Business Models

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
dlc, drm, free, video games, witcher 3

Companies:
cd projekt



CD Projekt Red Goes All DLC For The Witcher 3...But It's Completely Free And Doesn't Require Pre-Order

from the doing-it-right dept

We've written about the CD Projekt team in the past, typically concerning something awesome it's done with one of its games. Often times this means bucking the trend on DRM in game after game, even as competitors insist that DRM is necessary. Even when the company has gone down the road of going after infringers, it has quickly reversed course in listening to fans. Most recently, CD Projekt is looking to buck the DLC trend that has so many gamers annoyed these days. It's not that Witcher 3 won't have DLC. It totally will, except that the DLC is going to be completely free and available to anyone for simply purchasing the game.

As CD PROJEKT RED, we strongly believe this is not the way it should work and, with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, we have decided to do it differently. Cutting to the chase, everyone who buys Wild Hunt will receive 16 specially prepared DLCs absolutely for free, regardless of platform. You don’t have to pre-order, you don’t have to buy any special edition to get them -- if you own a copy of Wild Hunt, they’re yours. This is our way of saying thank you for buying our game.”
What a shock, rather than taking the avenue of other game companies, such as Ubisoft and EA, CD Projekt treats their customers well, behaving in an awesome and human way and even connecting with gamers with a shared experience, and success is had. They listen, in other words, rather than simply try to dictate. As part of this announcement, the company is insisting that there will be no restrictions on getting the DLC. They even have a long Q&A below the blog post to reiterate that point.

Is this something of a gimmick? Undoubtedly. After all, the company could simply wait until all this DLC content is finished and include it in the final product. On the other hand, their competitors could do the same and include all the DLC they put out for free or raise the pricing of the game. The message CD Projekt is conveying is that it isn't going to attempt to nickle and dime its fans. Gimmick or not, it's a message that resonates in the days of paid DLC.


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  • identicon
    s7, 6 Nov 2014 @ 9:18pm

    Bravo! Not my type of game, but this is nice news for all of the Witcher fans out there, and there are a lot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 6 Nov 2014 @ 10:25pm

    DLC?

    How about resolving the acronym at least once? I honestly have no clue what this is about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 6 Nov 2014 @ 10:31pm

      Re: DLC?

      DownLoadable Content.

      Basically additional items like characters, skins, levels, that sort of stuff, that can be purchased and/or downloaded to add to and expand the 'core' game.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Shmerl, 6 Nov 2014 @ 10:46pm

      Re: DLC?

      It's a really stupid acronym, obviously coined by some execs rather than actual gamers. It's rather senseless in the age of digital distribution when everything is downloadable, including the game itself. In reality it simply means an expansion pack, i.e. additional features, quests, locations and so on.

      Normal studios release such expansion packs after their game is out for a while because that's when they make them. It's a way to continue the original.

      Crooked ones split the finished game into initial release and paid expansion in order to artificially increase the price.

      I get a feeling that CDPR in this case made it as a demonstrative gesture, to contrast the second case by making it free.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Dirk Belligerent (profile), 7 Nov 2014 @ 1:20am

        Re: Re: DLC?

        >"I get a feeling that CDPR in this case made it as a demonstrative gesture, to contrast the second case by making it free."

        No, CDPR is legendary for treating customers well. About a year after the original The Witcher game was released, they put out the Enhanced Edition which included:

        The significant changes featured in the enhanced version are over 200 new animations, additional NPC models and recolouring of generic NPC models as well as monsters, vastly expanded and corrected dialogues in translated versions, improved stability, and load times reduced by roughly 80%. In addition all bugs are said to be fixed and the game manual completely overhauled. A new option is to mix and match 8 different languages of voice and subtitles. For instance, players can now choose to play the game with Polish voices and English subtitles.

        The Witcher: Enhanced Edition also contains a completely new and enhanced version the D'jinni Adventure Editor and two new official fully-voiced adventures: "The Price of Neutrality" and "Side Effects".


        While pretty much every other publisher would've expected the customers to rebuy the game - "Definitive Editions" anyone? - CDPR allowed anyone who'd registered their copy to download the patch and content files for cheap like free. Sweet!

        They also allow owners of the first two Witcher games to register their keys with GOG.com to get DRM-free copies as backups.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Shmerl, 8 Nov 2014 @ 9:31pm

          Re: Re: Re: DLC?

          >No, CDPR is legendary for treating customers well.

          Yeah, I know that, and know that GOG is pushing the DRM-free gaming forward, that's why I support them, rather than most other distributors. But in this case it looks like these features could have been part of the original release to begin with, so why are CDPR presenting them as add-ons? I thought may be to contrast the bad practice of other studios who do that and charge for those expansion packs. I.e. it's kind of a anti-PR towards those bad studios.

          Of course, may be there is no second thought behind this, and they just didn't fit into release schedule.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Sheogorath (profile), 7 Nov 2014 @ 8:29pm

        Re: Re: DLC?

        Crooked [studios] split the finished game into initial release and paid expansion in order to artificially increase the price.
        Yeah, we're looking at you, Ubis##t. You know, with what you did to Assassin's Creed II and all.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 6 Nov 2014 @ 11:24pm

      Re: DLC?

      Or... you could have spent the time you spent whining about it to open another tab, type the 3 letters into the search bar and educate yourself on its meaning. It's an incredibly common acronym when dealing with modern videogames, and definitions are immediately available.

      But, why actually learn when you can just bitch about not having been spoon fed?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 1:41am

        Re: Re: DLC?

        You could have just as easily not replied to his post.

        Talk about bitching...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        twinsdad9901, 7 Nov 2014 @ 7:54am

        Re: Re: DLC?

        Like David, I did not know what DLC meant. Someone else posted that he did not ask what DRM is. Both acronyms may be very common in gaming, but DRM is used in many other places. I am not a gamer, so I had to look DLC up. I would have posted the answer, but That One Guy beat me to it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        JS, 8 Nov 2014 @ 10:41am

        Re: Re: DLC?

        I didn't know what DLC meant either. I was going to look it up, but then saw the post that explained it thanks to That One Guy.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tom Mink, 6 Nov 2014 @ 10:42pm

    It's nice to see a game publisher recognize that the ability to push out games without absolutely every available feature is plus for them and that they shouldn't charge extra for the straggling parts. It shows a respect for their customers that is incredibly refreshing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2014 @ 11:16pm

      Re:

      Finally! A non-bullshit reason to buy a Special Edition version of the game.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Shmerl, 8 Nov 2014 @ 9:43pm

        Re: Re:

        I'd recommend buying the digital edition of the Witcher 3 on GOG though. A big chunk of the price for the retail edition goes to retail "publishers" which print actual physical disks and are in charge of their distribution logistics. When you buy on GOG, you support DRM-free gaming and pay straight to the developers in this case (since GOG is a subsidiary of CD Projekt Red).

        Also, when buying retail copies you give more leverage to retail publishers in demanding regional pricing. GOG for instance tries to push for flat pricing, and this often conflicts with demands from retailers which in turn for their distribution partnership demand regional pricing even in the digital stores.

        TL;DR if you want to support fair pricing, use pure digital distributors like GOG instead of buying physical copies.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2014 @ 11:17pm

    Am I the only one

    Who read it as releasing it as having the game free but selling DLC as a business model? A.k.a. freemium.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 6 Nov 2014 @ 11:27pm

      Re: Am I the only one

      You missed the "but it's completely free" part of the headline?

      To be fair, we've probably all been conditioned to look for things like that now, but this particular company seems to be doing things differently.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    private frazer, 6 Nov 2014 @ 11:47pm

    kindness. its kind to explain an acronym once. just like its kind to not slap someone for asking a question.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 1:44am

      Re:

      Yea, but, bullies will be bullies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JP Jones (profile), 7 Nov 2014 @ 4:39am

        Re: Re:

        The odd part to me is they asked for an explanation of DLC, but not DRM, which is also used but not explained in the article. Both are extremely common terms.

        How is the author supposed to know that DLC wouldn't be understood but DRM would be? What about EA? Or Q&A?

        Sorry, but if you don't understand a common term relating to the article, you can look it up. But demanding the author explain one of the common terms because you didn't get makes you appear ignorant and lazy.

        There's a difference between asking a question and demanding the author change their story to account for your ignorance. If the individual had said something like: "What's DLC? I've never seen that term before..." they may have gotten a different response, probably with an explanation (they still could have searched for it faster, but whatever).

        Instead they opened with "How about resolving the acronym at least once?" Entirely different situation, and now worthy of scorn.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 5:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "kindness. its kind to explain an acronym once. just like its kind to not slap someone for asking a question."

          In my ignorance, I don't see the demand to change the story. Looks like they are explaining a norm, which is, Spell It Out Once(SIOO), followed by the acronym in brackets.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          JS, 8 Nov 2014 @ 10:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          A lot of non-gamers read TechDirt, like me, and appreciated the person posting a question that a lot of people, like me, would have to go look up. Yes, I could look it up, but I appreciated that someone asked the question and someone answered it so I didn't have to look it up.

          And, as also pointed out, when using acronyms in a news article it is customary to resolve it the first time it is used. I was looking for that also.

          And, I disagree that their question sounded demanding. You are the one behaving inappropriately, not them.

          p.s. DRM is a term used on this site very, very frequently; but I have never noticed DLC before.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          BernardoVerda (profile), 9 Nov 2014 @ 4:03pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Good point. On the other hand:

          I myself knew what DRM means (anybody who has to deal with DVDs, online music, or (of course) most computer games has been forced to learn), but not being much of a gamer, DLC was a new term; I believe that I've come across it before -- but not often enough or recently enough for it to stick (though a reference to "hats" might have carried me over).

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael J. Evans, 7 Nov 2014 @ 1:18am

    DLC news - now Free Advertising (super effective)

    It's such a shame that following that famous Will Wheaton rule is newsworthy.

    Still, achieving increased longevity of a given game, widening the potential fanbase, and getting everyone already bought in to the platform to promote it to anyone they know who doesn't already have a copy (but might play it) is probably more valuable than the nickle and dime squeezing and overheads on sales that would otherwise accompany the DLC.

    Plus, various news outlets will also give a publicity spike since it is, sadly, noteworthy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ltlw0lf (profile), 7 Nov 2014 @ 12:18pm

      Re: DLC news - now Free Advertising (super effective)

      It's such a shame that following that famous Will Wheaton rule is newsworthy.

      And for those who are unfamiliar with Wil Wheaton's famous rule (Wheaton's Law,) it is "Don't be a dick."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 3:49am

    One of the things I hate about paid DLC. Say you buy DLC for Call of Duty 85. Now instead of match-making choosing between all 10,000 Call of Duty players online, it will only choose between the 500 players who bought the DLC expansion pack.

    In other words. Paid DLC segregates players into small groups and reduces the number of online opponents available for matches.

    If all players were given the DLC for free. Then you'd still have 10,000 opponents to choose from.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JP Jones (profile), 7 Nov 2014 @ 4:43am

      Re:

      Pretty much why I believe Titanfall is doomed to fail...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      BernardoVerda (profile), 9 Nov 2014 @ 4:10pm

      Re:

      > One of the things I hate about paid DLC. Say you buy DLC for Call of Duty 85.
      > Now instead of match-making choosing between all 10,000 Call of Duty players online,
      > it will only choose between the 500 players who bought the DLC expansion pack.

      I'm not a "gamer", but this caught my attention, and I'm curious -- is this actually how it works?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2014 @ 6:25am

        Re: Re:

        Yup. Players without DLC are segregated to the non-DLC game servers. Players with DLC play on the DLC game servers.

        Of course DLC players can play on the non-DLC servers if they choose to, but not vice-versa.

        So every time I buy a DLC expansion pack. I think to myself, "Won't be long until the DLC game servers are empty, due to most people not buying the DLC expansion pack".

        From my experience, the DLC game server do go empty a lot faster than the non-DLC game servers do. Pretty soon I'm back to playing on non-DLC servers because they're the only game servers that still have players on them.

        At which point I say to myself. Wow, I wasted all that money on DLC expansion packs and the game servers are ghost downs. Then I feel ripped off.

        It's half the reason I don't game anymore. The other half of the reason is that back in the 80's and 90's game developers used to be gamers themselves. Game development used to be about creating art that the developers themselves wanted to play.

        Now-a-days games are developed by giant corporations. Run by management who aren't gamers and who stifle the arts' freedom with deadlines and forcing them to make games that are easily accessible to the masses in order to bring in maximum profit margins.

        Modern day games reflect this transition from 'art' to 'maximizing profits'.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          BernardoVerda (profile), 30 Nov 2014 @ 8:36pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Thanks for the response.

          Answered questions I didn't even know to ask!
          :)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 1 Dec 2014 @ 11:07am

          It's not a new problem.

          The transition from art to maximizing profits has always been around. John Blow (creator of Braid) did a conference piece about how revenue generation can be a negative constraint on games, citing 70s television, and the effects of commercials and syndication on the stories that were created.

          The footage that he used, from The Six-Million-Dollar Man, The Secret of Bigfoot (yes you read that right) can be found here.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jaun Valdez-Marco, 7 Nov 2014 @ 3:50am

    Best Game Company

    on the planet. Bar none. In a just world, GOG would crumple Steam up until it looked like a cat's asshole. The fine folks at CDprojekt Red deserve every fan dollar the get...they listen, don't treat their customers as criminals, and they have a proper moral/ethical compass. Oh yeah, and they make pretty awesome games to boot.

    DLC and DRM are worse than rape.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JP Jones (profile), 7 Nov 2014 @ 4:48am

      Re: Best Game Company

      DLC and DRM are worse than rape.

      I was totally agreeing with your post, and then this. This makes no sense. Not sure how you can even compare these things.

      That being said, unfortunately Steam has so many games because of its DRM. Not because the DRM actually benefits anyone, but because game publishers are convinced they need it. Steam has one of the least intrustive DRM setups out there; it certainly has it's problems but is fairly transparent in use.

      I greatly prefer GOG but I like to play things that either were released after 2002 and/or aren't The Witcher. Steam gives that option. Right now GOG, for the most part, doesn't.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 5:06am

        Re: Re: Best Game Company

        Not sure how you can even compare these things.
        Pretty sure that phrase falls under the category of 'Internet Hyperbole'.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 9:25am

      Re: Best Game Company

      Woah, Woah, Woah calm down. Some people (Including myself) actually kind of like Steam. I use both GOG and Steam and they both have their pros and cons.

      Steam:
      + Keeps my games nice and neat for me, and allows me to transfer from computer to computer easily.
      + Has constant sales
      + Built in forums, player made guides, screenshots, etc.
      + Auto Updates
      = Light and non-intrusive DRM
      - Annoying need to keep popping up every time I want to shut off my computer.

      GOG:
      + Also has sales
      + DRM Free
      + Quality selection of games. (but also smaller)
      = Games are a bit harder to access and download compared to Steam.
      - Hard to judge games just from looking at them, but the user reviews are helpful (No trailers, few screenshots)

      Also about DLC... I really hope companies wise up and see that people would be willing to pay more to see meaningful expansions to the game if they try to make it less of a cash grab with shallow content (Horse Armor... never live it down Bethesda).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Shmerl, 9 Nov 2014 @ 10:33am

        Re: Re: Best Game Company

        DRM is always bad. Non intrusive one is actually worse than intrusive one because people ignore it and don't pay attention.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 5:53am

    From what I've read, only the GOG version will be DRM-free from day one. GOG is a sister company to CDPR.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lonyo, 7 Nov 2014 @ 6:02am

      Re:

      Do you know the worst thing about having a DRM free copy available from Day 1?

      People will STILL crack the Steam version and post that up to pirate.
      It just shows how meaningless DRM is. Even when you have a DRM version and a DRM free version of the same game, people will take the version with DRM, AND CRACK IT.
      And then people will download the cracked-DRM version instead of the DRM free version. It's like... what? If ever proof was needed that DRM is pointless and just a game to some people.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2014 @ 8:17am

    I already had this pre-ordered on GoG because CDpR are awesome. I'm also waiting for their CyberPunk game.
    I'll get Witcher III on multiple consoles, just to show my support for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Nov 2014 @ 9:49am

    DLC has had a perverse incentive in my case.

    Too many times have I purchased a game and then realized later that if I didn't spend a fortune on the DLC I'd have to purchase it again as The Complete Edition

    These days GOTY versions of games are implied to be Complete Edition

    In the case of Borderlands 2, in which I also got the season pass (season pass usually = DLC insurance) it didn't include all DLC.

    So now when I look at games, I see The Incomplete Edition.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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