An open letter from CD Projekt RED CEO Marcin Iwiński was just published on the official Gwent website. Claiming a personal investment in the game with close to 350 hours clocked in, Iwiński's announcement comes at a time when the Gwent community has been more disgruntled than usual with several issues in communication and transparency in the development of the collectible card game.
CD Projekt RED first announced Gwent: The Witcher Card Game in June 2016, at Microsoft's E3 show. It was meant to satisfy public demand as modders started developing their own standalone version of the popular minigame from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The closed beta started in October 2016 and the public beta in May 2017. They also announced the single-player expansion Thronebreaker in August 2017, although it was later delayed into 2018.
As collectible card games go, Gwent has had several issues with balancing since the very beginning. These issues are compounded by other issues that go beyond balancing, such as the much-maligned coin flip mechanic that forces one of the players to go first, which in the case of Gwent is not an advantage, putting the player in a position that the other player can exploit.
The most pressing issues, however, followed in the wake of the now-infamous Midwinter update from December 2017, which introduced over 100 new cards and several changes in the general mechanics of the game, such as row limit and making all cards "agile," meaning they could be played on any row, overruling the previous mechanic where most cards were limited to a single row. The update was also plagued with exploits and bugs that took weeks to be addressed. Many players were alienated during that period.
In the open letter Iwiński claims that the team will require six months of "fully-focused development" to deliver a major overhaul of the game. However, this means that only two major updates will be released in the following months. The first patch comes in April to introduce missing premium cards and faction-specific board skins that were promised and have been overdue for a while. The second patch will come in May and will be primarily a balancing update with a "new approach" to the Create mechanic that was severely criticized by the core player base since its December introduction. For the remaining four months they will hunker down towards releasing Gwent out of beta and launch Thronebreaker for the grand finale.
This roadmap does indicate that the management has been listening to the many complaints from the community. By addressing the core player base directly they probably hope to regain the trust of several players who have lost interest in the game since the Midwinter update. And after all, this is what a beta is for, experimenting and redefining the core gameplay, receiving thorough and sometimes harsh feedback from the core player base, then using it to improve the game. For a few months it seemed that CD Projekt RED had forgotten their values, but as one of the alienated players I believe there is sincerity in Iwiński's words and hope to see his promises come to realization.
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