#8: Post Punk

To Poland, where CD Projekt Red has further upset its already angry investors by announcing a drop in profits of some 65%, as the Cyberpunk 2077 furore spreads to its maker’s balance sheet. CDPR has done its best to put a positive gloss on the news — attributing it in part to its overperformance this time last year, where sales were boosted by lockdown purchasing habits, and a surge of interest in The Witcher thanks to the success of its Netflix tie-in. But a drop like this, so soon after the launch of one of the most anticipated games of the past decade, is simply shocking.

While the avalanche of negative press coverage that followed Cyberpunk’s launch last November has surely played a part here, let us make no bones about the real culprit: the unprecedented delisting of the game from the PlayStation Store. Whoever made this decision — CD Projekt has previously described it as mutual, which has the air of a divorced dad trying to save face (you mutually agreed she should run off with the tennis coach?) — it was abrupt, devastating and, it must be said, somewhat arbitrary. Cyberpunk was buggy and broken at launch, yes. So are many games of its ilk, and none of them have been booted off the platform which history suggests would have brought in a significant share of their overall sales revenue.

Six months and several patches later, there’s still no news on when Cyberpunk 2077 will be available digitally again on PlayStation. CDPR says only that there is a “process” in place, that talks with Sony are ongoing, and work continues to get the game into what the platform holder considers a suitable state. Yet now the fallout of the delisting can be expressed with a dollar figure, I wonder how long that process can realistically last. CD Projekt is already the subject of a class-action lawsuit from investors who feel they were intentionally misled. How long before those same investors line up Sony in their sights too, seeking recourse for the loss of their share of tens of millions of dollars of revenue from a game that was just a little bit more scandalously unfinished at launch than a load of other titles that you can download from the PlayStation Store right now?

That’s a question you would rather Sony prefer not to answer — particularly if you believe the rumour, which I’ve heard several times, that the delisting was a sort of punishment beating for CD Projekt unilaterally offering refunds for the game on all platforms, because Sony hates the idea of refunds for digital purchases. Whatever the real motivation, Sony has backed itself into a bit of a corner here. Now it’s taken the unprecedented step of delisting a game that didn’t work properly, it simply cannot allow it back on its stores until it works flawlessly. A noble standard to seek to uphold, sure, but not one that can only be applied to a single game. I wonder how long it will be before we hear a lawyer make that very argument in front of a judge.


  • Shocking news! Ubisoft is indeed making a political statement in Far Cry 6, according to its creative director. This isn’t a change in creative policy, but in marketing — a belated hats off to whichever suit decided it was finally time to let the devs be honest about their work. (A slight aside here, but if you’re making a game that invites that question and don’t already have an answer prepared for it, you’re in trouble. It’s the first one you’ll be asked.)
  • Borderlands 3 is being updated with cross-platform multiplayer, but Sony has blocked it on PlayStation, giving me another excuse to trot out that email revealed in the Epic vs Apple trial. “Many companies are exploring this idea,” PlayStation’s Gio Corsi wrote to Epic, “and not a single one can explain how cross-console play improves the PlayStation business.” Not all good things come with a dollar sign, you know. For The Players indeed!
  • EA’s Ultimate Team modes brought in $1.62 billion last year — it now accounts for almost a third of EA’s entire business. Ugh.
  • 2018’s Dying Light 2 finally has a release date, sort of. Saying your game will be out in December is like me agreeing to a Friday deadline, when both my editor and I both know I’ll be in touch late Thursday asking if I can have the weekend as well.