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Saint’s Row publisher isn’t interested in Uplay-like DRM. Their PC strategy: ignore piracy

Saint’s Row publisher isn’t interested in Uplay-like DRM. Their PC strategy: ignore piracy

Dr. Klemens Kundratitz is the CEO of Deep Silver, a publisher who is coming off a string of hits with the Dead Island series, Saints Row IV, and Metro: Last Light. The last two games in that list were acquired during the collapse of THQ, and have successfully found their niche. A large part of that success comes from the fact that Deep Silver places a focus on the PC version of each game, launcing at the same time as the console versions.

This isn’t an accident.

The PC isn't an option

“We have always been publishing on PC, and PC is close to our hearts from the outset. It’s not an added thought at all,” he corrected me when I asked if it costs more money to develop the PC version and release it alongside the console products. It’s not something they even think about; PC is simply included in the scope of the project. It’s not a line item on the budget, it IS the budget.

“It’s hard to generalize because certain projects and certain developers see the PC as their primary platform, and then console comes after that,” Kundratitz stated. “When we look at Metro for example, Metro is first and foremost a PC brand. In the first iteration, it was launched on Xbox 360 and PC, but it is at its heart a PC product. There is not a question about whether it’s difficult to also launch on PC, because PC is number one.”

It’s always hard to get publishers to share specific sales numbers, but we were told that the PC version of Saints Row IV has enjoyed triple the sales of the PC version of Saints Row 3 in the same time frame. Metro: Last Light sold more copies in the first week than the first game sold in the first three months, across all platforms.

Without the ability to break these sales down by platform it’s hard to know the importance of the PC in these successes, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that high-quality PC releases on the first day of release didn’t exactly hurt.

“Console sales were bigger, no doubt, for the last Metro product, but PC has a very decent share and it has got a very active and committed community,” the Deep Silver CEO agreed. He also brought up the strengths of the PC version of each game. “As you know, we are supporting modders for Saints Row now, and also for Metro. It is a different type of gamer who plays on PC, and we keep them very much in focus. They are different groups.”

The best way to fight piracy? Don't

Kundratitz is candid about why other companies may shun this approach: Piracy.

“There is not the submission process with first parties, you are a lot more on your own to determine if the game is ready. Many publishers are not launching day and date because the PC is so difficult, but they fear the piracy issues, so they’d rather first focus on consoles,” he explained.

But piracy is a problem, right? I was curious if Deep Silver ever considered creating their own DRM platform, such as EA’s Origin or Ubisoft’s Uplay service.

“We have not, no. Uplay is not the way we want to approach things, definitely. I think we just need to make sure that the games we publish are worth the money, and certainly there is always this piracy situation that any publisher has. No publisher can tackle, really,” he said. They have a better plan that has proved very effective when it comes to dealing with piracy. 

“In a business plan, we typically ignore it. It’s not something that is new, it’s something that has been part of our business for decades,” Kundratitz explained. “As a publisher you just live with it, yes?”