Cyberpunk 2077 was one of gaming’s most anticipated games for several years. The promises that the developers made concerning the game about choice, scope, and scale were pretty lofty ones, but given that the developer had more than proved themselves with their previous work there was no real reason to doubt them. It would be one thing if the developer of Cyberpunk 2077 was a completely unknown new developer who was making lofty promises just to grab headlines, but coming from CD Projekt Red, the promises of Cyberpunk had a lot of weight to them and as such people hotly-anticipated the game for several years well after its announcement and gobbled up every small crumb of information that surfaced between then and its ultimate release. Normally this is a good thing in the lead up to a game as it ensures a lot of people will be playing it and it will generate a lot of money up front with tons of pre-orders and day-one sales.
However, the launch of Cyberpunk 2077 did not go the way it was supposed to go. To put it lightly, the game was littered with problems. Especially on console versions, it seems that the promises of Cyberpunk 2077 we’re still in there somewhere but they were buried beneath far too many layers of collision bugs, broken designs, and a whole host of other things that made it impossible to take the game seriously, much less enjoy it for many. While some of the more atrocious glitches and bugs throughout the game did generate some pretty entertaining moments to share around on the internet, it also damaged CD Projekt Red’s reputation in a way that they’ve never seen, as well as completely inundated various customer support centers with rightfully irritated customers wanting their money back. This of course not only hurt CD Projekt Red, but also created considerable issues for all the platforms on which the game was released at the time as they now had massive backlogs of issues to sort through concerning the game.
Character models would glitch out or load in too slowly, the functionality of the police was broken, and car chases often went horribly wrong as they required the game to zoom through large sections of the open world faster, giving the game less time to catch up and thus leading to even more bugs than normal. Following this, everybody was doing their best to calm negative reception from their end and issue refunds but with Sony’s PlayStation 4 being one of the more popular places to play the game, and thus being one of the platforms hit hardest by the fallout, PlayStation ended up completely removing the game from their digital storefront until and unless CD Projekt Red could patch it to the point where the issues were no longer such an impediment to enjoying the game as intended. Physical copies of course were still out in the wild, but as far as the PS4’s digital storefront went, the game could not be found for months.
That appears to be over now though, as the PS4 version of Cyberpunk 2077 can now be obtained on the PlayStation store for a slightly friendlier price of $49.99 at the time of writing this feature. That is all well and good, and it’s also nice to see that Sony has deemed the studio’s efforts of improving the game to finally be satisfactory, but at the end of the day the damage has already been done. CD Project Red has largely squandered the goodwill that has been built up over the last many years from its successes with the Witcher games and its absurdly long development time with Cyberpunk. While many may be quick to try to spread the blame around for the botched launch of this game, there is just no real basis for that.
Yes, fans were certainly getting antsy online with comments and posts nudging CDPR to hurry up and launch the game. Yes, the PS4 and Xbox One are old consoles that are markedly harder to cram impressive open-world games on in an efficient way. And yes, no game is perfect anyway. All of these things, while true, are not even remotely acceptable excuses for a team as experienced and well-resourced as CD Projekt Red to release a game that was so clearly not ready for primetime after hyping it up for multiple years. At the end of the day, regardless of what external pressures existed, it was their game – and thus – it was up to them to release it in such a poor state. So, for the blame to be placed anywhere other than squarely on CDPR’s shoulders is to mischaracterize the situation.
Because of that, and because of what an instantly recognizable mistake it was to launch Cyberpunk the way they did, no matter how well polished the game gets from this point on, this will always be a dark spot on the reputation of the game. You can’t undo the past. While it’s hard to not sympathize with the team that worked so hard on something for so long, only to see its reputation permanently kneecapped by a botched launch, there’s really no other way to slice it. The success of the game was severely limited by the low ceiling imposed on it by its rushed launch. And this will be re-experienced by anybody who ends up with the game many years from now and plays that vanilla version. Especially those who buy it physically and don’t – for whatever reason – apply all the patches and updates it’s received before firing it up.
Let’s also not forget that Cyberpunk also legitimately failed to meet some of its own expectations. Dialogue options ended up not leading to quite as wide an array of outcomes as the CDPR seemed to imply they would, and most of the better action sequences take place in scripted moments rather than out in the wild, and most of them will be encountered regardless of which life path you choose. That’s not to say the game isn’t a massive, sprawling world full of different ways to experience it, but at the same time, it’s not the revolution in open-world games that many feel they were led to believe it would be. No number of patches can really change this. But the most egregious part of all of this is the fact that the expectations of the game and thusly CDPR are now much lower than they used to be. Their next game, whatever that is, will now be met with the trepidation and hesitation that Cyberpunk 2077 probably should have had.
All of that said, the game certainly has its strong points and sets the bar for its genre in a number of ways. As it continues to receive patches and get closer and closer to its proposed vision, the brighter spots of the game’s interesting world and vast array of things to do will become all the more evident, while its various blemishes continue to fade ever more into smaller and smaller pockets of the experience. It’s a good thing that we have patches for situations like this, and it’s a good thing that the game is still ultimate in very capable hands who are more than able to fix its various issues, but overcoming the damage done to the games’ and CDPR’s reputation will prove to be the heaviest lift of all.
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