#151: Overload

CD Projekt goes on the offensive in the battle to repair its reputation.

Back in February I laid into CD Projekt a bit. The Polish studio had just launched the long-awaited next-gen update for Cyberpunk 2077, and I found the strategy around the release rather odd. Despite the public distaste for CD Projekt after Cyberpunk’s disastrous launch, and the amount of time the team had had to plan out the next chapter of its redemption story, the whole thing seemed shoddily, hurriedly put together. It was not, I felt, reflective of a studio that had learned its lesson, nor realised just how far its stock had fallen in the eyes of players and press.

I fear it may be at it again. Yesterday CD Projekt embarked on a shock-and-awe campaign of announcements, in which it detailed every single thing it has in the works in Warsaw and elsewhere. It revealed a sequel to Cyberpunk, codenamed Project Orion, to be developed by a new satellite studio, CD Projekt Red North America, in Boston and Vancouver. It announced the development of five new Witcher games, including a trilogy it says will be released in its entirety in the span of six years. It announced that, for the first time in its history, it is creating its own IP from scratch. It also revealed that Marc Iwinski is stepping down as co-CEO after almost 30 years with the company, and has applied for a seat on its supervisory board.

This sort of announcement assault doesn’t really work on me — I do not know what I am supposed to be most excited about, and end up being excited about none of it — but it may be becoming a bit of a theme: yesterday’s five Witchers followed hot on the heels of last month’s Assassin’s Creed quintet. I detect, in this apparent new trend, a certain whiff of Disney, which so willingly unveils years of future #content at events like Disney+ Day. Trailers and demos are so very passé. Just give them a title card and a headshot, they’ll all go wild regardless.

No doubt it was also designed to support a recruitment drive. This is particularly important for CD Projekt as it looks to patch the holes left by the post-Cyberpunk churn — which is always a thing after a big, long, difficult project, and given everything we’ve heard about the game’s development was likely even more substantial than the norm — as well as fill seats in Boston and Vancouver. And I suspect this strategy was intended to repair investor confidence in a company whose share price has dropped to less than a quarter of its 2020 peak. Apologise, move on, distract. Normally works, I suppose. So yep, sure, I can see the reasoning behind it, perhaps even respect it. I like CD Projekt a lot, despite its recent woes.

Yet I am not sure this apparent confidence is entirely earned, nor that it comes from the right place. Yes, Cyberpunk 2077 has finally been patched and upgraded into a passable state. And sure, the studio is likely flying high after the success of the Netflix anime Cyberpunk: Edgerunners (which to be fair is pretty good, though I cringe inside out at all the depictions of VR shagging). Edgerunners sits comfortably in the top ten on Netflix and has sparked a renewed surge of interest in Cyberpunk itself: the week of the anime’s release, over a million people were playing the game every day, and sales of it have now passed 20 million units (insert your own refund joke here). And sure, CD Projekt probably feels more confident in its development pipeline assuming the switch from in-house tech to Unreal Engine 5 applies to more than just The Witcher (which will also help with recruitment).

But! I am not sure that, if I had launched a game so bad it was removed from sale on the market-leading console platform, and it took me the best part of two years to get it into reasonable shape — while still being light years away from the game I had initially promised — that I would be quite this confident. If my next-gen update for The Witcher 3 had been delayed multiple times, and development of it recently brought back in-house because an outsourcing partner had made such a hash of it, I would not be so cocksure in revealing my plans for the future. And if my studio had a reputation for crunch, I’m not sure I’d kick off a recruitment drive at the same time as committing to release a complete triple-A trilogy in the space of six years.

This is not just a question of presentation; rather, it is about failing to lay the groundwork for that presentation to be properly received. Neither CD Projekt’s reputation nor its share price have been entirely repaired, whatever the success of Edgerunners, regardless of Cyberpunk’s new sales milestone. Yesterday’s onslaught did little to placate investors: after a brief spike of 10%, shares fell back down to pretty much where they had started the day. That reinforces my feeling that CD Projekt has jumped the gun in asking us to be excited about a whole host of things that, on current form, we cannot have much confidence it will actually achieve. You have to roll the wicket before you let your fast bowlers loose on it, is what I suppose I’m saying, and as far as I can tell CD Projekt has just airily wafted a strimmer around the place and figured it will do.


Lots of responses to Friday’s missive about the death of Stadia, but we’ll begin with some of the most helpful feedback I’ve received since starting this thing.

“I really enjoy the newsletter, and going paid for one post a week is exactly the right move,” writes Charles Littlewood, in an introduction I didn’t need to copy-paste but have chosen to include as a sort of marketing beat for Hit Points’ new structure. “But I’m still not sure I'll subscribe, simply because you manage to annoy me frequently by reminding me of the shitness of the real world. Be it Plague Island, Tory leader, overturning national abortion rights, or the fact the pound is now only useful for buying penny sweets, you do have a habit of making what is a nice email diversion from the shitness of the real world into a right downer. And frankly, sometimes at 5pm on a Friday it’s the last thing I need to be reminded of.

“Perhaps I'm cowardly, but more and more these days I'm looking to consume content that is a nice diversion from everything going wrong in the world. There are just some occasions where I think we all have to take a break from politics just to manage our mental health.” I was nodding along throughout this. You’re absolutely right, and I actually used to make a point of trying to avoid reference to real-world misery in Hit Points. Not sure when, or why, I stopped doing that, but let’s start it again… now. Thanks, Charles. Enjoy your complimentary month’s subscription; I hope you choose to stick around afterwards.

  • “It's a real shame about Stadia,” laments Will Firman. “I think honestly their main issue was marketing: people had the impression that you need to buy games at full price and then pay again to play them. I think that might have been true if you were interested in 4K, but only a tiny proportion of people have enough bandwidth for that anyway. My experience was paying £4 for Rise Of The Tomb Raider and being able to launch it through the Chromecast already plugged into my telly, without having a great HDMI cable across the room from my PC. Never paid a subscription fee either. If anything it was more convenient than Steam and certainly no more expensive. The controller was decent as well, and came for free when you bought Cyberpunk.” It’s an overused joke but the dozen or so people who used Stadia really, really liked it, which I think proves the use case a little. At least they’re all getting their money back.
  • “I'm not angry Stadia got canned, just disappointed,” writes Jeroen Bouwman, in full-on Dad Mode. (Jeroen, you clearly know your audience.) “As someone who's trying very hard to abstain from buying a gaming PC, Stadia was an excellent solution. The Pro subscription got me to try out, love and then buy some games that I'd never considered buying before. The controller was/is probably the best thing about it. That I'll now get my money back while hanging on to two excellent controllers to use on GeForce Now (if it sounds like I'm a streaming fan, trust your instincts) is some consolation I guess. If I'm lucky, that will cover about one hot shower this winter.” Sorry, Charles, it was a good gag and I have chosen to allow it. Last one, I promise.

Nice to see MAILBAG picking up speed again, isn’t it. Leave a comment, reply to this email, shoot a message to hitpoints@substack.com or hop in the Hit Points Discord and let’s keep this train a-rollin’.


  • Overwatch 2 launched yesterday and things are not going well, after a succession of DDOS attacks brought matchmaking servers to their very knees. An aside, if you’ll forgive it: I learned yesterday that if you own the original game, Overwatch 2 downloads as an update for it, rather than a new, standalone client. Hardly vintage sequel-making, that, I must say.
  • The UK competition watchdog has given itself a deadline of March 1 to report the findings from its investigation into Acquisition Blizzard. If they’re anything like me, we can realistically expect that around March 8, and the boxout and captions will be missing.
  • PlayStation Studios boss Hermen Hulst says that firstparty live-service things will likely launch simultaneously on PlayStation and PC, in order to maximise their potential reach. Singleplayer games — to which Hulst insists Sony remains committed, despite going all GaaSy of late — will be subject to a delay of a year or more before making the switch. All makes sense, this. Fair play.
  • There is apparently a remake in the works of Horizon Zero Dawn and, look, this is getting a bit daft now. I know there’s a TV show to promote but a) it is only five years old and b) at least do Bloodborne first.
  • That said, yon Dead Space remake looks very nice indeed. I know, I know, I’m a mess of contradictions.
  • If you’re feeling a sense of low-level abject terror today and aren’t entirely sure why, it’s because there’s a trailer for the Super Mario movie coming in a special Nintendo Direct this (UK) evening. I’ve been gently clenched all day.

There you go! Free readers, that’s your lot for this week: it’ll be just me and the paid crew in Friday’s edition, and again on Saturday when Max HP returns with a profile of Tetsuya Mizuguchi. If you’d like to join the crew for the princely sum of £4 a month — and if you ask me, there has never been a better time to do so — the button to do so is right below. Cheerio!