Yesterday, CD Projekt RED’s stock price dropped to its lowest point since April, capping off a two month tumble which has seen a quarter of the company’s value from August erased.
Two months ago, CDPR’s stock price and market capitalization were at the highest they’ve ever been. The Netflix series based off The Witcher had proven immensely popular, and the first mobile Witcher game in the style of Niantic’s Pokemon GO had just been announced. The company was valued at roughly €9.6 billion, larger than French publisher Ubisoft.
Since then, reports of crunch and multiple delays to Cyberpunk 2077 have hammered the stock price, causing it to drop badly enough that CEO Adam Kicinski called a shareholder’s meeting to explain what’s been going on with the game in particular and the studio in general. In that conference call, Kicinski attributed the most recent delay to optimization issues related to the PS4 and Xbox One, reporting that the game is “ready for the PC and runs great on the next-gen consoles.” As to the issue of crunch, Kicinski commented, “Of course it’s a story that has been picked up by the media, and some people have been crunching heavily, but a large part of the team is not crunching at all since they have finished their work. It’s mostly about QA and engineers, programmers — but it’s not that heavy. Of course, it will be extended a bit, but we have feedback from the team; they’re happy about the extra three weeks, so we don’t see any threats regarding crunch.”
Food For Thought
At this point, CD Projekt RED is getting very close to leaving “crunch” for the dreaded “death march” state, if they haven’t already reached it. It sounds as though the developers overreached when they were making their optimizations for next-gen consoles and are having a hard time dialing those back to let the game run on current hardware. Despite that, there does not appear to be any talk of staggered launches or anything of that nature. The big question is whether the company’s shareholders will accept this explanation and if they’re willing to tolerate the delay as well as the rest of the Cyberpunk 2077 community.