Witcher Dev Rejects "Hit-and-Run" Business Strategies

Witcher Dev Rejects "Hit-and-Run" Business Strategies

The Witcher

CD Projekt RED, the studio behind the acclaimed Witcher series, aims for success in the long term.

The modern day gaming industry is pretty fast-paced, perhaps too much so at times. With things like annual sequels becoming a norm, many publishers have made present day profits their primary concern, leaving some to wonder if current models for success can be maintained into the future. Comparatively CD Projekt RED, the studio behind the acclaimed Witcher series, has arguably been defined by a history of slow and steady growth dating back to its inception in the 1990s.

"I started [CD Projekt RED] in '94, right out of high school," said company co-founder Marcin Iwinski. "From the very beginning we wanted to make games. But we were realists. So the first thing was, "Can we really make it happen? Can we make a project [an RPG] of the scope you're dreaming about?" Achieving the company's goals would be an effort spanning the space of years. "We started a games distribution business in Poland... And at a certain point, all of the money that was coming from the distribution business, we were basically putting into development. It's a really long way, if you look at it, to where we are today." A lengthy path that allowed the developer to finance much of The Witcher 1 on its own, and then pay for all of The Witcher 2's development costs. "Whenever we made this money, we fully reinvested to production," said Iwinski.

The company's slow crawl to its present position, in turn, helped it to foster a long term view of profitability. "For a lot of companies, from a short-term business perspective, the famous hit-and-run strategy, there are still a lot of people applying this. And sometimes it works," he said. "I just don't think it's [the way we should run our business]. So we are really deliberately choosing what we want to do, and we will do it for as long as we are happy with the effect." Contrary as CD Projekt RED's philosophy may be to the "hit-and-run" strategies of other industry entities, it's an approach that seems to be working. The Witcher 2 is one the most widely acclaimed RPGs to come out in recent years and excitement is already building for its follow-up, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

Source: Gamasutra

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This sounds like it should be a no-brainer for the industry. Really I guess what he's saying could be summed up as "slow and steady wins the race", and as we can see the 'rabbits' of the industry are in the process of dry heaving behind a tree from exhaustion while all the tortoises mosey on by.

Please, CD Projekt REDs strategiy is to pay their employees polish wages and sell their games at a western price.
Despite their huge cost advantage, "The Witcher 2" was a bug-ridden and DRM-infested mess, when it was released.

I don't get how The Witcher 2 got such accolades. The game has such horrible mechanics, overly complicated combat and terrible overall production values. It felt amateurish.

All that said, kudos to CDPR for their success with it.

KeyMaster45:
This sounds like it should be a no-brainer for the industry. Really I guess what he's saying could be summed up as "slow and steady wins the race", and as we can see the 'rabbits' of the industry are in the process of dry heaving behind a tree from exhaustion while all the tortoises mosey on by.

Another thing about Rabbits and Tortoises is how they operate in the wild. The rabbit will frequently breed so much it creates an environmental scenario where it can no longer exist... eating its own shit at times to survive - or there's a predator that eats up individual rabbits to keep the population down.

Tortoises, however, can live for hundreds of years being just as spry, reliable and stalwart as the day they passed adolescence.

Looking at the other AAA companies in the industry the parallels between both is quite staggering.

EA pops out heaps of titles or DLCs with the idea that they'll get a run then can be discarded - often at times competing with itself. CD Projekt releases a single franchise that it maintains and has continued to maintain since its inception. Sure it started off ugly and needed refinement but it has become more and more majestic and impressive with age.

InterrogationBear:
Please, CD Projekt REDs strategiy is to pay their employees polish wages and sell their games at a western price.
Despite their huge cost advantage, "The Witcher 2" was a bug-ridden and DRM-infested mess, when it was released.

UnnDunn:
I don't get how The Witcher 2 got such accolades. The game has such horrible mechanics, overly complicated combat and terrible overall production values. It felt amateurish.

All that said, kudos to CDPR for their success with it.

Wow, I guess I got pretty lucky with it, then. I bought it through steam preorder (played from day 1) and found it pretty robust from the get-go. I've yet to encounter a game breaking bug or, aside from the low framerates, which pretty much only affected high end machines and got patched within a week, any issues at all. (DRM was also patched out within a week)

When it comes to gameplay, it all felt pretty fluid and straightforward to me (maybe because I had a 360 gamepad). Combat was pretty exciting and challenging and the way they handled roaming and quest taking was pretty amazing too.

Sure, the engine was not what you can call "optimized", but there's no way in hell you can say the game doesn't look pretty. The level of detail was amazing, given the hardware available to the consumer at the time.

You also have to remember that CDPR isn't really something you can call a mainstream AAA developer. I believe their only previous experience with AAA gaming then had been the original The Witcher, so you can kinda see why they'd not be able to put out a perfectly polished and ironed out game from day 1.

mateushac:

InterrogationBear:
Please, CD Projekt REDs strategiy is to pay their employees polish wages and sell their games at a western price.
Despite their huge cost advantage, "The Witcher 2" was a bug-ridden and DRM-infested mess, when it was released.

UnnDunn:
I don't get how The Witcher 2 got such accolades. The game has such horrible mechanics, overly complicated combat and terrible overall production values. It felt amateurish.

All that said, kudos to CDPR for their success with it.

Wow, I guess I got pretty lucky with it, then. I bought it through steam preorder (played from day 1) and found it pretty robust from the get-go. I've yet to encounter a game breaking bug or, aside from the low framerates, which pretty much only affected high end machines and got patched within a week, any issues at all. (DRM was also patched out within a week)

When it comes to gameplay, it all felt pretty fluid and straightforward to me (maybe because I had a 360 gamepad). Combat was pretty exciting and challenging and the way they handled roaming and quest taking was pretty amazing too.

Sure, the engine was not what you can call "optimized", but there's no way in hell you can say the game doesn't look pretty. The level of detail was amazing, given the hardware available to the consumer at the time.

You also have to remember that CDPR isn't really something you can call a mainstream AAA developer. I believe their only previous experience with AAA gaming then had been the original The Witcher, so you can kinda see why they'd not be able to put out a perfectly polished and ironed out game from day 1.

The original witcher wasn't AAA. Not even close. It had outdated everything when it released, right down to its engine. It was a small or middle game, but no one can really say its AAA. You can tell right from the get-go it was done on a budget.

Witcher 2 is one of the best rpg experiences i've ever had.

The game by itself can be compared to the entire mass effect trilogy (also epic). That really says all that you need to know about my feelings.

Please, CD Projekt REDs strategiy is to pay their employees polish wages

Well... considering that CDP-RED is based in Poland that makes sense.

sell their games at a western price

No, they don't. Witcher 2 was sold on steam for £30 on release, whereas other games usually go up to £40. Besides, I don't see how cheaper development cost must be linked to lower price on release. It's not CDP's fault that other companies within industry spend too much money on marketing thus rising the development cost to ridiculous values.

"The Witcher 2" was a bug-ridden and DRM-infested mess, when it was released.

Except that you could buy it without DRM using gog.com and DRM in other versions was implemented because their publisher insisted (and it was removed week after release).

This goes beyond lack of information. I just don't get why people are so ignorant.

The original witcher wasn't AAA. Not even close.

Actually, it's not that simple. Back in 2005-2007 people still thought of traditional cRPGs as triple A games. Now almost nobody looking at NWN2 or The Witcher would call them AAA. Also bear in mind that first game was very focused on Polish market since CDP was low on budget and did not believe in major success in western markets - that's why Polish version has incredibly good voice acting while English one seems quite weak in that regard.

Gorodecki:

Please, CD Projekt REDs strategiy is to pay their employees polish wages

Well... considering that CDP-RED is based in Poland that makes sense.

sell their games at a western price

No, they don't. Witcher 2 was sold on steam for £30 on release, whereas other games usually go up to £40. Besides, I don't see how cheaper development cost must be linked to lower price on release. It's not CDP's fault that other companies within industry spend too much money on marketing.

"The Witcher 2" was a bug-ridden and DRM-infested mess, when it was released.

Except that you could buy it without DRM using gog.com and DRM in other versions was implemented because their publisher insisted (and it was removed week after release).

This goes beyond lack of information. I just don't get why people are so ignorant.

The original witcher wasn't AAA. Not even close.

Actually, it's not that simple. Back in 2005-2007 people still thought of traditional cRPGs as triple A games. Now almost nobody looking at NWN2 or The Witcher would call them AAA. Also bear in mind that first game was very focused on Polish market since CDP was low on budget and did not believe in major success in western markets - that's why Polish version has incredibly good voice acting while English one seems quite weak in that regard.

AAAs are not genres, its a budget level.

If you spend around the area of 10-28 million, its AAA.

If you sped 1-5 million, its a middle game.

AAA is not budget level. It's production value. edit: If I recall correctly first Witcher did cost slightly over 10mln. So yes, it was Triple A game.

InterrogationBear:
Please, CD Projekt REDs strategiy is to pay their employees polish wages and sell their games at a western price.

Er.

Poland is a western nation and CD Projekt RED is based out of Poland. So, yes, it would make sense for them to pay Polish wages (in accordance with the law) and to sell at western prices (as they're a western nation).

Not to mention that Poland is a high-income nation with one of the fastest growing economies in the EU.

But please, don't let facts stop your diatribe.

InterrogationBear:
pay their employees polish wages and sell their games at a western price.

What? Are we still living in the coldwar? How could a german user still think that of Poland? Id expect that out of geographically crippled americans, not a fellow european.

Germans, looking down on the polish... One could make a joke here, but I'll refrain from it as you already know what it would be ;)

CriticKitten:
Poland is a western nation and CD Projekt RED is based out of Poland. So, yes, it would make sense for them to pay Polish wages (in accordance with the law) and to sell at western prices (as they're a western nation).

Not to mention that Poland is a high-income nation with one of the fastest growing economies in the EU.

But please, don't let facts stop your diatribe.

Few things:

- The sale price is determined by your target audience (in this case mostly western countries). Has shit to do with the place you make the items in. See apple with their china factories as an example.

- Poland is a "high income" nation in name only. The average GNI has more to do with Mexico or South Africa than France, UK or USA. As such he is actually quite correct, you are exploiting a label and throwing that is a "growing economy" randomly, it might matter in the future, but not now. It remains to be seen how good are the CD Projekt wages compared to the rest of the industry of course, but it's safe to assume it's cheaper for them all things taken into account.

Finally, there's nothing wrong with it, CD are just exploiting a natural advantage in the industry. Saying it's a wrong move or morally questionable would be as retarded as saying South Korea is cheating by having a good school system or Japan did by working hard in the post war era, using your natural or acquired advantages is just how the market works.

UnnDunn:
I don't get how The Witcher 2 got such accolades. The game has such horrible mechanics, overly complicated combat and terrible overall production values. It felt amateurish.

All that said, kudos to CDPR for their success with it.

Considering your pretty much the minority with that opinion and the vast majority of people who bought it loved it I think it speaks for itself.

OT: Good to know someone actually cares about quality.

InterrogationBear:
Please, CD Projekt REDs strategiy is to pay their employees polish wages and sell their games at a western price.
Despite their huge cost advantage, "The Witcher 2" was a bug-ridden and DRM-infested mess, when it was released.

And yet games like New Vegas get away with this with no problem, getting every accolade possible.

Double standards people.

There's some envy among Americans of CD Projekt RED since it's a Polish developer - Americans have no problem celebrating companies like Valve (American) or Bioware (Canadian), even though Bioware is having serious problems.

It's embarrassing that in this day of mass access to information where it's clearer than ever that human beings are very similar around the world that nationalism is so prevalent.

We should welcome game developers no matter where in the world they are located.

But the question is, will Obama play the third one on day one when it's gifted to him on steam?

THINK ABOUT IT

Also, what the hell is this? Why is there some weird passive-aggressive argument here in seven posts. Calm your tits people.

I am very much looking forward to their Cyberpunk game. Kinda lost interest in Fantasy themed games, thank you WoW and Dragon Age.

Tanakh:
- The sale price is determined by your target audience (in this case mostly western countries). Has shit to do with the place you make the items in. See apple with their china factories as an example.

Doesn't really dismiss my first point about the game being made by western developers to be sold to a western audience, but okay. Thanks for adding your two cents, I guess?

- Poland is a "high income" nation in name only. The average GNI has more to do with Mexico or South Africa than France, UK or USA. As such he is actually quite correct, you are exploiting a label and throwing that is a "growing economy" randomly, it might matter in the future, but not now. It remains to be seen how good are the CD Projekt wages compared to the rest of the industry of course, but it's safe to assume it's cheaper for them all things taken into account.

He's not at all correct. While Poland's wages are certainly not at the same level as nations like France, Britain, etc., it's not even close to being the lowest paying country in Europe, much less the rest of the world. They're leagues away from being comparable to sweatshop-style labor as the original poster seems to imply.

Furthermore, as CD Projekt RED was founded in Poland by Polish people, it's nonsensical to imply that they are "exploiting" anyone, as that would imply they are exploiting themselves as well, simply by virtue of being born and raised in a nation other than the US. In other words, it's ignorant tripe-speak. >_>

Finally, there's nothing wrong with it, CD are just exploiting a natural advantage in the industry. Saying it's a wrong move or morally questionable would be as retarded as saying South Korea is cheating by having a good school system or Japan did by working hard in the post war era, using your natural or acquired advantages is just how the market works.

Glad we at least agree on this point. It really doesn't matter.

they are from poland. poland uses the eastern busness strategy of longe term profits despite short term troubles. westerners use the opposite. both strategies have made great sucess in reality (think Japan vs America), so there is a lot of debate which strategy is better. Personally i prefer the slow-burner eastern strategy.

Abomination:
.

Your insight never ceases to amaze me. once again you just blew my mind.

A Weakgeek:

InterrogationBear:
pay their employees polish wages and sell their games at a western price.

What? Are we still living in the coldwar? How could a german user still think that of Poland? Id expect that out of geographically crippled americans, not a fellow european.

I live in lithuanian capital Vilnius. I interact with polish people almost every day both who come across the border and who live here (largest minority in my country). Their economical perspectives as far as wages goes are worse than it is here from what they tell me. Visiting their country i also noticed such patterns. I currently earn what would translate to 400 Euros a month. It is slightly above the average around here. The minimum wage was raised recently and now reaches almost 300 euros (298.7 technically, but lets round). Now compare that to a wage in, say, USA, france, Australia, Japan and other locations majori game studios are living in. It is clear that the workfoce is cheaper in Poland, which is what the guy was saying.
I wont go into a "German knowing more than a fin" or any sort of stupidity, but just because you are german does not mean what you say is automatically wrong.

CriticKitten:
He's not at all correct. While Poland's wages are certainly not at the same level as nations like France, Britain, etc., it's not even close to being the lowest paying country in Europe, much less the rest of the world. They're leagues away from being comparable to sweatshop-style labor as the original poster seems to imply.

So you ase your response from assuming what he wanted to say instead of what he said. he said no such thing, merely said that the wages were lower, which is a fact.
Thel ist you provided states that average gross income of a person in Poland is 1666 dollars per month. i guess its similar to what some staitsticians here counted that ended up in double the actual average wage, except thats more like quadriple. to keep it short, the list does not represent reality.

Strazdas:

but just because you are german does not mean what you say is automatically wrong.

Oh no, no no. Thats not at all what I meant. Quite the opposite. In my experience, germans are very knowing of geography and economics. Thats why I was suprised of his attitude.

Strazdas:
So you ase your response from assuming what he wanted to say instead of what he said. he said no such thing, merely said that the wages were lower, which is a fact.
Thel ist you provided states that average gross income of a person in Poland is 1666 dollars per month. i guess its similar to what some staitsticians here counted that ended up in double the actual average wage, except thats more like quadriple. to keep it short, the list does not represent reality.

No, I'm basing it on what he actually said.

He was implying that the company is somehow "cheating" simply by virtue of being a Polish company created by Polish people, and that its employees are somehow "taking advantage" of themselves. This would imply that the only way for them to run their business "fairly" would be to move their entire company to the US.

This is, to be blunt, a stupid point of view and deserves to be called out on that.

CriticKitten:
No, I'm basing it on what he actually said.

He was implying that

Erm WHAT?

He was implying that the company is somehow "cheating" simply by virtue of being a Polish company created by Polish people, and that its employees are somehow "taking advantage" of themselves.

It is a fact that hiring in poland is cheaper than hiring in US or France. It is a fact that this allows companies to raise the profit margin significantly in many industries, gaming included. Taking adantange of a good opportunity where such a deal does not do anyone damage is perfectly fine. he pointed out they were doing it.

Strazdas:
It is a fact that hiring in poland is cheaper than hiring in US or France. It is a fact that this allows companies to raise the profit margin significantly in many industries, gaming included. Taking adantange of a good opportunity where such a deal does not do anyone damage is perfectly fine. he pointed out they were doing it.

No, he wasn't pointing it out, he was complaining about it.

And complaining about a Polish company whose headquarters is in Poland, a company created and worked on by Polish people who are paid Polish wages, is stupid no matter how you spin it. They're not cheating or taking advantage of anyone, they're paying appropriate wages for the country they were founded in. This is America-centric ignorance of the highest caliber. So if a product is sold in America, they MUST pay their employees American wages? How the hell does that work?

If a company is formed in Britain and pays its British employees a British wage (which, on average, is lower than American wages), are they "cheating the system" too? I mean, really....exactly how far do we need to take this logic before I no longer have to illustrate why it's a stupid point of view? I'm honestly baffled how this discussion is even still going, because the original post in question is SO ridiculous that it blows my mind that anyone would defend such a ludicrous stance.

I'm reminded of a psychological study I once read about. Never read around to confirm it, but for what it's worth the gist of it was that n primary school children were offered x cents today, or 3x cents tomorrow guaranteed (I think it was dimes and quarters or something, but it's approximately that 3:1 ratio). Big surprise, not a single one would wait, thus reaffirming the simplest lesson of human psychology I ever learned - that the vast majority of people are f*ckin' stupid. Nice to see a dev team (or, frankly, another human being) that breaks this pattern.

 

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