CD Projekt, the Polish video game developer behind the popular Witcher series, has announced plans to kick off production on a new Witcher game codenamed Polaris sometime in 2024.
Background on CD Projekt and The Witcher Franchise
CD Projekt is best known as the developer of The Witcher series of fantasy RPG games based on the books by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. The first Witcher game launched in 2007, but it was 2011’s The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and 2015’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt that brought mainstream success for both the games and wider Witcher franchise.
The Witcher 3 is considered one of the greatest video games of all time, praised for its mature narrative, open world design, and memorable quests and characters. It sold over 50 million copies across multiple platforms.
On the back of The Witcher’s success, CD Projekt became an industry leader in RPG development and one of Poland’s largest public companies. However, the studio’s reputation took a hit following the bungled launch of 2020’s Cyberpunk 2077 which was rife with bugs and performance issues at release.
|Over 1 million
|The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
|Over 4 million
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
|Over 50 million
Despite the Cyberpunk setback, there is still substantial anticipation for CD Projekt’s next Witcher game given the immense fanbase of the medieval fantasy series.
Polaris Enters Production in 2024
At an investor event over the weekend, CD Projekt joint CEO Adam Badowski confirmed preliminary work is underway on the next game in The Witcher series codenamed Polaris, which will enter full production this year with a view to release in several years.
According to Badowski, 2023 will see the studio ramping up recruitment to bulk out the team working on Polaris, with the production phase starting in earnest sometime in 2024 once enough new staff members are embedded.
The company is looking to implement lessons learned from the demanding development of Cyberpunk 2077 which had excessive crunch periods where staff were overworked. Badowski stated they want production on Polaris to avoid crunch conditions. The studio has endured criticism for an unhealthy work culture in the past.
Badowski also revealed CD Projekt will not be replacing developers with AI systems as some studios have started experimenting with to boost productivity. “We want to develop the game with people, not replace people with AI,” he affirmed.
What We Know About Polaris So Far
Details remain thin on what fans can expect from Polaris as the next mainline Witcher game. It will continue the story after the events of The Witcher 3 which concluded the saga of Geralt of Rivia, the main protagonist through all Witcher games so far.
Given the immense success and popularity of The Witcher 3, there will be huge pressure on Polaris to meet fan expectations as a worthy follow up. Rumors suggest the game may feature fan favorite character Ciri in the lead role as players journeyed with her extensively in The Witcher 3.
In terms of development timeline, Polaris is still years away from full completion. Starting production in 2024 indicates a release no earlier than late 2026 assuming a standard 3-4 year dev cycle. Some analysts speculate 2027 is more likely which would mark a 12 year gap after The Witcher 3.
One outlet reported the game could feature online multiplayer with a “live service component”, though CD Projekt has not commented on this.
What Next for CD Projekt after Polaris
Polaris is not the only major project CD Projekt has in the works. Alongside ramping up production on the next Witcher, 2023 will also see ongoing work on the Phantom Liberty expansion for Cyberpunk 2077.
Analysts see Polaris as critical to restoring CD Projekt’s reputation as an elite RPG developer after Cyberpunk failed to meet expectations on launch. But the studio also has huge long term ambitions for the future.
CEO Adam Kiciński has previously outlined plans for not just one new Witcher game, but an entire second Witcher trilogy. So the Polaris project is only the beginning of a much wider vision for more Witcher games over the next decade.
With ambitious goals, 2023 is shaping up as a pivotal year for CD Projekt to get its key franchises firing again. Expect more details on the Polaris project and exactly how CD Projekt plans to deliver another RPG epic to match the mammoth success of past glories like The Witcher 3. But it won’t come quick, with this initial production phase just the start of a long journey ahead.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.