CD Projekt is unlikely to cope with the limitations of the older generation of consoles, which means that “Cyberpunk 2077” may remain a game mainly for PCs and the next-gen PlayStation and Xbox, Rockbridge TFI’s managing director Paweł Sugalski believes. According to the manager, the company should approach the planned multiplayer mode with caution, possibly reduce the scale of the production and – if possible – accelerate work on the next “The Witcher”.
A few days ago, we saw the release of the first set of patches for CD Projekt’s new production “Cyberpunk 2077”. Since its December release, the game has had a problem with a large number of bugs, mainly on the older PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles. Sony, the manufacturer of PlayStation removed the game from its shop, and Microsoft, the owner of Xbox, offered dissatisfied players a refund.
According to CD Projekt’s announcements, a second major patch for the game is due to be released in March. Investors expect it to allow the game to return to Sony’s shop.
According to Pawel Sugalski, further patches may help reduce the number of bugs, but CD Projekt is unlikely to be able to cope with the technical limitations of Sony and Microsoft’s older consoles.
“It’s hard for me to believe that in a few weeks we’ll be able to fix most of the game’s problems on consoles if this hasn’t been achieved so far. My impression is that the company is going in the direction of polishing, possibly lowering the quality of the graphics – these are smaller changes that I don’t think will significantly improve the game’s ratings. I would not expect a significant improvement in the short term,” – Sugalski told PAP Biznes.
“You should probably get used to the fact that it will be a game for PC and next-generation consoles,” – he added.
According to data from Superdata, among others, PCs are currently the driving force behind the game’s sales – Superdata estimates that in December around 80 percent of the 10.2 million copies of “Cyberpunk 2077” digital sales went to PCs. The PC version also receives the highest marks from players, with 78% of players on Steam giving it a positive rating, while the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions are rated 3.5 and 4.8 respectively on Metacritic’s 10-point scale.
The game is also well received by owners of the so-called next-generation consoles, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X, which hit the market last November. However, Sugalski notes that due to supply issues, sales of the new consoles are not high, which in turn translates into volumes of games bought, including “Cyberpunk”.
“Factories and supply chains are not efficient enough to meet the very high demand. The path to high volume is gradual – we will not jump oversupply issues, especially during a pandemic,” – he said.
Sugalski pointed out that problems with “Cyberpunk” postpone the sale of paid add-ons to the game and raise questions about the scale of the planned multiplayer version of the game.
“I have doubts, for example, about the scale of the multiplayer version – it has a much higher risk of errors than any single-player game. It seems to me that the company may not be ready to risk the failure of this large project. Some form of closed testing and gradual development of this production may be necessary here. – he assessed.
The manager believes that the biggest problem will be the delay of the expected next game in the “Witcher” series, thanks to which CD Projekt has gained fame and recognition from players.
“The hen laying golden eggs is the ‘Witcher’ series and it should continue to be monetized – a faster return to this franchise would help the company get back on its feet. Unfortunately, we know that this is unlikely to happen within 2-3 years. The game is expected in 2025.” – he said.
PAP Biznes’s interviewee expects that CD Projekt’s strategy update, to be presented after the annual results, will not contain very specific information about the studio’s schedule for future productions.
“So the question is when we will get another game to fill the sales gap. I’m afraid that the upcoming strategy update will not be very specific, because after a failed release the company will be heavily accounted for every announcement.” – he said.
According to the manager, the bad news for CD Projekt is the several dozen percent discounts of “Cyberpunk” visible for several days, including in the Amazon shop and other chains.
“The company has already announced before the release that people who bought the game for last-gen consoles will receive a special version for next-gen consoles for free in the future. It would have been much better if the company had only been able to announce this as part of its post-release reputation rescue. Unfortunately, now the management doesn’t have this move. To make matters worse, everyone who buys the game now on e.g. Amazon for around $35 will receive the next-gen version for free in the second half of the year – a certain arbitrage is created here, which may affect the average selling price of the game in the long run.” – he said
“The average price of the game was high in analysts’ forecasts, mainly due to the brilliantly executed pricing of ‘The Witcher 3’. This year, the drop in the average price of ‘Cyberpunk’ was expected to be around 10 percent, which seems to be a very optimistic target at the moment.” – he added.
According to Sugalski, the scale of the discounts indicates that many copies of “Cyberpunk” have not been sold, as distributors have greatly overestimated the premiere print run. The PS4 and Xbone One versions of the game have been available on Amazon for over a week now for around $35, which represents a discount of over 40%. The PC version, which has also been sold at a similar discount for a week, returned to its launch price of $59.99 on Amazon on Tuesday.
According to the manager of Rockbridge TFI, the game’s discounts by distributors may make it necessary for CD Projekt to record reserves in Q1.
Sugalski notes at the same time that the lower price of the game should support sales volumes in the short term, but in the long term the manager expects sales to decline.