In a company strategy video released today, CD Projekt Red have outlined changes they plan to make to the development studio's structure and focus. Chief among the changes is the news that their next project will no longer be a standalone multiplayer Cyberpunk game.
Instead, they're going to focus on developing fundamental technology that will eventually bring multiplayer components to all of their games. This was explained alongside a shift towards "parallel AAA game development", which will allow them to simultaneously work on both Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher series.
The video is 24 minutes long and filled with corporate objectives and values rather than product announcements, but I still found it interesting. It's effectively one big "we done goofed, here's how we hope not to goof in future." You can also view the slides from the presentation as a PDF.
"Previously we hinted that our next triple-A would be a multiplayer Cyberpunk game, but we have decided to reconsider this plan," says CDPR Joint CEO Adam Kicinski during the above presentation.
"Given our new systematic and more agile approach, instead of primarily focusing on one big, online experience, or game, we are focusing on bringing online into all of our franchises one day. We are building an online technology that can be seamlessly integrated into development of our future games. This technology will power online components we choose to introduce in our games, and will ensure we can do so without any great technological debt."
Before saying any of this, Kicinski stresses that the company will remain a developer of primarily singleplayer RPGs. There's also no specifics on what those online components or elements might be, other than that they will be integrated through GOG Galaxy. For all I know they could be talking about adding online leaderboards to their games (but I bet not).
Their focus on parallel game development is similarly vague, in as much as there's no announcement of The Witcher 4 or Cyberpunk 2078 within. Instead, they're committing to continuing to "build out" both series. That includes development of the augmented reality mobile game The Witcher: Monster Slayer, the previously announced The Witcher and Cyberpunk anime series, and "increased offer on merchandise of toys, gadgets, comics and apparel."
The lion's share of the video deals with structural changes within the studio, and a re-commitment to certain values they say they've always held. These are clearly a response to the woes of Cyberpunk 2077, even if none of the presenters explicitly connect the dots. For example, they spend time talking about doing more to be a "sustainable and caring work environment," which seems like a response to the crunch conditions developers worked under for the closing months of development on Cyberpunk.
They also talk about expanding the role of the Chief Technical Officer, and having a centralised 'REDengine' development team, which seems in part a response to the bugs and technical problems present in the game (at least until yesterday's 1.2 patch).
There's even a section dedicated to how they communicate with their audience, in which they say that although they might do early teasers for new projects, detailed marketing campaigns will happen closer to release in future. They'll also demonstrate all platforms that a game is releasing for, lest people be surprised as they were with the condition of the PS4 and Xbox One versions of Cyberpunk 2077.
All of which seems like sensible responses to the mess of Cyberpunk 2077's release - including all the parts that they're intentionally vague about, because the plans aren't yet concrete. And for all the mess of its release, I mostly enjoyed my time with Cyberpunk 2077. I hope they stop making developers crunch and release better games in future.