Pirates are flocking to The Witness, but it’s still doing incredibly well


The Witness, Jonathan Blow’s long-in-development follow-up to Braid, has been wandering the post-launch wildlands for just under a week now. It’s received much praise from the majority of critics, although many people seem upset by the fact that the game’s not exactly what they were expecting. Miklós is in the process of reviewing it, and so far he seems pretty enthralled by its beautiful, surreal puzzling. Aside from the fact that it’s making him feel physically ill, that is.

The game’s apparently selling really well so far, and it’s on track to shift more copies within one week than Braid did in its first year on sale. Success! Especially since at R409/$40 it costs four times as much as Braid did.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, it’s not all roses and rainbows, because Jonathan Blow’s noticed that the game is being heavily pirated.

“It seems The Witness is the #1 game on a certain popular torrent site,” reads a tweet from Blow. “Unfortunately this will not help us afford to make another game!”

With Braid (which, as many are quick to point out, is largely seen as being a key proponent in the rise of independent game development), Blow released a separate, incomplete version of the game specifically for pirates, but he had too little time to do the same for The Witness. Some have argued that it’s the high price of The Witness that’s driving people to pirate it, but ignoring the fact that The Witness took substantially more time and resources to create (thereby justifying its price tag), Braid was only $10 and that still didn’t stop a massive amount of people from pirating it.

“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’,” Blow said. Part of what’s made The Witness so vulnerable to illegal distribution is its lack of DRM, which was an intentional choice because Blow doesn’t like the notion of including it. Given the current state of things, however, he’s reconsidering his stance.

“That might happen on the next game, I don’t know! I don’t like DRM because I think people should have the freedom to own things.”