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Factbox-CD Projekt's rocky road from Cyberpunk 2077 to Phantom Liberty

FILE PHOTO: Boxes with CD Projekt's game Cyberpunk 2077 are displayed in Warsaw

By Adrianna Ebert

GDANSK (Reuters) - Phantom Liberty, the long-awaited expansion to CD Projekt's flagship game Cyberpunk 2077, will debut on Tuesday on current generation consoles and PCs.

Cyberpunk, announced in 2012, was slotted to surpass the Witcher saga as the Polish studio's biggest title, but delays and game-play issues have marred the title since before its premiere.

Phantom Liberty, the only expansion planned for the game, is seen as a major indicator of whether CD Projekt, once the most highly valued company on the Polish stock market, can win back the trust of players and investors alike.

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RECORD SHARE PRICE AHEAD OF THRICE MOVED RELEASE

Cyberpunk 2077 was initially scheduled to be released on April 16, 2020, but its launch was postponed three times until Dec. 10 of the same year.

In the months leading up to the release, CD Projekt's market capitalisation exceeded 40 billion zlotys ($9.28 billion). On the eve of the premiere, the stock closed at 395.80 zlotys per share, after touching a record high of 464.20 zlotys earlier in the week.

RELEASE AND INITIAL REACTION

A few hours after the launch, CD Projekt said pre-orders for the title were estimated at over 8 million copies, well above those for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt at over 1 million.

Chief Executive Adam Kicinski said during a news conference the company had not considered a fourth delay, despite the game being riddled with errors.

Cyberpunk was released on PC and older-generation consoles: PlayStation 4 (PS4) and Xbox One. The PC version was rated 91 out of 100 on review website Metacritic on the day of the release. However, the PS4 version only scored 2.8 out of 10, while the Xbox version was rated 3.7 out of 10.

CD Projekt shares fell more than 8% on the day of the launch alone and lost a quarter of their value to 296.10 zlotys within five days.

RETURNS AND REMOVAL FROM SONY STORE

Following the negative reception, CD Projekt apologised to players and offered a refund.

Within days, Sony removed the digital version of Cyberpunk from its PlayStation Store until further notice due to the processing of returns, although the physical copy for PS4 was still available.

SALES LAG EXPECTATIONS

On Dec. 23, 2020, CD Projekt said it had sold less than 14 million copies of Cyberpunk, lagging the market's expectations for 16.4 million copies sold.

LAWSUIT

At the end of December 2020, CD Projekt's American shareholders filed a class action lawsuit against the company, demanding the court determine whether CD Projekt's actions related to Cyberpunk's release had violated federal regulations by misleading investors and thus leading to losses on their side.

The case was settled in January 2023, with CD Projekt set to pay $1.9 million to the claimants.

CYBER ATTACK

In early February 2021, CD Projekt was targeted by a cyber attack that affected some of its internal systems, including the Cyberpunk source code. This delayed the first major patch for the game, released in late March of the same year.

BACK TO PLAYSTATION STORE

The digital copy returned to the PlayStation Store on June 21, 2021. Within 10 days of its return, it became the most downloaded game on PS4.

NEXT-GENERATION UPDATE

In February 2022, CD Projekt released a Cyberpunk update for next-generation consoles. This release was also delayed after the company allocated additional time to work on the game.

EDGERUNNERS ANIME PROMPTS FRESH INTEREST

In mid-September 2022, the animated series, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, debuted on Netflix, sparking a surge in interest in the game. About a week after the series aired, the number of players simultaneously playing the game on the Steam platform rose to 86,000 from 30,000, reaching a level higher than a month after the game's release.

Together with the series premiere, CD Projekt released patch 1.6 for Cyberpunk, including anime-related add-ons. This was the last update for older generation consoles. By this time, the game's sales had exceeded 20 million copies.

SEQUEL IS ANNOUNCED

In early October 2022, CD Projekt presented seven new projects for three franchises, including a Cyberpunk sequel that would be developed by a newly opened studio in North America.

PHANTOM LIBERTY RELEASE DATE ANNOUNCED

On June 11, 2023, CD Projekt said the Phantom Liberty expansion would be released in September. Over the next three days, the company's shares gained nearly 24%, exceeding 160 zlotys.

UPDATE 2.0

On Sept. 21, CD Projekt released a free update 2.0 to the base game, featuring various improvements to the game mechanics. In the following weekend, the number of players simultaneously playing the game on Steam reached 169,711.

($1 = 4.3090 zlotys)

(Reporting by Adrianna Ebert; Editing by Milla Nissi and Anil D'Silva)