Finally, it’s a little difficult to cleanly classify Cyberpunk 2077 as a clear sales success without knowing the company’s expectations. Yes, Cyberpunk 2077 appears to have made its money back, and yes, that is a big number relative to most other games, but if CD Projekt Red expected Cyberpunk 2077 to perform even better than this, then it’s possible that they still consider the game’s performance so far to at least be a minor disappointment from a strict sales perspective. They may even believe the game’s 2021 sales so far (which have still not publically been revealed) suggest that its long-term prospects aren’t as good as they previously hoped. There’s also something to be said for the damage to the company’s brand the game may have done so far.
Having said all of that, these sales figures do strongly suggest that the hype for Cyberpunk 2077 has so far greatly outweighed the consequences of its troubled launch.
In a way, that’s hardly surprising. Nobody spent substantial time with Cyberpunk 2077 until about a week before its release, which means that few people were aware of just how broken the game really was. Even then, initial reports and reviews were all based on the PC version of the game. That means many fans hardly had time to cancel their pre-orders while others still had no idea that the console versions of the game would be so bad that Sony would later pull the title from the PlayStation Store (where it’s still unavailable as of this time).
That’s a big deal, and it’s frankly clearer than ever why the Cyberpunk 2077 review process was so restricted and protected. As we already mentioned, Cyberpunk 2077 recouped its development costs based on pre-orders alone as over 8 million copies of the game were reportedly sold before the game was reviewed or released. That certainly showcases the power of the game’s hype, but what’s really fascinating is that Cyberpunk 2077 seemingly still continued to sell quite well even after people heard the game launched in a state that rendered it nearly unplayable for many.
Maybe quite a few of those people bought the game soon after its release and before the extent of its problems became something closer to common knowledge, but that assumption only strengthens the argument that Cyberpunk 2077’s pre-release hype ultimately helped the game more than its post-release problems hurt it.
To be fair, we’ve seen this go the other way. Games from Valheim to Stardew Valley release all the time with practically no hype and go on to become best-sellers due to word of mouth and the overall quality of the experience. It’s not as if word of mouth and the final product are entirely helpless against someone’s preconceived notions about whether they’re going to buy a game or not.