Why Giving Out Content For Free Was The Right Thing For CD Projekt Red

I love the attitude of CD Projekt Red — it removes DRM from its games, it supports its community and even has the good sense to apologise for its mistakes and try and learn from them! Unbelievable! Now, in an interview with Gamasutra, CEO Marcin Iwinski discusses why giving things away for free makes sense, and why constantly exploiting gamers is a bad thing in the long term.

"Well, we had a lot of discussions with The Witcher 1's Enhanced Edition," he said. "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."

I love this attitude — and it seems to filter through the entirety of CD Projekt Red. When the team visited Australia to demo the 360 version of The Witcher 2, the same message was being relayed — if we treat our customers correctly, we will build a loyal fanbase that respects our work and is willing to pay for that work. It's a carrot/stick situation and it's good to know there is a developer who has the good sense to lay off the stick every once in a while.

Bravo CD Projekt Red.

What The Witcher Taught CD Projekt About RPGs [Gamasutra]


    Sadly these guys are a minority in the games industry these days. :(

    So much love for CDPR. One of about 4 game developers around right now that I feel any sense of brand loyalty to.

    Awesome devs who make great games.

    It's a shame these guys have made such a relatively small amount from TW2. They deserve so much more for their attitude.

      They actually had a really good Return on Investment. I think the total development budget was less than 6 million. They sold almost a million copies in the first three months of title, for a net (not gross) profit of 5.5 million. This was before the xbox version, and last I heard the PC version added another few hundred thousand sales. Thats a return on investment of almost 100%. In most industries, that would be considered exceptional. They also made a further 80 million of GoG, which was probably helped by the association with the Witcher.

    Just as importantly we're also more likely to forgive them when they do mess up. They produce a buggy game day 1 - the fan base knows that they'll fix it. They produce a crap game (hey they may do) then we know they'll only come out kicking with something bigger and better next time. This is a company that gamers can believe when they tell us that they have gamers best interests at heart and I for one will continue to show my support by buying their awesome games.

    The enhanced edition of the game was a great idea. I played maybe 2hrs of the original cut. Then I got the EE for free. Loved it. I've since bought it three times (Gog, Steam, and another retail edition). I also must have convinced ten people to buy it.

    And with the Witcher 2, because I knew I was going to get ALL of the content, I didn't worry about waiting for the GOTY edition.

      The last part particularly rings true for me, I only just bought New Vegas to get the Ultimate Edition.

      These guys are really great people and I very rarely say that about a company in the games industry these days.

    CD Projekt, my sweet sweet love.

    I should just give them direct access to my bank account.

    I love reading anything these guys have to say. So much respect for them.

    Yeah, it's good to respect their gamers. But then why do many gamers not respect developers?

    Wait, don't treat your fan base like zombie minded sheep? Preposterous, they're all idiots who need to be spoon fed their content and they're all willing to pay for such excellent service. These guys are doing it wrong!

    Ahem. Always knew I made an excellent choice when I bought Witcher 2. Great game, provided by people who actually give a damn. I'll no doubt keep supporting these guys.

    Slight thread derail; was I the only one that found Witcher 2 extremely overrated?

    I got it for 360 (yes I know, PC master race), and it left me extremely cold.

    It had terrible combat, a bland protagonist, little customisation, no reason to care about any of the kingdoms, and a fairly generic (albeit mature) setting.

      "It had terrible combat, a bland protagonist, little customisation, no reason to care about any of the kingdoms, and a fairly generic (albeit mature) setting."

      My word, what do you actually look for in games if what the Witcher had wasn't good enough?

        Better combat, a more interesting protagonist, customisation, reason to care, and a more original setting?

    When i see developers talk like this I just know that I will be buying their games. EA, UBi and Activision i always have to have a long hard think about whether im going to get them. most of the time i just pass.

    And that's why I won't be buying BF3's 40 dollar expansion packs. The game cost me 50 dollars already, and I'm not sure I even like it that much.

    It's pretty obvious really that treating your customers like shit means bad business in the long run. EA for example have lost me as a customer - so much disappointment with Battlefield 3, a game that I was really enjoying for a while before they shut down their servers and asked me to pay for the game again. No way I'll be trying my luck again with Battlefield 4.

    I have thought about buying this game the problem is the material itself doesn't interest me enough.

    i bought skyrim etc so yeah, maybe next time - they're awesome though :)

    Shamefully downloaded the game, never played it, deleted it and bought it on steam. They deffibetky desrrve the money

    Definitely a good developer's attitude. Maybe this is something that Ubisoft can learn.

    I really should finish TW2, and it is amazing with Nvidia stereoscopic 3d setups, they went into it promising 3D vision ready and they delivered, it's flawless, more people need to see it in this mode.

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