CD Projekt isn't afraid of Half-Life: Alyx

Half-Life: Alyx artwork
(Image credit: Valve)

Cyberpunk 2077 is probably going to be the biggest game release of the first half of 2020. It's the big dog, the gorilla with a shotgun, the Classy Freddie Blassie in a room full of pencil-neck geeks, and nobody's going to mess with it. Or so it seemed, until earlier this month, when Valve announced Half-Life: Alyx—an actual new Half-Life game—and set it to come out in March, just a month (and possibly less) ahead of Cyberpunk.

The insertion of Alyx definitely makes the upcoming spring more crowded, but CD Projekt said in a recent earnings call (via Yahoo! Finance) that it's not worried about the competition. In response to a question about the possible impact of a new Half-Life on Cyberpunk 2077, vice president of business development Michal Nowakowski said that VR is "an extremely nichey niche [part] of the market," and he doesn't think Valve is really looking to make Alyx a big hit anyway.

"The only reason I can think of why has Valve has decided to actually put this title in the market is because they actually have a corporation on the hardware side of the things," he said. "This is probably a big effort for them to sort of try to expand that. That niche is very, very, very—and I could add a few 'verys' here—small."

"So from the market perspective, are we afraid? No, because it's a very different niche. It's—this is an endeavor to sort of try to push the hardware while we are really targeting the mass markets where it is, which is major consoles and the PCs without the need to have the VR gear."

Nowakowski added that even if Half-Life: Alyx lives up to its billing, no other developers have committed to VR to a comparable extent, so the likelihood of a sudden rush to it in the immediate future is very slim.

"Perhaps Half-Life will be this first stone that is going to turn into something larger as we go, but that's definitely not going to be the case come first half of the next year. I daresay it's probably not going to be next year," he said. "Even—I don't actually know even further because things may change. And at some point, VR may be a mass-market entertainment that will validate the business model behind it, but it is not the case, at least not for us right now."

As for the possibility of CD Projekt's previous games getting the VR treatment, president and joint CEO Adam Kiciński suggested that it's not likely to happen: VR games need to be designed as such from the start in order to be any good, he said—The Witcher games obviously are not—and besides, "we are rather for delivering new games than working on old titles."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.