This article is from the M! 350 (November 2022).
WARSAW • Two years ago, the most difficult time began for the Polish manufacturer CD Projekt, known to date for its The Witcher-Adventure and touted as the most expensive European game factory: the long-awaited, coveted by sci-fi fans and pre-ordered en masse Cyberpunk 2077-Action RPG arrives unfinished – good mechanics and clever quests are buried under a bunch of bugs, glitches and unfulfilled promises.
The global storm of criticism that erupted at the time almost brought the company to collapse. But the Poles don’t give up, promise improvement, restructure themselves, fix the game with umpteen patches and get one Cyberpunk-Anime series that beats most Netflix novelties, fan trust back. After release of PS5 and Xbox Series versions is Cyberpunk 2077 to date sold over 20 million copies, which together with the three Witchertitles totaled 85 million games. These are very impressive numbers considering that CD Projekt is an independent company without a corporate giant behind it.
CEO Adam Adam Kicinski promises that this will remain the case in his presentation on October 4th and recalls the beginnings of the 1990s: “The company was founded by a handful of enthusiasts […] Given the little experience we had at the time, that was reaching for the stars.” Today, CDP employs “over 1,100 people, 700 of them developers”. With the two American teams in Vancouver and Boston (also in Boston), a new, third studio is now being merged into CDPR America. From the Cyberpunk– One has learned from debacle, affirms Kicinski. He also puts CD Projekt’s cards and the timetable for the next few years on the table: they’re no longer working on their own 3D technology, but Unreal Engine 5 on a second one The Witcherstrilogy (codename: ”Project Polaris”). The three new solo open-world adventures are to be produced over a period of six years (reminiscent of the cinematic strategy of the “Star Wars” and Tolkien films). For another independent one Witcher-Title, the Polish RED team is working with the Boston subsidiary Molasses Flood: Codename “Sirius” is intended to reach beyond the core target group, with a multiplayer focus to appeal to a “broader audience”. Projekt RED does not reveal any further details about the “Polaris” trilogy, nor about “Sirius”, nor about a fifth Witcher-Game, which is being produced for the first time by an as yet unnamed external partner (“Project Canis Majoris”), also with UE5 and the tools that CDPR is developing for “Polaris”. CD Projekt also announces without game facts, final names, release dates & Co Cyberpunk 2077-Sequel (“Project Orion”), which will be taken care of by the strengthened US department, as well as the development of a third brand: Hadar will be the company’s first original creation (after the other two are based on third-party licenses, novel series and tabletop RPG). CD Projekt is also outlining a “franchise flywheel concept” that will transform all three brands into films and TV series, comics and merch.
These are ambitious plans that fans and investors have to digest: “We are not changing our core activities,” says Kicinski: “We want to develop revolutionary role-playing games with memorable stories.” At the same time, trends and signs of the times will not be ignored: “Most of our upcoming titles will contain multiplayer elements,” explains Business Development Manager Michał Nowakowski, but “this should in no way detract from our single-player experiences.”