Only 1.6% of Cyberpunk 2077 copies were refunded, with current and future refunds only affecting 9% of CD Projekt’s total game revenue in 2020.
CD Projekt had previously announced Cyberpunk 2077 sold 13.7 million units in 2020, in spite of the game’s issues. Some condemned the announcement; stating the game was still being buggy and fixed, and achieved pre-orders from allegedly deceptive trailers.
Earlier figures had placed this at 700,000 less than the new report. Despite selling 13 million copies by the end of December 2020, the founders of developer CD Projekt Red were predicted to have lost $1 billion USD. While the new figure is based on “company estimates based on information collected from distributors,” it is unsure how refunds have affected this figure.
However, CD Projekt’s financial report for 2020 notes they spent zł8.459 million PLN (est. $2.17 million USD) on their Help Me Refund campaign for the game. This included both refunds, and “estimated operating and financial expenses related to the campaign.” The campaign was designed for those who were unable to get a refund from other methods (such as retailers and online stores).
Nonetheless, CD Projekt made zł2,138,875 (est. $563.7 million USD) in sale revenue. This becomes zł1,154,327 (est. $303 million USD) in net profit.
Business analyst Mike Futter noted on Twitter that while investors were still unimpressed, and after conversations with Ars Technica Senior Gaming Editor Kyle Orland, CD Projekt had only lost 9% of their total software sales from refunds; including what they set aside for future returns.
“Not sure if anyone else shared this, but in addition to the number of Cyberpunk copies sold in 2020 (13.7m) and massive net profits ($303m USD) we know how much CDProjekt spent on the refunds: $2.17m USD. Total CDPR game sales in 2020: $563.7m USD.”
“Put another way… the cost of the refunds was 0.385% of total game revenue for CDPR in 2020. Refund rates are low. The harder it is, the less utilized they are. The “Help Me Refund” program required consumers to jump through hoops. Every additional hoop causes attrition.”
“The optics of the whole thing are what matter… and investors are still wildly unimpressed with CDProjekt. Share price peaked at a close of 425 PLN. The price is now 176 PLN. The last time it was this low was January 2019. Cyberpunk eroded 12 months of growth in an instant.”
“Here’s what we landed on: CDP identifies another 40m PLN ($10.65m USD) in short-term returns (Q4 2021). We believe this represents digital storefronts (PSN, Xbox, Steam, GOG).”
“Additionally, CDP has set aside 145m PLN ($38.3m USD) in long-term provision covering 2021. This seems to include returns in 2020 that didn’t make it into revenue reports for that quarter (and were therefore reflected in Q1 2021).”
“Additionally, this seems to be a hedge against reserve pricing due to overstocked supply and diminished demand, lost physical sales due to lack of need for wholesaler resupply, lost PSN sales, and additional returns.”
“Total impact seems to be around $51m USD… or 9% of total software sales in 2020. Way more significant all told than just the Help Me Refund program, but entirely recoverable unless sales fall off a cliff in 2021. And investors are likely to remain skittish…”
In terms of only the returns in 2020, Futter’s analysis on Virtual Economy and Orland’s on Ars Technica notes that (despite the confusing language of the financial report), CD Projekt expect only an additional $38.34 million USD in refunds in 2021 (based on information from distributors and retailers). Even this includes the lost revenue of the game not being on the PlayStation Store.
Orland calculates that the 13.7 million Cyberpunk 2077 units sold in 2020 when combined with the $12.9 million USD in refunds (averaged out at $60 USD), means that CD Projekt refunded just under 215,000 copies; 1.6% of Cyberpunk 2077 copies sold.
An earnings call confirmed roughly 30,000 copies were refunded through the Help Me Refund campaign. As aforementioned, Futter predicts this cost 0.385% of CR Projekt’s total revenue.
CD Projekt has had months of negative press thank to the game; numerous delays and leaked footage were not the end of the woes. One reviewer suffered a major epileptic seizure, and accused the developer on basing the Braindance headset off a medical device designed to intentionally induce seizures.
Despite high praise from initial reviews, users complained of Cyberpunk 2077‘s numerous glitches and bugs; along with poor optimization, and the console version having inferior graphics and more bugs. Even critic reviews that praised the game also discussed those issues.
CD Projekt Red stock value dropped by 29% in a week after the game launched. CD Projekt Red apologized for the game’s advertising and launch, and offered full refunds. However, two lawsuits have been launched by investors- one in Poland also being an attorney.
Both Sony and Microsoft stated they would offer full refunds for the game. Sony would remove the game from the PlayStation Store, but there were “no talks” of Microsoft removing it from theirs.
The company also shared their “Commitment to Quality” agenda, and FAQ trying to explain how the issues came about. The Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) is also monitoring CD Projekt.
In a “Strategy Update for investors,” Adam Kicinsk, President and Joint CEO of Projekt Red, explained the companies’ future plans for growth, and changes. This included announcing the cancellation of the game’s stand-alone multiplayer, and future marketing and PR campaigns being closer to the game’s launch.
Did CD Projekt stating they were wrong and would fix the game help stave off refunds? What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!
Cyberpunk 2077 is available on Windows PC (via Epic Games, GOG, and Steam), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Google Stadia. The game is also coming to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S in 2021, and players on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One respectively will be able to upgrade to the next-gen for free.