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The fat lady will sing for Geralt in The Witcher 3

Geralt of Rivia -- The Witcher 2

This morning Polish developer CD Projekt RED officially announced the existence of The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. While the company will only say that the game is to be released in 2014 on “all major high-end platforms,” it is unexpectedly candid on the game’s tone and what it hopes to achieve with this latest title in what has recently become one of the top roleplaying franchises around.

“The captivating and nonlinear story of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt takes place in a rich, truly open world environment,” claims CD Projekt RED head Adam Badowski. “A world which is thrilling to explore, full of daring adventures, momentous quests, memorable characters, and unique monsters. Players will freely travel through woods, lakes, mountains, cities, and villages. Each region is inhabited by distinct populations with their own customs, legends, and problems.  The world of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is 30 times bigger than [the world of] The Witcher 2.”

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The_Witcher_3_Wild_Hunt_Logo_Black_EN“Imagine playing a dark fantasy game with the same great nonlinear story as in the previous Witcher titles, but now told in a world you can explore freely with no artificial boundaries,” Badowski adds. “The war-ravaged world is so huge that to reach further places you will need to ride a horse or sail a boat to get there. A world where your choices have truly epic consequences.

“From the development side, this goal is extremely demanding,” Badowski says. “Our team had to make significant design changes and our tech had to be rebuilt. But we believe that this will lead to a completely new level of nonlinearity and a whole new, richer gaming experience. As a gamer, I would love to play this kind of RPG and I think this is what many players are waiting for. This is our dream come true at CD Projekt RED, and we hope it will be the same for you!”

Stereotypically diplomatic developer-speak aside, it’s difficult to avoid excitement about this announcement. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings was one of the best roleplaying releases of 2012, arguably eclipsing even the somber Mass Effect 3, and if we’re to base our expectations for The Witcher 3 on its two predecessors, this latest sequel should prove to be something very special. We’re eager to rejoin Geralt of Rivia for another hundred-plus hours of dark political intrigue, monster hunting and the occasional sexy romp with an unrealistically busty supporting character. Sadly, it seems that The Witcher 3 is going to be the last time we get to experience Geralt’s adventures. According to the official announcement, The Witcher 3 will conclude CD Projekt RED’s Witcher trilogy.

“People may ask if this is really going to be the last Witcher game. Yes, it is,” states Badowski.

“Why? Because we believe that we should end the series on a high note. Technology has progressed to where we can finally tell the story the way we want, with the visuals we want, in the world we imagined. This will be the ultimate fantasy RPG experience, and while we’re hardly out of stories to tell, we believe it’s time for us to look to new worlds and new horizons to keep pushing the boundaries of what we can create.”

Those of you who pay close attention to gaming industry news are likely aware that the “new worlds” mentioned by Badowski currently include that of CD Projekt RED’s upcoming Cyberpunk 2077. Any further projects the company might be working on remain a mystery. We’ll bring you more information as it develops.

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The Witcher reveal repeats Cyberpunk 2077’s biggest mistake
A player points a gun at a cyborg in Cyberpunk 2077's reveal trailer.

On March 21, CD Projekt Red confirmed a new The Witcher game while revealing a new Unreal Engine 5 partnership with Epic Games. Shortly after that announcement, CD Projekt Red's Global PR Director Radek Grabowski had to clarify some crucial details about this new game and the Epic Games partnership in a tweet:
https://twitter.com/gamebowski/status/1506022957591797760
While this tweet clarifies the biggest misconceptions about CD Projekt Red's The Witcher announcement, it also highlights that the developer announced this game way too early and vaguely. CD Projekt Red is already losing control of some of the discourse around the game and risks repeating one of the biggest mistakes of Cyberpunk 2077's development and marketing: Overpromising.
Cyberpunk 2077's big mistake
CD Projekt Red announced Cyberpunk 2077 in May 2012 at a press conference. At the time, the developer promised features like a "gripping non-linear story filled with life and detail" and a variety of character classes, weapons, upgrades, implants, and more to choose from. It said the game would "set [a] new standard in the futuristic RPG genre with an exceptional gaming experience."
Cyberpunk 2077 would not release until December 2020, over eight years later. But in the meantime, CD Projekt Red continued to tease the title with trailers and interviews, highlighting the game's ambitious scope and vision. CD Projekt Red developers hyped up how the main story and sidequests intertwined, how the game would feature multiplayer, how cops would be very reactive, and more. Although the game looked and sounded very impressive prior to its release, many of these features and promises were either missing or half-baked in their implementation into Cyberpunk 2077.
Cyberpunk 2077 Teaser Trailer
For eight years, an RPG that was supposed to change the genre forever was promised, but in the end, all we got was a fairly standard open-world RPG with a bevy of technical problems at release. The massive backlash happened because people were so excited for Cyberpunk 2077, partly because CD Projekt Red hyped up all of these ambitious features over eight years.
The reality is that game development is an arduous journey that doesn't always go according to plan. Designs change, features are cut, and sometimes the finished product just doesn't come together. CD Projekt Red probably never meant to lie to its fans, but priorities and development timelines shifted and what the developer ultimately delivered with Cyberpunk 2077 wasn't up to snuff.
As CD Projekt Red made the mistake of announcing Cyberpunk 2077 too early and overpromising, I thought the studio would what to share more details on its next game until it was close to release. That was not the case. 
Initial Confirmation
CD Projekt Red was not willing to share a development time frame or release window as part of The Witcher announcement, so it's likely that this game is still several years away. Although the developer didn't reveal many details at this time, announcing the next The Witcher game so early gives s the Polish studio plenty of time to do so. For example, the game's director is already promising that there will be no crunch during the development of this game, something people may hold him accountable for as stories about the game's development emerge. CD Projekt Red must be cautious about what it shares about this new game before launch if it doesn't want another PR disaster, and it already seems to be getting a bit out of hand.  
Grabowski's tweet indicates that there are already some misconceptions about the game. That will likely exponentially worsen as CD Projekt Red continues to tease this title in job listings, interviews, and trailers. It's a dangerous approach, so why did the developer make this "initial confirmation" happen so early? There are several reasons why this could be the case. First off, most of this announcement was focused on CD Projekt Red's partnership with Epic Games and the use of Unreal Engine 5, and the developer wanted to confirm the first game that will be part of this partnership to make it more exciting for fans. 

Meanwhile, CD Projekt Red is still recovering from the backlash toward Cyberpunk 2077's rocky launch. Announcing a follow-up title to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt now not only restores a little bit of goodwill with fans and investors but will also attract some Unreal Engine-experienced developers who might be nervous to come to CD Projekt Red following Cyberpunk 2077. 2022 has been a year of anticlimatic and purposefully vague game announcements. CD Projekt Red's The Witcher announcement is simply the latest one to be part of this trend, but it's also one of the most worrying because this developer has made this mistake before.  
While CD Projekt Red felt pressured to confirm this game early, they need to be very careful if they don't want to repeat the mistakes of Cyberpunk 2077. The best course of action for CD Projekt Red to take now is to stay completely silent until it has a clear idea of what the finished game will entail. If that isn't the case, this could all be building to disappointment in the year 2030. 

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