It's been a bit of a rocky road for CD Projekt's Witcher-based card game Gwent. Fans are enthusiastic, but the Thronebreaker campaign that was supposed to arrive in 2017 was delayed into this year (and still isn't out), and in January the studio issued an apology for problems with the mid-winter update, which it admitted was rushed to hit a deadline. Today the studio announced a new phase of development called Homecoming, expected to last for six months of "fully-focused development," after which both Gwent and Thronebreaker will go into full release.
There will be only two updates released during the Homecoming phase, one later this month that will add the missing Premium cards and faction-specific board skins, and then another in May that will make balance changes and incorporate "a new approach to 'Create'." After that, CD Projekt Red will go heads-down into Homecoming until the game is finished.
"What we didn’t realize [during the public beta] was that we also started slowly drifting away from our original vision for standalone Gwent. While fighting with the everyday reality of regular updates and content drops, we lost sight of what was unique and fun about the game," CEO Marcin Iwiński explained.
"Six months is a long time, however, on the flip side, after Homecoming concludes, we will go out of beta and release Thronebreaker at the same time. Don’t worry about your progress, once Homecoming is complete, for a limited time, you will have the ability to mill all of your cards for their full value. Regarding our esports activities, for now, our calendar is not changing."
Homecoming will be focused on eight "key pillars": Turning Gwent "into a battlefield," upgrading the board (including possibly removing one of the rows), fixing the coin mechanic to eliminate the advantage players have for going second, revamping player progression, focusing on skill and player agency, re-focusing on core gamers, bringing back the "darker aesthetic and mood" of The Witcher, and completing the single-player Thronebreaker campaign.
It's obviously going to be a major overhaul, and I have to wonder just a little bit if six months will be long enough to get it all done. But Iwiński sounds committed to making it happen, asking fans for "trust and patience" while they work on it.
"We have never accepted ‘good enough’ at our company. We have always taken risks and made bold decisions if we believed they would result in a better game," he wrote. "We want Gwent to kick some serious ass and reignite your passion for our beloved CCG."