CD Projekt plans dividend after Cyberpunk 2077 sales neared 14 million last year

FILE PHOTO: Boxes with CD Projekt's game Cyberpunk 2077 are displayed in Warsaw, Poland, Dec. 14, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

GDANSK (Reuters) -Polish video games maker CD Projekt on Thursday said it had sold 13.7 million copies of its flagship Cyberpunk 2077 game last year despite a bug-ridden launch, and will pay a dividend of 5 zlotys per share after record high 2020 sales and profits.

With a budget of 1.2 billion zlotys ($316.19 million), Cyberpunk 2077 was CD Projekt's most-anticipated game since 2015's "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" but it has been delisted from Sony's PlayStation Store since shortly after December's problematic launch.

Once an investor darling, CD Projekt has lost about 50% of its market value since December amid the Cyberpunk problems and is now valued at around 17.4 billion zlotys. Sales of Cyberpunk 2077, featuring Hollywood star Keanu Reeves, fell short of an average analyst forecast of 14.5 million copies.

Still, the group's financial results for 2020 were the highest ever.

Sales of 2.14 billion zlotys for 2020 were up more than fourfold from the previous year and smashed a record set after the release of The Witcher 3, helped by a surge in gaming as COVID-19 lockdowns kept people at home.

"In financial terms, 2020 was the best year in our history," CD Projekt Chief Financial Officer Piotr Nielubowicz told a news conference.

The group's 2020 sales jump was driven mostly by Cyberpunk, but the medieval fantasy Witcher series had a positive impact, too.

"The Witcher 3 had the second-best year in its history with regard to the number of copies sold - it had only done better during its release year, which was nearly 6 years ago," Nielubowicz said.

CD Projekt also said it plans to spend almost 504 million zlotys from last year's profit of 1.15 billion on dividend. The company has paid out dividend twice - in 2019 and in 2017.

Future sales growth hinges on attracting more Cyberpunk 2077 players after fixing glitches and on a return to the PlayStation store, since unlike rivals Ubisoft and Electronic Arts it has long development cycles for games.

The company said last month it would publish free downloadable content and update Cyberpunk 2077 for next-generation consoles this year, but had reconsidered a standalone multi-player version of the game, raising concerns about future revenue growth.

($1 = 3.7952 zlotys)

(Additional reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Alicja Ptak; Editing by Edmund Blair, Kirsten Donovan and Nick Zieminski)

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