CD Projekt Red is making "a genuine effort" to prevent The Witcher 4 crunch after the "significant" morale hit from Cyberpunk 2077's launch

The Witcher 4 Polaris
(Image credit: CD Projekt RED)

Following a notoriously bumpy launch in 2020, CD Projekt Red successfully redeemed and revived Cyberpunk 2077 with several updates and the excellent Phantom Liberty expansion. But the Polish developer supposedly took a “significant” morale hit from the game’s troublesome development and is looking to do things differently with future releases, including The Witcher 4.

That’s according to the team’s audio engineering director, Colin Walder, in an interview with Inven Global. “The morale took a significant hit; that’s clear,” Walder said. “The crucial thing was to acknowledge what happened. We had to admit that the outcome wasn’t what we’d hoped for and that we were determined to change things. But it’s one thing to say it; it has to be put into practice, you know? Actions speak louder than words.”

The unfortunate “outcome” that Walder refers to is probably the poor working conditions at CD Projekt Red and Cyberpunk 2077’s buggy launch, which prompted Sony to pull the game from PlayStation stores for six months in an unprecedented move. But Walder maintains that the studio is committed to change.

"You've got to demonstrate commitment," he continued. Walder claims that the studio now adjusts tight schedules or approaches problems differently, rather than simply "reverting to crunch" as they may have before. "Once this becomes a repeated behaviour - once the team sees a genuine effort to prevent crunch - that's when trust and morale starts to rebuild. People need to see it to believe it." Walder also said that overhauling the team's development process has meant The Witcher 4 is already being tested on consoles to prevent another Night City-sized problem.

Elsewhere, when asked about the use of AI in audio design and voice work, Walden said that “ethical considerations are paramount.” He also pointed to how the studio recently used AI to replicate actor Miłogost Reczek’s voice - who passed away in 2021 - with his family’s permission. Walden calls the example “touching” and emphasizes “the importance of handling such situations with utmost respect and sensitivity, ensuring it's not exploitative” - unlike some recent examples in the industry.

Now that CDPR is finished with Cyberpunk 2077, the studio is focused on “Cyberpunk 2.”

Freelance contributor

Kaan freelances for various websites including Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, and this one, Gamesradar. He particularly enjoys writing about spooky indies, throwback RPGs, and anything that's vaguely silly. Also has an English Literature and Film Studies degree that he'll soon forget.