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CD Projekt Red is clearly trying to get the hype going for this February release of The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt as every week or two there’s been an announcement. And this week, as covered by our own Andrew Stretch, it was revealed that they will be having 16 Free DLC released.

First, I do want to say that I respect most of CD Projekt Red’s policies. Their no DRM set is a rare bit of sanity, their games are well designed and their DLC is more like older style patches with free bonus things they’ve done. As a fan of older games, I also love CD Projekt’s which has allowed me to play these games easier optimized for new pcs and to discover ones I had missed.

The plan for The Witcher’s 3 DLC goes as follows: there will be 16 of them. They will be released in groups of 2 – with 2 on Day 1 and 2 more each week. We don’t know the majority of these (Leaks will probably continue over the next few weeks sprinkling out) but the first four (day 1 and week 1) DLC were announced. They seem to be in a pack of one cosmetic and one gameplay thing based on the pattern we see so far.

These sound fine, but let’s discuss the issues here and why I believe it is nothing more than a marketing tactic.

The first is the time line on these. While I do believe that some Day 1 DLC can theoretically be ready for Day 1 and not on disk, it seems unlikely that they can have 7 weeks’ worth of DLC set up in that manner. Essentially doing that for the Day 1 DLC requires pulling the people to put onto it while the game is in its later stages of development and then accelerating once it goes gold to take full advantage of the time.

However that only would work with a limited project scope and here we’re talking 16 DLC delivered at launch and then two per week. If it was merely cosmetic things, that wouldn’t actually be an issue – I think cosmetic things are a good way to go with free DLC. However, in this case early as the *second set* of DLC they are adding a quest into the game.

This hurts the early adopters of the game. The people who have been waiting for over a year, preordering and playing get the game and it’s incomplete as parts of it are being doled out over the next few weeks. If you want the ‘full’ on release version of The Witcher 3, you’ll be waiting 2 months after release to play. The fact that these dlcs are adding quest play and possibly even other unique features it means those who pick up the game on release are playing a watered down version until the rest is released.

Why would they do this? Well presumably it is for marketing. Typically as it nears release, the reviews will come out before and after giving it a week or two of news that is good to go for a larger title like The Witcher 3. However, by doing this, that taper off period where the amount of articles decrease from date of release increases as there is a consistent flow of news relating to the game. For the first 7 weeks there will be at least two additions to the game that will prompt places to write just a quick bit, or maybe someone to give their views on it or such.

It’s excellent from a marketing standpoint. You get to keep awareness higher and thus bring people into buying the game. And of course, going back to GOG if they got it there to download means you have another chance to sell them a new game as well.

In some ways this is a symptom of the way DLC is being used by the industry as a whole, with things like Day 1 DLC and cutting things out for doing in DLC later. There is a proper way that it can be done – see Fallout New Vegas’ later ones and how it can support ongoing improvements to the game, but few care to do it that way.

Perhaps I’m just cynical in some ways, but seeing CD Projekt Red getting lauded for a marketing ploy rubbed me the wrong way. It seems disrespectful to your core contingent to tell them that they have to wait for the full game because the marketing department has decided to stretch out the launch process.

More About This Game

Don Parsons

News Editor

I've been a gamer for years of various types starting with the Sega Genesis and Shining Force when I was young. If I'm not playing video games, I'm often roleplaying, reading, writing, or pondering things brought up by speculative fiction.

  • Reptile

    Instead of 16 small DLCs I would preffer 4 packs with the equivalent of 4 DLCs each, being launched one each 2 weeks or one month.
    Yes, it is free which is really cool, awesome in my opinion, it is just that having a list of 16 DLCs bugs me, it is like having a title to each paragraph in a document, or packaging each cookie in a separated pack.

    Also 2 months to have the “complete game” is really generous, just compare to other triple As like Battlefield, The Sims, etc. Also I don’t consider it to be incomplete just because some DLCs will have quests, maybe because I don’t consider optional quests/secondary objectives to be part of the core game, they are there just bonus quests to enjoy the game a little more.

  • If it were 1 or 2 dlc’s I would of played it day 1 but now I’m just gonna wait for all of it to be out before even getting the game.

  • Marc Flink

    That’s the way I felt. If it’s going to be day 1 anyway, why not just say it’s part of the game and patch it in (in case they really can’t get it on the discs when it goes gold) instead of claiming it’s “FREE DLC”. Then everyone goes apeshit and jumps on the “CD PROJECT RED IS THE NEW MESSIAH! ALL PRAISE CDPR”.. People don’t wanna realize that they are a company just like all the others, trying to get green numbers on the bottom line .. I like their policies but this one is a load of horseshit tbh. They way they went about announcing it rubbed me the wrong way.

  • coboney

    For an RPG type game, side quests make up a good part of the game, especially one that is wanting to talk about being openworld.

    Its good that its free. The thing is as I said, with the release schedule its basically certain that much of it will be done so its just a way to keep it going.

    If it isn’t all done, then that means getting patches for the inevitable bugs will be slowed down as the team will be busy working on that. I likely think that most of it is already done, with some finishing work on later stuff needing done at most.

  • Sebastian Mikulec

    This is the same way CDPR has done it previously. If you look at The Witcher 2 as an example, they released several patches throughout the game’s lifetime, the first or second of which gave everyone all the vendor-specific DLCs and removed DRM from every version (for which they got taken to court). After that patches arrived every bit of time, quickly at first, slower later (as is the norm). For the most part, each of these patches not only fixed game issues, it generally added some bit to the game, whether it be a job board quest or two, the ability to change hair styles, etc. Then far longer down the line they released an Enhanced Edition (along with the 360 version) that included several more quests.

    What they’re doing here is no different, except they are advertising it ahead of time in what is clearly a marketing tactic. They will still be releasing patches every few weeks and adding bits of content with each one, just like they did before. It’s still likely they’ll do an Enhanced Edition 6 or 12 months down the line with all the stuff included plus a few more quests and bits and pieces (in additional to the 16 “DLC” announced here), just like they have before. The only difference is they are announcing it now as a PR move. Is it a shameful tactic to use this as PR? Arguably yes. That said, that doesn’t detract from the fact that you’ll be getting a big, complete RPG experience from day 1 and be given little extra bits and pieces, that most other companies would milk you $1.99 or $2.99 a pop for, for free down the line.

  • coboney

    The difference is several months down the line thats stuff they’ve worked on since the game went gold to release and work on in the future. The pace to release 2 DLC a week for about 8 weeks means they have to have a lot of it done before hand from any reasonable production standpoint on everything known.

    Basically free DLC ideas and such 4 months down the line? Fully in favour. Free DLC week 2 with a quest to help get promotion I think is bilking the early purchasers of content to help advertise

  • Sebastian Mikulec

    I suppose I don’t see it as a problem as, going by TW1 (completed 3 times) and TW2 (completed 6 times, I think… I lost track), I’ll be playing through TW3 multiple times, so missing out on a few quests the first time around doesn’t bother me as I’ll just get to play something new the second or third time around. From the view of someone who’s only ever going to play the game once, I can see how it is off-putting.

  • coboney

    I may play it more then once depending on it and time – my issue is more that it does make it worst for those people who do and want to play it early. Not only that, an RPG is a significant time investment unlike many other genres you’re going to sink a lot of hours into it.

  • Madatom

    this is somewhat a DRM stratergy or anti piracy strategy, using content instead of obtrusive software or login services

    simply put, you have 16 bits of DLC lined up and are not available at launch (aside from the first 2) pirating the game will get you the game and 2 bits of DLC, a week later the people who purchased the game get more content, but pirates do not

    my gripe with this is your basically buying less of a game at launch, but they are not charging you extra for content you should already own, its like early access except you know the game is going to be finished and i somewhat approve of this

  • Joshua Rizk

    I can see what you’re saying and who knows it could be a marketing attempt, but honestly, i’m fine with that. whether i get it day 1 or 2 weeks later i still get the DLC for free. it’s way better than company’s like ubisoft that require you to pre-order OR buy the more expensive editions to get 30 minutes of extra gameplay missions (which I never get around to playing anyway, or even realise if I have played it or not)

    I think it is a bit cynical (even though you’re probably partly right) but at the same time it was a good read.

  • Jason Mounce

    Every Witcher game of the series would automatically boost your version to the ‘Complete’/Directors Cut version for free -_- …. Witcher 1 turned into The Witcher Director’s Cut and if you owned Witcher 2 it turned into the Enhanced Edition free of charge.

    Learn to do your research before you talk shit.

    It’s FREE DLC that is done after the game has finished development and they’re providing it to you to finalize it. If you were like me, who played Witcher 2 at launch and you saw the amount of polish they added to the game and gave it to you for free, it was like a Remaster in itself and it was given for free. They redid so many of the environments, that of which all of my old saves literally were broken because the assets were overhauled and cleaned up, optimized and made better. I’m not complaining about my save files, but seriously. Nothing is ‘fragmented’, why must there be a negative connotation to FREE DLC?!

  • coboney

    Jason – in Witcher 2 that stuff came out after time had passed and was clearly worked on post-release. They patched, added stuff in and then released an updated version. I fully and heartily endorse that.

    I don’t endorse or support taking stuff out to give out over 8 weeks that makes it worst for those who start at the beginning. And yes, for those who want to replay anyways 100% guaranteed it will have no real impact. Most people though don’t replay RPGs because – while it is my favourite genre I can and do understand the fact it is an enormous time sink to go through an RPG… and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

    That they are giving this out free is about the only saving grace in my opinion of what is a marketing tactic that hurts early adopters of the game.

  • Jason Mounce

    Who says they took stuff out? :l ….

  • Jason Mounce

    That is precisely what I told myself honestly. When I saw all the work they had done, I told myself to wait until the Director’s Cut for when the game is completely awesome and exactly that – complete. Though I’m having a tough time holding back, depends when the release date is and if other games can keep me busy so I’m not in a rut of ‘No games to play, what just came out?’ – – – – …

  • Guest

    Wow they are giving you stuff for free and people are still bitching that “I’d rather have them make a complete game by delaying the release by 2 months.” Well you do not run the company. The game is already delayed once. They have to release it before the hype settles down (like it did for drive club). What more do you want that they are giving you all the “completions”, as you say, for free. Stop being so entitled

  • Vaibhav Shah

    Wow they are giving you stuff for free and people are still bitching that “I’d rather have them make a complete game by delaying the release by 2 months.” Well you do not run the company. The game is already delayed once. They have to release it before the hype settles down (like it did for drive club) and no one cares for the game anymore. What more do you want that they are giving you all the “completions”, as you say, for free. Stop being so entitled

  • Szymon Metta

    who plays games on a premiere day anyway? Day one games for me are always kinda repulsive bug ridden, imbalanced products (espacially RPGs) … bluegh :p

  • coboney

    One of the things that seeing things via kickstarter is some of the understanding and seeing of how long pipelines take to go to create things, especially things as complex as quests. To be releasing content things like that takes time – you have to design the area, model it, put in the enemies, put in the scripting, write it all, grab relevent information and so forth. It takes time to do that, as well as design new outfits and such.

  • While I can see the argument that is presented here, I have to say that it is a really nitpicky reason to dislike the DLC.

    Of course it’s a marketing tactic. Anyone with the ability to put two and two together (figuratively speaking, of course) can see that, but this is not valid reasoning in my opinion. So what, a company wants to keep it’s game relevant for a longer period of time? Good for them, why wouldn’t they? Cosmetic additions and such are not a big deal if someone can’t wait to play it and the quests are going to be minor side quests so I don’t see it as a big loss. Add to that the fact that it’s free of charge and these DLCs are free incentives to replay the game later on. I will concede the fact that people may balk at the prospect of replaying a big RPG, that is a valid complaint Mr. Parsons.

    However, that’s not the real reason they’re doing this. I believe the actual reason is to give players an incentive to both buy the game new and not return it a few days later.

    The only criticism I can level at it is the same Smacky has. I want my entertainment package to be complete before I shell out to buy it. However, the solution to all of the above is very simple. Wait for the Enhanced Edition. That way, you get the patched-up, complete version of the game. It’s also a very good way to see if the game will live up to the hype. At launch everyone will be singing the praises of a high-profile release. How about weeks down the line? This is what I am going to do and what I always do with modern games, if I even bother playing them at all.

    This way, people who can’t wait get the meat of the game immediately and the rest get the full package at a later time, along with the early adopters. I don’t necessarily like the way it sounds, but in the sad age of DLC and nickel-and-dime tactics, that’s the way things are and I’d rather have it this way, instead of not even owning the games I buy.

  • coboney

    My point is that day 1, week 1 stuff have to done before hand. Setting this up like this hurts the people who have been following and waiting for this game for a year. Someone who bought this game in early winter 2014 thinking it would come out in fall… then has it moved to February … then is told “well we want to pull out some of the stuff to give out as free DLC over 2 months” has a right to be frustrated at this.

    I will say that this is better than other Day 1 dlc and exclusive stuff by leaps and bounds in most senses as it doesn’t cost the consumer anything. It also does hurt the consumers ability to give their game or sell it which I’m somewhat against but its something that with the digital age I’ve more or less come to accept.

    Honestly, if it was all costumes, maybe an armor set or two, that type of thing I wouldn’t feel this way. They cut out a *quest* the bread and butter of any RPG is the things going on in the world. They cut one of them out to give out a week later to keep interest fresh.

  • Jason Mounce

    Well, if you keep using the word ‘Fragmented’, a word that you clearly use with negative connotation instead of say ‘Bless’ or ‘Imbue’ or Enchant with ‘More pieces’. You’re given 100% of the game – and given 20-50% more to make the package come to 120/150% of its original 100% value, the 100% you paid for – the rest you get for free. It’s like you’re saying, you’d rather they a) Delay the game that’s GONE GOLD. Meaning a COMPLETE, FINAL GAME is just going to sit in their headquarters, collecting dust, missing out on profits and revenue because a couple of whiners. This content is Post-developed content they’re adding after going Gold. It’s free, additional content and people are like “ITS CONTENT RIPPED OUT” – “ITS CALLED DLC THUS ITS BAD!” – “CAPCOM DOES THIS ALL THE TIME TOO AND ITS ALWAYS BAD, THUS THIS SHOULD BE BAD TOO!”….. I’ve yet to see a logical argument.

    Nothing is fragmented, nothing is negative, it’s merely a timeframe difference of ‘buy now or buy later’. Why people have to think they have to castrate the game because of bonus content….seriously. I’ve yet to be given some logic reasoning beyond simple nitpickiness or OCD problems.

  • coboney

    Thanks – and ya I agree that it is better then what others do have.

    I knew when I drew this up a lot of people would disagree. I put this up in a lot of ways because there was all the lauding for it without any pieces I saw looking at some of the issues.

  • Jason Mounce

    So you’re telling me you have no evidence, you’re just a person on a soap box who’s yelling ‘Foul play’ with nothing concrete to back yourself up other than the minimal-valued anecdotal evidence. Your response didn’t even answer my question. You’re evading it.

    They’re making new content, yes, it’s called Post-development, DLC/Content that happens after a game goes Gold. You release the game and send out content that’s been developed ever since gold because you have nothing better to do than wait 1-2 months for the game to finish shipping to retailers and advertisement and the like. Game devs have the time to ADD more after Gold so they have something to do while waiting if they’re not creating two games simultaneously wherein staff would instead finish game A and then go to game B. They don’t have ‘Game B’ at the moment so they’re making additional content for game A. Apparently not everyone can be pleased, have to put on tinfoil hats and declare their generosity as foul-play.

    People like you are why we can’t have nice things.

  • coboney

    Jason, please, remain calm.

    I’m actually not against DLC as a concept in general. I’m against how it is often employed.

    My arguement on why there is something ripped out is quite simply this: Given the timelines involved and the amount of work to do anything like a quest, which is complex piece of coding with graphical work, balance checks, bug checks and such done before its put out there, one week is not enough time. Not week after week, as CD Projekt is doing here.

    I think its likely to be a fine game still. I feel that however there are issues with the way this part of it is being handled in an anti-consumer manner for people who have already waited over a year to get the game potentially (with the early pre-order).

  • Jason Mounce

    Whether praised or not, how does that increase their ‘Green’ when the DLC is still – even as you said it yourself, Free. How does it increase ‘green’? Being trustworthy, being polite, being generous, riding against the norm and avoiding being greedy – APPARENTLY STILL MAKES THEM GREEDY?! Are you listening to yourself? You fixate yourself as ‘Not a sheep’ but that doesn’t make your beliefs anywhere near the truth, just, idiotic ramblings from a paranoid and distrusting individual :/

    There’s no paid DLC, there’s no microtransactions, their games aren’t Annual, they make a giant game after a prior giant game. You try to demonize them for their generosity by overanalyzing it and making it sound like a scumbag tactic. Why? Why the hell is that necessary? It’s like, I can’t give you food with one hand without you thinking I poisoned it? Or that I have a dagger in the other hand to stab you with and take your wallet after you enjoy the free food?


  • Jason Mounce

    What’s exactly the difference between announcing that they have plans for DLC before the release of the game – or after the release of the game? There’s no difference other than a vocal announcement in Time difference. You’re jumping to conclusions and that’s called slippery slope fallacies. If you’re going to get defensive about what the facts are, then I’m done with you. Everyone’s being quite narrow-minded but that’s why the sites that are referencing this article are laughing at people like you, I’m just putting in the facts here. The world isn’t black and white and if people promise ‘free’, there doesn’t need to be a gigantic conspiracy theory just because you’ve been deceived in your past which validates your tinfoil-hat antics.

    That is all. I didn’t fall for anything, but you fell for the delusions you’ve placed for yourself, telling yourself your perception is right with zero logic, zero evidence and yet acting so conceited and full of yourself, seriously. Be pessimistic and distrustful all you want, but keep your empty claims to yourself, they are Beneath what an opinions’ worth is.

  • Jason Mounce

    If it’s week after week it varies on time-completion of how long it takes to complete it, difficulty/balancing, tweaking, placement and bug-checking, etc, course. Depends entirely on not ‘1 week for each content’ but how long in advance they have begun working on it. Like say, if they had 300 staff members working on the post-DLC and split up in a squad of 20 people per team to create content for the game and begun building the DLC after they’ve gone Gold – that’s months of pre-emptive time to work on it and release it consecutively. Their plan could easily just be as simplistic as it is systemic of a pre-emptive unveiling of what their future-plans are, but not when they begun each of them so to speak. Each DLC content won’t ‘take a week to make’ but will be promised to be released each week even if 10-20 people have been on one specific DLC for 2-3 weeks. Entirely depends, but there’s no evidence to support when they start on each DLC, know what I mean?

    How is it Anti-consumer by how they’re going with it.

  • coboney

    Because the people who buy the game at launch or who bought it a year before the release have to wait another 2 months to get the game proper. And honestly this whole view of ‘no one plays games on release’ misses the fact that a lot of people do.

    Gold typically is not months before a game is released. Its often 2-3 weeks before the release it does – to give an example Far Cry 4 went Gold on October 30th for its November 18th date and its pretty similar.

    There is no evidence, aside from the fact that it takes a long time to do things in games to make them work, be bug free (or few), and looking properly. This is my view on it, that it seems likely they are especially for some of the early things having to cut stuff out that they either had finished or could have had finished if they hadn’t said ‘we’ll dlc it’.

    Part of the reason I felt to post this was the universal praise for the decision when people are so against day 1 DLC. This is more of the same only its free which is much better. I am not saying it isn’t, and I do applaud CD Projekt for making it free. My issue is with the set up, it appears almost impossible that they didn’t cut some of the things out of the game to make this work. I wanted to raise some of the potential issues with it.

  • Gina

    They say they’re not done. It’s a way to use the developers’ time while QA and distribution happens. As long as they’re free, who cares? CDPR is doing something good for their fans. I’m buying day one but I know I’ll replay so it’s not an issue if there’s one quest out of the tons of content that comes a week or two later.

  • Jason Mounce

    If remaining in that deluded bubble makes you sleep better at night, kid. Lol

  • Jason Mounce

    Am sure she feels bad enough as is having given birth to you. I do not need to make her feel any worse 🙂

  • Jason Mounce

    😉 …

  • GotNews4Ya

    You honestly can’t complain about Free DLC… I mean.. if you have the next gen systems, its almost assumed you got good internet, or decent internet.. enough to download dlc..

    Not to mention you are just assuming that they can’t get the DLC done fast, and that they are already cutting parts of the game..

    The on disc version of the game is supposed to be upwards of 200 hrs long.. This whole article sounds silly when you lay out all the facts..

    200+ hr game comes out.. 16 free DLC packs coming over the first 2 months.. and we are complaining? sheesh.. what is the world coming to?

  • Dan

    I think the only way this makes sense and doesn’t offend the day-one buyer is if gameplay/quest DLC takes place AFTER the main events of the game (or in another way does not impact the main storyline)… As for ascetic DLC, obviously that shouldn’t matter as much in terms of release date.

  • TeLin特林

    It’s a hell of a lot better than charging for all those pieces like other companies do. I supposed they also want to combat the used game market…

    But I understand how ya feel….this industry has become obsessed with DLC.

    I miss the days of releasing expansion packs to keep a game in the minds of gamers(at least there are a few games that have expaks, right?)

  • Nicola verni

    It’s a market strategy? Yes
    It’s a strategy that harms player? No. You don’t spend anything more than the money spent for the game itself.

    So why complain about it? I played day one on mass effect 3 and to play all the dlc i shouls have paid for it. I played day one on dragon age 3 with the dlc that offer only mounts and weapon and i know for sure that with the pre ord version every new quest will be not free.

    They need somw time to add new contents? Oh such a shame in a game that need in theory 200 h that means with 4 hours played evey day less then a month of gaming, if you you are so skilled to do evething good at the first try.

    Dlc idea sucks to me, but i never say no to anything free.