Cyberpunk 2077 – After the Storm

There’s that old quote that ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ – and with Cyberpunk 2077 and its developers CD Projekt Red (CDPR) having to weather a fair amount of bad publicity over the last month or so, can it be true?

One of the latest things to reach the headlines is that Cyberpunk 2077 has lost 79% of its user base after the first month. It’s a clever statistic that is both true and utterly misleading, meant to make us determine further that the game is a flop, but it means very little in the real world. Most games, in fact, pretty much all games lose some of their initial userbase after a month or so. The developer’s own Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, one of the most successful games of recent years, suffered a loss of just over 40% by month two—it’s just part of a game life cycle.

The truth is that despite all the negative press Cyberpunk 2077 is doing well in the places where it will – with people who have the hardware to cope. Steam users (typically those with higher-specced gaming PCs) are still happily buying and enjoying the game.

It’s not all rosy, though.

Being pulled and suffering lawsuits

Trying to paint a completely positive picture regarding Cyberpunk 2077 would be ridiculous. Sony pulled the game from the PlayStation store on December 17th (a week after release), and though Microsoft chose not to do the same for Xbox users, they have been processing refunds by the boatload.

CDPR has issued several apologetic messages, framed on bright yellow backgrounds and all very humble and apologetic, but you only have to look at some of the language used to see how biting all the problems are to them. References to ‘last-gen’ consoles (rather than the more-ubiquitous ‘current-gen’) telltale of disdain for those trying to run their system-intensive game on anything other than the latest hardware. And why shouldn’t they be a little upset; after all, this fiasco is costing them their reputation and, potentially, their livelihoods.

Yes, it’s not enough that the game is being refunded, nor that the developers and publishers are being made to look like fools on a world stage, but now they are facing lawsuits too.

Cyberpunk 2077 In-game scene

A class action lawsuit was filed on Christmas Eve (not the nicest timing) against CD Projekt on the basis that investors had been provided with “false or misleading statements” regarding its playability. Of course, this lawsuit doesn’t help the general consumer – it’s on behalf of those investors that put money into the company hoping for a return based on the projected success of the game. Oops.

That said, they’ve still sold over thirteen million copies of the game. For many publishers (and investors), it would be a happy time, but it’s not enough here. The figures show somewhat the staggering size and impact of the triple-A gaming industry – as well as how much upset there is when it all goes wrong.

And the development team?

For years now, game developers have raised concerns about being overworked and suffering horrific periods of intense coding known as ‘crunch’ work. Cyberpunk 2077 is another game where the sheer pressure on the development team is of concern. Expectations from publishers, investors, and the playing public are putting so much pressure on those working behind the scenes on so many titles, that it’s almost inevitable that problems are going to surface.

It’s a growing problem in the industry, and hopefully one that is becoming more visible under spotlights such as this.

The future of Cyberpunk 2077

This is not a game that’s going to disappear anytime soon, despite the woe-bringers. For the millions of gamers out there who have been wanting to play Cyberpunk 2077 since its first announcement, that itch hasn’t gone away, and many still sit on the edge of their seats waiting for word that it’s safe to proceed.

With CDPR promising patches to fix issues, hopefully we’ll soon see a game that works on more systems. Patch 1.07 is expected soon (perhaps as early as next week), and should contain enough fixes to make the game playable, if not perfect, and 1.08 will follow in February, tidying up the issues considered more ‘minor’ in scope.

Who knows, maybe by Easter, there’ll no longer be such issues as unconscious bodies turning into patio furniture! Though there are those among us that’ll see that as a sad loss, myself included—after all, you can always do with somewhere to sit.