Gwent: The Witcher Card Game came into existence after its introduction as a mini game for the critically acclaimed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. It was basically CD Projekt RED succumbing to an overwhelming response and demand from the community for a standalone game.
We managed to get in touch with lead game designer Michał Dobrowolski to ask him about the upcoming card game.
SegmentNext: CD Projekt RED has repeatedly mentioned that GWENT is the product of countless requests sent through by the community. I must ask though, surely the studio knew the potential hidden in this mini-card game from the beginning. Was the idea of a standalone release always present and just nudged into action by fans, or was it solely born one day after the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt?
We wanted to make a fun mini-game that players would enjoy in between saving the world in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. That was the plan when we were creating GWENT. And then it turned out players were actually spending a whole lot of time playing GWENT, much more than we anticipated. We started getting tons of messages from them asking us to make a standalone GWENT game that would let them play it friends. Some even went as far as to build custom playing tables and real-life GWENT decks. So we decided to make the game and were making it because of the huge community effort.
SegmentNext: The team behind GWENT is claiming to have cracked the system, promising a new solution that prevents players from venturing into the unholy realm of grinding, and does away with the pay-to-win formula. Is now the time where you explain just what this new system is?
In a lot of ways, the system is the game itself. A game of GWENT consists of three rounds. Win two, and you win the entire match. Bluffing, the ability to lose a round on purpose to win the next two — this makes relying solely on strength a risky thing and this changes your approach completely. Are you really winning, or is your opponent luring you into a trap? In GWENT you don’t grind or pay your way to victory — you earn it through skillful play.
Right now, we’re getting ready to release the Closed Beta and eager to hear what players think about GWENT after they play it. Note that this is not the final game and we have a long road ahead of us, with a lot of things that can still change based on both design choices and player feedback.
SegmentNext: Extracting GWENT from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and transforming it into a standalone free-to-play game must have been challenging. Which portion proved to be the biggest trial; devising cards to maintain balance, the single-player campaign, or perhaps the game’s free-to- play model?
GWENT: The Witcher Card Game, apart from the core of what made GWENT fun to play in The Witcher 3, is completely new game. It’s no longer a mini game set in the world of a huge open-world RPG, but a massive, standalone competitive card game. And to be able to achieve this, we had to create almost everything from scratch. New balance that rewards player skill, new cards, new abilities, new gameplay mechanics. So the hardest thing to do was not one thing, but everything, really.
SegmentNext: How many cards is GWENT releasing with? Also, how many expansion packs (single-player campaigns and Card Packs) does CD Projekt RED plan to release for the game?
We’ll be launching the beta with four factions: Northern Realms, Skellige, Monsters and Scoia’tael. Each one plays differently, feels differently, and offers a lot of variety when it comes to deck creation within each faction. One of the things that will be coming in the future is the Nilfgaard faction, which we’re still working on right now. And obviously we plan on supporting GWENT post launch, but it’s still too early to talk about this yet.
SegmentNext: If I want, can I straight away jump into multiplayer or are there hidden advantages to first playing the single-player campaign?
Multiplayer is what we’re focusing for the Closed Beta, so for now, starting October 25th, players who signed up to the Closed Beta and are selected to participate will be able to jump into competitive play with other players. Obviously, the team is hard at work on the single player campaign as well, but that something we will be adding to the game in the future and we’ll have more information to share on how these two modes will work together in the future.
SegmentNext: Are there competitive Seasons and cups planned for the game or is the multiplayer portion going to exclusively cater to the casual players? In that light, is the studio eying a piece of the eSports pie?
GWENT is a game that is very easy to get into, but at the same time is very deep and strategic at the core, and you’ll start noticing more advanced plays and combinations the longer you play. In that sense, as well as through a variety of game modes, GWENT will cater to both fans of ranked play, as well as those gamers who prefer a more casual approach. As for esports, it’s too soon to tell.
SegmentNext: Third-party injectors are pretty quick to make their presence known in any popular online game. Is there any anti-cheat system being designed to counter that?
It goes without saying, that we want gamers to have a great time playing GWENT and a lot of that will come from providing them with a fair experience. We’re working to make sure that this is what they get.
SegmentNext: Can you give more details on the in-game shop vendor? Just what other items can players unlock besides card packs, and are there specific wares that are restricted to real-world money?
This is something that’s still in development right now. You can expect we’ll share more details about this in the future.
SegmentNext: As a standalone title, a lot of mechanics and abilities had to be tweaked or introduced. Can you name one unique card that is your favorite or that boasts a powerful or otherwise deck changing ability?
One of the cards we revealed recently at gamescom was Kambi. Basically, after three turns this golden rooster will summon the hero card Hemdall on the opponent’s side, worth a hefty 15 points, sending all non-hero units on boths sides to the graveyard, as well as removing all glyphs currently in play on the board. This is a very tricky card to play, but one that can quickly turn things around. You can actually check it out, as well as other GWENT cards, at gwentdb.com.
SegmentNext: With the onslaught of virtual reality, is there a looming idea of taking GWENT into that playing field next? Would another series of fan-requests convince you to support VR elements for the card game?
When considering implementing a technology like VR in our games we would first look at whether or not it makes sense in the context of the title. Whether it’s an idea that developed internally, or coming from the community, we always work to establish if it’s going to be a meaningful addition to the experience. We’re always open to new technologies, but we don’t want to put something in a game just for the sake of it being there.
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.