The recent controversy surrounding Cyberpunk 2077’s monetisation is an excellent example of where miscommunication and misunderstanding have caused a great deal of unnecessary controversy. A slew of articles and internet posts went up about how CDProjektRED, who have been widely praised in the past for their pro-consumer stance, were suddenly introducing microtransactions into Cyberpunk 2077. Just as rapidly, counter posts were being made about how the situation had been misinterpreted due to misinformation. This is an important lesson in properly checking information and context carefully, not just in regards to video games media, but for news media and journalism in general.
There are several points to digest here. Firstly, it’s important to distinguish Cyberpunk 2077’s singleplayer and multiplayer components. The initial release will be singeplayer only, and will not include any microtransactions, as the company have confirmed already. CDProjektRED’s plan for the game is to release several (free) DLCs, and then add a multiplayer component to the game. Some of the controversy surrounding this whole event is that people are not neccesarily aware that these two elements are separate, and are worried that microtransactions will be added to the singleplayer title, which is already available for pre-order. Details on the multiplayer element are currently very slim.
Some of the information has come from a since-corrected post about the monetisation policy for Cyberpunk’s multiplayer element. In addition, the source that’s being used for this information, whilst not inherently an invalid one, comes from an internal discussion among company employees about a sub-portion of the game that they themselves say is too early to properly comment on.
“As far as the monetisation of multiplayer for Cyberpunk is concerned, we believe right now it’s definitely too early to share any details on that or give guidance; the project is in a relatively early stage. We keep experimenting – that’s our first multiplayer game. We check various options and possibilities, and it’s definitely not the time to point you to a specific direction on that. Of course you can expect that we won’t change our general policy towards ‘deals with gamers’ so I expect wise monetisation and – always – value for money.”
As others have pointed out, it’s important to distinguish between microtransactions and monetisation. In this context, monetisation could refer purely to how to package the multiplayer element of Cyberpunk 2077, rather than how to introduce a microtransaction system. If anything, this quote suggests that CDProjektRED will continue it’s stance on how they charge players for their games, which up until this point has been famously pro-consumer, and anti-microtransations.
Whilst it is true that the company have not ruled out microtransactions from the multiplayer element of the upcoming title, there’s nothing really credible to suggest that they have suddenly decided to completely switch from their previous stance on how to treat their consumers. CDProjektRED have spent years fostering a good relationship with consumers with the Witcher titles, including the Enhanced Editions, good value DLCs, and making critically acclaimed games in general. It’s not impossible for the company to change their stance on monetisation, but such a sudden switch to using obnoxious microtransactions would be an act of self sabotage, and the company knows it. Gamers have a right to be concerned about potential microtransactions in their titles, but cautious skepticism is a far wiser line to take than sudden outrage.