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"It was a very general idea. Get the rights, open...or use an existing video game developer, and with their help create a studio in Lodz."
- CD Projekt Red's Adam Badowski, recounting how, at the turn of the millennium, the company planned to move beyond distributing games to making them.
Polish game company CD Projekt is currently valued at over $2 billion, thanks in large part to the remarkable success of its Witcher games. But in the '90s, when the company was founded by a pair of friends, it was strictly a small-time distributor and localizer of games for the Polish market. So what changed?
According to a documentary recently published to YouTube, what happened was that company cofounders Marcin Iwiński and Michał Kiciński reached the end of the '90s and realized that if all they did was distribute games, they could be knocked out of business if game companies started doing Polish distribution and localization themselves.
"The first plans for [CD Projekt] Red were outlined in 2001" says longtime game translator (Witcher and others) Ryszard Chojnowski, early in the documentary. "Marcin Iwiński and Michał Kiciński decided, and rightly so, that the era of video game distributors would soon come to an end."
What's especially notable about this documentary footage is that it features a number of unreleased Witcher assets and prototypes, some of which were developed in the '90s before CD Projekt Red acquired the license from "The Witcher" author Andrzej Sapkowski.
It's well worth watching for devs at all curious about CDPR, The Witcher, or the Polish game industry in general; you can find the full 113-minute doc (embedded above) over on the Arhn.eu YouTube channel.