Polish developer CD Projekt Red has promised "no more delays" for massive role-playing game The Witcher 3.
The move from autumn to February was a one-off, company co-founder Marcin Iwinski told me at Polish conference Digital Dragons. If CDPR needed more time, it would have taken it then. In other words: you can bank your house on that February date.
"This is not our first game; we are not newbies," he said. "It's not like 'hey we are delaying and we'll keep on delaying'. If we would think we need more time we would say 'hey we'll release it not in Feb but, I don't know, June'. We made the decision at the moment we were able to judge how much time we needed, and we planned it well and it works well for us. So, no more delays."
The reaction to the delay surprised CD Projekt Red. Iwinski knew it was bad news his company was announcing, knew he was letting people down who - like him - had expected to be playing a big and long fantasy adventure during their Christmas holidays, on their new machines.
"But we were really positively surprised with the response," he said. "It was 'hey guys, great that you have the balls to say that you take your time and you spend money on it'. Because it's not happening for free. That's a really important thing to mention."
It's not like the decision was made lightly; not only was fan-reaction a concern but CDPR also had to justify the delay and extra expenditure to its shareholders, which heaped on "an additional load of pressure".
But quality is paramount. Iwinski freely admitted that The Witcher 2 could have used more time towards the end. "We could have done a better job for The Witcher 2 when we released it," he said. But that wasn't possible at the time, and so there were problems such as an out-of-whack difficulty curve that spiked at the beginning, plus other things that would have benefited from testing and finesse.
"You can always take more time on a game, especially with huge games," he said. "You're never able to plan perfectly, and then the closer you get to shipping, the more you see 'oh I could use these [extra] two-three months...'"
With The Witcher 3, a delay was possible, and a more secure and experienced CD Projekt Red decided to take it. The extra months will be used to go over the game with a fine tooth comb.
"Is the beginning of the game self explanatory or not? What is the difficulty level, how does it spread through the game?" They're the kind of questions you can't really answer until the end of development, I'm told.
"Content-wise, we exactly knew what we wanted to create," marketing director Michal Platkow-Gillewski chimed in, "and we could push really really hard and deliver the game this year still."
I looked to Marcin Iwinski who nodded his verification.
"But we knew what kind of quality we are expecting," Platkow-Gillewski continued, "and, I believe, what gamers would expect from us as well. And that was our aim. We knew that to deliver that we needed extra time."
So the delay had nothing to do with Dragon Age: Inquisition, and it's hefty EA marketing budget, being released around the same time?
"No, not at all," Iwinski shook his head. "Having said that, if they were shipping on October 8 and they would announce it before us, then we would look, I don't know, for November or something. Because there are so few RPGs that it's really a very stupid idea to ship them at the same time."
As a slight aside, CD Projekt Red announced a little re-branding for the studio and for The Witcher 3 last night. The new logos are below - anything to get rid of that old company logo!
The bird is based on the Northern Cardinal and a mythological firebird called the Rarog. It's supposed to represent ambition and inner fire.
The new Witcher 3 logo puts the Wild Hunt front and centre. The Wild Hunt is the dreaded menace attacking the world of The Witcher 3, its importance intertwined with everything you'll do.