Class action lawsuits against CD Projekt Red

This may actually be better suited for GQ, but I’m putting this where the interest is likely to be.

CD Projekt Red is currently facing two class-action lawsuits alleging that the company misled investors about the readiness of the game, particularly its performance on the earliest versions of the PS4 and xBone.

It is a fact that the game’s performance on those systems was bad enough that it was pulled from the digital stores and refunds were offered. CDPR stock has tumbled from its high in December of last year. It’s also a fact that the game has made a tidy profit.

Everything between those facts is a lot of debate about the merits of the game, its overall playability on other systems, the ethics of development crunch, etc.

Basically, how is the lawsuit expected to play out?

Even though the game was garbage on certain systems, it still recouped development costs on day one and made hundreds of millions of dollars in profit. What will investors be expected to prove in court? That even more money could have been made? Or is it enough to prove that they were misled as to the status of the game and to show that the release harmed the value of the stock? And at that point, what would damages look like?

It never should have been offered for last gen systems. That was a huge fuck up. Everything else seems to be par for the course in AAA gaming these days.

Matt Levine (Money Stuff columnist) has written many times on the theme of “everything is securities fraud”, which is his description of the fact that essentially anything that a public company does which is bad and causes its stock price to go down is potentially actionable securities fraud unless they inform investors about it in a timely manner. Which is essentially impossible for things like this. Like, would the company issue earnings guidance that mentions the current bug count? Obviously they thought/hoped that they’d get it to market and it would be great. Maybe they were wrong but that’s not obviously fraud.

I am not a lawyer, but I expect the primary result of the lawsuit will be enriching those who are. There’s a fairly tenuous relationship between “quality of software” and "market success, and the idea that software companies should be forced to put out press releases that say “our upcoming game really sucks” at the same time that they’re trying to build a market for it is totally bonkers. Obviously it depends on the extent to which the company misled investors, but in my opinion this sort of thing should be reserved for cases of clear fraud, not optimism about meeting a schedule or audience reaction to certain quality issues.

Matt Levine explicitly mentions CDPR and Everything Is Securities Fraud

The CEO told investors it runs “very good” on a base PS4 and Xbox One just days before launch.

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4391610-cd-projekt-s-otglf-ceo-adam-kicinski-on-q3-2020-results-earnings-call-transcript

In court he can argue that that was his opinion. But it’s also such an obviously pants-on-fire lie that I’d be worried if I was him.

There’s also their apology FAQ (Cyberpunk 2077 — Our Commitment to Quality - Cyberpunk 2077 — from the creators of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt) where they admit that they somehow “didn’t see” any of the problems that consumers saw, which is fairly ridiculous.

If you keep your eyes closed, you can say that in perfect earnest.

And I’m sure CDPR’s defense will boil down to “You can’t prosecute optimism!”

That was very informative - thanks.

all anyone’s going to get is a voucher for a free copy when its fixed or for a future game …

and all the developer is going to get is a "shame on you " hand smack for releasing a pos …

No ones going to get a major penalty for releasing a buggy game … the industry would of down in flames if they started that now …

This company has made multiple games already, has it not? Which one is the one under discussion here?

Oops! The game is Cyberpunk 2077.

The claimants will be the investors, not the consumers.

Here’s the section of the transcript:

"And I can take the next one from Piotr as well. The game has been not presented on basic, not pro console PS4 and Xbox 1 so far. What is the performance of the game on this machine?

Of course, a bit lower than on pros, but surprisingly good, I would say for such a huge world. So, bit lower, but very good. That’s the answer."

“Surprisingly good for such a huge world” is a pretty qualified answer. The fact that they wouldn’t show it on lower hardware is probably more damning than the words, but neither likely rises to fraud in my opinion.

Based on the linked Bloomberg piece, this isn’t even a case of the investors massing with torches and pitchforks. Rather, an opportunistic lawyer saw the kerfluffle and started a class action lawsuit in hopes of having his foot in the door and getting people to sign on.

The most obvious case for a class action consumer lawsuit was for the video game Aliens: Colonial Marines where they knowingly showcased trailers for the game with fake gameplay and graphics that were far beyond what we actually got, does anyone know if it got any lawsuits from consumers by it?

That is a shareholder’s lawsuit and yeah…they happen a lot. I’ve never heard of them described as a class action although I suppose they kinda-sorta are.

The OP is discussing a class action lawsuit which is usually consumers.

I am no expert (IANAL) but I am missing how this class will go. IIRC all players were all offered refunds. Not to mention the refunds that are in place when you buy the game (2 weeks of owning it after it goes live or two hours of playing it).

So, what damages are they seeking? Being bummed out?

EDIT: I should probably read about it more.

Obviously they shouldn’t have to do that. But I can see an argument that, once they knew the game would not be functional on the base configurations, they should have informed the buyers of this. And this is something they should have known before release.

It could even be done by saying the regular PS4/XbOne release would be delayed as they were continued to be optimized. Warn customers that the game only is currently officially supported on the PS4 Pro or the Xbox One Series S at minimum.

If PS4 owners were warned of this, I don’t think Sony would have needed to shut down sales. They could just not offer the game to those without a PS4 Pro.

As a player of cyberpunk on a base xb1, while it certainly needs some polish, it is still absolutely playable and enjoyable. I got it as gift though, so maybe if I paid $60 for it, I might feel a little miffed. But $60 for 120ish hrs of entertainment is a damn bargain.

Interesting. I head it didn’t work on either base system. But maybe it was just the PS4 version that didn’t run unless it was on Pro.

There’s a large possible chasm in between “playable and enjoyable” and “runs well and is bug free”. The game can barely manage to load textures as you’re running by them and have people constantly clipping through walls and such, but still be both playable and enjoyable if those things don’t annoy you.

Agreed. Again, as a gift, it’s much easier to not be bothered by such things.

Indeed. There is a joke in the PS5 reddit where do many people have unironically said “30fps is literally unplayable” that it has become a meme (granted I know the CP2077 can struggle to hit 30fps at times in older hardware).