Cyberpunk 2077 has already sold more than 13 million copies since its launch two weeks ago, according to the parent company of developer CD Projekt Red.
The sales milestone, revealed in an investor note from CD Projekt S.A. on Tuesday, is a remarkable one considering it accounts for some digital and physical refunds resulting from the game’s messy launch. That metric is counting sales between the game’s release on December 10th through December 20th, the note says.
Selling 13 million copies makes Cyberpunk 2077 one of the bestselling games of the year, though it still lags far behind the top 50 bestselling games of all time and CD Projekt Red’s last big hit, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which has sold more than 28 million copies across all platforms. Still, few games ever sell more than 10 million copies, and to break into the top 50 of all time you need only sell more than 19 million copies (to beat out NES classic Super Mario Bros. 3).
It’s likely Cyberpunk 2077 sales could soar far higher once the studio fixes more of its bugs and the game is rereleased on the PlayStation Store. (Sony pulled the game last week and began processing digital refunds for unsatisfied buyers.)
CD Projekt Red says that it has sold 13 million copies of Cyberpunk through digital and physical distribution channels as of December 20.This number factors in refunds processed by this point at both retail / digital.The game had 8m pre-orders prior to launch. pic.twitter.com/ZIg4j9nDeB— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) December 22, 2020
The financial success of the roleplaying game stands in stark contrast with its public perception as a multifaceted failure, a fact that has only intensified criticism of CD Projekt Red and also raised the possibility of a class action lawsuit. That something can be that successful while also being considered a deeply compromised product is also a stunning indictment of the current video game industry and its marketing and preorder model.
Because the studio promised the game would run well on current-generation consoles, it was able to accumulate more than 8 million preorders for Cyberpunk 2077, effectively covering the costs of the game’s nearly decade-long development cycle in single-day sales. Meanwhile, the studio took efforts to allegedly hide the performance of the game on those systems from media outlets ahead of time, according to a report from The New York Times.
Unlike other forms of media, which can often be easily assessed in a standardized format, video games require extensive first-hand experience on a variety of platforms for the full extent of a product’s overall quality to become clear. Without that knowledge ahead of time, millions of people purchased Cyberpunk 2077, only to discover its flaws later once players began posting clips online and assessing the game’s various bugs and performance issues on message boards.
Hence the refund campaign, which was its own whirlwind of controversy after CD Projekt Red revealed it had not hammered out formal refund agreements with its retail partners before advising customers to ask for their money back.
But if there’s any silver lining here, it’s that a project as huge and ambitious and, ultimately, over-hyped as Cyberpunk 2077 is now a teachable moment for customers and developers alike about treating major game releases with more skepticism and requiring more transparency around the quality of a product before placing a preorder.