Perhaps it was an understatement when we said Cyberpunk was having its first “good day” when it creeped its way to the top of the Steam charts earlier this year. As it turns on, the beleaguered role-playing game, which has received a number of updates since its dumpster fire of a release, was quietly trucking along all of 2021 on at least on one storefront.
On Monday, PC giant Valve released a bunch of juicy info regarding what did well on its popular platform. There’s a lot of stuff in there that you wouldn’t expect, at least compared to popular media and community narratives. Battlefield 2042 is selling really well despite little hype, but perhaps I should expect that when it has an advertising campaign so pervasive it has now replaced my nightly paralysis demon. Amazon MMO New World, Valheim, and Naraka: Bladepoint, are some nice, totally new inclusions to the top seller list as well. Then you’ve got the obligatory inclusions, like Dota 2 and the completely unkillable GTA V.
Cyberpunk 2077 did not make the “Platinum” cut, where those games reside, but it did make an appearance a stone throw down onto the “Silver” tier, where games like Resident Evil Village live. What’s worth noting is that “top sellers” doesn’t denote number of copies, but rather revenue, something that takes into account copies but also in-game transactions and DLC. A game like Cyberpunk, which is single-player and doesn’t yet feature microtransactions or DLC, likely has a hard time stacking up against games that heavily feature online experiences. Many of those multiplayer games have entirely different business models, and they don’t have all that other stuff weighing them down.
2021 was, by all accounts, an uphill battle for Cyberpunk and its developers. Remember, CD Projekt Red started the year with Cyberpunk 2077 still delisted from the PlayStation store due to its rough state, and to make matters worse, had a giant security breach that saw game source code get held for ransom. Updates have been doled out throughout the year, and promises of next-gen versions, DLC, and more updates continue to come — but so have reports about apparent crunch. And even when some things were resolved, like its eventual return to PSN, it wasn’t all merry: in that case, Sony warned users the game was still janky.
Now, despite all of that, we do know that the game was profitable for the studio from the get go due to the sheer number of hype-based pre-orders and such. What you wouldn’t necessarily expect is for that money to keep trickling in even after all the headlines and glitch compilations. Granted, the game has indeed recruited some fervent evangelists who love it despite all the flaws, or perhaps saw no flaws, if they played on a powerful enough machine. Yes, the game has received countless number of fixes, but there are still plenty of reports of technical issues. You’re not exactly seeing a No Man’s Sky type turnaround here. And yet!
Money coming in must mean people, right? While was a little further down the list on the $ front, on the raw time front, it killed. It’s literally the first entry Valve cites under the “Over 200,000 peak concurrent players,” a category that excludes anything that had its numbers juiced due to things like say, a free weekend.
Obviously, this is just one platform out of a handful, and it’s specifically the one where Cyberpunk’s core fanbase resides: after all, said base sprouted from GOG, CD Projekt Red’s own PC storefront. Still, perhaps 2022 will be a less quiet year for the developer: free next-gen upgrades will give those who didn’t request a refund an excuse to take a second look, and everyone else might get enticed by the DLC if they play their cards right. Cyberpunk 2077 is on sale on Steam for 50% off ATM, if all of this has piqued your interest. I for one will continue to wait.
Anyway, if you’re interested in reading more about what did well on Steam in 2021, check out the full spread here. Fun fact: November saw the biggest number of totally new top sellers.