CD Projekt Red, the Polish developer behind the successful The Witcher franchise has talked about its aggressive stance on downloadable content and how its strategy of giving all new things, including the Enhanced Edition update, for free resulted in better sales for the actual game.
The Witcher 2 came out last year on the PC and received an array of new content through regular patches, culminating with Update 2.0, which added new quests, an Arena mode, and a harder Dark difficulty setting.
The biggest free update for existing owners arrived this year, when The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition
was re-released on PC and on the Xbox 360. Owners of the regular game received all of its new content completely free
, which was quite unheard of in terms of big RPGs.
This strategy, while sounding bad in terms of sales, actually resulted in increased financial figures for CD Projekt Red, according to its CEO, Marcin Iwinski.
“When we put it out for free, we saw a boost in the sales with the Enhanced Edition because it just created good will, and it refreshes the product,” he told Gamasutra
Iwinski then highlighted that, while charging for content may translate into good short term sales, gamers will remember the strategies of different companies and think twice about getting other games from them.
“You can always do it from two angles, and sadly I see the industry trending toward over-exploiting the gamer, and I think this will come back to the publishers that are doing that, and eventually, people will stop buying their stuff. That's just not the way things work.”
The CD Projekt Red boss exemplified his statements with The Witcher 1’s Enhanced Edition, when the publisher insisted on charging for it.
“When we had that publishing deal, we went to the publisher, and said, "So we have this idea where we make all this stuff, all this new content, and you don't pay anything for it, we give it away for free. How about that?" The publisher went all big-eyed and said, "Whoa! Let's charge 10 dollars! 10 Euro!" But we believed that we would sell more units if we put it out for free.”
The studio is currently done with The Witcher 2 and is working on quite a few new projects, including a Cyberpunk