Cyberpunk 2077’s refund fiasco

Cyberpunk 2077’s refund fiasco

CD Projekt’s rush to guarantee refunds for Cyberpunk 2077, which launched with numerous glitches and performance problems, seems to have made a bad situation, between the studio and its players, into an even worse one, between the company and its corporate partners.

Vice on Wednesday reported GameStop’s instructions to sales associates not to provide direct refunds of Cyberpunk 2077, and instead to refer customers to CD Projekt itself. This follows earlier conflicts customers found with the PlayStation Store’s strict policy on refunds for digital purchases, the day CD Projekt directed them to request their money back from PlayStation first. (CD Projekt also suggested that Xbox customers seek a refund directly from Microsoft.)

CD Projekt’s mistake may be in assuming that Microsoft, Sony, GameStop, and others have refund policies as generous as GOG.com, which CD Projekt owns, or Steam, where the game has a mostly positive user reputation largely because the PC version hasn’t suffered the same problems as the last-gen consoles.

Regardless of what the game maker knew or checked about retailers’ policies, promising unconditional refunds and then sending angry customers to sellers who had nothing to do with this doesn’t seem to be winning CD Projekt many friends.

Ahead of the release of Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red faced scrutiny from reporters for its work practices, particularly with regard to “crunch,” a term referring to long overtime hours lasting weeks or months. Despite past promises to the contrary, the company imposed obligatory crunch on some employees. Cyberpunk 2077 also faced criticism for its marketing — in particular, the usage of a sexualized trans model in a promotional poster, as well as the flippant tone used in much of the game’s advertising and social media.

Even after release, Cyberpunk 2077 remains a work in progress for CD Projekt Red. The game launched with various performance issues, particularly on last-generation consoles, although more updates to the game are forthcoming. Console review codes for Cyberpunk 2077 were not provided to media outlets until release day.

In Vice’s report, a GameStop memo to employees directs them to send unhappy customers back to CD Projekt, using the email address the company gave on Monday, and the apology its board of directors gave for the game’s launch, as references. GameStop, for years, has had a policy of not accepting returns of, or giving refunds for, opened video games. Most retailers don’t.

CD Projekt’s statement on Monday said: “For boxed versions, please first try to get a refund at the store where you bought the game. Should this not be possible, please contact us at [email protected] and we will do our best to help you.”

For PlayStation 4 or Xbox One versions bought from those consoles’ online marketplaces, standing policies there made CD Projekt’s advice questionable, too. “For copies purchased digitally, please use the refund system of PSN or Xbox respectively.”

Only in 2019 did Sony’s PlayStation Store adopt a cancellation and refund policy, which gives customers a 14-day window to return goods for a refund, if the software is virtually unopened. Once a player launches a game, refunds are only offered if “the content is faulty.”

Steve Kovach, the technology editor at CNBC, found out directly that Sony doesn’t consider Cyberpunk 2077 on PlayStation 4 to be “faulty.”

Another PlayStation 4 customer, on Monday, gives a good picture of the expectations Sony and Microsoft are facing from CD Projekt’s customers — and the unhappy resolution to them:

Over the weekend, though, before CD Projekt gave its apology and started sending customers to Sony’s door, users in this Reddit thread reported getting refunds for the game on PS4, even if they had played it.

But by Wednesday, PlayStation customers writing directly to the email address CD Projekt provided got a form reply asking them to “wait for us to get back to you.” As for Xbox One customers, the form reply was still asking them to pursue a refund through Microsoft’s channels.

Microsoft considers all sales of games and downloadable content on the Microsoft Store to be final. It may, however, make refunds of digital purchases of Xbox or Windows PC games on an individual basis, considering “a variety of factors like time since date of purchase, time since release, and use of the product.” It adopted this self-service refund policy after a beta test in 2017.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Xbox One owners of Cyberpunk 2077 were having no better luck at getting a refund than Kovach or PS4 owners.

Officially, Microsoft, Sony, GameStop, and CD Projekt are avoiding comment on the refund situation. But for now, it seems likely that CD Projekt spoke too soon about money-back guarantees, without really understanding how to get angry fans’ money back to them.

Fans’ only recourse now seems to be to wait, and hope that CD Projekt Red can quickly address Cyberpunk 2077’s sundry technical issues on consoles, or that Sony and Microsoft will enact a sudden change in policy.

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