A sign advertising the game Cyberpunk 2077.
Mike Kemp | In Pictures via Getty Images
Shares of Polish game publisher CD Projekt rose sharply Wednesday after the company announced several major games it’s working on in the next few years, including new installments in 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 take the Cyberpunk franchise further and continue harnessing the potential of this dark future universe,” the firm said.
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Shares of CD Projekt were up around 7% Wednesday afternoon, having earlier surged as much as 9% at the market open.
It comes after a series of mishaps that have plagued the company over the last two years. After much hype, Cyberpunk 2077’s launch in 2020 was met with rage from gamers who experienced bugs and poor performance on older consoles. The game’s launch came the same year that new machines from Sony and Microsoft were being released.
Backlash to the blunder was so fierce that at one point Sony removed the game from its digital PlayStation Store. Cyberpunk 2077 was later reinstated on the service.
Since then, CD Projekt 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 revive 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 to several of its games — including The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 — and sell it on the dark web. Notably, CD Projekt at the time refused to pay the ransom demanded by hackers.
Despite a surge in CD Projekt’s share price Wednesday, the stock is down more than 40% since the beginning of the year.
Here were some other highlights from CD Projekt’s strategy update:
- The company proposed a stock-based incentive program for employees 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 top global competitors.”
- It is opening a new development studio in Boston, Massachusetts, to help expand its footprint in North America.
- CD Projekt plans to buy up to 100 million Polish zlotys ($21 million) worth of its own stock from investors in a share buyback plan.
The company also revealed its co-founder and joint-CEO Marcin Iwinski will be stepping down after 28 years in the role. Iwinski will continue on as joint-CEO until the end of 2022, after which he will become chairman of the supervisory board.
He will remain “a major shareholder” and “active and engaged” in supporting the board, according to a statement Tuesday.
Packed pipeline of games
Three new games in the Witcher role-playing game series are expected to launch in the coming years, including a new installment in the franchise codenamed “Polaris.” Previously announced by the company in March, the game is a follow-up to the firm’s highly-acclaimed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. It is currently in pre-production.
CD Projekt did not specify a timeline for when the new games would come out but said its three new original Witcher titles would launch within a six-year period after 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 are planning to add multiplayer to some of our future titles, and we are planning to do more in the area of TV and film,” said Michal Nowakowski, CD Projekt’s senior vice president of business development.
CD Projekt’s multiplayer ambitions have a lot of potential due to higher engagement in multiplayer,” Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank, wrote in a note Wednesday.
CD Projekt also announced a totally new game it is working on beyond its main two franchises, codenamed Hadar. The firm did not give away much detail but said it is “currently in the conceptual phase.”
It was an unusual display of transparency in the games industry. Big publishers often remain tight-lipped about planned major releases until they are ready to present some visuals and gameplay to fans, typically at large trade shows.
Companies like Sony and Nintendo have increasingly eschewed showy industry conferences like the E3 expo in favor of smaller-scale updates. After being canceled once in 2020 and then replaced with a digital alternative in 2021, E3 was again scrapped this year by organizers, who cited health risks surrounding Covid-19.