In a recent investor call, CD Projekt Red explained that Cyberpunk 2077 has more pre-orders than any game in The Witcher franchise has ever had. This is pretty incredible considering just how popular The Witcher series is. That also includes games like Gwent and Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales. What’s more, 50% of those pre-orders are digital ones, meaning that there are a number of people out there who will be upgrading their version of the game to new consoles. This opens up the door for multiple DLC purchases, season pass subscriptions, and even multiplayer microtransactions, should multiplayer ever come to the game.
CD Projekt Red has spent the past year living off the sales of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt alone. Their revenues have remained flat, but the sales for their catalog of games have stayed strong. As a result, they’ve been able to survive a release drought, and the pandemic forcing them all to change how they work, without incurring any losses. For a company that size, it’s a remarkable feat. Even their marketplace, GOG.com, saw growth in the past quarter, which means they’re actually living on more money than they were last year.
I think that the company has inadvertently shown how to increase the pre-orders for your game prior to launch. The only reason it’s worked is because of their pedigree for great games. The three or so delays that Cyberpunk 2077 has seen in the past year have meant that pre-orders have gone unfulfilled again and again. However, those people are keeping their pre-orders with retailers, and more people are making pre-orders on top of them. Over time, this has led to a game that might just have the most pre-orders ever seen in the industry.
I’m not saying that the game’s delays and development has been anything but shocking, but it’s certainly an interesting concept. If a developer or publisher were to strategically copy CD Projekt Red’s mistake, I wonder how many pre-orders it would add to their roster. There’s an element of consumers forgetting pre-orders that I think would also come into play, but hopefully, we never get to find out what happens when this sort of mad delay schedule comes up again.