CDPR Apologizes for Cyberpunk 2077 Launch, but Explains Very Little

CDPR Apologizes for Cyberpunk 2077 Launch, but Explains Very Little

Late on Wednesday, CD Projekt Red co-founder Marcin Iwinski posted a video in which he apologized for Cyberpunk 2077’s abysmal console launch. Iwinski took responsibility for the decision to launch the title and its subsequent unacceptably poor performance on the base Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Dear gamers,Below, you’ll find CD PROJEKT’s co-founder’s personal explanation of what the days leading up to the launch of Cyberpunk 2077 looked like, sharing the studio’s perspective on what happened with the game on old-generation consoles. pic.twitter.com/XjdCKizewq

— Cyberpunk 2077 (@CyberpunkGame) January 13, 2021

The video covers three broad topics. First, there’s the apology. Second, Iwinski offers some comments on “how the situation looked from the inside.” Third, he gives some detail on what players can expect in the future as far as updates and improvements. As far as the apology is concerned, Iwinski’s comments are clear and concise. There’s no real dodging, as far as responsibility.

His explanation for how the console version got so screwed up, however, leaves something to be desired. According to Iwinksi, the reason the Xbox One and PS4 look so bad is that the company put almost all its effort into prepping the launch on PC. It assumed, according to Iwinksi, that it could simply turn detail levels back down and have an acceptable product to work with.

This is in direct contradiction to multiple statements CDPR made over the course of Cyberpunk 2077’s development. The company told gamers that the game was constantly evaluated on all platforms. It told gamers that they could expect a good visual experience relative to what the console systems were capable of. During its October investor call, CDPR told investors that there were no problems with the console versions other than minor, normal bug fixing.

It’s nice to know that the console versions weren’t being evaluated, but there’s no explanation of why employees, executives, and board members of the company misrepresented the state of game development over a sustained period of time.

Iwinski does give us a hint at what isn’t working well on last-gen systems. According to him, getting data to stream in properly in Cyberpunk 2077 when running on the base consoles was more difficult than the company assumed due to the need to constantly improve the streaming engine. He also claimed that “our testing did not show a big part of the issues you experienced while playing the game.”

The only way CDPR didn’t experience the issues of its players is if CDPR didn’t playtest the game or didn’t listen to its playtesters. The console versions are instantly bad. The PC version, while vastly better on high-end hardware, was still very buggy at launch. Supposedly, the company believed that it could genuinely bring the Xbox and PS4 versions of the game fully up to snuff by launch date.

I flatly don’t believe this. Or, rather — I believe it, in the sense that some executives may have been willing to throw the console version of the game under a bus to hit their sales targets, to the point that they convinced themselves a game as catastrophically broken as CP2077 on Xbox One / PS4 could be fixed in a few short weeks. Maybe some people arrogantly believed there was no need for serious playtesting or bug-fixing cycles, but if so, that was highly motivated and suspect reasoning.

I cannot claim to have worked in game development, but I’ve worked on a multi-team modding project that sank several thousand hours of collective effort into a product we released for public download, and I’ve worked on my DS9 remastering project for most of a year. In both cases, I absolutely had a sense of when I might or might not be able to write a new story or release an update / new version. When you’re as deep in bug-fixing hell as CP2077 clearly was, right up until the moment it released, there’s no way you’re going to magically clear those problems and launch an acceptable game.

Either someone at the company knew about this, and that person got silenced, or the company is so poorly organized, necessary information about the state of its product failed to reach the people who most needed to hear it.

The developers actually assigned to fix the console version would have known the game wasn’t going to be ready for December 10. Marcin Iwinski says that “we” believed the game would be ready to launch. He doesn’t clarify if that refers to other people in corporate leadership, or if that was the opinion of the programmers who were actually working on the game. I wouldn’t bet on the latter.

Finally, we’ve got some news on what’s happening next. The January update will drop within 10 days, but the update coming in February was only described as arriving “in the following weeks.” After this round of work is done, the company will get started on the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 enhancements, which will now likely be delayed into 2021.

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