This week the co-founder of CD Projekt, Marcin Iwiński, posted a video apology on Twitter. The apology was in relation to the absolute disaster that was Cyberpunk 2077‘s release in December, and the subsequent fallout in recent weeks. The story of Cyberpunk is well told by now. The game was delayed multiple times, finally released, only to meet immediate fan backlash due to the game feeling largely unfinished. Bugs existed throughout the game, some comedic, some game-breaking, and it felt almost unplayable on the last gen PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.
Playing the game on the PlayStation 5 and XboxSeries X/S was better, but as Iwiński explains in the apology video the version of the game optimized for next-gen consoles won’t arrive until the latter half of 2021. That’s because, of course, CD Projekt Red will be busy fixing the game that’s already out. Of course, if you’re a PlayStation owner, good luck finding the game because Sony has yet to make it available for purchase, ever since they removed it from their digital store in December.
Cyberpunk in many ways is a great example of what happens when the development of a game is rushed and poorly planned, but many haven’t given CD Projekt that excuse, because the game has theoretically been in development since 2012. That was when the game was first teased, but a recent article from Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier broke down how the game didn’t actually enter development until 2016. Not only that, the game was plagued with internal issues that really never gave Cyberpunk a chance to succeed.
Part of the fans’ disappointment is proportional to the amount of time they spent waiting for the game. Although Cyberpunk was announced in 2012, the company was then still mainly focused on its last title and full development didn’t start until late 2016, employees said. That was when CD Projekt essentially hit the reset button, according to people familiar with the project.
In Schreier’s article, he gives damning details about the development of the game itself, including that the engine the game runs on was largely being built while the game itself was developed. The game’s initial demo at E3 demo that was largely faked, and massive bugs plagued the game all the way up to CD Projekt’s infamous “Going Gold” announcement, which is traditionally when a game is “finished.”
Why all this happened is likely a topic of significant debate over at CD Projekt right now, but you can’t say that many at the company didn’t see this coming. There was reportedly a clear disconnect between developers and those in charge when it came to how ready this game was throughout development. So much so that those making the game were apparently making memes about its delay before it actually happened.
The overtime didn’t make the development of the game any faster. At E3 in June 2019, CD Projekt announced that the game would come out on April 16, 2020. Fans were elated, but internally, some members of the team could only scratch their heads, wondering how they could possibly finish the game by then. One person said they thought the date was a joke. Based on the team’s progress, they expected the game to be ready in 2022. Developers created memes about the game getting delayed, making bets on when it would happen.
The developers of the game were correct to meme delays, but it goes to show just how bleak things were internally. Even now you can still find people posting that infamous yellow background when a delay of any kind occurs across all industries.
Hindsight is 20/20, but when you look at everything we know about the game now and everything we’ve learned over the last week it makes the fate of Cyberpunk blatantly clear in retrospect. This was a game destined to fail for a variety of reasons. It’s just a shame those with the power to prevent that at CD Projekt didn’t do anything in time.