Game developer and executive director at gamedev.net Rami Ismail has explained how Sony and Microsoft allowed Cyberpunk 2077 to release on consoles in the current buggy state. “Sony and Microsoft are NOT responsible for the state of Cyberpunk 2077 on PS4 and Xbox,” Ismail says.
While contractual obligations prevent him from getting into specifics of the certification process on consoles, the developer outlines the general scope of the procedure. According to Ismail, passing the certification doesn’t mean that your game is “free of graphical bugs, free of performance issues, free of glitches, or even that it’s functioning properly.”
Platform holders do not check games against their quality standards. They only make sure that a title cannot physically destroy your console and that it does not break trademarks and certain rules. The list of rules is pretty big, but it includes things like displaying warnings if the internet connection is lost or correctly labeling buttons.
After submission, the certification process can take several weeks. After that, the studio receives a list of failed criteria. For a title to be certified, the studio generally needs to have all criteria marked “passed.” But they can also request a “waiver” and proceed with certain criteria marked “waived.” It means that the developer can argue that some failed criteria are negligible because, for example, they will be fixed in a day one patch. Depending on how urgent the situation is, platforms can greenlight a game as is. It is then the responsibility of the publisher to decide whether their game is launch-ready.
Something along those lines apparently happened with Cyberpunk, with Sony and Microsoft leaving it up to CD Projekt to decide “whether they want to shoot themselves in the foot with a subpar project launch.”
Ismail reiterates that this decision was not made by the devs, the QA staff, or the platforms. The responsibility lies with the CD Projekt execs — something that they themselves have acknowledged.