This weekend was packed with the Cyberpunk 2077 news. CD Projekt RED management made more excuses. Analysts brought up the idea that the time might have come to sell the studio. Here’s a quick rundown of everything that happened over the last couple of days.
1. Jason Schreier posted a piece on the troubled development of Cyberpunk 2077
Last Saturday, Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier shared the results of his investigation into the “disastrous” rollout of Cyberpunk 2077. According to him, the article was based on interviews with 20 former and current employees of the Polish studio.
Here’s the main takeaways from Schreier’s article:
- although Cyberpunk 2077 was officially announced in 2012, its development pretty much restarted from scratch in 2016;
- the team developed the game while continuing to improve the game’s engine;
- some of the top developers left the studio because of serious disagreements with game director Adam Badowski over the gameplay and the game’s story;
- the Cyberpunk 2077 devs were in constant crunch mode. According to developer Adrian Jakubiak, some employees lost their families because of crunch;
- More than 500 people worked on the game (the Witcher 3 team included 240 full-time employees). But sometimes these people could not properly work together because of the language barrier;
- CD Projekt RED’s management mainly aimed to impress the audience. Even the E3 2018 demo was “almost entirely fake.”
- When the studio announced at E3 that the title would be released in April 2020, most developers took it as a joke. According to their estimates, the release of Cyberpunk 2077 could not possibly happen before 2022. But the management of CD Projekt RED insisted that the game should be launched even before the announcement of the new generation consoles. Only in 2019 did the execs change their mind;
- some programmers warned that Cyberpunk 2077 is too complex to perform well on PS4 and Xbox One. But those in charge dismissed those concerns, citing the success of The Witcher 3.
What went wrong with Cyberpunk 2077? Interviews with more than 20 current and former CD Projekt staff paint a complex picture. Unchecked ambition, technical woes, unrealistic deadlines, and above all, one belief: “We made The Witcher 3 — it’ll work out.” https://t.co/T56huHkQW8
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) January 16, 2021
2. More from Schreier: CD Projekt RED’s recent apology statement could have been a reaction to his questions sent in the morning of the same day
Last Wednesday, co-founder of CD Projekt RED Marcin Iwiński posted a five-minute video, in which he apologized for the problems in Cyberpunk 2077 and outlined how the company is going to mitigate them.
As Schreier wrote on Twitter, it was no coincidence that the Polish studio shared this video on Wednesday. It may have tried to get their narrative out before Schreier’s investigation went live. Apparently, the journalist contacted CD Projekt RED last Tuesday, sending them the list of questions for the article Wednesday morning.
I don’t know for sure if CD Projekt published the Cyberpunk roadmap and apology video on Wednesday afternoon to try to get ahead of my article. But I did give them a heads up Tuesday and sent them a list of questions on Wednesday morning. Which started with this… pic.twitter.com/qD2gowLURF
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) January 16, 2021
3. Cyberpunk 2077 game director responded to Schreier’s criticism of the game’s failed development
On January 17th, Cyberpunk 2077 game director Adam Badowski addressed some of points made by Schreier.
- The demo for E3 2018 was no fake. Badowski pointed out it is difficult to show the game exactly the way it’s going to look like in two years, but that doesn’t make the demo fake. Games are not created linearly and their finished look arrives just a few months before launch. That is why they labeled the demo as “work in progress”;
- According to Badowski, Schreier was wrong when he wrote that most of the developers knew and openly spoke about the unpreparedness of Cyberpunk 2077 for release in 2020. The game director noted that the journalist spoke to only 20 of the 500 employees, which is not representative of the majority;
- towards the end, Badowski also spoke about the language issues in the company. He assured that CD Projekt RED requires the use of English during meetings and corporate correspondence. However, in an informal setting, people can speak their native language.
— Adam Badowski⚡️ (@AdamBadowski) January 16, 2021
4. DFC analysts suggest that CD Projekt RED might want to consider selling the studio
Three days ago, DFC Intelligence wrote a long article arguing that CD Projekt RED could get back on its feet if it agreed to a takeover by another publisher.
The analysts suggested that it wasn’t bugs that ultimately tarnished the reputation of the studio, it was the fact that nobody expected them. Up until the release, CD Projekt RED claimed that everything would be fine with the game, which eventually misled the audience.
According to DFC, a different approach to marketing could have helped the studio avoid a string of scandals over Cyberpunk 2077, as well the stock disaster. None of this would have happened if CD Projekt RED had been more open and honest with gamers, reviewers, analysts, and distributors.
Despite the fact that Cyberpunk 2077 may still win players back, work will have to be done to restore the reputation of CD Projekt RED itself, DFC said. The sale of the studio can help with this. While the company is still quite expensive, some publishers are capable of taking that risk. DFC did not name potential buyers, but added that it was unlikely to be Microsoft. They say that after spending $7.5 billion on the acquisition of ZeniMax, Microsoft will not rush another major takeover.
5. Blogger Crowbcat released a video about Cyberpunk 2077 comparing the studio’s promises with the game’s final flaws
Yesterday, after a year of silence, popular blogger Crowbcat posted a video on YouTube, juxtapposing the promises made by the developers with the glitches the Cyberpunk 2077 contained at launch. Yep, that’s enough glitches for a 41 minute video.
The video titled “Overpromise, Sell, Underdeliver Cyberpunk 2077” has already hit over a million views.