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CD Projekt execs get big bonuses despite messy Cyberpunk 2077 launch

While some devs express disappointment at smaller-than-expected bonuses.

It's safe to say Cyberpunk 2077 had a particularly rocky launch in December last year. With the game struggling to run on last-gen consoles, CD Projekt eventually started providing players with refunds, while Sony fully removed the game from the PlayStation Store (from which it still remains absent). CD Projekt has since issued various apologies for the launch, promising to continue patching the game and fixing its many bugs.

Thanks to a high number of pre-orders, the game still sold 13.7m copies, helping CD Projekt make over £215m in profit last year. Yet some analysts were expecting the game to perform better than this - and so were some of the game's developers. According to a new report by Bloomberg's Jason Schreier [paywall], some developers were expecting bigger bonuses than what they eventually received, and could have received more if the game had been delayed to launch in a better state. CD Projekt executives, meanwhile, are still taking home some pretty enormous bonuses despite the messy launch.

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CD Projekt's annual profit-sharing plan sees 20 percent of its annual earnings allocated to bonuses: 10 percent goes to employees, and the other 10 percent goes to the board. According to a CD Projekt statement (via Bloomberg), a total of $29.8m is being split between 865 employees, averaging at $34k per employee. Bloomberg notes there were also some smaller performance bonuses for staff earlier this year.

In terms of how that money is actually being split, Bloomberg reports that some employees are receiving bonuses of $5k to $9k, with more senior employees getting closer to $15k or $20k. Five members of CD Projekt's executive board, meanwhile, are receiving bonuses totalling $28m.

As detailed in the company's recent annual report, board members Marcin Iwiński and Adam Kiciński are each receiving a bonus of $6.3m, while director Adam Badowski is receiving $4.2m. It's worth noting that the executives did take a financial hit on their shares, as four board members own 33 percent of the company's stock (which took a major whack following the Cyberpunk 2077 release debacle). But personally, I still wouldn't sniff at a multi-million dollar bonus.

In an earnings call on the financial results, Adam Kiciński was asked whether it was "appropriate" for executive board members to take half the bonus allocation in light of the botched launch (via Seeking Alpha).

"Nothing has changed recently... and close to half of it goes to the management board," Kiciński confirmed. "We have results, we get bonuses, and that's the contract we have." Kiciński added it was "too early to say" whether the share scheme would be rebased in future.

Bloomberg heard from one employee that CD Projekt had, at least, made some efforts to re-evaluate salaries and increase wages for those in the lowest-paid roles (such as QA testing), but the gulf between executive and employee bonuses remains a wide one. And arguably, if CD Projekt management had chosen to delay the launch of Cyberpunk 2077 until it was truly ready to release, the game's sales could have been even better - making a big difference for developers at the lower end of the pay scale.

In other generously-compensated executive news, Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick is taking a 50 percent pay cut, but it looks like he'll still be able to earn millions in bonuses.

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