Perhaps the most interesting promise CD Projekt RED made last year was that anyone who purchased a physical copy Cyberpunk 2077 would receive a refund, even if they were unable to return the game to where they originally bought it. CD Projekt RED set a deadline for this, asking that all physical refund requests had to be submitted before December 21.
This promise brought with it a lot of interesting and weird questions. What do people do with the discs they bought? Do you just ship CD Projekt RED your copy of Cyberpunk 2077? What happens if you bought and redeemed a digital code from a retailer? And in that case, are you asking for a refund from someone like Microsoft or Sony...or a retailer like Target?
Weeks later, the company is starting to make good, and as expected, it's pretty weird!
VICE Games spoke with several Cyberpunk 2077 owners who submitted requests to CD Projekt RED in December, and have since been issued those refunds, largely via PayPal.
It's rare for a video game to arrive so broken that its developers are forced to publicly concede defeat and encourage people to return the game and ask for refunds. And while Cyberpunk 2077 isn't the most broken game that's ever been released, a combination of deception on CD Projekt RED's part and the weight of expectations caused a unique storm, prompting retailers like Best Buy and GameStop to reverse long held policies of refusing to accept returns for games people had bought and played and give them their money back.
Yes, that's a PayPal transfer to someone for nearly $300, a refund for the collector's edition of Cyberpunk 2077 that retails for $250. (The extra money comes from the added sales tax.) That someone is Steve, who asked to keep his last name private.
The collector's edition of Cyberpunk 2077 comes with a ton of stuff, in addition to a copy of the game: a massive box, a detailed statue, a map of Night City, stickers, an art book, and more. The person who received this refund has not had to send anything back, including the game. They continue to own the collector's edition, while having been refunded for buying it.
"I was surprised I didn’t need to [send it back]," Steve told VICE Games recently. "So I still have everything. As a customer, I feel they 'made good' on it. Just show proof and we’ll return your money."
Several people told VICE Games the process noted they would have to send their copy of the game back at some point, but none have been asked to do so yet. CD Projekt RED did not respond to a request for comment about whether this policy would later be enforced.
Perhaps the trickiest refund, the one that seemed likely to get caught in-between worlds and ignored, was someone who purchased a digital code at a retailer, redeemed that code, and then wanted a refund. In this chain, maybe you've bought the code at Best Buy, but you've redeemed it on a platform owned by Microsoft and Sony. Who's responsible for that refund?
CD Projekt RED, as it turns out.
Ben, who asked to only be identified by his first name to avoid the attention of the entire Internet, was in this exact situation, and told by a retailer to speak with CD Projekt RED. When Ben filled out CD Projekt RED's refund form, there was no option for this particular situation. Ben had to follow-up with the developer and explained their weird predicament.
"Upon further review, we have decided to honor your request for a refund for your digital copy, which you bought outside of the PlayStation Network or Microsoft store," reads an exchange with customer support shared with VICE Games.
The refund showed up a week later.
"Strangely, [I] have still got access to the game via my Xbox, it doesn't show as being revoked, even though I sent them the code," said Ben. "No idea how that will pan out in the long run!"
Typically, getting a refund—whether physically or digitally—involves returning the product in question. Because retailers were only allowing physical refunds for a brief window in December, and because not every retailer was allowing them, this created some hiccups where someone could be left wanting their money back, while having to keep the product.
There's certainly a lot of room for exploitation in a situation like this, and while the people VICE Games spoke to seemed genuine, CD Projekt RED also opened the door to this situation when it broadly announced people should seek those refunds. Perhaps the reason the studio isn't sweating sending out $60 (or $300!) far and wide is because the game sold more than 13 million copies in December, and 13 million people are not asking for refunds.
The process itself, however, was easy enough. VICE Games looked over the form people were asked to fill out, which included a "unique ticket number" attached to each request, which people had to physically write out and take a photo of, and send it to the studio. That same "unique ticket number" had to be written out in a photo next to a "proof of purchase" that could include a "receipt, order confirmation email, credit card statement."
Every person VICE Games spoke to requested a direct PayPal refund, but CD Projekt RED also allowed individuals to exchange their console copy of the game for a PC version. The PC version of Cyberpunk 2077 isn't perfect, but is largely seen as the best version currently.
Not everyone who requested a refund has heard from CD Projekt RED yet, but the form says the developer expects "to be contacting gamers who filled out this form throughout February and March 2021." One person heard from CD Projekt RED while we were talking about how they hadn't heard from CD Projekt RED, so they are, at the moment, working through the pile.