It’s been clear based on Cyberpunk 2077’s troubled launch and the state it has released in that the game went through a less than idea development cycle, while CD Projekt RED’s internal crunch practices during its production have, of course, been well-known for some time now. Now, a new report by Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier sheds further light on the open world RPG’s development.
As per interviews conducted by Schreier with over 20 current and former CD Projekt RED employees, Cyberpunk 2077’s development was facing hurdles from the get go, and was defined by a greater focus on marketing than on actual production. One key piece of information that coems from the report is the fact that the developer was developing the game’s engine at the same time as the game itself, which hampered production from the get go.
Interestingly enough, the game’s development was essentially rebooted in late 2016. The previous vision of the game, which saw it as a third person project, was scrapped entirely. Schreier added on his Twitter account that initially planned features like wall-running and flying cars were removed from the game during production. The game’s Wanted system, which has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism, was also allegedly “done at the last minute”.
When CD Projekt RED studio head Adam Badowski took over as the project’s director, he implemented various overhauls to both gameplay and story, and several high-ranking employees left the studio due to creative differences. The report also mentions crunch, with CDPR employees stating they felt pressured to work longer hours.
“There were times when I would crunch up to 13 hours a day — a little bit over that was my record probably — and I would do five days a week working like that,” said Adrian Jakubiak, a former audio programmer for CD Projekt RED. “I have some friends who lost their families because of these sort of shenanigans.”
In 2018, CD Projekt RED showed off a nearly 50 minute-long gameplay demo of Cyberpunk 2077 to journalists behind closed doors. Schreier’s report states that development was still in very early stages at that time, and that the demo was essentially “fake”, and that core gameplay systems had yet to be finalized or even coded at the time. According to several developers, the demo was a waste of several months of effort.
A year later, at E3 2019, CD Projekt RED announced an April 2020 release date for Cyberpunk 2077, but staff at the studio knew that that was an impossible target to hit. Many in the studio predicted that the game would be finished by 2022, though decreasing the game’s scope and cancelling planned features during development helped speed up the timeline.
Even when Cyberpunk 2077 was announced as having gone gold shortly before its final delay from November to December, it was still facing issues, with bits of dialog being missing, some features not working as intended, and, of course, there being numerous bugs. CD Projekt leads have stated in their post-launch statements that several of the game’s biggest issues did not come up during the game’s QA testing prior to launch, but as per Schreier’s report, many developers at the studio have contested those statements.
As of this writing, Cyberpunk 2077 is still delisted from the PlayStation Store. The studio is facing legal action from investors, and could also face heavy monetary fines should it fail to fix the game with planned upcoming updates.
Cyberpunk 2077 is currently available for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia, with PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions planned for later in 2021.
– And if you're wondering why the police system in Cyberpunk 2077 is so janky: well, it was all done at the last minute. As is evident by the final product, 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
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) January 16, 2021