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Sony pulls Cyberpunk 2077 from PlayStation store after public outcry


Sony has removed CD Projekt SA's Cyberpunk 2077 from its PlayStation Store and is offering full refunds, taking unusual steps to appease customers furious about bugs plaguing one of the year's most highly anticipated gaming blockbusters.

The radical move to pull the game "till further notice" came after the console version of Cyberpunk 2077 debuted Dec. 10, following several delays, to reviews calling out problems and an online outcry from players frustrated with its poor performance.

CD Projekt shares dropped as much as 20% in Warsaw at the start of Friday's trading, erasing this year's gains.

Warsaw-based developer CD Projekt -- best known for 2015's The Witcher 3, part of a franchise that was turned into a successful Netflix Inc. series -- has offered refunds to any disappointed players, but Sony is going a step further by entirely removing the game from its store. Cyberpunk features Hollywood star Keanu Reeves as an in-game character and has used the actor as its most visible ambassador in the buildup to its release.

CD Projekt, whose shares have plunged 40% since Dec. 4, confirmed Sony's decision in a regulatory statement. The studio said it was "working hard" to bring its game back to the PlayStation store and that it had discussions with Sony regarding a full refund for all gamers seeking one.

It said that "all copies, whether digital or physical, will continue to receive support and updates" to help fix the game's teething problems. Its shares traded 15% lower at 261.8 zloty at 10:43 a.m. in Warsaw.

Trigon analyst Kacper Kopron said that Sony's decision is one of "worst scenarios" for the company as PlayStation represents two-thirds of the console market. He expects that the move may trim estimates for Cyberpunk sales by 30% to 40%.

Erste Group analyst Emil Poplawski cut his recommendation on CD Projekt's shares to reduce from buy, setting a target price of 280.5 zloty. Analysts at MBank and VTB Capital expect the game to be restored to PlayStation's store after larger fixes in early 2021.

On Monday, the developers posted a message on Twitter saying they "should have paid more attention to making it play better on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One." But the company had not cleared its offer of a refund with console manufacturers Sony or Microsoft Corp., both of which have stringent refund policies.

This week, many players who requested refunds found themselves out of luck. Sony said it was working to resolve issues with accessing the refund.

CD Projekt Chief Executive Officer Adam Kicinski was cited as saying by PAP news agency that the gaming studio isn't currently holding talks with Microsoft about removing Cyberpunk from its Xbox store.

It's rare for any title to be removed from stores so soon after release. Previous examples include Square Enix Holdings's Final Fantasy XIV, which was taken offline for an overhaul following its disastrous 2010 launch, and Amazon.com's Crucible, yanked from PC stores earlier this year and subsequently canceled.

Cyberpunk's developers faced intense public pressure to get the game out this year, rising to the level of death threats, as Senior Game Designer Andrzej Zawadzki tweeted in October. Six-day work weeks became the norm in the final months leading up to the eventual release, breaking with previous pledges from CD Projekt leaders that the company would avoid imposing a so-called crunch to hurry a game into existence through overtime.

The company has said it's continuing work to rectify the issues players are encountering in Cyberpunk 2077 -- and its prior blockbuster, The Witcher 3, improved drastically after its release thanks to downloadable patches.

Published : December 18, 2020

By : Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Vlad Savov, Konrad Krasuski, Jason Schreier