Amid widespread reports of major technical and gameplay problems in the PS4 and Xbox One versions of Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red is acknowledging that it took “the wrong approach” in development leading up to the release.
“After three delays, we as the Management Board were too focused on releasing the game,” CDPR joint-CEO Adam Kiciński said during a recent conference call addressing the issues with the PS4 and Xbox One versions of 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 caused the loss of gamers’ trust and the reputation that we’ve been building through a big part of our lives.”
How did such a marquee title end up released in such a state? A large part of the problem was “us looking… at the PC and next-gen performance rather than current-gen [consoles],” CDPR board member Michał Nowakowski said during the call. “We definitely did not spend enough time looking at that.” The COVID-19 pandemic also impacted the usual testing plans for the title, CDPR said. “External testers working for external companies were not able to test the game from homes—they have test centers and if they’re not there, they’re not able to work,” Kiciński said.
Though the console version wasn’t shown widely before the game’s release, CDPR co-founder and board joint-CEO Marcin Iwiński said that was simply because “we were updating the game on last-gen consoles until the very last minute, and we thought we’d make it in time. Unfortunately, this resulted in giving it to reviewers just one day before the release, which was definitely too late, and the media didn’t get the chance to review it properly. That was not intended; we were just fixing the game until the very last moment.”
Nowakowski said he didn’t blame Sony and Microsoft for approving the game in its current state. “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.”
While CDPR was faced with a strict timeline to get the oft-delayed game released last week, Nowakowski insisted that the team didn’t feel “any external or internal pressure to launch on the date – other than the normal pressure, which is typical for any release.”
And amid reports of forced overtime at the studio in the weeks leading up to release, Nowakowski also suggested that simply throwing more developers at the problem would not have made an impact. “In terms of delivering the game at a certain point, it’s really not about the number of people; it’s not like throwing in—in the last month—200 or so people would actually help.”
Going forward, it sounds like those intense work schedules will not continue as the company works on post-launch patches. “We’re also scheduling holidays; people are tired and regardless of the situation and regardless of patches, we will not simply continue working as before; our people need to rest a bit,” Kiciński said.
Refunds and patches
In a statement yesterday, CDPR said that players who were “not pleased with the game on your console, and don’t want to wait for updates” should reach out to retailers or digital platform holders for refunds. In the Q&A, though, the company clarified that it hasn’t arranged any special deals to get those refunds approved above and beyond the sellers’ standard policies.
“Microsoft and Sony have refund policies for every product that is released digitally on their storefronts,” Nowakowski said. “These policies are in place and have always been in place; they’re not offered specifically 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. Our procedure here with Microsoft and Sony is not different than with any other title released on any of those storefronts.”
A Microsoft spokesperson told Ars Technica, “We provide Digital Game Product refunds as part of a consistent and reliable buying experience” and directed specific questions about Cyberpunk 2077 to CD Projekt Red. Sony has not responded to a request for comment from Ars Technica.
Microsoft’s refund policy for digital purchases considers all sales final except in “extenuating circumstances” and says it takes into account “a variety of factors like time since date of purchase, time since release, and use of the product” when considering whether to approve refunds.
Sony’s policy allows for refunds of PlayStation Network games within 14 days of purchase, but only “provided that you have not started downloading or streaming it.” Exceptions are only made if “the content is faulty,” and anecdotal reports suggest Sony does not generally think that exception is warranted for Cyberpunk 2077.
In any case, Iwiński also stressed that the company is “not encouraging gamers to return the game; we hope they’ll give us a chance to improve it on old-gen consoles… I sincerely hope that by Christmas gamers will be able to enjoy the game on consoles; of course the major updates will come in January and February, so, again, we humbly ask gamers to wait—and they’ll be able to have an even better experience then.”
The major updates planned for the next two months should get the game to a point where “it will be a good, playable, stable game, without glitches and crashes,” Nowakowski said, adding: “We’re looking to improve both performance and graphic fidelity.”
“The game is playable right now. That may be an important thing to state because it’s not like the game does not launch or is unplayable,” Nowakowski said in response to a question about the state of the game. “I fully understand that the experience is far from satisfactory for a lot of people—and we do acknowledge that—but ‘not playable’ sounds like it doesn’t launch at all, which is not the case.”