Cyberpunk 2077 has likely already paid for itself. In a memo issued Friday, CD Projekt — the parent company of developer CD Projekt Red — said that its revenue from digital pre-order sales alone exceeds all of Cyberpunk 2077’s production costs and all of the company’s marketing and promotional costs for the game this year.
In a series of tweets issued on Thursday, CD Projekt announced that Cyberpunk 2077 had been pre-ordered more than 8 million times. Nearly three-fourths of those pre-orders were for digital copies of the game, for which CD Projekt has a higher profit margin than for physical copies sold at the same price. The company also announced that sales of Cyberpunk 2077 on Steam crossed the $50 million mark “over 2 weeks ago,” meaning that from that point forward, it has been receiving 80% of royalties from the platform.
All of this is good news for the individual workers making the game, as they have been promised a 10% share of the company’s annual profit for 2020 — just as in recent years. A full accounting of CD Projekt’s bottom line, and the full scope of the financial success of Cyberpunk 2077, won’t surface until the company’s next investor report in 2021.
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As a publicly traded company, and one of the largest such companies on the Polish stock markets, CD Projekt regularly makes its financial results known. In accordance with national regulations, it is also compelled to make statements like this one about issues that fundamentally alter its financial status. The same thing happened when the company struck a deal with The Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski in 2019.
This particular memo comes on the same day that the company’s stock saw a precipitous decline — around 29% — likely in response to the critical and commercial reception of the game, which has been mixed.
Whatever the reason for the statement, it’s nonetheless impressive. According to management, “estimated licensing royalties […] in association with pre-order sales of Cyberpunk 2077 across all of its digital distribution channels have exceeded the sum of the following: total development expenditures related to the game, and the game’s marketing and promotional costs borne by the Company.”
But wait, you’re asking, hasn’t this game been in development more or less since 2012? Yes. Yes, it has, and according to Friday’s notice, the money that Cyberpunk 2077 has earned from pre-orders on Steam and other digital distribution platforms, like the PlayStation Store and Xbox Games Store — that’s what “licensing royalties […] in association with pre-order sales” means, as opposed to revenue from, say, branded Doritos or gamer chairs — exceeds marketing costs “either already incurred or anticipated for the remainder of 2020” as well as development costs.
This announcement comes in the shadow of multiple controversies surrounding Cyberpunk 2077, not the least of which is the condition in which it launched on legacy consoles. The team has reportedly been crunching, working long hours for more than a year. And they’re still at it, issuing a day-zero patch and a day-two hotfix just hours ago.
CD Projekt Red has faced criticism for Cyberpunk 2077’s marketing — in particular, the usage of a sexualized trans model in a promotional poster, as well as the flippant tone used in much of the game’s advertising and social media. Many fans feel uncertain about how Cyberpunk 2077 will approach sensitive topics that will invariably come up for the marginalized characters who exist in the game’s huge and diverse open world.
CD Projekt Red has also been scrutinized for its work practices, particularly with regard to “crunch,” a common games industry practice of long hours of overtime lasting weeks or months. CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwiński said that he wanted the company to be “more humane,” and pledged a “non-obligatory crunch policy.” However, CD Projekt Red ultimately imposed obligatory crunch on some employees, pushing workers to crunch for extended periods amid monthslong delays.
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