CD Projekt Red announced that the free next-gen upgrades for Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, meant for the PS5 and Xbox Series X, have target release dates for late 2021 (PDF). The company has been promising that the updates were on their way, but now we have a somewhat more specific window for when they might arrive — and it’s still within this calendar year.
For Cyberpunk 2077, the upgrade is a big opportunity to bring players back after its December 2020 launch, which was something of a fiasco. Releasing a free update to the game that takes advantage of the next-gen consoles’ power could be a way to get players to jump back into it. From Cyberpunk 2077’s launch, PS5 and Xbox Series players have been able to play the game utilizing backward compatibility mode. For PS4 and Xbox One players, running Cyberpunk 2077 could be a struggle, while the new consoles can provide reasonable performance.
Cyberpunk 2077 infamously had a launch plagued by bugs, poor performance, and crashes, with older consoles suffering the most. It was in such a poor state that it was yanked from the PlayStation Store shortly after launch and only recently returned, along with a warning. CD Projekt Red offered refunds to people who were disappointed by the game, though getting them was a bit of a hassle for a bit. Since then, the studio has worked to improve it with a number of patches and has even introduced new features to help make it easier to jump back into the game for those who gave up on it in frustration or lost interest after a few hours.
Despite the refunds, CD Projekt Red reports that in the first half of the year it brought in zł471 million PLN, which is about $124 million US, and had net profits of about $27.5 million (pdf). According to vice president and CFO Piotr Nielubowicz, that was lower than usual, and while it was driven by sales of the company’s two biggest games, spending on Cyberpunk 2077 updates took a bite out of profits.
A next-gen version of Cyberpunk 2077 could magnify the effect of the fixes and additional content, with people who already played giving it another chance now that it’s more optimized for new consoles. Plus, it could act as a sort of relaunch for the holiday season in 2021 — the list of games that are truly optimized for the PS5 and Xbox Series X is still pretty slim, so having Cyberpunk 2077 on it could help entice new players as well.
The Witcher 3 remains largely beloved years after its release, so a next-gen update is more of a bonus for existing fans or people who haven’t already experienced the game. CD Projekt Red is also preparing some free DLCs inspired by the hugely popular Netflix adaptation of The Witcher franchise.
Of course, looming over any next-gen game release or patch is the difficulty of obtaining one of the consoles. Sony has sold over 10 million PlayStation 5s, but even months after its November launch, it still sells out at lightning speed. Consoles, like seemingly everything else from computers to cars, have been affected by the chip shortage — when that’ll clear is anyone’s guess, though some industry heads have predicted that it could be at least a year or two.