If there was ever a record for the quickest fall from grace, CD Projekt Red might be the current placeholder. It is unfathomable that since the release of Cyberpunk 2077, one of the most anticipated games in years, that a well-respected developer could scuttle its reputation by a series of poor decisions made by their executives. Let me be clear, the blame for the launch of Cyberpunk 2077 does not fall on the shoulders of the developers, because the decisions regarding release aren’t up to them. The executives at CDPR are the ones ultimately pulling the strings and they are the sole reason why they find themselves in one of the strangest and most unfortunate situations that any organization could find themselves in.
Forget that Cyberpunk 2077 is ultimately a good but flawed game. Forget the broken promises, these are a result of lofty ambitions and happen all the time in gaming. Key in however, on the response of CDPR from their board of executives. Not only did they deceive their consumers, but they also deceived their shareholders and their business partners. What’s even worse, is that during a shareholder call, they inferred that their business partners in Microsoft and Sony should share blame because the game passed certification on their respective consoles. Now, I would not blame anyone if they assumed passing certification meant the game was playable, but passing certification means that the software doesn’t brick or maliciously disrupt the hardware, so CDPR, a renowned game developer, made the decision to throw two of three industry leaders under the bus to protect themselves.
That was ballsy, but incredibly foolish, because CDPR holds ZERO leverage in these situations. Whatever executive thought this was a good idea should tender their resignation. To make matters worse, Sony, who has one of the worst refund programs in the industry, responded and pulled Cyberpunk 2077 from their digital storefront and have now offered refunds to all players. Now, this could have been a joint decision made by CDPR and Sony, but now it puts an incredible amount of pressure on the developer to iron out the problems on console as this is occurring just before the holiday and it will greatly impact sales. On the other business end, Microsoft has yet to issue a statement as to whether they will suit, but CDPR would hope that they wouldn’t because the console developer acts as their primary marketing partner for Cyberpunk 2077.
In short, it’s a real shit show and while things are currently grim, CDPR can bounce back from this. Simply put, they need to stop shooting from the hip. A transparent plan forward that is consumer friendly is the only way that they can quickly rebuild their reputation and their standing in the gaming industry. The caveat is this is going to come at a great cost. The development team is going to have to crunch significantly to fix this situation and its bullshit because their executives are the cause. Poor project management in complex projects can spell disaster from the start. It cannot be stressed enough that realistic expectations need to be put in place so that crashing activities, which is pulling resources and assets to complete a function, are prevented. While crashing and crunching can be beneficial to completing a key activity, when they fail, those results are immediately noticeable and can lead to delays, project restructuring, and other negative consequences.
Hopefully, other developers will learn from CDPR’s mistake. Your first thought shouldn’t be of self-preservation when all the evidence immediately points in your direction. Cyberpunk 2077 should not have been released in its current state, consumers did not pay for an early access title and the game was never marketed as one. For whatever reason, deceptive marketing has become a trend that has been utilized by a number of companies its baffling because they never get away with it. What was surprising was that CDPR tried to cover its tracks by deflecting when being honest and straight forward with the situation would have been to everyone’s benefit. Instead, the gaming community is up in arms about who to blame. Just remember, don’t point fingers at the development staff, they’re probably just as frustrated as the fans are because their pleas fell on deaf ears. The executives at CDPR are easily the key culprit and the irony of it all is that Cyberpunk 2077 is a title that is all about railing against corporations.
Eventually, Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be an enjoyable experience on every platform and not just next-gen consoles or PC. Also, I have no doubt that there will be content added in the next year or so to round out the experience and to ensure that the game meets its near limitless potential, but all of this will come at the expense of its development team and for that, the executives at CDPR should be ashamed.