Sunday, March 7, 2021

What Can Be Learned From the ‘ CD Projekt’ Cyberpunk 2077 Debacle?

January 17, 2021 by  
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( It’s safe to say that CD Projekt dropped the ball with Cyberpunk 2077. Actually, that’s a little light. They sh** the bed. Hard. This was a game that had been in development for years with the planning stages starting in 2012—when the game was announced.

From there, CD Projekt increased the size of the team to be bigger than the team behind The Witcher 3. As 2020 neared, Cyberpunk 2077 picked awards in the “Most Anticipated” category. At this point the awards were well-founded. Features and shots from the game made this a must-have title.

Faulty Expectations or Pressure?

While COVID-19 threw a wrench in many developers’ plans, CD Projekt Red had been working on the title well before that. When 2020 came around, it was pencils down for Cyberpunk 2077. By November, there was a race to get player testing done—months after a delay.

What was holding everything up in the testing phase? The company opting to release the game on multiple platforms on day one. It would be the consoles that got the short end of the stick and result in a product that wasn’t polished nor worth the pre-order if you had an Xbox or PlayStation console.

Of course, this didn’t stop it from receiving awards in the Best PlayStation Game category at Gamescom. This was a game that was removed from the PS Store and received a warning about performance on Xbox Live.

Refunds were issued and games were returned but someone got the magic, completed PlayStation 5 version of the game. Congratulations!

Avoiding Failure

Yeah, it’s hindsight but the one thing that really could’ve helped this would’ve been to just…not announce the game was in the works back in 2012. That was just going to add pressure years down the line when it seems like the game was in development forever.

Seriously, I’ve asked myself “Was Cyberpunk cancelled or something?” only to look up news and find that the game was still in development. No problem, that just means the game has to finished and polished on launch.

Depending on the platform, this just wasn’t the case. To solve that, announce the game when development is at the halfway point. At the earliest, they could’ve announced that they had the license after The Witcher 3 dropped.

That allows for more wiggle room to clean the game up and address issues. Actually, they would’ve been about to announce an early 2021 release and peeps most likely would’ve rolled with it. Instead, you have a game that was announced early in the previous decade and now we’re at the start of another.

Also at fault were Microsoft and Sony. If a third-party game is going to be on their consoles they have to be playable. Never mind being fun or worth the price tag, they just have to be fully functional and playable since bugs can be ironed out with updates.

That’s how Bethesda was able to keep dropping Fallout and Elder Scrolls games with the glitches. The games were playable and had few bugs that would make the game so unplayable that a warning and removal were valid choices.

Yet Cyberpunk made it onto both storefronts and into brick-and-mortar stores at the full price. Audacious! Both parties are to blame. CD Projekt for testing the game, seeing it wasn’t ready for console release, and sending it off anyway and console manufacturers for not checking their work and putting an “F” on it.

Salvaging Cyberpunk 2077 and Lessons Learned

Cyberpunk 2077 can definitely be salvaged and CD Projekt will roll with the damage to its reputation. It’s not as if they released Superman 64 or something. I mean, there are playable versions of the game on the different platforms. It’ll take a while to both fix the issues and the company’s reputation but it can be done.

An important thing here is if lessons were learned not just for CD Projekt but other developers. This is a unique time in world history and every industry is impacted. It’s moments like this where lessons can be learned and applied in less trying times.

If anything, one lesson to learn is to announce the game when it is deep in development. The developer gets more time on the clock and won’t have to rush anything through because of consumer pressure. It also allows a developer to reserve its “It will be ready when it’s ready” card.

No one wants to be forced into a “Go or get off the pot” situation whether it be game development or content creation so it helps to not position yourself in that situation in the first place. Hyping a game well before development gets underway gives a developer a time limit.

Boxing yourself in on any project is just spoiling for disaster. I will admit that while CD Projekt had a time limit, they also rolled some unlucky dice in aiming for an early 2020 release. Mind you, it only delayed other developers by a month or two but few of those game was as ambitious in concept and scale as this one.

While every developer wants that heat behind a big release, sometimes it’s best to take a pessimistic approach towards releasing a game.

Consumer patience is something else that could’ve been learned. However, the age old saying “Do you want it done right or do you want it done fast?” doesn’t totally apply here.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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