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CD Projekt RED Strategic Development Update Outlines the Company’s Future, More Witcher and Cyberpunk

With the tumultuous launch of Cyberpunk 2077 and accusations of a toxic crunch culture at the studio, developer and publisher CD Projekt RED faced a critical crossroads in its own evolution as a company. Following an apology for the state of Cyberpunk 2077 at launch—particularly the quality (or lack thereof) of the game on last-gen consoles—the studio is now pushing forward with a strategic development update to back up their commitment to doing better.

You can watch the full 24-minute CD Projekt Group Strategy Update in the video below, but we’ve also outlined the main points beyond that.

CDPR has three primary goals in its mission:

  • To create revolutionary story-driven RPGs
  • To be counted among the world’s top three game developers
  • To ensure a lasting place for their brands in global pop culture

These are backed by the company’s core values:

  • Quality as top priority
  • Passionate team as greatest strength
  • Tolerance, fairness, and openness at heart
  • Independence
  • Gamer-centric approach

After admitting once again that Cyberpunk 2077 didn’t meet those quality standards and match up to the core values, they continued by outlining how CDPR plans to change in order to better deliver on those goals in the future.

Transforming the Company

There are three primary building blocks in this restructure, beginning with a transformation of the company they refer to as “RED 2.0.” Rather than focusing on one-at-a-time sequential game development, they want to shift to parallel game development for the main AAA franchises: The Witcher and Cyberpunk. This plan includes expanding production capabilities and “implementing a range of new ideas” to make development more efficient and seamless.

A newly centralized REDengine will serve both The Witcher and Cyberpunk franchises going forward, to allow them to adapt the technologies to multiple games at once and better understand their own in-house engine for consistency in future development.

RED 2.0 also comes with improving the working environment for every team member at CDPR. They plan to restructure their development teams to have more cross-functional teams (teams built from multiple disciplines) and a dedicated team of cross-project experts that will better facilitate open communication and collaboration at the studio. This is similar to how a studio like Bungie functions and approaches development, which allows CDPR to be a lot more agile and openly communicative. The plan is to have this all in place to start parallel AAA game development by 2022.

External marketing for CDPR games is also undergoing an overhaul, focused mainly on shortening the time between announcement and launch to avoid a drawn out marketing campaign cycle that doesn’t match the final product. Teases may still happen early on, but trailers, demos, and in-depth looks at mechanics won’t happen until the game is closer to being finalized. In addition, they plan to focus on showing actual game footage, not concepts, as well as conducting showcases on all platforms. And rather than focusing on longterm roadmaps, CDPR will adjust focus to annual roadmaps that focus on a single year at a time to keep the company agile.

For 2021 specifically, this roadmap includes more patches and updates for Cyberpunk 2077, as well as the free DLC and next-gen updates, and the next-gen update for The Witcher 3. There’s also the mobile AR game The Witcher: Monster Slayer and continued development on Gwent.

They ended this segment focused on how they plan to improve the working environment to make it feel inclusive, comfortable, and prevent employee burnout. This includes a stronger focus on mental health and well-being, an open and barrier-free environment of communication, and empowering everyone with professional and personal development.  CDPR will also focus on growing their talent pool with new initiatives.

As part of this growth, CDPR acquired Digital Scapes in Vancouver, after having already worked closely with the company on previous projects. This allows them to expand their footprint with an even more diverse range of talent.

Building Out the Franchises

The second building block focuses on building out CDPR’s main franchises: The Witcher and Cyberpunk. For this area of growth, not only do they want to expand the franchises through various means (such as mobile development, TV shows, merchandise, etc.), but they want to continue to expand on the idea of the “single-player AAA RPG” that lies at the studio’s core. CDPR uses the progressive development of The Witcher franchise, starting with the first game, of evidence for how they can continue to grow, build out, and expand the audiences for their franchises over time.

They plan to grow Cyberpunk in similar ways, building off of prior releases, leanring lessons, and implementing strategies to expand it out to future games and more.

Online Experiences

“Let’s stress this here: CD Projekt makes single player, story driven, AAA RPGs. That is not changing,” the video says, before jumping into discussing how the studio wants to expand its capabilities with online experiences. They want to have a long term approach that implements online elements into their games “where it makes sense.”

“We don’t want to go overboard, or lose our single-player DNA. We want to take thoughtful steps to build robust online capabilities.” Previous announcements indicated that the next AAA game from the company would be a Cyberpunk multiplayer game, but that’s now changing. Instead of a focus on making one big multiplayer experience or game, they are looking at ways that they can bring online into all of their franchises one day.

CDPR is developing online technology that can be implemented across its games and build up a community, which sounds similar to what Ubisoft does with UConnect (formerly UPlay).

As a final bonus, the video discusses how strong financial management allows the company to self finance development with a strong financial backbone, enabling creative freedom and the possibility of mergers and acquisitions.

This video is perhaps the strongest look yet at CD Projekt RED’s response to the rocky Cyberpunk 2077 development and launch. It shows a promising future with a newly found focus on the well-being of its workforce, which will in turn result in more consistent and clear development of projects. It gives me a lot more faith than I had in not just the future of Cyberpunk 2077, but CDPR as a whole moving forward.

What did you think of this development strategy update from CD Projekt RED?

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