After Cyberpunk 2077 debuted to the world and set off a trash fire of rage and disappointment, the clock starting ticking. Many wondered when that anger would manifest itself into a lawsuit to take the game’s publisher, CD Projekt Red, to court. It happened on Christmas Eve.
On Thursday, the Rosen Law Firm filed a class action lawsuit in the central California district court on behalf of investor Andrew Trampe and others who bought CDPR securities—for example, stock—between Jan. 16 and Dec. 17 of this year. The company, joint CEO Adam Kicinski, CFO Piotr Nielubowicz, and vice president of business development Michał Nowakowski are all named as defendants. The firm alleges that the company either willfully omitted information and lied about the game’s development or acted with “reckless disregard for the truth,” which consequently inflated the market price of those securities.
These sorts of falsehoods all came to light when the game was finally launched on Dec. 10. Over the next few days, some players began to realize that the game they had waited years for was basically unplayable, and the company’s stock plunged. As of this week, CDPR shares had dropped by 42% since their close on Dec. 4, according to Barron’s.
The unfolding of this disaster ultimately damaged CDPR’s investors, the Rosen Law Firm argues.
“Had Plaintiff and the other members of the Class been aware that the market price [...] had been artificially and falsely inflated by the Company’s and the Individual Defendants’ misleading statements [...], they would not have purchased the Company’s securities at the artificially inflated prices that they did, or at all,” the firm wrote in its court filing.
The lawsuit includes a long list of statements about the game’s development and launch from the company, which knowing what we know now, look pretty bad. According to the suit, the lies began on Jan. 16, when CDPR released a statement announcing that Cyberpunk 2077 was “complete and playable.” However, the release date would be moved from April 17 to Sept. 7 because the company “needed more time to finish playtesting, fixing and polishing.”
This was the first of many delays announced by the company. On Sept. 4, the suit cites a conference call where Kicinski stated that the company was preparing for final certification and that it was “very close.” On that call, Kicinski stated that the company was planning to launch the game on Nov. 19—another delay.
“[T]he current version, which will be released in November, will be playable from the beginning when next-gen consoles are released,” Kicinski said, per the suit. “[Y]ou will be able to play the current-gen version on next-gen from day 1.”
Again, he was wrong on the release date.
In hindsight, the craziest declarations probably came on a Nov. 25 call. Per the suit, with two weeks left to go until the game’s release, Kicinski said that the company believed “the game is performing great on every platform.” When asked about bugs, Kicinski acknowledged that there were some, but they were minimal enough not to get noticed by players.
As we all know, Kicinski would end up being wrong again—a point that was hammered home on a conference call in the days following Cyberpunk 2077’s release where Kicinski said the current-generation console versions of the game were way below the company’s expectations.
“After 3 delays, we as the Management Board were too focused on releasing the game. We underestimated the scale and complexity of the issues,” Kicinski said, according to the suit. “It was the wrong approach and against our business philosophy.”
The class action, which the suit states could have hundreds or thousands of affected parties, has not yet been certified, the Rosen Law Firm said in a press release. The firm is asking the court to approve the class action and is asking people who are interested in joining to contact it.
Gizmodo has reached out to CDPR and the Rosen Law Firm for a comment on the case. We’ll make sure to update this post if we hear back.
Since its release, Cyberpunk 2077 and CDPR have been tumbling from grace. Sony pulled the game from its online store and is offering full refunds to anyone who bought it via its store. Microsoft is offering refunds of its own. To its credit, CDPR has apologized and also came out and said it will refund unhappy players. Ironically, CDPR is back to its old habits, promising quick fixes and improvements to its busted product by a particular date.
“[W]e will fix bugs and crashes, and improve the overall experience,” the company said in a Twitter statement on Dec. 14. “The first round of updates has just been released and the next one is coming within the next 7 days. Expect more, as we will update frequently whenever new improvements are ready. After the holidays, we’ll continue working—we’ll release two large patches starting with Patch #1 in January. This will be followed by Patch #2 in February.”
Since that statement, the company has been releasing fixes. Yet, there’s still time left before the purported release of Patch #1 and Patch #2. We’ll see if the company keeps its word this time.
Update 12/27/2020, 1:00 p.m. ET: This post has been updated to clarify that some, but not all, players considered Cyberpunk 2077 unplayable. We have also clarified the sentence after Adam Kicinski’s Sept. 4 comment. That sentence referred to the announced Nov. 19 release date.