Was game dev’s ransomware story just a Cyberpunk 2077 E3 publicity stunt?

CD Projekt RED – developer of Cyberpunk 2077 – has announced that an individual (or group of individuals) has stolen the company’s internal data and is holding it to ransom. It sounds like a storyline lifted straight from the videogame, and some people think that’s exactly what it is.

The company, best known for its work on The Witcher series, turned to Twitter for the announcement, which has set skeptics all a-flutter.

“A demand for ransom has been made,” the statement says, “saying that should we not comply, the files will be released to the general public.”

The Polish developer’s statement comes coupled with the warning that fans looking to avoid spoilers should be careful what they click on, should the files be released.

“We will not be giving in to the demands of the individual or individuals that have contacted us, which might eventually lead to the files being published online.”

And while ransomware certainly is sweeping the globe these days, the CDPR announcement – and its timing – is raising a few eyebrows.

In case you missed the memo, E3 hits LA next week. The biggest event on the gaming calendar, this is the week to drop your big announcements, release your new trailers, and show off what you’ve been working on. It’s also an excellent time to surprise everyone – like when CDPR used last year’s Xbox presentation to reveal Gwent as a standalone card game.

Cyberpunk 2077 was first announced five years ago, and we’ve heard virtual radio silence since. Surely it would be a good time for a re-reveal? An information dump complete with a 2019 release window? New screens? A trailer? It’s what fans have been asking for.

CDPR’s “we do not negotiate with terrorists” response is admirable, but why did they not go the extra step and reveal the files themselves, negating the ransom threat?

…because someone “hacking into” one of next week’s big conferences and putting the files on the big screen would be way more fun, way more shiny, and – importantly – way more on-brand.

Watch this space.

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