Poland's CD Projekt postpones Witcher 3 next-generation release

A bird flies in front of the Cd Projekt logo at its headquarters in Warsaw, Poland January 21, 2020. Picture taken January 21, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

(Reuters) -Polish video game maker CD Projekt has taken back in-house and postponed indefinitely the release of its blockbuster game "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" for next-generation consoles, knocking its shares down as much as 4% on Thursday.

The version, which was originally scheduled to launch late last year and was then delayed to the second quarter of 2022, was outsourced to Saber Interactive, part of Sweden's Embracer Group.

"We are currently evaluating the scope of work to be done and thus have to postpone Q2 release until further notice," the Polish company said late on Wednesday on Twitter.

CD Projekt did not give a reason for the move. In a written response to Reuters on Thursday it said it does not comment on rumours and speculation, pointing to its earlier statement.

Russian media reported earlier CD Projekt has decided to end relationship with Saber's team in St Petersburg, which was responsible for the next-generation version.

Embracer said it could not comment on specific relationships with business partners, but that it had "deepest respect" for CD Projekt as "one of the best game development teams globally."

The Swedish company also said in a written response to a Reuters query that none of its relationships changed in a way that would have financial impact on group revenues or profitability greater than $500,000.

CD Projekt said last month it would halt sales of its games in Russia and Belarus in response to Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Its shares were down 2% at 1107 GMT.

Jefferies analyst Ken Rumph wrote in a note that while the financial impact of the delay may be small, given it was a free upgrade for existing game owners, a second delay and in-housing came as a surprise.

"The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" premiered in 2015 to critical acclaim and helped the Polish studio gain worldwide recognition. It sold over 30 million copies, CD Projekt said last year.

CD Projekt since has had a rocky time after the troubled roll out of its second franchise, "Cyberpunk 2077", in late 2020.

In a bid to rebuild investor confidence, CD Projekt has been working to transform its studio so it can start producing high-budget games in parallel from 2022.

It released Cyberpunk version for next-generation consoles in February.

The company is due to publish its full-year results later on Thursday.

(Reporting by Anna Pruchnicka, additional reporting by Supantha MukherjeeEditing by Tomasz Janowski)

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