Trend is to 'over-exploit' gamers, says Witcher dev

CD Projekt Red cofounder Marcin Iwinski claims that publishers will lose business by constantly charging for DLC, stand to benefit from offering free add-ons.

Continually asking for money from gamers will drive publishers into the ground, claims The Witcher studio CD Projekt Red cofounder and joint CEO Marcin Iwinski. Speaking to Gamasutra in an extended interview, the executive explained publishers run the risk of losing business if current trends continue.

CD Projekt Red not charging for The Witcher 1 DLC was a shining moment, Iwinski said.

"Sadly, I see the industry trending toward over-exploiting the gamer," he said. "And I think this will come back to the publishers that are doing that, and eventually, people will stop buying their stuff."

Elsewhere in the interview, Iwinski opened up on its relationship with Atari, the company that handled publishing duties for the original PC-exclusive Witcher.

"When we had that publishing deal, we went to the publisher, and said, 'So we have this idea where we make all this stuff, all this new content, and you don't pay anything for it, we give it away for free. How about that?' The publisher went all big-eyed and said, 'Whoa! Let's charge 10 dollars! 10 Euro!' But we believed that we would sell more units if we put it out for free."

Iwinski turned out to be correct. He said releasing free DLC for the game created good will for CD Projekt Red and in turn led to a surge in sales for The Witcher 1's Enhanced Edition.

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Discussion

448 comments
robotopbuddy
robotopbuddy moderator

It's unfortunate that other developers don't follow this sort of business model - the industry as a whole is definitely going the wrong way about things, charging a decent amount for random bits of DLC, often things that should've been on the disc to start with; add in DLC that you have to pay for and gives you an in-game advantage in multiplayer games and things start to become pay-to-win; which as far as I'm concerned ruins a game, and is a terrible business model that the vast majority of real gamers hate.

 

Honestly, I don't even mind paying for a good size expansion pack, provided the price is fair; but paying £1-2 for tiny things for which the right price point would be literally 1-2pennies/cent is out of the question, such things should be free, especially if they could potentially damage game balance.

 

Sadly, exploiting gamers really is the right word at this point - game prices themselves might be fine, but they're plagued with DLC/microtransaction style things that effectively rise the price so far that it's not even worth buying any more.

 

As much as people like Jack Thompson would disagree, gamers still have morals and we're intelligent enough to realise that we're getting ripped off on many things - sure many will buy them anyway, for a variety of mostly not-so-sensible reasons - but it damages the public opinion of the company when there's other smaller companies like CDPR (many things, such as noted in the article) and Runic games (actually allowed piracy of their game openly at the start, did nothing to stop it, and then many people went and bought the game after trying out pirated versions and game updates coming out - most the people pirating games are the ones that wouldn't buy it anyway if they couldn't get it for free, while others try out a pirated version as a sort of demo, either way, if the game is good it hugely increases positive word of mouth for the game, and in turn raises the amount of sales, with even many of the people originally pirating the game buying it in the end when it went on sale) that have gone away from the grain and profited as a result.

 

Honestly, it seems as though many of the larger companies aren't really in touch with gaming at all, and are just in it for the money and nothing else nowadays, which is disgraceful, and is slowly taking the industry in a terrible direction.

Derpalon
Derpalon

Sometimes I feel like CD Projekt says the right thing so often that I think they're just telling me what I want to hear so I'll buy their games. But then again, they can legitly say these things because they have actually stayed true to their words. Touché CD Projekt, touché...

Clovergirl227
Clovergirl227

Exploitation is such a popular word, especially with the anti-business people. Make content and do whatever you want with it, charge money or pay with advertisements, the market will decide if it is worth the price or not.

franky111
franky111

EA is *sprinting* towards the "free to play, pay to enjoy/win" model, and more and more of their games are plagued with the on-disc and day-one DLC. Ubisoft is doing the same with the "season pass," and Activision releases pricey on-disc map packs frequently.

 

As for a good RPG developer, I thought BioWare was that at a time, but then they sold out to the dudebros.

 

Don't do what BioWare did, CDProjekt, and I'll continue to buy your stuff and support your business. You seem to have the right idea, now how about you do what other developers failed to do: Stay true to your word.

Vojtass
Vojtass

Just buy their games - this is the best way to thank them. :)

King9999
King9999

See, Marcin gets it.  He knows the proper way to handle DLC.

 

CD Projekt hasn't been around long, but they're already becoming a big-name RPG developer.  Stuff like this news is part of the reason why.

sieg6529
sieg6529

I hate Day 1 DLC, on-disk DLC, "microtransactions"...all denying content unless you pony up a few more coins.  And I blame all you bastards who are encouraging them even more.  

 

Of course, I'm not against charging for significant content upgrades (see Dawnguard).

USDevilDog
USDevilDog

Once again CD Projekt Red demonstrates why it's quickly becoming my favorite developer.  They respect us gamers and understand what's fair in the commercial food chain.  What many developers don't get, but CD Projekt Red gets is that they know asking for $50-$60 dollars for a video game with a bunch of DRM, key passes, or some ridiculous DLC (see $15 for 1 or 2 maps on some FPSes) is insulting the very hand that feeds.  CD Projekt Red famously defied its publisher by offering a free patch that removed the DRM on Witcher 2.  That's ballsy.

Lausanna
Lausanna

I find F2P frustrating, because then you end up having to pay extra for "the full experience" or "to keep up." Micro-transactions in some cases are fine by me, if it's like WoWs pets & mounts or TSW's clothing that has no effect on actual gameplay. I feel no pressure to buy that stuff.DLC though is just ridiculous, the few times I've bought it I've been disappointed with the content so I don't anymore (I'll make an exception for Skyrim DLC, don't you let me down Bethesda). It's become an excuse to release unfinished games. Look at the Sims. By the time the third one came out, you got a game with damn near no content, unless you wanted to go to the trouble of customizing every single piece instead of actually playing with your Sims. It was the first Sims I actually payed for, and it will be the last.

JMcN76
JMcN76

The problem, as I see it, is that developers now hold back on content to charge more later on. When DLC first started coming out, it was to add to the experience, almost as a reward for the gamers. Now that developers can see green coming in, they hold back when the game first comes out; they make incomplete games. It's become less about the gamers and more about the money. Kudos to companies like CD Projeckt Red for not giving into temptation and keeping their integrity.

wescraven
wescraven

I am  not against free stuff and never will be. I don not think all the hate towards downloadable content is justified though. I only pay for the stuff that I feel is worth it. If they are going to spend time making more material then why not charge for it? It is not like people are forced to buy the stuff. Do not by what you do not want. Most of the stuff I buy is around ten or 15 bucks. This is hardly a huge sum for some one who has a job. Personally I like the option of purchasing more content for a game that I want to keep playing. This seems to be blown out of proportion to me.

Chr0noid
Chr0noid

God bless you CD Projekt Red.   You the hero Gotham deserves AND needs. 

 

I've already started my plan on ceasing support of crappy developers/publishers.  I've  sworn off Bioware/EA months ago and I'm pretty sure I've stuck to it so far.  If customers would only have the spine to vote with their wallet and not spend indiscriminately, then maybe all this DLC bullcrap can stop. 

Zenwork21
Zenwork21

I totally agree, I did buy the first 3 dlc for Dragon Dogma then I've stopped since I was feeling cheated by the publisher, the content offered wasn't great and far too many.

redness19
redness19

If CDPR says it, it's probably the truth. The Dev has done nothing but give to the PC community, free updates, free enhanced editions. CDPR has earned my respect and my continued support, I look forward to their new projects and hope this developer is around for years to come.

arun_pullat
arun_pullat

I'm one of those folks who trust CD Projekt Red thanks to the way they go about their work. Top class games, enhanced for free!

quantumtheo
quantumtheo

I feel like these responses that are defending 15 dollar DLC are kids that don't understand how money works and just want to throw it out the window.

quantumtheo
quantumtheo

I totally agree and can't believe that ppl are responding negatively to this.... Does anyone remember Unreal Tournament?  Before DLC was called DLC they released official map pack updates,  for FREE.  Team Fortress 2, even being a F2P model now, still releases major updates for free.  Sure you might have to craft something, but things like new maps are available for everyone right away.

 

I very much agree with this sentiment, as I'm feeling nickled and dimed to DEATH by DLCs.  It's actually one of the main reasons I don't buy a game, if there's a list of 5 or 10 DLC's to go with a game (Arkham City for example)  I'll just wait until they release a version with all the DLC included.  Or, just not buy it at all.  ME3 having day one DLC was one of the main reasons I will NEVER buy that game, or another Bioware or EA game again.

 

Deus Ex: HR is another great example.  I have a feeling that that 9 month extension was done so they could hack out Missing Link from the main game and rebalance it.  Which is really sad, b/c that part of the game, if it had been in the main game, would have made HR a much fuller, richer experience.... HR, as it is, doesn't hold a candle to the original game.  Plus, it made the level awful. I finished Missing Link in just under 6 hours.  Pitiful.  Really, 15 bucks for under 6 hours?  Glad I got it on a 75 percent off sale.... otherwise I wouldn't have even bought it!  

 

A stand alone DLC really takes away from the experience of the main game.  If I'm going to pay for a DLC, I want to have something new to do in the main game.  Bethesda's DLC is a great example, b/c their DLC adds to the main game, even if you have to travel to another area outside the main map, you can still get new weapons, items and XP to bring back to the main game

 

Major game makers are forgetting how us core gamers were raised... you pay for a game ONCE.  If you want to make an expansion, to add on to the original game, that's fine, but making a individual DLCs for costumes, or weapons, or planes (like in Ace Combat) etc etc etc.... just makes me want to go take a nap and not buy or play a game that has that much DLC...

 

Bravo CD Projekt, I applaud you for your bravery to say that while EA is stating the exact opposite.  I really wish the DLC craze would go away, I wish F2P would go away. What's sad, is that with the next gen of gaming, like with the UT4 engine, we are told that dev time will be cut in half.  You think they'll pass those savings on to us?  Nope.  They are setting us up, getting us used to paying out the nose b/c devs "have to work so hard."  Soon, they'll be making even MORE money and act like it was a few years ago still talking about massive dev costs, which will be a lie.  

 

Stop making so much crap (I'm looking at you Lollipop Chainsaw... did we really need that game to be made???), spend more time on what's good, and everyone will be happier.

Killer6b9
Killer6b9

I think this message has some truth to it....let me explain, I as one love a great game. I also remember playing games before the DLC rave became about. I for one think that as long as a true entire game was released that DLC is okay because it will not effect the games ability to unfold a story and give me closure after completing. But on the other hand it seems like the devs are tending to leave things out of certain games just so they can turn around and get more money....that to me is fair. I do not play golf but in  the case that I bought a 60 dollar tiger woods game for instance, If I only started with the driver club and had to unlock my putter, wedge, irons, and wood clubs I would be pi$$ed. Same thing if I only got 1 course and I could see 8 more on my screen but had to pay to unlock those....Games like Mortal Kombat for instance gave you the story line for the Kombatants and was fine as a entire game to me. The added skins and few Kombatants no big deal did not effect the story. As well as they re-released it with the Kompete Edition, which was fine with me as well as that is when I planned on getting that edition anyway, At least that was what I was hoping for. Mainly as long as they watch what they are doing with DLC and commit to making a true game first then worry about the DLC but we also know that most of these devs work the DLC into the game. All I can say is if the trends continue in a negative way. The devs that count on that DLC will all start to struggle just a little bit more....

Truf89
Truf89

I approve this message.

PurpleRose
PurpleRose

Free DLC basically means the DLC is bad. I don't think CD Projekt Red has enough industry experience to profess anything remotely universal for game publishers. I would never download a free dlc.

OJ_the_LION
OJ_the_LION

It's counterintuitive, but seems to work well for them. I certainly wouldn't have bought either game if I thought I had to pay another 20+ bucks on top of the base for all the DLC. I'm one of those word of mouth people he's talking about, and it's something that shouldn't be underestimated.

mechmaster525
mechmaster525

I completely agree with this. I only wish EA, Blizzard, and other companies would listen. The only company I think that comes close to CDProjektRed is Nintendo, it's only a shame that they don't have some better games coming out for the 3DS, Wii, or Wii U. I'm excited to see what CDProjektRed puts out next.

popeyfolger
popeyfolger

great, great company i will buy whatever you put out just from the way you treat ur fans this should be the standard not the exception

Dizzy1976
Dizzy1976

I would have bought Tiger Woods if they didn't charge extra for every freaking course....my god what a cash grab that game is.

EmericaCky2K
EmericaCky2K

I dont mind paying 15 dollars to play the battlefield add ons... I get way more than 15 dollars worth the fun out of it. 

 

I can 15 dollars in 10 seconds at a bar... and that doesn't stay with you for more than a short night. 

isshiah
isshiah

this seems like such an obvious strategy, no matter the business.

fullxtent
fullxtent

Everyone says they hate EA but why are you still buying their games?!!!

Seriously, STOP BUYING THEIR GAMES!!!

th3warr1or
th3warr1or

@Derpalon

Even if CDProjekt is saying what gamers want to hear, they actually follow through.

Witcher 2 was a fantastic game; I purchased the Dark Edition, since I'd rather give my money to them.

GrindinGanja42o
GrindinGanja42o

 @Derpalon they are very good devolopers, and smart too, not like ea and its plan too clean out your pockets and charge you for downloadable content then it dissapears

Red_lath
Red_lath

 @Clovergirl227 anti-business... is that a true word? because the concept is not!

 

Everyone can do whatever they want with their creations, product and money, but always The Consequences shall be assume! That's what Marcin Iwinski is saying, They use a different business model away from the grain, and It was successful.  

Red_lath
Red_lath

 @wescraven You are not looking at the whole picture. For me the problem is the quality of the final product AND the quality of this added content.

 

Charge for something well developed like Dawnguard DLC, not for something that caps playability and community development like Multiplayer weapons and maps.

franky111
franky111

 @Fo_Fai

 Hey, you're with me on boycotting EA/BioWare! Let's be friends! :p

wescraven
wescraven

 @quantumtheo 

 

I am in my mid 30's and and do not see the big harm in DLC. Lets get real here for a minute. We spend a lot more that that amount every day at stores,restaurants and other places. Do not buy the stuff you do not want. I have not purchased a lot of extra content over the years,but do not see the big deal. Lets not act like this is a matter of a poor person deciding to get some DLC and buying some bread cheese and baloney for their starving kids.Any body who can afford these costly system can afford to pay a few bucks for  added stuff. Do not buy these stuff that is wacked.

ilovelctr
ilovelctr

 @PurpleRose They keep on publishing DLC's so that more people will be attracted by the new contents, which keeps the game "fresh" on retail shelves. So more people will buy it. If they do those DLCs intentionally bad, gamers will be driven away.

Red_lath
Red_lath

 @PurpleRose hey dude, what crap is in your mind? to much lousy DLC for you.I can assume you are a kid or don't know anything about gaming industry n gamers or history of this business. Seriously, read more, think more and less TV for you.

 

If u are trolling, go fff somewhere else, this is serious.

TeePoz0r
TeePoz0r

 @PurpleRose Witcher enhaced edition was totally free... bad dlc? It basically rapes every dlc I've played so far. 

airmikee99
airmikee99

 @PurpleRose You must be new to gaming. 

 

It's only been in the last few years that charging for DLC has become the norm.  For a majority of the time that companies have added extra content to games, it was done for free.

Ripnail
Ripnail

 @popeyfolger

 lol if this was the standard you would all start complaining about something else, circle of luxuary

Red_lath
Red_lath

 @EmericaCky2K That's a specific case, but in general, what would you do if the government charge you 15 bucks every time you go to the bathroom plus all the other service bills? All start to add and every flush becomes expensive no matter how easy you get the money...Besides dude, you should care for your effort to get money, every peni counts!

rozissimo
rozissimo

 @EmericaCky2K  The thing is, you usually don't pay US$60 just to get into the bar in the first place. I just feel people are paying full price on a incomplete product and them paying even more to have what they should have got since day one.

TheSnowmanSaint
TheSnowmanSaint

 @wescraven  @quantumtheo I agree that some DLC can be affordable, but once publishers start treating us like we're brainless and can squeeze DLC that's just oh, fifteen extra cut scenes..then I get a bit irate. If it's story DLC or just DLC I'm really a fan of like the Batman Arkham City stuff then sure, I'll pay for that as long as it's affordable for what I get out of it and so far I've gotten my monies worth in that game and it's DLC.

Red_lath
Red_lath

 @wescraven  @quantumtheo besides, the problem is the quality of the product, not the actual charge.

 

Develop something worth to pay $15 and nobody say something, throw out lousy maps and poor enhancements ... non sense! -> that's what the actual DLC looks like

quantumtheo
quantumtheo

 @wescraven Um.... your argument is not sound, there are a lot of poor people that have the "expensive" systems.  The systems are not that expensive actually, and you are making a lot of assumptions about "poor people," so that throws your whole argument out.  

 

And for me, i'm paycheck to paycheck, so yes, I have to not buy DLC and games themselves all the time, as well as food at a restaurant or impulse buys at a store.  Just because I was able to buy something for 300 dollars 5 years ago doesn't mean I have ANOTHER 15 dollars to put into a game I paid, well I never pay full 60 for a game, but 20 or 30.