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CD Projekt Red responds to scathing Glassdoor reviews

After complaints of mismanagement, senseless crunch, and poor pay, Witcher studio says its approach to development "is not for everyone"

As the studio behind the critically acclaimed Witcher series of action RPGs, CD Projekt Red has an impressive reputation as a game developer, but its reputation as an employer has taken some hits of late. The company today addressed a recent flurry of negative reviews on the job recruiting website Glassdoor and similar sites.

"You might have recently stumbled on information regarding morale here at the studio," co-founder Marcin Iwinski and studio head Adam Badowski said in a joint statement, before acknowledging that the studio has seen some turnover in its ranks since The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt shipped in 2015. However, overall headcount has nearly doubled in that time as the studio has grown to work on its next big game, Cyberpunk 2077.

"So, does a departure, even a high profile one, mean that the project is in danger? One would need to be very courageous to base the future of an AAA role-playing game of such scope on one person (or a few people)," they said.

They went on to say that all of CD Projekt Red's games seemed impossible to make at the start, but they were able to produce them with "a lot of faith, commitment, and spirit."

"This approach to making games is not for everyone," they said. "It often requires a conscious effort to 'reinvent the wheel'--even if you personally think it already works like a charm. But you know what? We believe reinventing that wheel every friggin' time is what makes a better game. It's what creates innovation and makes it possible for us to say we've worked really hard on something, and we think it's worth your hard-earned cash. If you make games with a 'close enough is good enough' attitude, you end up in a comfort zone. And you know where the magic happens."

The statement alluded to, but did not directly address, many of the criticisms Glassdoor reviewers levelled at the company. Some common complaints among the anonymous reviews from current and former employees include low pay, loads of crunch, poor management, and a chaotic decision-making process that frequently leads to work being scrapped or wasted.

"Crunch here is insane," one reviewer said. "We read about Bungie's crunch and ME:Andromeda crunch and laughed. And crunch will hit current project hard. Because spreadsheet planning + incompetent overseers = hemorrhoids, bad back and depression."

Another review says bullying is a problem in the workplace, while others describe a "culture of blame" and an "extremely politicized work environment" where personal ties matter more than competence or qualifications.

A more recent wave of positive reviews defending the company while also acknowledging some of the complaints. One reviewer praised the talented team and open-minded management, but conceded the rapid growth of the studio had made for communication issues and "very intense work at high speed with no 'low season.'" Another likened it to beating a game on hard difficulty, saying, "It challenges you, but there's a ton of satisfaction involved."

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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