“We underestimated the scale and complexity of the issues.”
Following on from a statement addressing the messy state of Cyberpunk 2077 on base Xbox One and PlayStation 4, CD Projekt yesterday held a board meeting to discuss the game’s launch issues, revealing a little more about the development process immediately before the game’s release. And, perhaps surprising no-one, it seems those last-gen versions came in pretty hot.
The call began with a statement from CD Projekt president Adam Kiciński, in which he reaffirmed the company’s commitment to fixing Cyberpunk on last-gen consoles with a patch in the next seven days, with further big updates in January and February. “We’ll do everything possible to prove that we stick to our values,” Kiciński said. “We truly hope that our efforts will let us rebuild the trust we have lost.”
The opening statement also addressed why the game had released in such a mess on last-gen consoles.
“After three delays, we as the management board were too focused on releasing the game. 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. This caused the loss of gamers’ trust and the reputation that we’ve been building through a big part of our lives.”
Strangely, this explanation seemed to conflict with comments from senior vice president of business development Michał Nowakowski later in the call, who said that focus on the PC version over last-gen consoles had been a cause – but that pressure to release the game on time had not been a significant factor.
“I wouldn’t say that we felt any external or internal pressure to launch on the date any other than a normal pressure, which typically, you know, coincides with any release… but that was not the cause.”
Kiciński also suggested that the Covid-19 pandemic had hampered the game’s development, as while internal testers were able to continue working from home, external testers had to use test centres, and could not work unless they were there. “We had some decrease in the number of testers, but I wouldn’t point to it as a major source of problems,” he added.
Answering a question about why CD Projekt had not shown footage of the game running on last-gen consoles, co-founder and joint CEO Marcin Iwiński explained CD Projekt had been “updating the game on the last-gen consoles until the very last minute and we thought we’d make it on time”.
“Unfortunately this resulted in giving it to reviewers just one day before the release. And that was definitely too late. We didn’t give the chance for the media to review it properly… that was not intended, we were just fixing the game until the very last moment.”
When asked why the game’s poor performance on last-gen consoles had not been flagged during Sony and Microsoft’s certification processes, it seems that CD Projekt believed it would have these problems fixed by release, with Nowakowski saying the fault was “definitely on our side” rather than a failure by the third-party platforms.
“I can only assume that they were counting that we were going to fix things upon release,” he said. “Obviously that did not come together exactly as we planned.”
So, what is the game going to look like after all these patches and updates for last-gen consoles? Nowakowski said you can expect it to run with no crashes, the main bugs will be eliminated, and you can expect improvements in both performance and graphical fidelity. CD Projekt reiterated that you shouldn’t expect last-gen Cyberpunk to perform to the same standard as on PC or next-gen consoles, but “it will be a good, playable, stable game, without glitches and crashes”. CD Projekt also considers problems such as NPC and AI behaviour as within the general category of bugs, which suggests these areas will also see improvements.
For those who are considering trying to get a refund for Cyberpunk 2077 (which CD Projekt suggested was an option in its statement yesterday), it seems this is operating through the platforms’ standard refund procedures. “Despite several articles I’ve seen that things are being set up just for us, it’s actually not true – these policies are in place and have always been in place; they’re not offered specifically for us,” Nowakowski confirmed. “Our procedure here with Microsoft and Sony is not different than with any other title released on any of those storefronts.” In the same call CD Projekt also said it didn’t want to encourage customers to seek a refund, which is really sending out some mixed messages.
As for the development team’s schedule in the coming months, the team will have a rest before focusing on the patches up until February. Although a date for the release of the game’s multiplayer mode has not yet been confirmed, Kiciński said the team will have to “reassess where we are” as they have ended up in a situation which was not planned. Focus is currently on managing the single-player release, in terms of both patches and communication. It looks like CD Projekt is at least attempting the latter – even if plenty of fans aren’t going to be happy with the answers. Although I’m sure CD Projekt’s share price – which has been taking a bit of a tumble in recent weeks – likely had something to do with this emergency meeting.