Earlier this week, CD Projekt Red released a lengthy statement in which it acknowledged many console players were upset with the game and appeared to offer refunds to any console gamer who was unhappy with the title.
Today, the company took it all back and blamed gamers for “misconceptions.” The SVP of business development, Michal Nowakowski, stated that the only refund CDPR was referring to were the various refund policies offered by Microsoft and Sony. He’s quite clear about it. Also, it’s all your fault for thinking CDPR actually was going to refund their game in the first place.
Anyone who has purchased any title on the PlayStation network or the Microsoft storefront can ask for a refund, and if it’s made within certain boundaries, usually related to time, usage and so on, can ask for that refund. Our procedure here with Microsoft and Sony is not different than with any other title released on any of those storefronts. I want to state that clearly, as there seem to be certain misconceptions.
One small point I’d like to draw your attention to: Nowakowski didn’t actually describe the Sony’s refund policy. Not really. Anyone can request a refund, but they almost certainly won’t get it. Sony will only give you your money back if you request a refund within 14 days and haven’t downloaded the game. Microsoft is supposedly more forgiving on this issue, but the company’s documentation only says that “we consider a variety of factors like time since date of purchase, time since release, and use of the product.”
Regardless, the PS4 outsold the Xbox by at least 2:1 last generation, meaning the overwhelming majority of console players are playing the game on the PS4. The comment above is not an accurate description of Sony’s return policies. It’s a description that would fit the PC world perfectly, however, and one wonders if there aren’t certain misconceptions about the difference between PCs and consoles floating in the halls of CD Projekt Red.
Let’s examine CDPR’s original statement on this topic:
We would appreciate it if you would give us a chance, but if you are not pleased with the game on your console and don’t want to wait for updates, you can opt to refund your copy. For copies purchased digitally, please use the refund system of PSN or Xbox respectively. 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@example.com and we will do our best to help you.
There are multiple explicit reasons to think CDPR was referring to a specific refund program, not the platform-wide options offered by Microsoft and Sony. First, there’s absolutely no mention of either. CDPR might have written, “Customers who purchased digital copies of the game may request a refund, if they meet the criteria set out by Sony and Microsoft.” It did not. Furthermore, the company made this statement in a post laying out what CDPR was going to do to fix these problems. CD Projekt Red is the active entity in its own press release.
Second, there’s an explicit reference to boxed software being returnable. If there’s a store in the United States that allows people to return open software for a full refund, I don’t know about it. Most retailers explicitly only allow a refund on software if the product is sealed in its original shrinkwrap. This is generally known. CDPR’s statement that customers should try to return the game to the store they purchased it from further implies that some kind of special program is being put in place.
When they say “Please first try to get a refund from the store where you bought the game,” it implies that if this fails, there’s some other refund program available to deal with it. Why say “first” if there is no second option? To be clear, CDPR’s comments to investors specifically concern digital purchases, but if the company has no plan to deal with those refunds, it probably isn’t planning to deal with the bigger headache of validating personal purchases from diverse stories for refunds, either.
Third, the use of the phrase “you can opt to refund your copy.” This phrasing indicates that you, the purchaser, will decide whether or not you receive a refund, not Sony or Microsoft. Sony and Microsoft do not reward refunds as broadly as Steam does. In the absence of a specific program to handle this mess, CDPR is effectively lying by omission to its own player base. Sony will only give refunds if you’ve never even downloaded the game. Given this, it might have been helpful to tell the PS4 playerbase not to even download the title if there’s any chance they want a refund for it.
Finally, the company literally chose to call its helpful email address “help me refund” (spaces put back to make it easier to read). Consider the absurdity of offering any kind of refund help to customers on the one hand, while telling investors that the problem is entirely in the hands of Sony and Microsoft on the other.
CD Projekt Red is throwing every single console customer under the bus after deliberately hiding the performance and quality of its product. According to CDPR, anyone who perceived that the company might actually be taking some kind of hand to clean up its own mess is afflicted with “misconceptions.”
Well, they’re right. And I, for one, would like to apologize.
I thought CDPR was acting with the slightest shred of responsibility towards its own debacle. I thought the company was going to work with the fraction of unhappy customers that actually bothered to apply for a refund, and then claim it had “solved” the problem it created by making people whole. It did not occur to me that a company might assure its fans they could apply for refunds without a single mention that they would have nothing to do with the process and that most people wouldn’t meet the criteria to get one.
Thank you, CDPR, for correcting my misconceptions.
Update (12/16): In yet another bizarre twist in this increasingly bizarre story, CDPR has told Sony customers not to ask for refunds, but to “please wait for us to get back to you.”
What that means, at this point, is anyone’s guess.