Cyberpunk 2077’s highly acclaimed and massive expansion, Phantom Liberty, almost feels like its own game. That’s probably because the developers behind the expansion spent over $60 million on developing Phantom Liberty and $21 million on marketing it, bringing the total cost of producing the DLC to about half of what it cost to develop the entire Cyberpunk 2077 base game.
After launching in a pretty awful state in 2020, CDProjeckt Red’s massive open-world RPG Cyberpunk 2077 has received numerous updates, bug fixes, and even a popular Netflix anime. All of this helped the futuristic RPG become more popular than ever. And while some say the game’s core problems can’t be fixed, CDPR hasn’t given up on Cyberpunk 2077. The RPG’s only planned DLC, Phantom Liberty (and the free 2.0 update) released on September 26 to rave reviews, and fans declaring the game “saved.” But building something like Phantom Liberty isn’t cheap.
On October 5, during an investor’s presentation, CDPR revealed the total budget for Phantom Liberty. Its costs were split between zł275 million on “direct production expenditures” and another zł95 million on “marketing campaign costs.” If we do some converting, that equals out to just about $63 million and $21 million in USD, respectively, or roughly $84 million total.
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As a point of comparison, it reportedly cost $174 million to develop Cyberpunk 2077. That number gets ever larger when you factor in the $142 million CDPR spent on marketing the dystopian RPG. Looking at these numbers, it’s almost impressive how little money CDPR spent on marketing the new DLC compared to the main game.
No matter how you slice it, spending nearly $85 million on developing and marketing a single expansion is wild and a sign of just how expensive game development is these days. It’s also a great example of how big, expensive games aren’t allowed to be flops.
Cyberpunk 2077 had to be a beloved hit, no matter the cost
During the presentation, the translator suggests that CDPR spent zł178 million or about $40 million USD on bringing the game to next-gen consoles and building the sweeping 2.0 update. This would suggest CDPR spent almost $125 million on fixing Cyberpunk 2077’s image and saving its reputation. However, a CDPR representative has contacted Kotaku saying that this 178 million figure in fact is mostly made up of funds spent on the base game
However, based on how well Cyberpunk 2077 and its new expansion are selling after the update—CDPR claims there was a “surge” of sales following update 2.0—the company is likely going to wind up making a lot of money off the game. CDPR pointed out during the investor presentation that it is “confident” that the DLC and its main game will be “big sellers” for a long time, pointing toward the continued sales of The Witcher 3 and its DLC years after launch.
With the development of the Cyberpunk 2077 sequel starting and news of a live-action spin-off in the works, it makes sense that CDPR would be willing to invest so much money into making sure Cyberpunk 2077’s legacy amounted to more than a failed launch and bad console ports. It needed the game to be a huge hit with millions of fans. And it got there, even if it cost a lot of money in the end.
Update 10/6/23 11:30 a.m. ET: This article’s headline has been altered, and additional details added, in response to CDPR’s clarification over what appears to have been a translation error during its investor day presentation.