CD Projekt RED Responds To Reported Cyberpunk 2077 Development Troubles, “Fake” E3 Demo
Coming off one of the most anticipated releases in modern history, Cyberpunk 2077 was largely expected to clean house for CD Projekt RED, especially considering the RPG’s greatly-touted ambition and extensive quality-based delays. While the game has indeed reached new sales heights for the developer, public opinion is decidedly another story as an issue-ridden launch earned an array of backlash in the form of widespread refunds, multiple lawsuits, and an infamous delisting on the official PlayStation Store.
In the last few days, CDPR issued a public apology regarding the launch of Cyberpunk 2077, explaining how the game’s console ports ended up so poorly and directing blame towards the company’s CEO and board of directors. While the ensuing statement seemed to address several questions regarding the infamous launch, including the future of content for the title, it appears the studio’s explanation glossed over quite a few problematic behind-the-scenes details, as per a recent report from Bloomberg.
The lengthy report details the word of over 20 “current and former” staff members of CD Projekt, alleging a turbulent development period for Cyberpunk 2077 centered around unchecked ambition and unrealistic deadlines put in place by management. While the game was initially announced back in 2012, full development didn’t actually begin until “late 2016,” with game director Adam Badowski said to have “hit the reset button” and pursued “overhauls to Cyberpunk’s gameplay and story,” according to “people familiar with the project.”
A major point of the piece outlines the game’s impressive showcase at E3 2018, where CDPR memorably unloaded over 48 minutes of continuous gameplay footage for public consumption. The outlet suggested this reveal was “almost entirely fake,” as the devs “hadn’t yet finalized and coded the underlying gameplay systems,” leading to features being cut in the final product “such as car ambushes” and wall-running abilities. Multiple anonymous developers were also cited as calling the E3 demo “a waste of months that should have gone toward making the game.”
While the vast majority of CD Projekt RED employees remained anonymous for Bloomberg’s report, a former audio programmer named Adrian Jakubiak stood apart by highlighting a number of troubling experiences during the development of Cyberpunk 2077. Alongside “more than a dozen” other workers, Jakubiak also recalled pressure to work extra hours from managers and coworkers, despite the company claiming mandatory crunch would not take place.
There were times when I would crunch up to 13 hours a day — a little bit over that was my record probably — and I would do five days a week working like that.”
During development, Jakubiak recalled an err of arrogance emanating from CDPR management due to the studio’s monster success with The Witcher 3. Because of this mentality, internal concerns like the questionable viability of console support and the rollout of an all-new game engine were equally met with dismissal from studio heads, even as the game’s ground-up approach called for devs to essentially figure out development along the way. The process was described as ”trying to drive a train while the tracks are being laid in front of you at the same time.”
I knew it wasn’t going to go well,” Jakubiak said. “I just didn’t know how disastrous it would be.”
When the game’s initial release date of April 16th, 2020 was announced during E3 2019, the reveal was reportedly met with immense skepticism from team members, with many said to have scratched their heads regarding “how they could possibly finish the game by then.” Considering CDPR’s progress at that point, the game was expected by employees to be finished in 2022 at the earliest, but the company’s plans pushed for a much earlier release, hoping to arrive ahead of the launch of the next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.
As the game faced inevitable delays and inched closer to release, Bloomberg detailed a number of issues that arose in the form of pandemic-related complications. Though there were definite concerns regarding the state of Cyberpunk 2077, stay-at-home orders were said to have played a role in masking the console ports’ issues ahead of launch as workers took to testing the game via their home PC rather than CDPR’s office-bound console dev kits. However, external testing eventually drew the conclusion that even more time would be needed to properly finish development.
However, it’s now apparent that additional time was apparently much more than CD Projekt heads were willing to give. Even as the game announced it went gold in October, the outlet suggests bugs were still being discovered even weeks before launch. “Chunks of dialogue” were described as “missing” and some actions “didn’t work properly,” as recalled by “several people familiar with the development.” It was during the game’s last stretch of delays that “exhausted programmers” were said to have “scrambled to fix as much as they could” before release.
Considering the extensive nature of Bloomberg’s exposé and the involvement of over a dozen personnel from development, all would appear to indicate a particularly troubled working environment behind-the-scenes of Cyberpunk 2077. With that said, CD Projekt studio head Adam Badowski recently took to Twitter, responding to these claims and suggesting some of the article’s reporting may have been inaccurate.
— Adam Badowski⚡️ (@AdamBadowski) January 16, 2021
The aforementioned post firstly addressed the claim that Cyberpunk 2077’s E3 2018 demo was “faked,” with Badowski maintaining this particular demo was always regarded as a “work in progress” and wouldn’t represent the final game in any respect. His argument also addresses the idea of any “missing” features as well, with the director assuring that car ambushes do in-fact exist in the final game “almost verbatim to what [CD Projekt RED] showed in the demo.”
Our final game looks and plays way better than what that demo ever was.”
Continuing, Badowski reiterated the strong success of Cyberpunk 2077 on PC, calling attention to the game’s many 9/10 and 10/10 scores awarded by gaming outlets, while also addressing the console releases as “another case.” In addition, Badowski voiced skepticism regarding the 20 people involved with Bloomberg’s report, which asserted that “most” of the studio’s staff knew about the game’s problems ahead of release. He dismissed this comparatively small group of people as not representative of the over-500 employees who also worked on the project.
Badowski’s statement is only the most recent to come from developer CD Projekt RED regarding the launch of Cyberpunk 2077. It was only a few days ago when company CEO Marcin Iwinski extended a formal apology to gamers and rolled out a plan to address all the most prevalent bugs currently plaguing PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game. While the developer has certainly earned some ill-will due to its massively mishandled game launch, the company has also expressed the potential to make things right. With that said, it’s currently up in the air whether CDPR can make good on its promise, though it’s not as though they’ll be busy with anything else in the meantime.
Cyberpunk 2077 is out now for Google Stadia, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One as well as PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S via backward compatibility.
What do you think? Do you feel that CD Projekt RED can recover its currently-muddied reputation, or is Cyberpunk 2077 destined to keep its status as the hottest mess in gaming? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow Don’t Feed the Gamers on Twitter and Facebook to be informed of the latest gaming and entertainment news 24 hours a day! For more headlines recently featured on DFTG, check out these next few news stories:
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Eric Hall2210 Posts
Phone-browsing Wikipedia in one hand and clutching his trusty controller in the other, the legendary Eric Hall spreads his wealth of knowledge as a writer for Don't Feed the Gamers. Be sure to catch his "Throwback Thursday" segment for a nostalgic look at trivia from the past.