As the industry continues to eye games-as-service models, The Witcher 3 stands out as one of the continuing success stories for a big, single-player action-adventure game. Now, as CD Projekt Red readies its latest series, Cyberpunk 2077, the studio weighs in on the contentious topic of loot boxes which has plagued the conversation of service games.
In November 2017, CD Projekt Red CEO Adam Kici?ski suggested that Cyberpunk 2077 would have online elements so as to make the game a viable, long-term success. As a follow-up, PCgamer asked studio co-founder Marcin Iwi?ski what the development team thought about loot boxes, and if they fit into CD Projekt Red's plans at all.
"Where we stand is quite simple and you could see it with all of our past releases-most recently The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and GWENT. 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," said Iwi?ski.
He adds that, "The definition of 'many' may vary on a title-by-title basis, but in our case it was always 50-60+ hours of the main story-line, with up to a couple of hundred of hours of side activities-if you really wanted to max out the title. To me, this is a fair deal. You get what you paid for, plus we are always trying our best to overdeliver. There is no better PR than a happy gamer recommending your title to their friends."
Iwi?ski also says that the recent backlash to the loot boxes is overall good for the industry, and that players shouldn't feel like studios are "reaching out for their wallet in any unfair way." He emphasises transparency from developers and information about monetization practices should be available to players. "Things often look great from a spreadsheet perspective," says Iwi?ski, "but decision makers often aren't asking themselves the question of 'How would gamers feel, or is this offer a fair one?' Gamers are striking back, and I really hope this will change our industry for the better."
So while Iwi?ski says their games have always featured paid expansions which add even more hours upon hours of gameplay and story, along with DLC which the studio usually offers for free, whatever content CD Projekt Red offers in the future will follow the thinking of what's fair for players.
The conversation surrounding loot boxes has spilled over from the gaming community and into the broader world. Hawaii is debating legislation to restrict the sale of games with loot boxes, while Senators are calling on the ESRB to rethink its rating systems for games with loot boxes. However the plays out, the debate surrounding loot boxes are far from over.