Cyberpunk 2077 may be one of the best games of this generation, but it’s held back by so many flaws. And all of them because it was released in an unfinished state. A recent article by Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, which features anonymous interviews with CD Projekt RED developers, sheds some light on just what the hell went on behind the scenes at the studio. And it is a very different story from the official story, even the so-called “explanation” released by CDPR co-founder Marcin Iwiński. More on that later.
I wanna start off by stating that while I condemn CDPR for their actions, I do not in any way endorse harassing the developers. Management has already taken responsibility for the game’s released state.
And I also wanna stress that while the game is clearly an unfinished mess, there is an amazing game underneath that not only deserves to be played, but deserves to be enjoyed. And a lot of people are. So this all comes from a place of love. I am pissed at CDPR for releasing a game this way that clearly could’ve been something amazing had it been given time.
The mismanagement of Cyberpunk 2077 almost mirrors that of Anthem perfectly. The main issue seems to be that the management was full of bravado after the success of The Witcher 3. So they were certain that no matter what they took on, it would be amazing. Completely ignoring the fact that making a good game requires a lot of good planning.
The game was made while the engine was still being developed. According to the devteam, it was like driving a train while the tracks were being laid in front of them. So naturally, that slowed down development significantly.
And that wasn’t the only problem. The project was essentially reset in 2016 when Adam Badowski took over the project as director. His vision of the game differed strongly from those who had worked on the game so far. As a result, several people left the project when it became clear he was not backing down from his vision.
One major point of contention was the game’s perspective. Adam wanted the game to play in first person, which clashed with several people working on the game. This mirrors how a lot of people reacted when it was announced the game would be in first person.
The staff themselves were under the impression the game wouldn’t even be done until 2022. When management announced the game was ready to go gold in October, the developers were confused and shocked, now having to scramble to put together a game that was nowhere near finished. According to a lot of staff, they knew the game wouldn’t be done in time. The question was just how bad the fallout would be.
Adam Badowski, head of CD Projekt RED and director on Cyberpunk 2077 had the following responses to questions from Jason Schreier regarding the things that were exposed:
What becomes increasingly clear from Adam’s response is that the executives are either blissfully out of touch with the reality of the situation, or even worse, aware of it but trying to cover it up. It’s hard to understand how any outlets would give the game a 9/10 or 10/10. I mean, we ourselves gave the game an 8/10 based on its merits, but even that was really generous.
Even worse, his response to the staff themselves knowing the game wouldn’t be ready for release is to avoid that statement entirely. Instead he says talking to 20 people is not most of the over 500 people staff. Which is of course true, but the 20 people who were interviewed are still people and their voices are still valid. It shows a high degree of disregard for their own staff.
And sure, Polish laws might compensate staff for working overtime. But that does not excuse the fact CDPR apparently have been trying to make people work overtime by using blackmail methods. One member said that they told him if he didn’t work overtime, some other member would have to make up for him.
We are truly humbled that so many of you trusted us and decided to support #Cyberpunk2077 before the release! Even 8 million thank yous isn't enough! The journey has just begun and we are hard at work on the upcoming fixes and updates to the game. See you in Night City! pic.twitter.com/ycIe2kN0Zq
— Cyberpunk 2077 (@CyberpunkGame) December 10, 2020
A True Disaster
And sure, you can be proud of the game all you want. Even I remain proud of what the CDPR staff was able to accomplish with such conditions. But that doesn’t change the fact the game was severely under-cooked upon launch.
It is mind-boggling that Adam Badowski even claims the launch was not a disaster when you take into consideration the fact the company was sued by investors and have the Polish government threatening to take 10% of their revenue if they don’t fix it. In an entirely unprecedented move, the game was removed from the Sony PSN store because of its unfinished state. And both Sony and Microsoft have offered refunds for the game.
I want to reiterate, this is UNPRECEDENTED. Even Anthem and Fallout 76 didn’t receive this kind of treatment, which should tell you how serious this situation is. It looks really damn disastrous to me.
Ignorance Is Bliss
Iwiński’s response is particularly enraging because he acts like the issues weren’t there. According to him, the issues that have shown up in the game since launch “simply weren’t there” when they were testing the game. It doesn’t take a genius to understand how much bullshit this explanation is. The amount of bugs and crashes the game had on launch couldn’t simply have come into existence for no reason.
The thing is that this very strongly doesn’t match up with the public image that CDPR has been working on keeping up for most of the 2010s. So it becomes very clear that they have lied to us, deceived us, and even worse, have exploited their own staff. And they continue to do so, despite the fact the truth is out there now.
The fact the executives, both Adam Badowski and Marcin Iwiński, are turning a blind eye to the fact the game was rushed out in an unfinished state, is the worst thing about this whole ordeal. Instead of simply acknowledging that they got greedy, they’ve been trying to pretend like the issues don’t exist and that they are sorry people are not happy with the final product.
The silver lining is that at least they are taking responsibility for the state of the game. And they are promising to commit to keep working on the game. They have also promised to do so without crunching their staff. Though given how they have betrayed our trust already, that’s a hard pill to swallow.
A Lucky Studio
CD Projekt RED should really consider themselves lucky they still have a chance for a redemption story. The fact remains that underneath the bugs, glitches, and crashes, Cyberpunk 2077 could become a true masterpiece. It’s a great game for sure if you ignore the issues, but it still needs time to become what it was promised to be. A lot of things in the game remain unfinished or missing entirely.
But if this was not the case, CD Projekt RED would be dead and buried now. If Cyberpunk 2077 was just another live service looter shooter without any true purpose, like Anthem ended up being. Unlike most AAA studios, they’re not releasing enough games to afford a huge blunder like EA.
They banked hard on Cyberpunk 2077 being a success. And their greed bit them in the ass in a way they can’t afford, which is why they are coming out to apologize publicly and try to restore their broken consumer relationship. They know if this fails, they could lose the studio.
So let’s be real, none of us wants to see CD Projekt RED fail, nor do we want to see Cyberpunk 2077 forever remain a rushed disaster. We just want to see some true honesty instead of corporate bullshit.
In the end, Cyberpunk 2077 is a game about standing up to corporations, not become them. That message should be something both Adam and Marcin should consider taking in. Because they have become what they promised not to become. And it’s gonna take a lot more than a fake apology to fix what they ruined.