The Witcher 4 hasn’t entered the production stage at CD Projekt Red yet, but the developer is getting ready to start work on the highly anticipated follow-up to 2015’s Witcher 3. By the middle of 2024, the Polish studio hopes to have 400 people working on the game. And according to new co-CEO Adam Badowski, not a single one of them will be making the suspicious bleep-bloop noises of an AI.
Speaking to Reuters, Badowski explained that the next phase of The Witcher, a new trilogy codenamed Polaris, will soon “start the production phase,” with 400 developers on its team by “the middle of the year.”
Long-time CEO Adam Kiciński stepped down from the role at the end of 2023, with chief creative officer Badowski joining former chief commercial officer Michał Nowakowski in sharing the top-spot. Presumably they take it in turns sitting in the big spinny chair at the largest desk on the top floor. Hopefully between them they can change CDP’s recent reputation, after Kicińskitook took the blame for Cyberpunk 2077’s dreadful release, and promised no more crunch before allowing so much more crunch.
Of course, the first step toward avoiding negative press would be to make clear the studio is not intending to hold the eleven-fingered hands of AI. It’s safe to say they were considering it, as CD Projekt formed an internal team to investigate how AI could be useful. However, as Nowakowski told Reuters, the studio thinks “that AI is something that can help improve certain processes in game production, but not replace people.”
Yes, AI absolutely will be a factor in games development, as it becomes inextricably woven into the tools used to make games—no matter how negative that may be—because: capitalism. But it’s concerningly naive to believe learning how it can be “useful” doesn’t very quickly lead toward learning who it could replace. Putting aside the more headline-grabbing aspects like creating art, AI can more insidiously and less obviously replace a fair degree of grunt-work, that very quickly adds up to no longer needing Steve to write that C++ script. And until Steve is guaranteed a universal income from all the savings provided by our new robot friends, that’s not so great for Steve.
The pair also told Reuters that work would begin spinning up on a Cyberpunk sequel later in 2024, with an expected 80 or so staff members attached to it by the end of the year.
The plans are for lots of these hires to be in the North American studio, rather than Polish, since wage pressures had eased.