Cyberpunk 2077’s launch may have been a dumpster fire, but it was undeniably a successful dumpster fire; the company reported 13 million copies sold after taking refund requests into account. The game ran far better on PC than on consoles from launch, but new data suggests PC gamers are quitting in higher-than-expected numbers.
A report from GitHyp, a website that bills itself as a front-end for various gamer statistics, notes that while the game launched at over a million players, its total number of players of late has been much lower.
Even this graph actually understates things — yesterday’s maximum daily player count was only 155,000. GitHyp notes that while this isn’t necessarily unusual for a single-player game, open-world titles tend to be much stickier and to engage players for a longer period of time. Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t following this same trend line. GitHyp notes that the Witcher 3, while putting up much lower numbers in an absolute sense, held on to a larger percentage of its player base. It took The Witcher 3 three months to lose as much of its player base as CP2077 has lost in one.
Is this a long term problem for the company? I suspect not. First, with 13M overall sales, CDPR is going to be well-funded for quite some time. The company claimed it recouped development costs on preorders alone, and the 5M+ additional sales, plus what’s sold since it released that statement, is going to put them solidly in the black.
Second, I suspect a lot of players are waiting until the game is in better condition. If you were planning to play the game on a reasonably high-end PC, the issues swirling around the PS4/Xbox One mostly don’t apply to you. But the game is still buggy, even on PCs. CD Projekt Red has announced that it will put out a major patch in January, followed by a patch in February. If I was a PC player unhappy with the current state of the game, and I knew two large patches were coming, I’d probably just wait until they dropped and see how much the game improved. Visit forums talking about the game, and even a lot of people who are unhappy with the title today expect CDPR to fix it in the future. Given the long-term evolution of The Witcher 3, that’s not a crazy assessment.
A lot of the criticism of Cyberpunk 2077 that isn’t based on bugs or the console problems has pointed out that the plot, setting, and quests often feel incomplete or loosely stitched together. Combat and overall difficulty have also been criticized. These are issues that CDPR can address to some degree, either with patches or DLC. There’s a lot more precedent for believing the company will fix the game, based on how titles like No Man’s Sky, Final Fantasy XIV, Battlefront II, Destiny, and The Division 2 evolved after launch. One of the relatively new trends in gaming has been the emergence of titles that are not allowed to fail, and publishers willing to pour money into them until they’ve been rescued from the bottom of the bin.
Cyberpunk 2077’s launch will go down in history as a cautionary tale of how unscrupulous actors will mislead investors, the public, and reviewers about the state of a game. It may also evolve into a beloved title, especially if patches, DLC, and the eventual addition of multiplayer are seen as redeeming the game.
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