Positive Reinforcement -- Or Why CD Projekt Like To Give Things Away For Free

"We believe that games we make deserve support," says Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz, Senior Quest Designer at CD Projekt. "You couldn't call the extra stuff being added an expansion pack. We are trying to be fair and honest with our customers. We believe that the things we have added, customers should get it for free, because they have already paid for the product."

If it wasn't already obvious, it should now crystal clear: CD Projekt isn't like other developers.

Meet Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz. Along with Agnieszka Szostak, he is here to show the Xbox version of The Witcher 2. Their presentation is barrelling along nicely. The game will be released April 17, at the reasonable RRP of $79.95, and launches along with a number of new elements — new content, new cut-scenes, etc. Interesting enough.

But the next slide catches us completely off guard.

"All of these updates will be made available to current owners of the PC game for free," says Agnieszka. There's an audible murmur in the audience.

'In this day and age?' I think to myself. 'This is madness.'

"I believe that you shouldn't pay twice for the same product," says Mateusz, when we quiz him later. "Simple as that."

Sometimes it seems as though CD Projekt makes a little too much sense; you catch yourself thinking — 'why don't other studios think like this?'

More often than not, it appears as though gamers are being punished for doing the right thing. When gamers buy a game legitimately, they have to endure DRM. If they want the full experience they have to download paid DLC. CD Projekt wants to do the opposite. It wants to reward those who do the right thing.

"In my opinion this is the healthy attitude," says Mateusz. "As a customer you are buying something, so you should be rewarded!"

It's a case of positive reinforcement over negative reinforcement. CD Projekt wants to inspire loyalty to itself as a brand — so instead of removing things from the player, it continually adds new content to the package, after it's been paid for.

"It's part of our philosophy," says Agnieszka, "it's what we believe in. That's part of our attitude towards DRM as well. Since we've been a PC developer piracy has been a problem for us, obviously, but in the end we to try and build loyal users by rewarding them — we don't want to punish them!

"It's just the attitude we have to gamers, she continues."We want to be honest with them."

And that includes owning up to past errors.

"It's not like we make mistakes," admits Agnieszka, "because we do. The last mistake I think we made was the controversial thing where we sent letters to people who pirated our game.

"But we listen to gamers. If people make complaints, we try to be honest and say, 'well, that wasn't a good decision' and we try and change things.

"That's our attitude."

According to both Agnieszka and Mateusz, it's an attitude that has become quite profitable for CD Prokekt as a company, so why haven't others followed its example?

"I think you should probably ask the other developers," laughs Mateusz. "I'm sure they have their reasons!"


Comments

    CD Projekt is about the only company I'll happily pay full asking price. You know you're getting a good product from a bunch of dudes who give a shit. The rest of the industry could learn a lot from them.

      I've said this quite a few times, I agree with you. To be honest I don't care what price I pay for their products because I know that it will get support, updates, content. Hell I'd be more than happy to donate to them because I love their business model.

      I'd love to express my thanks to this company.

    I'd give these guys money via kickstarter

    And this is one of the many reasons I have preordered the collectors (dark) edition. These guys are just awesome.

    “We believe that games we make deserve support,” unless the game is short and crap and you have the check to charge full price then it deserve to have a 0/10 score and to be pirated BOOM SHAKA LAKA!!

    They did a similar thing with the original. They had extra content in the collectors edition, but rather than releasing an expansion pack, they just made the extra content available after a while.
    When the first game came out they said the same thing, "We want to focus on rewarding loyal consumers".
    It must be better t reward the many than try to punish the few and have everyone suffer.

    I think it's more publishers being the problem, than developers. Aren't CDProjekt independent and are sibling companies with the dudes at GOG? Both Valve and CDProjekt are in the unique position of being able to distribute their games through their own means.

      That's right. In CD Projekt's case they started out as publishers, putting out Polish localised/dubbed versions of games like Baldur's Gate. They only later branched into developing their own games.

      So their very origins lie in serving an under-served market, and that's a philosophy/approach they've kept with them to the present.

    This makes me curious - does that philosophy mean they were waiting until they'd finished everything they were planning to add before they released the console version? Can we then assume that there will be no DLC for the console version? Or that they will make all console DLC free? Or is this philosophy only applicable to PC gamers?
    Regardless, I applaud their stance, and am happy to give them my money for the dark edition I've preordered.

      Well, the extra stuff was created for the 360 version then will be put into the PC version. Given Microsoft's rabid aversion to free DLC, it's unlikely there'll be more for the Xbox gamers...

      To answer your question, this will be strongly like the original 'The Witcher - Enhanced Edition'; which included all their patches, updates, etc etc etc.

      So the game came out last year for PC and since then they have released extra content on a very reasonable time frame, not straight away but just right (Get what I mean?). So now that it is all done, you could call the XBOX version of The Witcher 2, the pc's 'The Witcher 2 - Enhanced Edition'.

      So in short, what I'm saying is you are getting absolutely the final product which includes all their 'DLCs', (obviously some patches down the road for the console in terms of fixes etc)

      No doubt and I wouldn't be surprised if they do more content down the road that these will just be included in any patches for both PC and XBOX.

    "But the next slide catches us completely off guard.

    “All of these updates will be made available to current owners of the PC game for free"

    Okay, I'll be That Guy. They've been saying that ever since they announced the 360 version. Just sayin' ;)

    Having bought TW/TW2 on sales, I'm definitely going to pick up TW3 on day one. CDPR are up with Double Fine & Valve as far as I'm concerned (sorry Blizzard, you've become a bit too Activision for my tastes).

      Already have my mouse ready for any PreOrder button that popups ;D

    CD Projekt are bros. One of the last developers with any integrity left. I pirate nearly everything, but I've happily bought TW games twice each because I believe the developers need to be praised for rewarding their customers.

    Also, they delayed the 360 version because they didn't want to release TW2 and then have Microsoft dictate the price of the extra content. They wanted to give it to the gamers free and since MS don't allow that they had to include it in the full retail game.

    It's a shame things like this are no longer commonplace these days. It's great to see CD Projekt taking a stand against the likes of greedy publishers such as EA and Activision.

    Kotick take note.

      See? SEE!!! This is what happens when you treat fans as friends, instead of pirates.
      Being good to fans encourages goodwill, building a stronger community and greater support.
      And you turn pirates into purchasers.

    Not really interested in this game but am considering getting it, just to support the dev and to show that treating your customers right is the way to go.

      +1, will probably do the same thing, have heard many good things about the witcher, maybe even give it a go, eventho it is not my thing.

    I didn't even really like the witcher 1, but dammit, I'm seriously considering buying this game because these guys have the 100% correct philosophy on PC game development.

    DRM has turned away from the protector of rights and has turned into a machine that punishes legitimate customers, and actually PROMOTES PIRACY.

    It needs to die, it needs to die ASAP

    I wish CD Projekt made Mass Effect 3..........

    Awesome love-in from thieves justifying their piracy and getting a few slaps on the back.

    Fucking embarrassing.

    Love CDPR and their games, but they're fighting a losing battle against a legion of self- entitled snakes.

      Why would you post something like that in a thread full of people saying they have bought multiple copies?

      Who are you talking to?

    On top of the love CdProjekt has for each and everyone of us, the Witcher 2 is probably the best RPG to come out since Baldur's Gate 2 (well maybe since KoToR).

    Apart from the rather excessive amount of research that says positive reinforcement > negative reinforcement, I'd say it's working on a personal level, as I've purchased 3 copies of TW2 now.

    These guys are totally making eyes at the fanbase of every other RPG studio.

    I know buy CDP games on principle. If there was any developer worth supporting, it's these guys.

    It really just goes to show how warped our favorite hobby has become for there to be only a single developer who is prepared to do what's right by their customers.

    CDP is my fav developer now after this comment and after finishing up withcher 2. Will play it again when the new content comes to PC. Might just buy it again, think I paid 15 bucks for it.

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