Games

Botched 'Cyberpunk 2077' Release Has Somehow Gotten Even Messier

Sony's decision to stop selling copies of 'Cyberpunk 2077' on its digital storefront is an unprecedented move.
December 18, 2020, 4:45pm
A screen shot from the video game Cyberpunk 2077.
Image courtesy of CD Projekt RED

Last night, Sony took the unprecedented step of removing Cyberpunk 2077 from its digital storefront. If you own a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5, you can no longer buy Cyberpunk 2077 from the comfort of your couch. It is still possible to buy and play Cyberpunk 2077 by purchasing a physical copy of the game, but nonetheless, this was an unprecedented move.

The announcement of the delisting came from Sony, not developer CD Projekt RED. For a move this big, you would have imagined it would have been made in coordination with everyone. Instead, it was announced out of nowhere for many players in the early evening, and arrived in the middle of the night for the Polish developer. The executives who made the decision to push Cyberpunk 2077 out in time for the holidays were likely sleeping at the time.

The studio eventually issued an awkward financial statement confirming the delisting news, claiming the move was the result of a conversation with Sony about how to facilitate refunds for the game, but that confirmation coming through an investor memo strikes as very odd.

Advertisement

The company's stock fell 20 percent upon the news hitting the financial markets.

CD Projekt RED did eventually acknowledge what happened to its fans in a tweet:

That Sony arrived at this conclusion is not shocking. The company has been repeatedly criticized this week by fans for its stubborn refund policy, which broadly denies anyone who's played any amount of time with a game they've purchased. Sony only offers blanket refunds if a game is faulty, but because CD Projekt RED was still selling Cyberpunk 2077, Sony did not deem the game "faulty" and instead pointed customers towards news of coming patches. 

By removing Cyberpunk 2077 from the store entirely, it's now "faulty" and can be refunded.

Despite being delisted, the game will continue to receive patches promised by the developer in the coming weeks of months. VICE Games reported yesterday that a patch is reportedly scheduled for December 21. What will allow the game to properly return to the store is unclear, and it remains available to purchase digitally on platforms like Xbox and Stadia. 

Update: Microsoft is now offering “full refunds,” according to a statement released to Kotaku.

Advertisement

“We know the developers at CD Projekt Red have worked hard to ship Cyberpunk in extremely challenging circumstances,” said the spokesperson. “However, we also realize that some players have been unhappy with the current experience on older consoles. To date, we have granted refunds to the vast majority of customers who have requested one. To ensure that every player is able to get the experience they expect on Xbox, we will be expanding our existing refund policy to offer full refunds to anyone who purchased Cyberpunk 2077 digitally from the Microsoft Store, until further notice.”

A lot of questions remain unanswered. CD Projekt RED has promised a solution for people who bought physical copies of the game, but we still don't know what that "solution" will be. 

Update: Following discovery of a customer service agent at Best Buy suggesting they would allow refunds, Best Buy has confirmed to VICE Games it will allow customers to return copies of Cyberpunk 2077, even opened copies, through December 21. CD Projekt RED is also saying it will pay, out of pocket, for refunds of physical copies.

In 2015, Afro Samurai 2 was removed from the PlayStation Store and everyone was offered refunds. That same year, Warner Bros. removed the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight for PC from Steam and other platforms because it ran so poorly. But Cyberpunk 2077 was not only one of the most anticipated games of the year, it was one of the most anticipated games of the past decade, riding a wave of passion for the studio's last project, Witcher 3.

That it's been five years between incidents underscores how rare a move like this is. It's normal for video games to ship with bugs. They are complicated creatures, made of code and trickery that often falls apart. But the problems with Cyberpunk 2077, especially on consoles, was shocking by even those standards, and it was clear the game was unfinished. 

Following a backlash from fans, CD Projekt RED encouraged players to seek refunds. Refunds are relatively new to games in their transition to digital, and in many cases are hard to get. And if you buy a physical copy, refunds might as well not exist. As VICE Games reported earlier this week, it quickly became clear the company had not consulted with its partners, resulting in many players being denied for the refund they were told would happen.


Follow Patrick on Twitter. His email is patrick.klepek@vice.com, and available privately on Signal (224-707-1561).