CD Projekt has announced that 2023 will be the final year of full support for its Witcher-based digital card game Gwent. But it's not going away completely—instead, the studio plans to hand control of the game over to the community.
"We are not planning to release new cards starting from 2024, so the cards which will release in 2023 basically will be the last brand-new ones that we will be adding to the game," Gwent director Vladimir Tortsov said in a new developer video. "It's a pretty significant change, there's no way around it.
"With the cards that we are planning to add to the game next year, in 2023, we are basically planning to close the card pool with every idea that we wanted to add, every mechanic that we wanted to see, pretty much everything that we would like to see in Gwent, we will try to fit it within the year."
72 new cards will be added to Gwent in 2023—"Completing the card pool," CD Projekt Red communication manager Pawel Burza said—and there will be a number of esports tournaments as well. But in 2024, CD Projekt is going to take the "unconventional" action of handing control of the game's future to the community. How exactly it will work isn't clear, but Tortsov said the plan is to make the system as accessible as possible to all players.
"We're working on the solution which will allow players to do it directly in the Gwent client, so it's not some complicated external system," Tortsov said. "You don't need to be a developer or have special access—of course, on the flip side, maybe the system won't be as robust as the tools that our team currently has in terms of full-scale works, adding completely new cards, inventing new abilities and things like that. But when it comes strictly to the balancing tools, the main balancing tools, that's something that we believe is feasible, and will ensure that players can interact with the game, not just by playing it, but also deciding which direction it should go balance-wise."
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The trickiest aspect of the process will no doubt be deciding how decisions about balance changes will be made. Burza said, perhaps with some understatement, that it will be "interesting" to see how the community deals with it.
"Balance is also one of these things that always give you these polarized opinions when it comes to what cards should be, how they should work, so I'm interested to see how this will actually affect the decision making from the community standpoint," Burza said. "Because if you look at it from a developer's standpoint, we're kind of looking into things from, standing from and looking from kind of up above. But when it comes to players who are playing the game I feel like there is also this personal engagement within the game which causes you to favor and disfavor certain archetypes.
"It's going to be interesting to see how this will engage the community but I feel like it's something that doesn't happen very often, that you're kind of giving some part of the steering wheel to the community instead of keeping full engagement and focus only for yourself."
CD Projekt told IGN (opens in new tab) that a "small number" of developers will continue to work on Gwent to keep the wheels turning, but most of the team will be moved to other projects.