, approved by the one and only RolStoppable. I feel honored.

As a PC gamer I also think this should've been released on consoles 3 months prior to PC. It would be a shame if this is the most pirated game, and fails to be a commercial success.

It's a wonderful game.

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If he realizes that pirates wouldn't pay for the game regardless of price, why would he even say such things about DRM? Paraphrased: "I might have to add DRM in order to keep making video games." - You already said that pirates wouldn't pay for your game...

Legend11 correctly predicted that GTA IV (360+PS3) would outsell SSBB. I was wrong.

A Biased Review Reloaded / Open Your Eyes / Switch Gamers Club

Is this an indie game? It's not often you see an indie game that sells for $40...

I can't wait for the incoming generalizations, oh wait it's already happening.

Piracy sucks but so does not having a demo, the 90's brought us so many of those in various ways and the methods they chose.

Also those that always pirate aren't likely to be your customers in the end. I don't condone piracy but I'm not paying full price for the title as is and instead I've put it on my wishlist till it goes a bit lower. Price point is playing a majoor factor for me, it's likely playing an important part for a lot of others as well and this generally happens with thousands if not millions of products when it comes to high prices and deemed value.

If you wish to inject DRM into your future projects then you are only punishing your future and loyal consumers,. You won't get a sale from me with that approach.


That said I know for a fact this article is going to be remembered this year on purpose by some and brought up later when sales data is calculated, got to grab ammo from somewhere and keep the war going I guess.


I'd love to see a game released for $40 or $60 like The Witness or No Man's Sky with absolutely no information whatsoever. Then when people are talking about how wonderful it is or are discussing how well it scored on Metacritic, just drop in casually 'They're Indie titles.' It would fun to watch how the internet dealt with it. There would be a shortage of rocks to climb under.


The PS5 Exists. 

This does not mean the game is not having success on Steam, it was the best selling game of the platform at release.