CD Projekt Red looks to emulate Rockstar's model for development

The developer's CEO says The Witcher 3's success will allow them to make Cyberpunk an even better game.

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CD Projekt RED is one of those developers that is a darling in the games industry. Since The Witcher came out in 2007, the company has stayed focused on that one franchise, and each game in the series - as well as the expansions - have arguably gotten better with each iteration. It is something CD Projekt CEO Marcin Iwinski has taken to heart.

"We're paranoid about disappointing people," he told GameIndustry.biz. "Even with a press release, we chew on it: What should it say? How should we say it? Is it fair? We have a test internally, which we use for the toughest cases: the 'explain it to a crowd of gamers test.' Let's say we need to make a decision on this or that piece of content in the package, and then we explain why we did that. If we convince ourselves...it's because it led to a better margin, it's probably not the right choice. It has to be about bringing value to the gamer. Fundamentally, it's the obsession and focus on quality... If you get 8s, you don't get the sales success or commercial success you get if you do 9s. The average Metacritic for The Witcher 3 is 93, and the user reception is over 9. It's amazing."

Iwinski said that the company wants to stay finely focused on a franchise, much the way Rockstar Games has done with the Grand Theft Auto series. "The Witcher finished with 80 people, The Witcher 3 finished with 250, so Cyberpunk will probably be even more. Don't think about scale in terms of us doing 20 projects; no, we'll focus, we'll focus on certain things... We don't want to be a 10 project studio. The Rockstar model is nice."

Even though Rockstar is tied to publisher Take-Two Interactive, it still maintains quite a bit of autonomy. Iwinski said CD Projekt wants to do the same, saying late last year that the company is in not interested in another company taking control. "We are not talking with anyone regarding selling CD Projekt Red or GOG.com," the company said at the time.

Because of that, and the huge success of The Witcher 3, the company has developed a lot of street cred with gamers and the industry. "We should use that and take the time to make Cyberpunk something really meaningful for the whole industry. It has to reach the next quality bar, and I'm not talking just for us, but for the market."

And Iwinski said the company will continue to look at Rockstar. "We still have to get there. We have to prove it. The Witcher 3 is a good example, but we have to keep on delivering."

And from what we have seen of The Witcher 3 expansion Blood and Wine so far, they will.

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 27, 2016 10:30 AM

    John Keefer posted a new article, CD Projekt Red looks to emulate Rockstar's model for development

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      April 27, 2016 10:32 AM

      Bye PC games!

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        April 27, 2016 10:35 AM

        Not sure how you got that out of any of this.

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          April 27, 2016 10:37 AM

          It was a joke. Rstar doesn't develop everything for the PC like RDR and such. Where as CDPR liked/s the PC.

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      April 27, 2016 11:10 AM

      Nice words. And, I believe he generally means it. Just hoping the industry "lets" them do it. Not sure how RS was able to find the groove. But, they did other things before GTA was their main IP.

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        April 27, 2016 11:15 AM

        Perhaps they're looking to be bought by a publishing entity and are starting to reel out talking points like this to soften up the PR in advance.

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      April 27, 2016 11:34 AM

      I love CD Projekt RED, I hope nothing bad happens to them and their games etc, I think this is positive though.

      I hope they show us the progress on Cyberpunk 2077 in this years E3.

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        April 27, 2016 11:40 AM

        Honestly, Take Two is the only large publisher I could see them getting in bed with, if they want autonomy and a reasonable budget and support team.

        If this happens before 2077 comes out, I won't be surprised. Their initial projection for that goofy 5 year release window probably became no bueno for some of the money men and now they have to look for more cash to get it done closer to '17.

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          April 27, 2016 12:06 PM

          I totally agree with you man ^^^^ sounds like that is what is happening, I just hope who ever they hook up with does not jack them up and cradles them like a golden child.

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            April 27, 2016 12:12 PM

            It takes two to tango. I hadn't expected Ken Levine to bail from TTWO, but it happened.

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              April 27, 2016 2:11 PM

              Last I heard, Ken was still with TTWO. his new flm project is a side job.

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          April 27, 2016 2:14 PM

          They don't have any problem with income. Witcher 3 cost them around $38 million for development (another 30m for advertising), and they made all of that back the first month.

          They're also a publisher, with GOG making them regular monthly income. There's no reason for them to join up with another publisher.