Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales hasn't done as well as CD Projekt hoped
GOG exclusivity didn't really work.
Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales, which we've reviewed and Recommended, hasn't sold as strongly as CD Projekt Red hoped.
Here's the admission by joint-CEO Adam Kiciński in a CDP financial call yesterday: "The game appealed to the community, which drove up our expectations regarding sales. Unfortunately, as yet, these expectations have not been fulfilled. Still, we remain optimistic ... We expect to continue to sell Thronebreaker for many years to come, even though the initial period may not have lived up to our initial expectations."
"The reach of GOG is incomparably smaller than that of Steam" -Adam Kiciński
It explains why Thronebreaker suddenly appeared on Steam after originally being declared a GOG exclusive - a milestone moment for CD Projekt's digital game shop. But it didn't quite work.
"The game appeared on GOG first for fairly straightforward reasons," said Kiciński. "GOG is our priority platform and we wanted to release the game there first to gamers who support us there. However, the reach of GOG is incomparably smaller than that of Steam. We know that there's a large Witcher fan community on Steam and that's why we also released the game there."
Was a Steam release always part of the plan, then? "We consider various options at successive stages and we do not rigidly stick to a single long-term plan," he said. "While I do not want to go into details, we are aware of our options and a Steam release had always been considered."
The Steam release shows CDP cannot do without Valve's platform yet. It's a pertinent development in a marketplace trying to find ways to move away from the crowded shelves of Steam. Perhaps more importantly, it suggests CD Projekt won't try similar with Cyberpunk 2077, although it would be a missed opportunity not to leverage GOG at all.
"You should not draw unwarranted conclusions concerning the future," Kiciński said, as if reading my mind. "Thronebreaker is a very unusual project from our perspective and it should not be viewed as a mould for our other releases."
Thronebreaker is, as he says, "unusual". It was originally a smaller, single-player Gwent campaign, but CD Projekt Red sensed an opportunity and blew it out into a 30-hour standalone game. And it's excellent. Its storytelling is as strong as The Witcher 3's and its world as brutal, and the many ways CDPR finds to vary the underlying Gwent rules for encounters is inspired.
Clearly, Thronebreaker was a considerable undertaking, but if Thronebreaker fails to take off will CD Projekt Red bother doing similar again? Or will "The Witcher Tales" live and die in one game?
"Regarding further instalments of The Witcher Tales, we have made no announcements in this regard," said Kiciński. "Of course, depending on the results of Thronebreaker - I assume that it will continue to positively affect our bottom line; it is not, of course, a financial failure, it's just that our expectations are very high - these factors will be considered when making decisions regarding future releases of this type, but it's too early to provide any specifics."
About Gwent specifically, he added: "We will carry on with our work on Gwent. We regard it as a strategic project: in addition to business expectations we also treat the game as an experiment which precedes other multiplayer products of this type."
Thronebreaker's fortunes should improve with the impending PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release on 4th December, which coincides with the 1.0 Homecoming release of Gwent on consoles. Sadly, a Switch version isn't part of the plan - not yet, at least.