CD Projekt: “Over-Exploiting” Gamers Will Hurt Industry

Witcher 2 developer CD Projekt has already done a hell of a lot to endear themselves to gamers by bucking industry practices with surprising frequency. In March, they vowed never again to use DRM for their games; since then they’ve doubled down, espousing the opinion that small DLC packets ought to be free, and reiterating their belief that DRM doesn’t work, and that developers should provide greater value to players rather than punishing them. So, yeah, we love them.

They’ve also put their money very firmly where their mouth is, recently releasing the Witcher 2 enhanced edition free for PC owners of the Witcher 2. In an interview with Gamasutra, CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwinski elaborated on their philosophy, and it makes me want to go out and purchase everything CD Projekt has ever made:

MI: Well, we had a lot of discussions with The Witcher 1′s Enhanced Edition. It was a bit different then because we had a publishing deal whereas now we have distribution deals. When we had that publishing deal, we went to the publisher, and said, “So we have this idea where we make all this stuff, all this new content, and you don’t pay anything for it, we give it away for free. How about that?” The publisher went all big-eyed and said, “Whoa! Let’s charge 10 dollars! 10 Euro!” But we believed that we would sell more units if we put it out for free.

And when we put it out for free, we saw a boost in the sales with the Enhanced Edition because it just created good will, and it refreshes the product. You can always do it from two angles, and sadly I see the industry trending toward over-exploiting the gamer, and I think this will come back to the publishers that are doing that, and eventually, people will stop buying their stuff. That’s just not the way things work.

We have to agree. As we’ve seen with the horrible launch of Diablo 3 and, just over the weekend, Ubisoft’s Uplay outage fiasco, players do not like being limited to playing their game at the pleasure of the developer, especially when it’s part of an invasive scheme that only punishes law abiding citizens. Every time some complicated DRM scheme blows up like this, customers flee. How many it will take to make developers take notice and stop it remains a mystery, but Gods bless CD Projekt for getting it, and trying to do gamers right.

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6 Comments on CD Projekt: “Over-Exploiting” Gamers Will Hurt Industry

Peggle20

On July 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Yes, please, more pearls of wisdom from a B-list european studio who’ve only made two mediocre brawlers. What next, game design insights from Zynga?

S

On July 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm

The Witcher is a brawler? Or are you trolling? The lines are so blurred these days.

James

On July 17, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Valve (or is that a 2 bit studio) said the same thing.

What does it matter who says anything? as long as their point is logical and coherent?

Would you not listen to a child if they say a car is going to hit you on the virtue that it is a child?

Anathemize

On July 17, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Really Peggle20? CD-Project makes the best mature single player experiences. No company can make a ton of games without a breakout game. Witcher 2 really was that game and now they can make more. Witcher 1 was great but didn’t really get a lot of media.

IMO the Witcher 2 was the best game that came out last year. It had the best story, the best combat, and 2nd to only BF3 for the best graphics. The only bad part about it were its skill trees and menu system.

EA/Activision makes DLC’s on day one. For the full game experience you must spend well over 100 dollars per game that they clone over and over again. The only reason they don’t make games over a 100 bucks before the launch is because no one would buy it.

Indie companies aside, the only two companies that understand the industry it seems is Valve and Cd-Project. Value/Loyalty sells a lot more games than hundred million dollar ad campaigns.

CatmanStu

On July 18, 2012 at 10:16 am

Opinions like the ones voiced in this article (both the writer and CDPR) explain why; in the online distribution market; GOG and Steam are cleaning house. Two companies that get it.
The CoD’s and Battlefields of this world may be selling well now, but sooner or later the bubble will burst and all that will be left are the people who play games for a well crafted experience; the kind of experience that CD Projekt Red and Valve excell at. Companies like Activision and EA will have driven all of their talented people away and what they have left will not be able to generate the revenue that their shareholders will expect.
It happened to the comic industry in the Nineties and it could easily happen here as well.
But, there are at least two companies that will survive this because they care about the customers who will be left; and they care about them now.

Kevin

On July 18, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Peggy’s silly comment sorta proves the point about CD Projekt. The people who defend them are rather devout in their defenses, because they offer a good product.

And their fans are a lot more honest in their assesment of the games than those who like to defend EAware/Blizzard. We all recognize the short-comings in Witcher 2. Yet that doesn’t take away that it was a great game, and something completely different. No other game on the market (and this includes mass effect) offers such a complex system of choice with no clear indicator on which way you SHOULD go.

We aren’t looking for perfection. But we’ve seen a company that improves. They listened to their critics and they got better. that’s why everyone loves CD Projekt. It is why everyone initially loved Bioware and Blizzard, and why they are so reviled now.