When CD Projekt announced the exclusive Xbox One collector’s edition of their long-awaited RPG, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, people were pissed. Name calling, absurd accusations and threats of abandoning support for the company were among the harsh words of nearly 1000 commenters. It’s almost as if this particular collector’s edition was a phenomenon; a one of a kind stab aimed directly for the hearts of Witcher fans. It’s almost as if this particular collector’s edition, the only one in existence, was intended to deplete the enthusiasm of millions, initiate the plagues of Egypt and impregnate every gamer’s sister repeatedly. It’s almost as if CD Projekt was trying to please a supportive partner without compromising their design with needless exclusives like DLC and in-game rewards.
Oh, wait. That’s exactly what happened.
Believe it or not, game development is expensive — especially when your game world is bigger than Skyrim’s. And marketing? Fuhgeddaboudit. It’s not something you throw together in the backseat of your dads Jeep Cherokee on your way to the 4th grade science fair (which you lost because evidently dead hamsters in a box don’t constitute a morally agreeable school project). It’s a huge undertaking and, in many cases, one that can cost a whole bunch of talented people their livelihoods. While CD Projekt’s deal with Microsoft remains a mystery, we’re sure it included a bunch of cash register sound effects and giant dollar signs bulging from eye sockets (things every independent developer wants and needs in abundance). And since the Acme Corporation only exists in Looney Tunes, Microsoft to the rescue, amiright?
Microsoft wanted to offer Xbox One adopters something tangible and, in doing so, they helped CD Projket bring the game of Gwent to the real world. Is that really so bad? Yes, all releases of a game should include the same rewards. Yes, there should be a price difference that offsets the exclusion of the card decks and cloth map from the PlayStation 4 and PC versions. Yes, it’s a terrible trend that doesn’t seem to be going away. But no, CD Projekt shouldn’t be punished for working with a rich partner to reach as large a group of players as possible.
Having more collectible junk is nice and whatnot, but it’s nowhere near as satisfying as slashing through side-quests, slaying griffons and experiencing a fantasy world like no other — the only parity that matters. And in that regard, CD Projekt has kept its promise (an integrity that’s all but lost in this industry).
Even the company, clearly confused about the anger over pieces of cardboard, decided to address fan concerns after the cannonade of negative comments took a personal turn:
Looking at the heated comments, I believe that our announcement of the physical addition of two decks of Gwent cards and a cloth map, requires a further word from us.
Here at CD Projekt Red, we always put gamers first. Our PC versions are released DRM-free, we bend over backwards to give you the most beefed up editions of our games (be it standard or Collector’s), and we deliver the same game, regardless of platform or version you buy. Moreover, we promised not have any exclusive DLCs, neither per platform nor per retailer, and we do stand by our promise–nothing has changed, nor will change in this regard.
Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that these extra items might be desirable for Witcher fans playing the game on other platforms. However, as we are not offering any platform or retail exclusive DLCs or any other form of gameplay differentiation, we do have to find other ways to support our partners. We are also providing special pre-order items for certain retailers around the world, including Witcher comic books, posters, steel books or medallions. Funnily enough, we did not notice any heated comments on the pre-order specials.
What is the reason? Why are we doing this? We need the support of partners to make our game visible worldwide. This should hopefully translate to better sales, which will in consequence allow us to do what we have been doing for the last 10 years, i.e. reinvest this money to make more great RPGs, while still sticking to our values.
If you still consider that adding two decks of Gwent cards and a map of the in-game world to the Xbox One CE equals us betraying our values and not fulfilling our promises, well, it does make us sad, but the final call is always yours to make.
Still, I do hope that what we offer is unique and we can ask you to give us the benefit of the doubt. We have more great things to announce for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in the coming months and I promise you won’t be disappointed (yes, yes, there are no more exclusives coming).
I know, it’s shocking to see such a respectful and sincere response without a bunch of PR hogwash. Regardless of your thoughts on the exclusive content (which will no doubt litter eBay for a handful of change within a week of release), supporting CD Projekt’s hard work shouldn’t be dependent on their distribution of cardboard.