CD Projekt Red have been clear about their ‘no microtransactions’ policy for Cyberpunk 2077 the singleplayer RPG for ages, but their vagueness on Cyberpunk multiplayer has caused trouble and confusion. This week they clarified yes, the Cyberpunk online doodad due after launch will have microtransactions, but no, they’re not liars because this is a separate project. I’m not surprised that some fans have been confused, because the exact nature of Cyberpunk’s multiplayer side has often been hazy – whether it’s a separate game or just a mode – and spoken of in business language on business calls. Time to be clear, CDPR.
So! Let’s get into the mess. Long after Cyberpunk 2077 launches in November, CDPR plan to release multiplayer Cyberpunk – they’ve said it’s unlikely to come before 2022. During a financial conference call on Friday, someone asked how aggressively CD Projekt plan to monetise the online action. Company president Adam Kiciński replied:
“Well, we’re never aggressive towards our fans! We treat them fairly and we’re friendly. So of course not – we won’t be aggressive – but you can expect great things to be bought. The goal is to design monetisation in a way that makes people happy to spend money. I’m not trying to be cynical or hide something; it’s about creating a feeling of value. Same as with our single-player games: we want gamers to be happy while spending money on our products. The same is true for microtransactions: you can expect them, of course, and CP is a great setting for selling things, but it won’t be aggressive; it won’t upset gamers but it’ll make them happy – that’s our goal at least.”
So yes, microtransactions will be in multiplayer. They did touch on this idea during an earnings call last year, saying that MP was too early in development to confirm anything but they did “expect wise monetisation and – always – value for money.” Some fans have seen this latest statement as CDPR going back on their word, but the company disagree.
Last night, the game’s Twitter account dug up an old tweet where they had said “No microtransactions 😠 😎”, and added: “Nothing changed. Cyberpunk 2077 is a single player game with zero microtransactions. One single purchase. No tricks. Don’t believe the clickbait.” A follow-up tweet said: “Cyberpunk multiplayer/online, which is a separate project, will have some microtransactions, but we said that a year ago already. Like always, expect us treating your money with respect.”
It is crappy to gripe about “clickbait” when many people have genuinely been confused about the relationship between Cyberpunk 2077 and its multiplayer. The initial multiplayer announcement in September 2019 suggested it was a mode. Then in a January conference call, they referred to Cyberpunk Multiplayer as a separate “AAA release”, which suggests standalone. Even yesterday, CDPR call it “a separate project” rather than using clear terms like ‘separate game’ or ‘standalone game’. I mean, I think it’s a standalone game? Not just a mode coming post-launch? When they’ve not said much about multiplayer, and most of what they’ve said about it is in business contexts (and sometimes in Polish, which foreign fans then run through Google Translate), of course people who don’t carefully track every tweet and conference call will be uncertain. This is a problem caused more by their unclear communication than by malice.
Presumably CDPR are being vague for now because they want to finish the main game first. Multiplayer isn’t due until long after launch so talking too much now might be a distraction. Maybe they’re still not certain exactly what form it’ll come in. But if they don’t like putting out these little PR fires (and the tone of their tweets suggests they sure don’t) they’d benefit from being clearer now. Time to put basic info in a clear page on your website, chums.
I’ve asked CDPR what exactly Cyberpunk multiplayer will come as, just to make sure, and will let you know if I hear anything surprising back.