What happened to Cyberpunk 2077?

Cyberpunk 2077 is an action role-playing video game that was first released in December 2020. The game, which had been announced as early as 2012, was developed by Polish game studio CD Projekt. The game is set in a dystopian future where part-human, part-machine mercenaries carry out sabotage missions against evil corporations.  The buzz around the release of Cyberpunk 2077 was incredible. The game attracted some 8 million pre-orders and actor Keanu Reeves was also cast as a main character. In the lead-up to its release, CD Projekt kept the game under wraps and only shared copies with select news outlets and gaming publications. Ultimately, Cyberpunk 2077 failed to match the significant expectations the company built over almost a decade. Let’s take a look at the story of what happened to the game below.

Internal conflict and hype

Game developers were concerned that the grand promises made by management would not be achievable. Indeed, the endlessly explorable world coupled with ultra-customizable characters meant the premise sold to gamers was far from becoming a reality.

The game was intended to be released in April 2019, but there were persistent rumors in Poland that the company was behind schedule. Several top executives departed around the same time, while many others took to the business review site Glassdoor to voice their frustrations. There, it was revealed that CD Projekt suffered from frequently missed deadlines, toxic workplace culture, incompetence, and a lack of planning.

Unsurprisingly, the release date was pushed back to January 2020. It was then delayed once again to September 2020 due to COVID-19 and then two more times to the end of the year after the company admitted it had a lot of bugs to fix.

Performance issues

After almost a decade of hype, Cyberpunk 2077 was released on December 10, 2020.

However, several performance issues were already evident. Artificial intelligence used in combat was anything but intelligent and random bugs blocked players out of missions. Furthermore, the mechanics were infantile and not what developers had initially promised. Users could not get their characters to perform basic tasks such as running, driving, or picking up weapons.

These issues attracted widespread public criticism, with consumers blaming investors for the rushed release and lamenting that the game was incompatible with older consoles. They also created social media videos on the multitude of sometimes hilarious glitches in the game, including tanks falling from the sky or cars exploding into flames for no apparent reason.

In response to the disaster, Sony and Microsoft offered full refunds, with the former making the drastic decision to remove the game from the PlayStation store. 

Long employee hours

Around the same time, The Guardian also noted the irony of a game exploring the pitfalls of capitalism that was developed by a company forcing its employees to work 6 or 7-day weeks for more than a year. 

While the so-called practice of “crunching” is common in the industry, CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwiński made specific mention of the fact that the company would be more “humane” than its competitors. In an interview with gamer website Kotaku, he explained that “We are known for treating gamers with respect. And I actually would [like] for us to also be known for treating developers with respect.”

However, the company later admitted it required employees to crunch for an extended period of time as the release date was pushed back on several occasions.

Improvements

In 2021, numerous updates were released to improve stability and performance. However, issues remain on certain platforms.

Cyberpunk 2077 reappeared in the PlayStation store in June 2021 and many are optimistic the game can realize its full potential. This potential was to some extent vindicated when the game won the “Outstanding Story-Rich Game” category at the 2021 Steam Awards.

Key takeaways:

  • Cyberpunk 2077 is an action role-playing video game that was first released in December 2020. The game, which had been announced as early as 2012, was developed by Polish game studio CD Projekt.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 was plagued with comical and not-so-comical performance issues, drawing widespread criticism from consumers and investors. Some publications questioned the contradiction between the game’s anti-capitalist themes and its tendency to force employees to work long hours.
  • Numerous updates were made to Cyberpunk 2077 in 2021, but some issues remain. Nevertheless, the game was credited at the 2021 Steam Awards and has re-appeared in the PlayStation store.

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