Witcher 3 Developer Puts Out Vague Statement About Studio Morale

Last month, rumours spread about the Polish company CD Projekt Red, mostly based on negative Glassdoor reviews complaining of mismanagement and low morale.

This morning, CD Projekt Red released a statement in response, saying that its "approach to making games is not for everyone" and that the studio is taking its time on its next game, Cyberpunk 2077.

"We'd normally avoid commenting on company reviews on spaces like Glassdoor," said the statement, attributed to studio head Adam Badowski and co-founder Marcin Iwiński, "but this time around -- especially in light of the fact that we haven't communicated anything about Cyberpunk 2077 for a long time and saw some gamers getting worried about the project -- we'd like to elaborate on a few things."

The statement went on to address staff departures and CD Projekt Red's approach to its previous games, The Witcher trilogy . You can read the whole statement here:

If you're following news related to CD Projekt Red, you might have recently stumbled on information regarding morale here at the studio. We'd normally avoid commenting on company reviews on spaces like Glassdoor, but this time around - especially in light of the fact that we haven't communicated anything about Cyberpunk 2077 for a long time and saw some gamers getting worried about the project - we'd like to elaborate on a few things.

First off, we'd like to talk about the departures. In 2015, when we released The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, we were over 200 developers strong and that was the core crew of the studio.

Since then, we've almost doubled the headcount and we're still hiring. Do people leave? Sure they do. We always wish them all the best and respect both their decision and the feedback they give us as the reason for their departure. We are continuously working on making Red a good workplace for everyone, but we also have a set of values that constitutes who we are now and how we do things.

So, does a departure, even a high profile one, mean that the project is in danger? One would need to be very courageous to base the future of an AAA role-playing game of such scope on one person (or a few people).

Every role-playing game ever developed seemed impossible to achieve at the moment we set out to create it. It took us five years to finish The Witcher 1, we had to make our own engine to complete The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, and we had to entirely reinvent the way we made games to deliver an open world for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

When we start down the road to creating something, we know the destination and we're sure of one thing: even if something feels impossible, it doesn't mean it is. And, as it turns out, most often things are perfectly possible, they just require a lot of faith, commitment and spirit.

This approach to making games is not for everyone. It often requires conscious effort to "reinvent the wheel" - even if you personally think it already works like a charm.

But you know what? We believe reinventing that wheel every friggin' time is what makes a better game. It's what creates innovation and makes it possible for us to say we've worked really hard on something, and we think it's worth your hard-earned cash.

If you make games with a "close enough is good enough" attitude, you end up in a comfort zone. And you know where the magic happens.

Cyberpunk 2077 is progressing as planned, but we are taking our time - in this case, silence is the cost of making a great game.

As always, many thanks for being so engaged in what we do. It's all worth the hours we put in.

It's not clear why CD Projekt Red's management felt the need to address reviews on Glassdoor, which are anonymous and require little verification to post.

Most video game studios' Glassdoor reviews are full of negativity and it can be hard to sort out fact from fiction.

This statement is unusual as studios do not often reply to these reviews. At the same time, it also fails to address specific issues or criticisms.

When reached by Kotaku shortly after the publication of this story, CD Projekt Red declined to comment further.

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Comments

    Being in an organisation that's currently trying to change its workplace culture, this is not good. The wording on that is almost flippant when addressing the issues raised. Sounds like some higher ups are putting through some churn and burn thinking with the lesser staff and not realising they're losing corporate knowledge and intellectual assets when a veteran quits.

    Yes game development is not for everyone but that doesn't mean game development needs to feel terrible for those involved either.

      It does seem to come across pretty dismissive of complaints.

    This statement is addressing the growing public questioning over the future of Cyberpunk 2077, not the Glassdoor comments, which is why they're not discussing the supposed issues being brought up in them. This is just a clear statement to fans of the studio that Cyberpunk 2077 is progressing and the studio isn't in free-fall collapse.

      Except it specifically mentions that it's responding to Glassdoor reviews in the opening paragraph.

    Video games companies are almost always negative on Glassdoor because the video games industry is an utterly shitty area to work in, in general. Zero job security, products involving massive risk, culture that idolizes crunch and where massive unpaid overtime is the norm, and where using everyone as hard as possible until they burn out or move to a more stable industry is accepted practice. It's a terrible industry to work in compared to other development.

    Having read the letter and gone through the glassdoor reviews, I definitely think there's reason to be worried about the games development. The reviews seem fairly consistent until the past week were they become overtly positive to the point where it feels written by HR.
    And the letter its self alluded to high level people leaving the company, something which is always a bad sign.
    The fact management felt the need to respond to these reviews is a bit disturbing too, I mean if they aren't true then just ignore them? Doing this letter just made even more people aware of it.

    I don't really agree with the sentiment of "Responding to this kind of anonymous criticism is a red flag" - CDR has always been pretty tight lipped with their projects. Just look at The Witcher III: the Wild Hunt as an example; there wasn't a lot of information about that game until within roughly a year and a half of its release. Once we did get some information, it was sort of robust, but then that's all we got for a long time.

    Now, have a look at Reddit (as a start) about the general "feeling" towards what was going on at CDR when they delayed The Witcher III not one, but two times. Much the same, as far as I'm concerned. I think the gaming community (and likewise, the internet) have a general distrust and disrespect for game developers. And from my perspective, most of it isn't warranted. Gamers as a whole have been trained to look sideways at developers for a long time, due to their general misunderstanding of what gamers want, or the complete dismissal of what gamers want in order to gain financial traction, but this isn't true of all developers, all the time.

    I think it was a good move to respond to the allegations, because as he said "Silence is the cost of making a great game" - And the longer the silence, the more CDR affords people questions marks and criticism's. Why not just jump in, ignore the false accusations completely, instead of granting them any sort of clout by responding directly to them and get to the point of what happens in game development as a whole, and not just their studio.

    "Shit happens. People leave. We're still working on it. We're quiet because we're working on it." - Seems reasonable enough to me.

    Last edited 18/10/17 10:58 am

    For me, the most telling comment is that they doubled their staff. If you have a crew that works very well (and Witcher 3's quality and the attitudes towards design that they detailed in their famous investor's call video indicates that they absolutely did), doubling it is undoubtedly going to cause friction. When you import a whole bunch of people who are used to a different way of working... Yeah, I've seen it first-hand plenty of times. Plenty of conflict to manage. Hell, I think everyone's seen it in the example of, say... replacing half the players on a sporting team.

    To my mind, the statement indicates a very high sense of awareness. Of how the industry operates, of the culture in their workplace is changing, and how customers perceive the industry.

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    Sorry shameful plug....

    Meh, seems like they’re undergoing a constant period of rapid growth. I’d be more worried if staff wasn’t turning over and people were happy.

    Nothing in the complaints seem at all alarming in the context of development...

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