Sony stunned the games market by removing Cyberpunk 2077 from its online PlayStation store a week before Christmas and offering full refunds to disappointed customers, after one of the most expensive and anticipated titles in industry history was hit by glitches.
Analysts in Tokyo said it was the first time that Sony had pulled a so-called “triple-A” title from its download store.
The move was a “humiliation” for CD Projekt Red, the Polish studio that produced Cyberpunk 2077, a dystopian thriller starring a digital Keanu Reeves costing around $60 that was forecast to sell 30m copies over the next two years.
CD Projekt Red’s Warsaw-traded shares tumbled as much as 20 per cent on Friday, with the stock down 40 per cent since the game was released.
Adam Kiciński, the game studio’s joint chief executive, said the suspension was “temporary” and that there were no current discussions about Microsoft also pulling the game from its online store.
He noted that gamers can “continue to purchase physical versions of the PlayStation edition in retail and mail order stores.”
The game, which was first teased in a trailer in 2013, is one of the most anticipated in history, despite repeated delays. More than 8m people ordered the game on consoles and PCs before its release, anticipating a success similar to the studio’s previous game, the melancholic fantasy adventure Witcher 3, which sold 28m copies.
But gamers reported serious issues with Cyberpunk 2077, such as crashes, visual glitches and malfunctioning mechanics almost immediately after it launched on December 10.
The title would not be on sale “until further notice”, Sony said.
A Microsoft spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment about whether it would follow suit.
Sony said it did not have a timeline for reinstating the game. CD Projekt Red has promised to release fixes for the game in January and February.
“We are working hard to bring Cyberpunk 2077 back to PlayStation Store as soon as possible,” CD Projekt Red wrote on Twitter on Friday.
“It’s the worst-case scenario for CD Projekt Red,” said Serkan Toto, a Tokyo-based analyst and games industry consultant. “Before you pull a game like that a platform provider like Sony would need to be really angry with the developer and desperate to protect their reputation as a platform. Quality is such a big issue that Sony will have seen no other choice. My guess is that Microsoft will follow.”
The game’s release comes just one month after the launches of two next generation consoles — Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X — and was seen as a showcase title. The period ahead of the Cyberpunk 2077 launch, however, generated speculation that it may have been rushed to market despite known quality issues.
Among those expressing frustration with the game on Twitter was Elon Musk, Tesla chief executive.
In October, Amazon’s game studio took the decision to cancel its own title Crucible just six months after its release, following a poor reception.
#techFT brings you news, comment and analysis on the big companies, technologies and issues shaping this fastest moving of sectors from specialists based around the world. Click here to get #techFT in your inbox.
Additional reporting by James Shotter
Get alerts on Gaming when a new story is published