Recent comments from The Witcher developer CD Projekt Red have showcased a connection to its audience far beyond the other big names in video games, and proved why they would be a great choice for the Star Wars license. CD Projekt Red's The Witcher 3 is undoubtedly one of the greatest games of the current generation, throwing players into a rich world beyond compare with its expansion packs containing more content than some full games. It's no surprise that the developer's next game, Cyberpunk 2077, is garnering lots of attention.
Meanwhile, EA's record with the Star Wars franchise is hardly stellar. The launch of Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is going to go down as one of the most disastrous in video game history, following the fiasco surrounding the game's loot boxes and the fact that it failed to outsell the console exclusive Super Mario Odyssey. With that in mind, it's no surprise that rumors have begun to circulate that Disney is looking to other developers for Star Wars games.
Rather than the more traditional choice of Activision or Ubisoft, however, Disney should instead take stock of the damage that EA has done to the Star Wars video game brand and go for a developer with a proven track record for player satisfaction. Quite simply, CD Projekt Red knows what fans want and knows how to deliver, as shown by recent comments from co-founder Marcin Iwiński. Speaking with PC Gamer, Iwiński quite simply summed up the idea of loot boxes and microtransactions in games that already come at full price. "If you buy a full priced game, you should get a big, polished piece of content, which gives you many, many hours of fun gameplay."
The Witcher 3 was a perfect example of this, providing a huge core story alongside, as the developer puts it, a couple of hundred hours of side activities "if you really wanted to max out the title." Rather than putting content behind DLC and microtransactions, instead CD Projekt Red believes in value for money. That way leads to happy players, too, or as Iwiński states "there is no better PR than a happy gamer recommending your title to their friends."
Conversely, there's nothing worse for the support of a game than the disappointment of its players. "The moment they feel you are reaching out for their wallet in any unfair way, they will be vocal about it," said Iwiński, and nowhere is this more true than with Star Wars: Battlefront 2. The game fell well short of sales expectations, with the blame given to the game's loot box backlash. In a race to make a quick buck, EA ended up condemning its game to mediocre sales.
It's not as though CD Projekt Red shies away from additional content entirely, either. The Witcher 3 had huge expansions, most notably Blood and Wine, alongside further downloadable content packs. Meanwhile, free-to-play card game Gwent has its own loot box-esque microtransactions in the form of Card Kegs, but it's far less heinous when not tied to a $60 price tag for entry.
It's a far cry from what EA has become known for with the Star Wars license. The two Star Wars: Battlefront games that have launched since the publisher gained the license for the sci-fi franchise have been extremely disappointing, while movements behind the scenes have done little to allay fears for future titles. The Visceral Games-developed single player Star Wars game was an exciting prospect for many fans, but when EA shut down Visceral and shifted the title over to EA Vancouver with a games-as-service focus, that interest dropped off sharpish.
Should the rumors of Disney's unhappiness with EA prove to be true, then CD Projekt Red would be a perfect fit to get the video games of Star Wars back on track. After all, in spite of EA's protests, 2017 proved to be the year of the rebirth of the single player game, and when it comes to the single player experience it's hard to look past CD Projekt Red as the best in the business. A critical success with huge fan support is exactly what Star Wars needs from a gaming perspective, and that's exactly what CD Projekt Red would be able to deliver.
After all, in spite of EA's loot box and microtransaction plans, Star Wars is exactly the kind of franchise where that level of additional income is completely unnecessary. It's perhaps the most recognisable brand in the world, and so a good game set in such a beloved universe would be a surefire commercial success, with no need to turn to loot boxes to try and claw in a little extra cash. Battlefront 2 has failed because of its poor reception, not because of a lack of recognition.
Given that EA still has Star Wars games in the works, it's unlikely that a big decision is going to be made about its future with immediate effect. That's another reason why CD Projekt Red would be a good fit for Disney going forward, too. The developer is still working hard on Cyberpunk 2077 with suggestions that the game could be making its way to E3 2018 with a playable demo, which would likely mean a late 2018 or early 2019 release date.
It's probable that the game would then be on the receiving end of expansions of its own, but the door would then be wide open for another major title, and Star Wars would be a fantastic fit for the studio. Given the confidence that the developer has in Cyberpunk 2077, that same level of cool self-assurance would go a long way. "It’s a huge responsibility and a lot of pressure," said Iwiński of Cyberpunk. "We know we need to deliver. And we will." Let's give CD Projekt Red an even greater responsibility when the studio is done.
Source: PC Gamer