Despite record breaking pre-orders and launch sales for Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red have found themselves in hot water over the launch of the game. With myriad bugs, poor performance on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and the company issuing a public statement saying the unsatisfied users could seek refunds, all coming after a review cycle that only featured the PC version of the game, it’s safe to say that public perceptions of the company have taken a nose dive.
In an emergency board call to answer questions, the company’s top brass were grilled about the launch, upcoming updates, how they dropped the ball, and the fallout that they’re currently seeing.
First and foremost, joint-CEO Adam Kiciński admitted in his opening statement that “After 3 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.”
This was later followed up by co-founder Marcin Iwiński was said “It is more about us looking – as was previously stated – at the PC and next-gen performance rather than current-gen. We definitely did not spend enough time looking at that.”
It’s also raised questions about the certification protocol that Sony and Microsoft have put in place for their systems. As we’ve seen on countless occasions, this isn’t so much an additional layer of quality control, but rather ensuring that games abide conform to certain rules and work with system features like trophies and system-wide accessibility.
Iwiński says, “In terms of the certification process and the third parties – this is definitely on our side. I can only assume that they trusted that we’re going to fix things upon release, and that obviously did not come together exactly as we had planned.”
Speaking of the manufacturers, CDPR’s suggestion that requesting refunds was an option has, in some cases, gone down like a lead balloon. We’ve seen reports of UK retailer GAME refusing to issue a refund, as well as both Sony and Microsoft’s strict store refund policies blocking consumers because they had downloaded and started playing the game.
VP of Business Development Michał Nowakowski admitted that, while CDPR noted the ability to request a refund, they have no actual part in the process.
He said “One has to understand: Microsoft and Sony have refund policies for every product that is released digitallyon their storefronts. Despite several articles I’ve seen that things are being set up just for us, it’sactually not true – these policies are in place and have always been in place; they’re not offeredspecifically for us. Anyone who has purchased any title on the PlayStation network or the Microsoft storefront can ask for a refund, and if it’s made within certain boundaries, usually related to time, usage and so on, can ask for that refund.”
However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Obviously there are the forthcoming updates promised for January and February – I’m sure the whole team is thrilled that they have to crunch out significant updates like this – and the company is seeing growing satisfaction the deeper players get into the game. That will no doubt be down to the fact that 59% of the 8 million pre-orders were on PC, but it also comes from extended play diminishing the perception of bugs and issues – this could also have been a factor in some of those overly glowing review scores.
Adam Kiciński broke it down:
“Sentiment is positive. With every passing day since the release we’regetting more and more positive feedback. We started low, but we’re gaining. [muffled] we started with a score of 70, but now it’s 79. If you filter those who have played 10 hours or more, the score is 85 – so the more you play the more enjoyment you feel. That’s the general feedback we have.
“One important point: we’re discussing old-gen consoles and negative feedback there – but we also have tons of positive feedback from players playing the game on old-gen consoles, so it’s not strictly negative. Of course the first impression was negative, especially after the very strong campaign showcasing the game on PCs, but now we have more and more satisfied players using old-gen consoles as well – though naturally strong PCs offer better graphics and better gameplay than old-gens.”
CDPR will no doubt be hoping to turn a corner with perception of their game in the new year, but the impacts of this could be felt in the years to come. Having built a strong reputation off the back on The Witcher 3 and the strong support for that title, gamers were inclined to trust the vision that CDPR set out for Cyberpunk 2077. Through only showing the game on PC and (eventually) higher-end consoles, through the game clearly needing more time in development for polish, through pushing to release in 2020 in a move that will have satisfied investors, gamers will no doubt be more critical of what CDPR show in future.