A sign advertising the game Cyberpunk 2077.
Mike Kemp | In pictures via Getty Images
Shares in Polish games publisher CD Projekt rose sharply on Wednesday after the company announced several big games it is working on over the next few years, including new installments of its popular Cyberpunk and Witcher franchises.
In a strategy update late Tuesday, CD Projekt revealed a slew of new titles currently in development, including a sequel to Cyberpunk 2077 codenamed Orion. The game “will continue to advance the cyberpunk franchise and continue to leverage the potential of this dark future universe,” the company said.
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Shares of CD Projekt rose around 7% on Wednesday afternoon, after earlier rising as much as 9% at market open.
It comes after a series of glitches that have plagued the company over the past two years. After much hype, Cyberpunk 2077’s 2020 launch was met with anger from gamers who experienced bugs and poor performance on older consoles. The launch of the game occurred in the same year that new machines from Sony and Microsoft were released.
The reaction to the bug was so intense that Sony eventually removed the game from its digital PlayStation Store. Cyberpunk 2077 was later reinstated into the service.
Since then, CD Projekt has made several updates and improvements to Cyberpunk 2077, while the release of an anime TV series based on the futuristic sci-fi franchise Cyberpunk: Edgerunners has helped reignite interest in the game.
CD Projekt says it has sold 20 million copies of its Cyberpunk 2077 game to date and over 65 million copies of all three games in its Witcher franchise.
Last year, the company suffered a ransomware attack that saw hackers steal the source code of several of its games – including The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 – and sell them on the dark web. In particular, CD Projekt refused to pay the ransom demanded by hackers at the time.
Despite a surge in CD Projekt’s share price on Wednesday, the stock is down more than 40% year-to-date.
Here were some other highlights from CD Projekt’s strategy update:
- The company proposed a stock-based employee incentive program aimed at attracting — and retaining — top development talent. According to Chief Financial Officer Piotr Nielubowicz, the program will be “similar to those offered by our leading global competitors.”
- It opens a new development studio in Boston, Massachusetts to expand its presence in North America.
- CD Projekt plans to buy up to 100 million Polish zlotys ($21 million) worth of its own shares from investors as part of a share buyback plan.
The company also announced that its co-founder and joint CEO, Marcin Iwinski, will step down after 28 years in that role. Iwinski will remain Co-CEO until the end of 2022, after which he will become Chairman of the Supervisory Board.
According to a statement on Tuesday, he will remain “a major shareholder” and provide “active and dedicated” support to the board.
Packed pipeline of games
Three new games in the Witcher RPG series are expected to launch in the coming years, including a new installment in the franchise codenamed Polaris. The game was announced by the company back in March and is a sequel to the company’s acclaimed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. It is currently in pre-production.
CD Projekt didn’t provide a timeline for the new games’ release, but said its three new original Witcher titles would be released within six years of Polaris’ release.
The company plans to push into online multiplayer with some of its future titles, including another game in the Witcher franchise codenamed Sirius.
“We plan to add multiplayer to some of our future titles, and we plan to do more in TV and film,” said Michal Nowakowski, senior vice president of business development at CD Projekt.
CD Projekt also announced an all-new game, codenamed Hadar, that it’s working on beyond its two main franchises. The company didn’t reveal many details, but said it was “currently in the concept phase.”
It was an unusual demonstration of transparency in the gaming industry. Large publishers often hold back on planned major releases until they are ready to show fans visuals and gameplay, typically at large trade shows.
Companies like Sony and Nintendo are increasingly forgoing flashy industry conferences like the E3 trade show in favor of smaller updates. After being canceled once in 2020 and replaced by a digital alternative in 2021, E3 was canceled again this year by organizers citing health risks linked to Covid-19.