In today’s Q3 2021 Earnings meeting, CD PROJEKT Group announced a gradual shift to new projects while continuing Cyberpunk 2077 support and development of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 versions of Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The next-gen upgrades, which will be free to current owners of the games according to a June 2020 tweet, are set to be released in the next few months. Cyberpunk 2077 was delayed from Q4 2021 to Q1 2022, while The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt next-gen upgrade is set as Q2 2022.
The earnings call presentation, available here, was mostly earnings reporting, but opened with a statement about the card game from the Witcher franchise. Gwent: The Witcher Card Game is undergoing “optimization” of operations. There will be a detailed roadmap of 2022 releases during GWENT Masters Season 3 finale on Dec. 5.
CD PROJEKT are also excited to announce that their recent acquisitions will “open opportunities for new talent pool and future projects.” In March, CD PROJEKT Group acquired Canada-based developer Digital Scapes Studios and renamed them CD PROJEKT RED Vancouver. In October, they acquired the Boston-based indie studio behind The Flame in the Flood and Drake Hollow, The Molasses Flood.
The presentation also showed an explosion of development expenditures and service costs in Q4 2020. While development expenditures (new products) dropped below 2020 and 2019 levels throughout the 2021 fiscal year, service costs (released products, here likely tied to Cyberpunk updates) remain massive and research costs (new projects) are still a sizable chunk that was previously not registering on the scale. Overall sales revenue is up 38% from Q3 2020 while net profit is down 30%.
In their corresponding press release, CD PROJEKT Group announced that the “year-on-year reduction in net profit is mainly due to expenses related to updating Cyberpunk 2077 and exploratory work on new projects that are at an early stage of development.”
For anyone that caught the first half earnings presentation earlier this year or that has otherwise kept up with the news, this is mostly in line with what you already knew. In October, the next-gen release for Cyberpunk 2077 was pushed to early next year. That’s still all we know about that upgrade.
While The Witcher 3 was a commercial and critical success that skyrocketed CD PROJEKT’s reputation and paved the way for an engaging Netflix series and animated film based on the same books as the games, Cyberpunk 2077’s release was a disaster. The game’s hype consumed the gaming internet, with previews calling attention to the objectification of trans women’s bodies, while reviews were all over the place on gameplay, environment, and narrative, but were generally in agreement on the fact that the game was full of immersion-breaking glitches and game-breaking bugs. This in addition to a release cycle that was led into with promises that crunch wasn’t going to happen, all for an extended crunch period and two delays that still led to a broken game. And the fact that reviewers were only given the optimal version of the game (the PC edition) and were restricted from using their own screenshots (only those CD PROJEKT sent out).
Yet Steam reviews were buoyed this weekend by Black Friday sales, with Steam seeing the game’s highest player count since February and Quest Director Pawel Sasko
>expressing gratitude on Twitter for the positive reception. You should check out the subreddit; it’s a mix of corporate sycophants, the long-beleaguered, and people new to the game. (I just got the game very cheap from GameStop and had my main companion’s guns disappear from his hands in the first mission. Suffice to say, there’s work to be done.)
While broken releases have become a mainstay of mainstream videogame release, especially in the massive open world genres which dominate much of gaming discourse, it’s a terrible thing we’ve all just gotten used to. Just as Cyberpunk 2077 was delayed, patches and updates have been delayed. Hopefully this means the game is fully functional when the next-gen release rolls out. The discounted sales are a great way to introduce new players and buoy reputation, but they don’t erase what came before, and they can’t assure quality in what comes next.