Video game producer existing since 2002, belonging to the CD Projekt group of companies, whose history reaches back to 1994. It was founded by Marcin Iwiński and Michał Kiciński – two school friends who started by selling games on floppy discs at the Warsaw computer market.
Video game producer
Initially, CD Projekt company specialised in distribution of games imported from the West – also released on CDs with instruction manuals translated into Polish, which at the time was a novelty. A breakthrough for the company came with the 1999 launch of the game Baldur’s Gate in full Polish version. The game soon became a commercial success – in the first few months, they sold 50 thousand game boxes in Poland. This achievement, impressive for those times (especially in the light of common piracy), was a result of the quality of the game as well as its rich Polish edition: the box with CDs contained many appealing extras, while the game featured voices of nearly forty actors – including such Polish stars as Piotr Fronczewski, Wiktor Zborowski, Gabriela Kownacka, and Krzysztof Kowalewski. To this day, that edition is considered one of the best Polish game translations ever.
Their distribution achievements, which did not end with Baldur’s Gate, allowed them to establish a game-making business. In 2003, CD Projekt RED studio started working on the game The Witcher, based on popular books by Andrzej Sapkowski. After numerous changes in the concept of the gameplay, screenplay, team members working on the game, as well as the premiere date – The Witcher was eventually released in 2007 (two years after the initial launch date). Within a year, the authors sold the first million copies of the game. Even though the game was only released on PCs (the lack of console version largely limited sales in the West), the results achieved by the first game were satisfactory. The creation of the first Witcher and its positive critical reception was however most of all an investment in future – it was the following parts that were to bring true profits to the company.
Before the second part of adventures of the witcher came out, the company was still working on the first person action game They (the works were initiated by Metropolis company acquired by CD Projekt). However, eventually, in 2009, when CD Projekt hit very serious financial issues, mostly related to the global economic crisis and excessive investments – works on They were suspended and never restarted again.
In May 2011, the long awaited continuation of The Witcher series was released. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings – initially released for computers only – was a much more polished production than its successful predecessor and met with very positive reviews. The game received numerous awards – including best game of its genre and even game of the year – while in the first week of distribution it sold 400,000 copies. Less than a year after the premiere of the computer version, the game was also released for Xbox 360. In October 2012, the company announced that The Witcher 2 was sold in 2 million copies in total.
cd projekt red
Soon after the premiere of the second part of The Witcher, the company announced that it is working on a new title. It was Cyberpunk 2077, a yet unreleased science fiction game based on the role-playing game system Cyberpunk conceived by Mike Pondsmith (and its continuation: Cyberpunk 2020). In this case, the creators count not only on their established reputation, but also the popularity of the Cyberpunk system – which is cult in the US.
While the works on this game are still underway, in May 2015, the third part of The Witcher series came out. Thanks to this production – spectacular and refined audiovisually, as well as when it comes to the script and the gameplay rules – CD Projekt RED joined the group of the most respected video game producers in the world. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt became a spectacular success – within the first six weeks of its premiere, the game sold six million copies (it premiered simultaneously in PC and console versions: Playstation 4 and Xbox One). By the end of the first year, the game received 800 awards – including 250 awards for best game of the year. In March 2016 (ten months after the launch), the company’s representatives were able to boast sales of 20 million boxes from The Witcher series – over half of which were copies of the latest chapter. The Witcher 3 was undoubtedly one of the most important games released in 2015.
In the case of the games produced by CD Projekt RED, the use of the cultural capital in the form of the universe invented by Andrzej Sapkowski played a very important role (the Cyberpunk devised by Mike Pondsmith spurs similar hopes). This capital however would not have payed off if it wasn’t for the quality of the production.
Auhtor: Piotr Kubiński, transl. AM, January 2017.