Witcher Dev CD Projekt Red Talks Cyberpunk 2077, Studio Culture Amid Staff Morale Concerns

With development on The Witcher 3 and its DLC complete, and work on Gwent and Cyberpunk 2077 underway, there hasn’t been much word out of CD Projekt Red recently. That is, with the exception of some criticism from ex-employees on Glassdoor–a site used to review companies and supervisors–which has now made enough waves to warrant a response from the studio itself.

In an open letter published on Twitter, co-founder Marcin Iwinski and studio head Adam Badowski spoke about the studio’s culture and concerns surrounding what all of this could mean for its future. The two reference the negative Glassdoor reviews–which mention low pay and long hours–but they don’t address any of the specific criticisms.

“If you’re following news related to CD Projekt Red, you might have recently stumbled on information regarding morale here at the studio,” the letter reads. “We’d normally avoid commenting on company reviews on spaces like Glassdoor, but this 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.”

Among the subjects the letter touches on are departures–which it largely chalks up to standard changes for a game developer. It notes that headcount has almost doubled from the 200 people it had when The Witcher 3 launched. It adds that hiring continues, and that anyone leaving–even a big name–won’t jeopardize ongoing development.

“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,” the letter continues. “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 a 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.”

Regarding its much-anticipated new game, the letter only states, “Cyberpunk 2077 is progressing as planned, but we are taking our time–in this case, silence is the cost of making a great game.” Little about the game has been announced beyond the fact that it is an ambitious RPG that has been in development for more than five years and is headed to PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Earlier this year, CD Projekt Red acknowledged that early Cyberpunk 2077 files had leaked and were being held for ransom.

You can read the full open letter below. We’ll report back as the situation develops.

“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 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 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 we 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 a 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 what 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 shows us it’s all worth the hours we put in.

Yours, Marcin Iwinski (co-founder) / Adam Badowski (studio head)”

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