Sony removes CD Projekt Red’s 2020 blockbuster in a damning and unprecedented move that might send ripples throughout the industry.
Perhaps it’s a twist of poetic justice for CD Projekt Red after it reversed the decision to list Red Candle Games’ Devotion on its GOG storefront, but Sony has now announced that it is pulling the year’s big blockbuster, Cyberpunk 2077, from the PlayStation store. It will also be offering blanket refunds to anyone that requests it. (That won’t be rejected this time.)
SIE strives to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction, and we will begin to offer a full refund for all gamers who have purchased Cyberpunk 2077 via PlayStation Store and want a refund. Please visit the following link to initiate the refund: https://t.co/DEZlC0LmUG.
— Ask PlayStation (@AskPlayStation) December 18, 2020
While most people are sympathetic to the developers who worked on Cyberpunk 2077, it’s fair to say that patience for (and reaction to) CD Projekt Red’s senior management has become less charitable with every new twist in this tale.
The use of passive voice, “a decision was made,” is a particularly good observation. That’s non-apology 101.
It’s a completely unprecedented step to delist such a big release and one that will, no doubt, have ramifications in the future. Sony (perhaps notoriously) has precious little curation on its store, permitting utterly broken games like Life of Black Tiger. We’ve been here before with countless high-profile releases like Fallout 76, yet this is still an exceptional case.
As for exactly why Cyberpunk 2077 is the exception is as of yet unclear. We may never know. It could be damage control in response to bad press Sony is getting for its digital refund policy (even compared to Microsoft’s), the high refund rate overwhelming PlayStation support, or to limit its marketing spend on a blockbuster title that the platform holders themselves were also pushing.
Another possibility is that it is due to a breakdown of relations between CDPR and Sony, given that refunds were offered by CDPR’s initial “apology” before consulting them. It’s impossible to know exactly why for now, but a combination of the above seems likely. 41% of those initial 8 million preorders were console sales and I imagine PS4 took a slightly larger proportion of console sales as usual, so they might well be facing the larger backlash.
It comes after CDPR’s standard response to emailing their help address if you couldn’t secure a refund ([email protected]) was signalling that you should continue requesting refunds from Microsoft, but otherwise wait if you own a PS4 copy. They were potentially aware that they were at risk of being delisted at the time.
Also of note is that Cyberpunk 2077 is officially a PlayStation 4 game, with the upgraded PlayStation 5 version not due until 2021. This means that, although Cyberpunk 2077 is in somewhat better shape on PS5, owners of Sony’s latest console won’t be able to purchase it digitally. Copies of the game will still be available at retail, however.
Whether Microsoft will follow suit is unclear. People seem to be having more success securing refunds for Xbox One copies (although not entirely), so Microsoft might stick to simply loosening their refund policy for the game.
Opencritic recently slammed CDPR for the “severe performance issues on Xbox One and PlayStation 4,” saying they intentionally hid the last-gen versions of the game with the intention of only fixing them next year. “They did it knowing that what they were doing was wrong. It was deceptive, selfish, and exploitative. They did it anyway.”
In the meantime, if you want an alternative cyberpunk experience with games that aren’t broken, you can always opt for this anti-Cyberpunk 2077 bundle. The bundle was released in parallel to Cyberpunk 2077 in opposition to the game’s “exploitative labor practices,” “transphobia“, and “racist stereotypes.”