The Cyberpunk 2077 launch has been a mess on consoles. With reports of hard crashes, bugs and poor performance on the base Xbox One and PS4 units, CD Projekt Red has entered damage control on its open world RPG.
First, the developer offered refunds via social media (the now-famous black font on a yellow background, which usually means 'bad Cyberpunk news') – and the developer also released a transcript of a conference call addressing issues with the game.
Honestly, it doesn't make the situation seem any better.
"After three delays, we as the Management Board were too focused on releasing the game," begins president and joint CEO Adam Kiciński. "We underestimated the scale and complexity of the issues, we ignored the signals about the need for additional time to refine the game on the base last-gen consoles. It was the wrong approach and against our business philosophy. On top of that, during the campaign, we showed the game mostly on PCs."
CD Projekt recognizes that the console launch has damaged its reputation among players, which was arguably sky-high after The Witcher 3, and led to a lot of goodwill in advance of Cyberpunk 2077's release.
"This caused the loss of gamers’ trust and the reputation that we've been building through a big part of our lives. That’s why our first steps are solely focused on regaining those two things. We are concentrated on fixing Cyberpunk on last-gen consoles." Mention is then made of the upcoming patches rolling out before the end of the year, and the others coming in January and February.
CD Projekt Red didn't show gameplay of Cyberpunk 2077 on the base PS4 and Xbox One consoles before release – it did show footage on the upgraded PS4 Pro and Xbox One X machines, but it's meant the game's performance issues have seemed like a nasty surprise to many players. Cyberpunk 2077 garnered 8 million sales just from pre-orders, with a significant portion of those on consoles.
It's not a good look.
The parts of this call drawing the most ire on the internet right now are the following few passages, after the speakers are asked more about the game's delays, the console version not getting enough attention, and whether the priority was to not let the game delay again into next year.
"First – your question was about the focus and the cause of ours ignoring, so to speak, the shortcomings of the current-gen version. It is more about us looking – as was previously stated – at the PC and next-gen performance rather than current-gen," said SVP of business development Michał Nowakowski. "We definitely did not spend enough time looking at that."
Nowakowski continued, this time addressing the delays, and what the situation was with certification on the game with Sony and Microsoft – this process occurs prior to a game's release on those platforms.
"I wouldn’t say that we felt any external or internal pressure to launch on the date – other than the normal pressure, which is typical for any release. So that was not the cause. In terms of the certification process and the third parties – this is definitely on our side. I can only assume that they trusted that we’re going to fix things upon release, and that obviously did not come together exactly as we had planned."
None of this really adds up to a good excuse for why the game has launched in a rough state on base consoles. The transcript also touches upon the effects of Covid-19 on testing for the game, as well as addressing why throwing hundreds more developers at the project wouldn't have made a difference to the end result. It does also note that players enjoying the game on next-gen consoles, PC and Stadia are having a better experience.
Can CD Projekt put it right?
It's a fascinating transcript to read – the developer is very contrite about how things went down. And there is a hard commitment to fixing the game. "Unfortunately I cannot share the cost related to additional work, but the cost of patching the game is irrelevant compared to what we have already spent," says CFO Piotr Nielubowicz. "So there’s no question – we definitely want to fix the game; we made a promise to gamers and we’ll be doing everything to stick with it."
Players are absolutely justified in being frustrated by the state the game launched in, however – it's also disappointing that the console version of CD Projekt Red's latest RPG was apparently not provided to reviewers before the game's review embargo lifted. That means the critics' verdict on the game was made on the PC version, which is not without its issues, but pretty amazing to behold when it's actually running smoothly (which does demand powerful hardware).
We'll wait and see on how this develops – there is a good game under the launch issues for Cyberpunk 2077. It's just a shame you're not necessarily getting that if you buy it on PS4 and Xbox One right now.