Wednesday, 27 Jan 2021

Blame Cyberpunk 2077 launch on me, not devs, says CD Projekt CEO

The founder and co-chief executive of CD Projekt on Wednesday gave a detailed apology for the launch quality of Cyberpunk 2077 on older consoles, as well as an explanation from inside the company on what went wrong and why.

CD Projekt also published a post-launch support roadmap for the beleaguered RPG, promising multiple updates over the coming year, including free downloadable content and a free update to newer consoles (Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5).

The game is currently on version 1.06, with a 1.07 patch expected sometime this month. It’s believed that is the first of two major patches that will precede the “multiple updates & improvements” phase of support stretching until the end of the year.

Cyberpunk 2077 launched Dec. 10 to generally complimentary reviews — certainly none calling out major glitches or performance problems — on the Windows PC version of the game. When players got their hands on the game for their PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, they found an array of glitches, some of them silly or embarrassing and another downright harmful, and other issues that shattered their immersion in the game’s futuristic world.

Iwinski acknowledged the older consoles’ problems and said CD Projekt “underestimated the task” of making a game optimized for PC run smoothly on seven-year-old consoles.

“We made it even more difficult for ourselves by first wanting to make the game look epic on PCs and then adjusting it to consoles — especially old-gens,” Iwinski said (the bulk of his video statement can be read in the FAQ the company also posted Wednesday).

Ahead of the release of Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red faced scrutiny from reporters for its work practices, particularly with regard to “crunch,” a term referring to long overtime hours lasting weeks or months. Despite past promises to the contrary, the company imposed obligatory crunch on some employees. Cyberpunk 2077 also faced criticism for its marketing — in particular, the usage of a sexualized trans model in a promotional poster, as well as the flippant tone used in much of the game’s advertising and social media.

Even after release, Cyberpunk 2077 remains a work in progress for CD Projekt Red. The game launched with various performance issues, particularly on last-generation consoles, although more updates to the game are forthcoming. Console review codes for Cyberpunk 2077 were not provided to media outlets until release day.

“As it turned out, our testing (of older consoles) did not show many of the issues you experienced while playing the game,” Iwinski said. “As we got closer to launch, we saw significant improvements each and every day, and we really believed we’d deliver in the final day zero update.”

Every extra day of development was geared toward improvements, Iwinski said, which is why CD Projekt held off on distributing review code for console versions until practically the last minute (Dec. 8, for a game launching Dec. 10). Players angry with the launch state of console Cyberpunk 2077 have accused CD Projekt of knowing that version was essentially broken, and hiding it by making PC the only code available for reviewers in time for launch. CD Projekt’s conditions for reviewers’ pre-launch access also forbade them from using any of their own recorded gameplay footage, adding to the public’s suspicion.

The game plays better on PC, the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro, and the newest consoles via backward compatibility, though issues are still present on those versions of the game as well. Iwinski said a free, next-gen update for Cyberpunk 2077 on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 will be coming in the second half of 2021. The PC version of Cyberpunk broke records on Steam despite technical hiccups.

The company’s FAQ said CD Projekt is working with Sony to bring Cyberpunk 2077 back to the PlayStation Store; Sony de-listed the game in mid-December after CD Projekt hurriedly offered — and obligated others to — full refunds for anyone dissatisfied with the game. Of the refund process, the FAQ says it is “progressing according to plan and we just sent out the first wave of reimbursements.” Some are still awaiting their refunds.

However, Iwinski’s video message did not include a comment in the FAQ that “The team is working to bring relevant fixes to the game without any obligatory overtime. Avoiding crunch on all of our future projects is one of our top priorities.” CD Projekt has been criticized for its management of the twice-delayed project, which reportedly involved mandatory six-day workweeks and a year or more of others working nights and weekends. These facts came to light after CD Projekt Red promised it wouldn’t force workers to crunch in the first place.

In the video statement, Iwinski asked disappointed players and customers not to fault developers for how Cyberpunk 2077 launched. “They are all incredibly talented and hard-working,” he said. “Myself and the board are the final decision-makers and it was our call to release the game.

“I assure you that we will do our best to regain your trust,” Iwinski added.

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