The launch of Cyberpunk 2077 will go down as one of the biggest, and most influential, disasters of the modern gaming era but the truth of what exactly was going on behind the scenes will take some time to come out.
The first real insight has come through a new Bloomberg report, which blames poor management for ignoring problems with the console versions and forcing unrealistic deadlines.
The report interviews more than 20 current and former CD Projekt staff members, who claim that many of the most serious problems were well known before launch – and common to all versions – but there was simply no time to fix them all.
It’s also clarified that while the game is usually described as being in development for seven years, after having been announced 2012, current work only began in earnest in 2016, when it switched from a third person to first person title.
As such, the memorable E3 2018 demo was described as ‘almost entirely fake’, with developers resenting wasting months of real development on its creation.
In subsequent tweets journalist Jason Schreier describes how previously promised features such as wall-running and ambushes were cut from the game, and how developers were coerced into working overtime, commonly known as the ‘crunch’.
He also describes the much-criticised artificial intelligence for the police as having been ‘done at the last minute’.
‘It was unclear to some of the team why they were trying to make both an RPG and a GTA with a fraction of Rockstar’s staff’, states Schreier.
Ultimately, the problems are attributed to CD Projekt falling for their own hype, with the success of The Witcher 3 convincing them that they would be able to pull through despite the problems and impossible deadlines – a situation he compares to the developers of Anthem’s belief in ‘BioWare magic’.
CD Projekt studio head Adam Badowski has already responded to the report, disputing the idea that the E3 2018 demo was fake.
He doesn’t really comment on the forced overtime or unrealistic deadlines though, which are the most serious accusations and the issues which will go on to have the most influence on the games industry at large – as other companies seek to avoid the same problems.
CD Projekt is already facing a lawsuit from investors but a report from market research group DFC Intelligence suggests the company could now have left itself open to acquisition from other companies – just at a time when major publishers are actively looking to acquire experienced studios.
‘What stands out is that the entire fiasco could have been avoided with some basic marketing and public relations’, says DFC Intelligence in its latest research note.
‘A larger public company would have been able to avoid this with basic public relations and marketing’, suggests the company.
There’s no suggestion so far that CD Projekt has been approached, but DFC Intelligence describes them as ‘one to watch’ in terms of future acquisitions.
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