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10 years of The Witcher...

Started by Starfox, May 19, 2023, 08:32 PM

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Originally published on October 25, 2017

It has been 10 years since the release of the first Witcher game in 2007. This will not be a typical Quickview as I already reviewed The Wicther and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. However I failed to review The Witcher 2: Assassin Of Kings so that will be an occasion not only to consider the series as a whole in its 10 years evolution (a bit more than 9 actually if one count the release date of Blood & Wine which was the latest official story DLC for The Witcher 3) but also to whip up a review of The Witcher 2. It will also be an occasion for me to touch the subject of the peculiar company CD Projekt which is both behind The Witcher series and the DRM-free digital distribution service. Why peculiar? Because here's a successful company with a business model completely opposite of the current competition and which despite that business model that many big shots in the gaming industry called a "losing proposition" just a few years ago is worth considerably more today -- and possibly not only financially speaking -- that it was 10 years ago. But first things first: the games.

Guess what it means!


In retrospect the first Witcher game can be seen as a test that CD Projekt RED (CDPR) put forward to the appreciation of the gaming community. They chose a universe (that of the Witcher series of books by their Polish compatriot Andrej Sapkowski) and bought the licence to an already existing game engine -- the Aurora 2007 from Bioware (the same which powered Neverwinter Nights 2) and there they went, developing their own game and doing so going beyond their sole status of publisher.

The Witcher had flaws, no one will deny that, but it was a first try and as first tries go, it wasn't a bad one. One could see something there, a hint of things to come. It also introduced a character that was unlike most other characters in video games, Geralt of Rivia. A guy with a job. A guy who doesn't go around pretending to solve problems just for the sake of it or to be a lawful/good hero. Just a guy who has to make a living and doing so helps people. As a character, Geralt is closer to someone we can all identify to than others "yeah, I'm not doing it for the money, doesn't matter if I go hungry" types. Sometimes he will accept the odd free or low cost helping job because after all he's not a monster and won't let someone be devoured because they cannot pay but on the whole, he insists in a due form of payment just for the trivial reason that he has to make a living -- ain't we all?

Characters and the dark universe they evolved in were a strength of The Witcher. The story was OK but drew too much on the books, sometimes even taking exact sentences and putting them into the mouth of another character. For example when Triss described to Geralt near the end of the game the future she envisioned for both of them it was actually Yennefer's sentence from the book (a character that is only evoked in The Witcher 2 and fully reappears in The Witcher 3). Still, CDPR managed to compile a story interesting enough to draw gamers through the Witcher universe for the about 60 hours of the game without boring them.

The weak points were mainly the engine, for some the combat system that was perceived as too rigid and not allowing a variety of tactics (which was inexact in my opinion, one just had to understand the system but true, it was too different from other more usual systems for most people to be entirely comfortable with). The most badly done aspect of the first Witcher game though were the dialogues that ranged from borrowed from the books word for word to discontinued and barely understandable. That was certainly something that needed to be addressed even if the overall experience was satisfying (and satisfying it was).

Surprisingly satisfying even considering that according to their own words the guys at CDPR at the time had "no idea how to develop a game".

Guess what it means!


The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings was an almost complete departure from the first Witcher. Sure, most the main characters were still there but this time CDPR obviously realized that they were not kidding anymore and that gamers and especially Witcher fans started to expect more than a little "fooling around" however fun that was. The story and dialogue approximations of the first Witcher game had to go to be replaced by a smoother insertion inside the Witcher universe as outlined by the books. And for that Geralt had to slowly recover his memory.

The Witcher 2 was a big improvement of the basic formula of the first game in various aspects. Graphics were gorgeous at the time even though they were very demanding on the hardware. The attention to details was remarkable back then -- The Witcher 2 was one of the first games featuring true sword scabbards (maybe the first if one considers that Skyrim was only released a few months after) and featuring wet effect on clothes and armor when raining.  Combat became more friendly to people who weren't used to the first game's one. Dialogues were certainly much better and aside a couple of exception story was flowing much better too. And this time, CDPR was using a completely new modular in-house engine called the RED Engine which allowed them to get closer to their vision of what a Witcher game should be. Most of all, it was obvious that they listened to what gamers had to say a about the first game.

Plus they had some ideas this time on how to make a game, enough at least to get rid of most beginners' mistakes.

However not all was so rosy. Even if the combat mechanics was closer to what people were accustomed too, it mainly relied on positioning. A pirouette for example was done by attacking your opponent while keeping them on your right side, a point attack was done with the opponent on your left side... etc. That was nice enough until you went and attack your opponent frontally in which case the animations were not what I'd qualify as top notch. They gave the impression of Geralt trying to hopelessly slice a piece of bread. What was won in tactical options was counterbalanced by some graceless animations not really giving the "I'm a superior swordsman" impression. Of course I know that some thought that the Witcher 1 combat animations were unnecessarily "flourished" so those people were possibly happy with the changes.

The combat system was far to be the worse part of The Witcher 2 anyway. The worse part of The Witcher 2 was undoubtedly the potion system. CDPR decided to go for a system where unlike the first Witcher game, Geralt needed to take potions "before" being engaged in any fight. I actually understand what they wanted to do because in the books, Geralt never took potions during a fight (because in the books potions tend to have a nasty shock effect just after being absorbed that needs a time to go away), he prepared first according to the type of enemies he was going to fight and possibly took a healing potion after the fight. The problem is that what works in books sometimes translates badly in game. And that was the case there. The system was more cumbersome than anything, The White Honey potion disappeared so one had no way to get rid of any undesirable and not needed potion effects -- most notably Cat. Even worse, the system in its concept was too rigid to allow adapting to different situations. The problem there is that the Geralt from the games is fighting much more than the Geralt from the books and The Witcher 2 potion system, although faithful to the books, seemed to forget that simple fact.

As for the new potion effects like a lot of gamers I was terribly annoyed with the new Cat, with its heart pumping sound FX and too bright black and white tone.

Another point that impacted some gamers was the fact that you had to choose one of two paths in the game, each with its own quests, its own NPCs and its own story. The choice you made had a real impact on the quests offered to you almost up until the endgame. I wasn't affected because I knew I was going to replay the game to experiment both paths but some people who like to play a RPG in the purest style go with their decisions and never go back and in that case they missed about 15 to 20 hours of gameplay of the path they didn't choose. The idea still sounds good on the paper -- great for replayability too -- but marginalized a part of gamers who wants to "own" their choices and never come back.

Guess what it means!


It has been a couple of years since I first played The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (original review). I replayed it a few times since -- especially to remove some of the bad taste left in my mouth by some *other* games. I even went wild and go with a playthrough on "Death March" difficulty which is the most punishing there is in the game. Generally it's something I never do (playing a game at the uppermost difficulty) because in general it brings nothing to me and often is unbalanced but somehow in The Witcher 3 it just felt natural. Still punishing though, not for the faint of heart especially at the beginning of the game where you have basically no tools to work with (just a few potions and your basic swords and armor). I wouldn't recommend it on a first playthrough unless you're one of those guys who can't wait getting hurt (if ever you want to feel what Death March is while playing on normal, just go and try to complete a quest that is marked as 15 to 20 levels above yours).

The reason why I'm stating the above is that The Witcher 3 left quite a very strong impression on me. I'm not saying that The Witcher 3 doesn't have any flaw because it does but when it comes down to it, every single game ever developed has flaws, even the best among them. There's always some little things you would have liked to see done a different way, some persistent bugs. The important thing however is the final balance between the annoying things and the awesome ones. In this department, The Witcher 3 hits the nail right on the head.

The awesomeness of The Witcher 3 crushes every flaw you can find in the title. CDPR nailed on all the important things, the ones that if done wrong would have seen players go ballistic over them. Instead in the top ten lists of what people don't like about The Witcher 3 you find mostly nitpicking and sometime even invented small defects because "good lords we cannot possibly only say nice stuff, that can't be done". And it's right you cannot only say nice stuff about a game, even the best for the simple reason that nothing is perfect and that you wouldn't want developers to sleep on their laurels. The fact however that you can say 93% of positive stuff about one game is telling. Obviously CDPR took seriously the critics regarding the two first games. Since the time I first reviewed the The Witcher 3, several patches have been issued and aside from some little flukes they all mostly contributed to enhance the experience.

Some have called The Witcher 3 a gift that keeps on giving. And I'm inclined to share that opinion. Even after having played the game a bunch of times I still manage to find things that I've missed. As a matter of fact I paid the full price for the game and both DLCs and in a very very long time I feel like I'm the one who ripped off the developer/publisher. Generally it's the other way around but here? I look back again and again and I don't regret a single dime of the money I put in there. I always have one thought in mind when I see all the little details lodged everywhere in the world CDPR created for the Witcher 3: "When did those guys ever find the time to sleep?" Because I've seen some companies that I shan't name there (but those who follow my reviews won't have a hard time to figure the names) spending as much time on a game development and deliver considerably less -- sometime even less than basic gamers' expectations -- than CDPR delivered in The Witcher 3. So what's their recipe? Did they pray to Cthulhu every morning to be granted the perk of the "Eternally Awakened"? Or are these "other" companies just plain lazy applying a "minimum work for maximum buck" principle? Well, myself I like the Cthulhu theory more, unfortunately a lot of indicators seem to point to the second reason. But let's focus on what the game does best.

Although I'll note different aspects of the game separately, keep in mind that all are mingling together, working as an ensemble. If it wasn't for the very good coordination between all those elements, the game would certainly be lesser than it is. 


Obviously with the story, characterization (the way characters are designed and interact with the world and other characters) is a big issue to me. It's also very important in The Witcher 3 as it is a game that relies heavily on characters to tell the story(ies). Between the first Witcher game and the third there are several worlds of difference. The most apparent being Geralt in the English version with a voice actor that finally, after one bland and one average game, successfully fell into character, nailing almost every sentence. Rare are the times when I found myself thinking "that's not right tone there" or "not enough (or too much) feeling mate". That goes either if you play a nice or an awful guy or a mix of both.

The attention to details was largely extended to other characters in the game via several features. The voice acting, of course. It is in general excellent, both for the good guys and the villains and those who are between the two. The only characters with a sometimes questionable acting are some of the no-name NPCs you may pass on the streets but since you'll likely never engage them in a normal conversation I don't really mind. In general though, people you do engage in conversation are pretty good.

Another notable thing is the attention paid to screenplay during the many cutscenes of the game. Unlike some other recent games -- Dragon Age Inquisition, Fallout 4 or more recently Mass Effect Andromeda -- characters are not treated as flower pots talking to each other. Actually in most cases, their body language complement nicely what is being said or the state of mind of a character. I won't say everything is perfect but it's surpassing anything currently existing in any other game I played.

The Witcher 3, as the two previous games, is a world of greys. Unlike most other games you rarely encounter typical good guys or typical villains. You rather find normal people that may or may not have had experiences that pushed them more on one side than the other. Of course some characters have such layers of complexity that you may stumble on deciding what category they should fit in, and a few others may be just plain evil... or good but those two categories are relatively few. One of the most prominent of the characters you encounter first in the game (after the several hours spent in the tutorial area) is called the Bloody Baron and it's exactly the kind of character you won't really know what to do with at first. I won't jump into spoilers so I won't be talking about what made him what he is or why, I encourage you to make your own opinion of the guy if you have yet to play the game. And it's exactly what the game is asking of you to make a decision as to where the character fits in. And in most cases the game even gives you pointers so you can make an "educated" decision. What the game won't do is to tell you what decision to make because it's up to you to form your own opinion. There's no good or bad choice, there's your choice, that may or may not have an impact later on (either good or bad). You can even have an opinion on a character that will lead you to take some action because you feel it is justified for whatever reason and then sometimes much later discover that the results are disastrous; but even if they are the game always make sure one way or another to let you know why they are disastrous and thinking about it you'll most likely find yourself saying "Well, yeah I might have handled things differently or said something else" or even you might just say "well, they got it coming anyway" because you choose your character to be "that" type.  One thing to keep in mind playing The Witcher 3 is that this game emulates life; sometimes decisions that may appear just or justified may result in gruesome or bittersweet consequences and vice versa.

Or in other terms... would killing Hitler when he was a toddler have been a bad thing? Out of our normal definition of right and wrong, yeah absolutely, it would have been an awful thing to do... One can argue that anyone is innocent until proven guilty but then one has to accept that in some cases the acknowledgement of the guilt comes far to late to be of any use. Argue among yourselves on that. The game will propose you various dilemmas a number of times and it will be up to you to decide what you think and to go with the consequences. 

Storytelling and questing

I haven't seen a story -- or rather stories -- so brilliantly told in a long time in a game. I'm not talking about originality there. Some might argue that the story isn't all that original and I agree to some extent. However the way it is delivered, the way the tale is told is really what makes the difference when compared to most other games in the genre. What is even more commendable is that the same level of storytelling was applied even to side quests, those side quests that are so poorly treated by a lot of the competition. Each witcher's contract for example is an investigation in itself, each secondary quest a nice story turning here and there into a really involved and convoluted situation.

I could only compare the storytelling in this game to a night around a campfire with a guy who have been telling stories for the past 50 years and became a true master of the art. You know the type, the kind of guy you would ask "tell us again that story" even when you heard it a hundred times and always with the same pleasure. In that alone, The Witcher 3 leaves both its predecessors and the competition far behind.

Of course what's more important in a RPG after the story and characters? Well everything is important in a game but in this instance let's go for quests. Because this is what's a RPG gameplay focuses around.  Quests in the Witcher 3 are so tied to the storytelling that it's difficult to talk about one without talking about the other. Quests have been my main bone to pick with a lot of AAA RPG these past years, be it Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition, Fallout 4 or even Mass Effect Andromeda. I don't even remember who started it with the creation of so called tasks that instruct you to go fetch things here an there for no real purpose (other than artificially inflating the game time) or repetitively giving you similar basic missions artificially created until you're sick of it, and without even a hint of a good story to go with them and make them more bearable (what I like to call the Fallout 4 syndrome because Bethesda massively used this trick there more than in any other game that comes to mind).

The only thing close to tasks you'll find in The Witcher 3 are called "Treasure hunts" and they involve Geralt finding clues leading to a treasure, either a common one or one of the famous witcher's gear schematics which allow to forge what are arguably the best weapons and armors in the game. The thing is, most of those treasure hunts, even the witcher's gear have a story attached to them, most of the time a letter or a book that will tell you about a tragedy, a sad story and sometimes an amusing one which conducted to the goods abandoned, stored or buried there. Never will you find an objective of the "go there to fetch X things" kind because developers are too lazy to think about something else. Storytelling is the key of this game and that goes even for the mundane tasks. I never had a single time the feeling in The Witcher 3 to be dragged somewhere just to extend the gameplay time at minimal cost in development terms. Tasks might not be "quests" per se but it's no reason to treat them as a fifth wheel and CDPR understands that perfectly here.


The world of The Witcher 3 is gorgeous. I think that anyone, even those who didn't play the game can agree to that with the many videos available on the web. But I won't be talking about graphics here but about something less tangible. The ways you can impact on the world, even without realizing it. I will be talking about two specific examples trying to stay away from spoilers but I need to use examples to explain what I mean. At one point in the tutorial area of the game called White Orchard (the area where you learn most of the gameplay mechanics you use later in the game) Geralt meets an herbalist -- the closest thing to a medic in a tiny medieval country village -- that is trying to heal a young woman that was attacked by a beast but she's dying and can do nothing about it except soothe the pain. At that point you'll be able to inform the herbalist that you can give her a vial of Swallow but that witcher potions are not meant for humans so specifically if something goes wrong, instead of dying peacefully the young woman will be heard screaming by the whole area. The herbalist basically tells you "well, your choice". This is one of the very first dilemmas you'll have in the game. Either trying to save her running the possibility of an horrible death or just letting her go peacefully. The thing is even if you give the swallow you won't be able to know the results immediately because human metabolism is such that even Witcher's potions take time to act. It's only after a considerable amount of time (several hours of real time) in a completely different area that you'll learn what happened... by then you'll probably have forgotten about the whole thing entirely because many other things happened and so it will be a surprise to see the game presenting you with the consequences of a choice you made  what seems like ages ago that took just a couple of minutes and that is only of some importance to you, the woman you wanted to save and her lover. Furthermore you'll have to really explore the game to find that bit of closure because it is located in a corner of an area that nobody and nothing forces you to explore, not because there nothing to do there (there's always work for a Witcher) but because outside of quests the game lets you the choice of what to explore, it's up to you.

The second case is even more troubling. I will try to stay vague on purpose. At one point in the game you'll participate in the investigation of an odious crime in the area of the game called the Skellige Isles and if you play your cards right you'll be able to unveil the true culprit. According to the crime and Skellige laws the culprit is condemned to being chained on rock and starved to death, their remains picked apart by the beasts. That could have ended there. i mean other games didn't get us used to more than that. Culprit punished, problem solved let's move to other things. But not CDPR. If you continue your exploration and go near the right spot you'll find the said offender actually chained to a rock, dead, with sirens circling around waiting their turn. And if Geralt goes near enough he will have a thought for this awful way to die. the thing is, finding the exact spot is either a matter of cheer luck or in-depth exploration. It's out of the way and nothing really forces you to go there except for a mini-treasure that is not far from the location but that you could easily ignore if you're not the "let's do everything that can be done" kind of player so possibly 75% or more of the players will never witness that.

It may seem dumb to put in a game things that a large part of the players are likely to not find. But it isn't, really. Because each time one find such a spot one is compelled to feel the world alive, to feel it having a life of its own away from Geralt of Rivia. Geralt influences the outcome of the issues he touches and the world reacts when he turns his back so later he may stumble on the results of his or even others deeds. It certainly changes from most current AAA RPG that give you a quest, let you wrap it up then decide that as the basic requirements are met, there's no need to go further. CDPR went a step further and they put in the game things that they weren't forced to put in because no gamer would have fault them for the lack of these particular "features" (indeed a lot of gamers who loved the game have yet to find many of these little tidbits). Still, by putting the extra effort CDPR adds a value to the game that one realizes now is missing from other titles. For example for those who played Fallout 4, it's the Combat Zone that never ever gets rebuilt no matter how much time you wait and the assurance of Tommy that he will "do something with it". The Combat Zone had only one purpose, to allow the player to meet Cait (one of the available companions for those who didn't play the game). Once that was done, Bethesda couldn't care less what happened to the place. However it's an Arena for god sake... It didn't take a great imagination effort to do something with it (BTW some modders did).

So yeah, at one point one has to question the different angles of approach of different companies regarding their own games and ask oneself what is the best one to have for the player's satisfaction and not only for the money generating machinery.

Its true though that one has to know when to stop. For example CDPR could have gone even further with the culprit story I was talking about. Geralt could have found the culprit chained to the rock still alive and could have had to decide their fate himself maybe even releasing them with further, possibly bad consequences down the line but yeah... if CDPR had gone down that route with everything in the game we would still be waiting for it.

As it is the world of The Witcher 3 is already gorged with little details contributing to the credibility of the ensemble.

Indeed, CDPR put the bar quite high up above just about everybody, so high that more than two years after the release of The Witcher 3 and even if there was good games to play (and there was some good games released since then... just not of the AAA kind), I'm still waiting to see a true contender. And that legitimately gets me worried for the future.

Guess what it means!


So finally let's get down to the company behind the trilogy, what they delivered, what they brought to us not only through the Witcher series but through other efforts like You can call that a soapbox as well, as I will most certainly target in passing the current business practices of the gaming industry.

There are several entities in play, CD PRojekt (Publisher) and its digital distribution service and then CD Projekt Red (the ones who actually developed the games) which belong to CD Projekt. In order to simplify though I'll mainly use CD Projekt (or CDP) for the rest of this article.

10 Years ago, the Polish company CD Projekt was barely known in our Western lands and was mainly acknowledged as a publisher importing Western video games to Poland and other Eastern countries, translating them in the process since 1994. They worked to translate some major titles like the two Baldur's Gates and were even working for a while on the development of the PC port of the third game in the series Baldur's Gates: Dark Alliance before it was finally cancelled by Interplay. The demise of Dark Alliance was not a total loss for CD Projekt though as the code (which remained their property) served as basis for the first Witcher game with of course a tremendous amount of modifications -- including a change of engine -- between the original idea and the final result; for example the player character originally and for quite a long time was supposed to be created and customized by the player like in other RPGs; Geralt only appearing in the game in passing which was logical as at the end of the book series, him and Yennefer were supposed to be dead or at least they had vanished without a trace. But for a more accurate story than I could deliver myself about  the various stages of the development of the first Witcher game I'd recommend to you the series of videos created by Rislaw who was very much involved in the development of The Witcher as part of CDPR. Those videos are quite interesting and all in English so have at it. It's also interesting to note that back then Bioware was still a real team player as they lent a hand along the way to the newcomers on their first game up to offering them space in their booth at the first Witcher E3 presentation (of course that was back in the Jade Empire days, when Bioware was still the good old Bioware and not the brain dead zombie it became under Electronic Arts dark tutelage).

Today, 10 years after, CD Projekt not only became the first video game company in their own country, Poland, but also the fifth company (data from September 2017) on the American and European market in financial terms just behind the big heads Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive and Ubisoft. And how did a small company came to challenge the biggest sharks in the pool in a matter of ten years? Just by offering players what they want: great games at a just price with no ripoff. 

The Witcher 3 is the apogee (at least for now) of the user-friendly business practices applied by CD Projekt as a publisher. Not only the game was free of DRM from day 1 but for 16 weeks after the initial release, users were greeted with one free DLC per week. Free! I don't need to explain to gamers how highly unusual that kind of thing is in the current video game market. Simply put it was never heard of. Oh sure, these were little DLC, couple of new weapons and armor for Geralt, couple of new side quests, some new attire for the game ladies... etc but still... free. Any other company would have charged at least a couple of dollars for each of those DLC (and believe me, some frequently issue an invoice for even the smallest of things -- ooh, a new dollar). Another free thing? Bonuses... You know, the original soundtrack, sketchbook, full scale map, comic books... etc. All the things that one expect to get as a fan or a collector. Back in the days when nothing was digital except the game, you frequently had this kind of bonuses in the games boxes. Then greedy publishers started to create the idea of several versions of the game differently priced with different level of bonuses, from none for the standard edition to the full Monty for the collector edition. But now we are in the DLC age so frequently the option proposed is to buy the base game. Then if you want to get the bonuses you pay a special DLC containing them.

There was none of that with The Witcher 3. One edition, same free bonuses, same free DLC. Later the GOTY edition was released but despite the lofty name, this GOTY version was almost exactly the same than the standard version -- minus a few menu changes because of the DLC integration -- with all the free goodies and the two paid DLC added. And those gamers who paid the original game and the two story DLC were automatically offered the GOTY edition.

The whole thing was so unusual that people -- possibly mainly the other publishers -- questioned the sanity of the guys at CD Projekt. Why disrupting the market? Why not just take the money like any other sane person? Gamers are so used to pay anyway that a few dollar more or less...

But the guy at CD Projekt didn't went after the money... they went after the goodwill, such a bright value, so derided or forgotten by a lot of the video game industry these days. Why? Because goodwill is money that you will make later... it's not money that you make now and the majority of the publishing companies doesn't like the idea of later, they prefer now even if the amount immediately generated is twice or thrice less than they could make 2 or 3 years down the line. Instead, CD Projekt chose to take the extra step and tell their customers "We don't want to take you for a bunch of suckers and money bags. We want to thank for your faith in us and our product so we're going to offer you something".

Then came the moment to make people pay again with two story DLC that this time weren't free. But what DLC these were. None of the crap a lot of other publisher are willing to stuff their users with, an armor here, a weapon there... No. The first one Heart Of Stone added no less than a dozen hours to the base vanilla game, significantly extended the main area, added a couple of new enemies, new bosses, whole new interesting story and characters plus weapons and armor -- including a whole new witcher's set. The second one, Blood And Wine added a whole new area with more than a third of the vanilla game worth of new stuff, story, side quests, locations, characters etc... and all with the same level of quality people came to expect from CDPR. It was almost a complete new game in itself.

Commercially they acted as a company valuing their customers should. Offer the low level stuff and sell what is really worth money at a correct price. As a gamer and a customer I understand that game publishers and developers are not charities and have bills to pay like each of us. I do understand too that they need to win money to pay staff and invest in the development of even better games so we as gamers are happy. However through the years, the situation has largely gotten out of control with companies that are clearly now after not just winning money to keep doing what they are doing but just grabbing money for the sake it.

From their pro-consumer actions and from what I've seen on the web, read in other forums, in videos on Youtube and the people I talked to, CD Projekt generated an awful lot of goodwill since the release of The Witcher 3. More than the other companies I named previously combined. In fact they are perceived right now, not only because of their games but also because of their DRM-Free game distribution service like the heroes championing for the cause of gamers around the world.

Of course that's going a bit far as CD Projekt remains a company and despite being pro-consumers they are still in the market to make money because this is  simply how they can continue doing games and being pro-consumers. Part of being able to do that, as they pointed out themselves, is to retain their independence which means in clearer words to not let themselves be bought by some other company that has replaced gaming values with market ones and consumers with shareholders. Because when that happen, the consumers -- meaning us gamers -- are never on the winning side. What did we gain when Electronic Arts bought Bioware (and I quote this example just because this is the biggest most recent one)? Well to be frank we possibly gained the release of Mass Effect 2 and 3 that may have never happened otherwise, but we also gained Mass Effect 3 botched ending, The repetitive idiocy that was Dragon Age 2 and the more than passable "we went to another galaxy but don't really ended up anywhere new" thing called Mass Effect Andromeda plus a steep augmentation of the game prices and an endless devotion to multiplayer even when and where it is not needed, required or wanted.

CD Projekt exemplifies right now the attitude that a video game company should have toward the ones that actually make them live, the ones who buy and play their games. I don't know if that will still hold true in 10 years from now because a lot can happen and I'm not a soothsayer -- I could have had similar words for Bioware 10 years back and look how that turned out -- what I do know is that right now they're the real deal.

So CD Projekt got a lot of goodwill in store right now. And what does goodwill bring them? Well for one, people talk about them in positive terms among themselves, on Youtube and on various websites; It may very well assure them a record amount of pre-order for their next title on the line, Cyberpunk 2077, even though this upcoming title is largely an unknown meaning to start a new franchise (maybe, if everything goes well) which has nothing to do with The Witcher universe.

The only thing that worries me is that with The Witcher 3 CD Projekt placed the bar very high. Will they be able to maintain this level of quality and even to surpass it? That's the real question. But let's not anticipate...

Guess what it means!