A new CD Projekt Red developers union has been formed following mass layoffs at the Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt development studio. Despite the recent sales success of Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, certain positions at CD Projekt Red are still not secure leading into the first quarter of 2024.
CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 exceeded 25 million copies sold since launch, and over three million copies of the Phantom Liberty expansion were sold during its launch week. Moreover, the studio is currently developing multiple new games, including The Witcher 4 and a remake of the original Witcher game. Unfortunately, some of the developers who were working on Cyberpunk 2077 and the new Witcher games are no longer part of the company following mass layoffs at the company this past summer.
The Polish Gamedev Workers Union was founded by CD Projekt Red developers and staff, including QA analyst Pawel Myszka and gameplay programmer Lev Ki. This new union was formed to represent all game developers working in Poland after three rounds of layoffs at CD Projekt Red. These layoffs began in July 2023 and directly affected staff working in development, publishing, and back-office teams. Unionizing became a constant topic of discussion when roughly 9% of CD Projekt Red staff was let go. CD Projekt Red developers state that they’re facing a “tremendous amount of stress and insecurity,” which negatively affected their mental health. The union’s founding is a direct response to the stressful environment as CD Projekt Red developers aim to have more job security and better protection.
When the layoffs began this past July, parent company CD Projekt stated that it was expected to conclude in the first quarter of 2024. CD Projekt Red CEO Adam Kicinski stated that the development studio was overstaffed and other opportunities would not be available in the coming year. In a statement released that same month, CD Projekt said that layoffs would help build more effective project teams as part of the company’s “ongoing transformation” to making top-quality games on schedule without needing to crunch. The cost-cutting measure led to over 100 CD Projekt Red developers being let go, ultimately leading to the formation of the Polish Gamedev Workers Union.
Although Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty was a very successful launch for CD Projekt Red, the uncertainty around certain job positions remained to an extent. The union has a chance to protect those jobs at CD Projekt Red alongside jobs at other studios in Poland. The sentiment around layoffs in the gaming industry extends into the US with companies such as SEGA of America forming a union in 2023 as well.