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Friday, December 8, 2023

The Witcher 3 next-gen upgrade is not in ‘development hell,’ CD Projekt insists

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To the no-doubt disappointment of Geralt enjoyers, CD Projekt announced yesterday that the planned next-gen upgrade for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which was first announced back in 2020, has been delayed again. The news did not come with a replacement launch window, but said only that the upgrade had been delayed “until further notice.”

That terminology was a little worrying in the eyes of some, including me: “Until further notice” sounds a lot like “delayed indefinitely,” which is often a sort of code phrase for games that are in serious trouble. Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, for instance, was delayed indefinitely in early 2021, a move that also saw pre-sales halted and the developer taken off the project. Aside from vague assurances that work is continuing, it hasn’t been heard from since.

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In an investors call today, however, CD Projekt’s senior vice president of business development Michał Nowakowski made a point of saying that is not the case with the long-awaited Witcher 3 upgrade.

“I’ve been looking at the headlines that popped up here and there over the internet, and I’ve seen one that really drew my attention, which is, ‘Witcher 3 next-gen delayed indefinitely,’ which sounds like the game is in some sort of development hell,” Nowakowski said. “I want to state this is not the fact. There’s been a lot of insinuations that we’re going to launch, like, June next year or something like that. That’s completely not the case.

“Everything we’re saying is—we have taken the development of the game in-house. The game is going to be finished in-house. We’re evaluating our time, that requires a bit of investigation—that’s all we’re saying. Nobody’s saying the game is delayed [with] some monumental time gap ahead of us. That’s as much as I can say about Witcher next-gen, but I really want to emphasize that fact.”

Later on in the call, CD Projekt joint CEO Adam Kicinski also suggested that there’s not a tremendous amount of work to be done on the upgrade. “Not many,” Kicinski said when asked how many developers are required to complete the project, estimating the total number at around 15 people plus some external support staff. “Taking over this project will not affect the development of our next game.”

The Witcher 3 next-gen upgrade is being developed for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X-S consoles, and will come to owners of the game on PC as a free update. A possible new release target wasn’t revealed during the call, but it sounds like it will (or at least could) be closer than initially assumed. One thing that isn’t, unfortunately, is the Cyberpunk 2077 expansion: CD Projekt said in the same call that it won’t show up until sometime in 2023.

Update: The report originally said 50 developers are currently working on The Witcher’s next-gen upgrade. CD Projekt clarified that the actual number is 15.

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