Sep 26, 2022 - Technology

Cyberpunk 2077 surges after Netflix anime debut

Video game screenshot of a man in a yellow jacket standing in front of a futuristic cityscape

Cyberpunk 2077. Screenshot: CD Projekt RED

One of gaming’s most notorious recent releases, 2020’s Cyberpunk 2077, is making a comeback, aided by a popular new spinoff anime airing on Netflix.

Driving the news: Cyberpunk’s peak daily player count on PC gaming service Steam reached 136,724 on Sunday, more than 7x its daily high in August.

  • The futuristic, open-world action adventure is on a historic run on PC, gaining players every day last week to reach totals not attained since the weeks right after its December 2020 launch.
  • “You just do not see that,” Forbes game writer Paul Tassi, who has been chronicling Cyberpunk’s post-release life, wrote last week.

Cyberpunk’s resurgence is a surprise given the negativity around the game since its disastrous launch and the failure of previous post-release updates to significantly drive interest.

  • The game sold more than 13 million copies at launch, but its poor technical performance on Xbox and PlayStation consoles led to recalls, apologies and Sony delisting the game from its PlayStation marketplace for months.
  • Player counts dropped, CD Projekt RED’s stock price plunged and the studio soon began emphasizing its plans to shift resources to the future of the warmly received Witcher series.
  • The Netflix anime "Edgerunners," which premiered on Sept. 13, appeared to be a vestige of a plan made when Cyberpunk was expected to have a rosier post-release life.

But Cyberpunk’s resurgence also isn’t a surprise to those familiar with the comebacks of other gaming launch disasters, such as No Man’s Sky and Final Fantasy XIV, which proved that post-release overhauls can rewrite a game’s rep.

  • Like Cyberpunk, those games had strong initial sales, meaning there were lots of players who were a re-download away from giving them another shot.
  • By contrast, games that sold poorly from the start, such as SquareEnix’s Babylon’s Fall, have failed to patch their way to success.
  • Cyberpunk’s 1.5 patch in February addressed some player complaints such as the game’s traffic system, but the numbers are spiking alongside the release of "Edgerunners" and the game’s 1.6 update, which adds some content tied to the show.

Yes, but: The warmer response hasn’t fully turned things around.

  • The game still has issues, and CDPR is promising new rounds of updates, including an overhaul of its police system.
  • Updates after 1.6 won’t be applied to the much-criticized PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game, leaving people who bought those editions behind.
  • On Xbox, the game is listed as a top-seller. On the most-played charts, it ranked 31st today, a solid if not spectacular showing.
  • Financially, CDPR is still reeling. Its stock price is up 22% in the past month, but that is still well under half of its trading price on the eve of Cyberpunk’s release.

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