In a strategy update video released today, CD Projekt said that it has "decided to reconsider" its plans for Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer. As part of a broader move toward a more "agile" approach to development, the studio is shifting its focus to bringing online elements to all its games "where they make sense."
The exact nature of Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer has never really been nailed down, but it was expected to be something big, possibly akin to GTA Online. In a November 2020 earnings call transcribed by Seeking Alpha, CD Projekt joint CEO Adam Kiciński described it as "a separate dedicated production" that developers consider "a standalone product."
"Obviously, it's not entirely standalone as it comes from the universe of Cyberpunk and is very much related to the concept of single player Cyberpunk we—I came up with," he said at the time. "But from our perspective, it's—is another independent production and independent team of people works on it."
Now, however, it sounds like that plan has been scrapped. After discussing how CD Projekt plans to change its approach to game development going forward, Kiciński said the studio has decided to take a different approach to multiplayer—and not just in Cyberpunk.
"Previously we hinted that our next triple-A would be a multiplayer Cyberpunk game, but we have decided to reconsider this plan," Kiciński says in the video. "Given our new, more systematic and agile approach, instead of primarily focusing on one big online experience or game, we are focusing on bringing online into all of our franchises one day. We are building an online technology that can be seamlessly integrated into development of our future games."
Details are naturally short at this point, but Kiciński said that GOG Galaxy, CD Projekt's multi-storefront launcher, will play a central role in the effort to "grow a global community of gamers." At the same time, he emphasized that this new approach should not be taken as a sign that CD Projekt is moving away from the style of games it's known for.
"CD Projekt Red makes singleplayer, story-driven, triple-A RPGs. That is not changing," he said. "What is changing is our long-term approach to online. By this, we mean ensuring we are properly prepared to implement online elements in our games where they make sense. We don't have to go overboard, or lose our singleplayer DNA. We want to take thoughtful steps to build robust online capabilities."
Presumably as part of that process, CD Projekt also announced today that it has acquired Digital Scapes, a Canadian studio that specializes in multiplayer game development. Digital Scapes, which has been renamed to CD Projekt Red Vancouver, has been working on Cyberpunk 2077 since October 2018, and while there's no information yet on how the studio's role will change now that it's officially part of the family, it would seem to be a natural fit for CD Projekt's expanded multiplayer plans.
CD Projekt's strategy update video touches a number of other topics, including greater integration of development teams, shorter marketing campaigns, and most importantly, an increased focus on the health and wellbeing of the development team. It's also expanding development capacity "to enable parallel triple-a game development," which could be a hint of good news for Witcher fans crossing their fingers for a new game.
I've reached out to CD Projekt to inquire about its revised plans for Cyberpunk 2077 multiplayer, and will update if I receive a reply.