Cyberpunk 2077 has received an extremely mixed reception by gamers, which has led to developer CD Projekt Red calling an emergency board meeting to discuss what’s next with investors. Here’s how CDPR is planning to fix Cyberpunk on last-gen consoles.
Considering the heavy backlash surrounding the last-gen versions (PS4/Xbox One) of Cyberpunk 2077, Polish developer CDPR has been under fire from the public for the past week. The highly ambitious open-world RPG has been in the works for over 7 years, and its sorry state of release makes on thing clear – the game simply wasn’t ready to be released. Forget the hilarious bugs and visual glitches, if you’ve played the game, you might notice certain core gameplay mechanics that seem quite half-baked.
Whether it be the weird NPC AI behaviour or the fact that the heavily marketed ‘braindance’ mechanic is only reserved for campaign missions – there are a lot of things wrong with the game. And the console versions have it worse, with no real footage shown from the PS4 and Xbox One version right up until launch, which many players fairly pointed out to be quite deceitful. Because of that lack of transparency, the game sold an overwhelmingly positive amount on pre-orders, with the divide between PC and console versions being quite close.
Before we get started, the CDPR emergency call can be accessed by the public on CDPR’s front page by clicking here.
CDPR Management Underesitmated Developer Woes
The call starts off with CD PROJEKT S.A’s president Adam Kiciński recapping the game’s buggy launch on last-gen consoles and trying to answer how the situation came to be.
“We underestimated the scale and complexity of the issues. We ignored the signals about the need for the additional time [for development]. It was the wrong approach and against our business philosophy.”
Kiciński goes on to recognize that they have lost ‘the gamer’s trust’ and the reputation that CDPR has built up for itself. The current priority is to fix Cyberpunk on last-gen consoles. He then goes on to reiterate that CDPR is currently planning to deliver significant patches, which is basically what was revealed to the public yesterday.
Answering to investor’s questions, it’s revealed that CDPR could not have done anything significantly better if they had more developers. When asked to share any sales figures that may have been impacted by the reception, CDPR says that they are planning to reveal that information later before the holiday break.
Cyberpunk 2077 Had Limited QA Testing, Most of it in-house.
Kiciński goes on to reveal more details on the game’s development, stating that most of the QA testing was done internally, a lot of it being done in work-from-home environments. External testers were unable to test the game properly, although Kiciński states that as a minor factor in the game’s rushed state.
Regarding Cyberpunk Multiplayer, CDPR hasn’t publicly announced a date. However, going by the meeting that was posted online, it seems that a 2022 release is being targeted, now possibly pushed to 2023 as the development team will be working on fixing the game over the coming months. With that said, gamers on PS4 and Xbox One shouldn’t expect any visual overhaul to bring the game on the same playing field as the PC version.
As of right now, the next-gen consoles (PS5, Xbox Series S|X) are playing the game in backwards compatibility mode, which doesn’t use any of the new compute feature set like ray tracing. However, as Digital Foundry has reported, performance on next-gen consoles is significantly better thanks to the improved raw hardware, and the Xbox Series X offers both a performance and quality mode, which is absent from all other console versions.
Cyberpunk 2077 Console Footage From PS4 & Xbox One Wasn’t Shown Because Development Went On Until The Last Minute
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise given the extremely bizzare review process that media outlets were subjected to, including us. When the game’s reviews came out, no one was given access to the console versions of the game. Every review of Cyberpunk 2077 was based on the PC version which, while still buggy, provides a significantly better experience than the base consoles.
CDPR acknowledged the screw-up in the review process.
“Unfortunately this resulted in giving [the game] to reviewers just 1 day before release. That was definitely too late, and we didn’t give the chance to media to review it properly, and we are the ones to blame.”
CRPR Will Let Core Developers Take a Break Until February
When answering questions regarding mismanagement, the company said they plan to let the core development team rest, at least until February. While the game will still be getting patches, it looks like CDPR doesn’t (and shouldn’t) want employees to work through the holidays. As previously reported by Bloomberg, the company changed its bonus structure after the game came out.
Speaking of the restructuring of the bonus structure, Michał Nowakowski (SVP, Business development) did not offer any comment. Among the many questions asked, one was quite interesting – will CDPR explore an opportunity to decrease the price of the game on base consoles? Well, as expected, the company reaffirmed that there are no plans on doing that, and focused on the ‘free next-gen upgrade path’ that gamers will be getting from PS4 to PS5 and Xbox One to Xbox Series.
The company is expecting players to keep Cyberpunk 2077 with them and wait for the upgrades once they go live next-year, even though they are offering refunds at the moment. It’s quite clear from this that the PC version was the primary platform from which the console versions were ported down.
Cyberpunk Console Pre-Orders Got Ratioed by PC
Pre-orders for Cyberpunk 2077 on PC far out-weighed the console counterparts- The split between PC-console was 59%-41%. The same is true for smaller markets like India which saw a significant uptick in PC pre-orders for the game, much more than traditional expectations. When asked the PC pre-order divide between Steam and GOG, the company offered no comment as it plans to reveal that information later in the annual and Q1 2021 reports.
AI and NPC Behaviour Are Part of the Bugs and Not Gameplay Design, Will Be Fixed With Patches
One of the worst offenders of the game’s buggy release is the NPC and AI behaviour, which when compared to other contemporaries in the AAA space is extremely bog-standard.
While CD Projekt Red never marketed the game as a GTA-rival, its open-world mechanics fall flat in service of immersion where even Rockstar’s decade-old games seem better in that department. When asked about whether any of that will change with the upcoming patches, CDPR added the following.
“To be honest, these [problems] are the same for us from a production stand-point. The AI and NPC behaviour for example are part of the bugs.”
When asked about how much the company expects in refunds and the statistics of gamers willing to wait on the next-gen versions, CDPR promptly avoided answering. The company went back to talking about the free next-gen upgrade and is hoping players will stick with the game and experience it again on the new consoles once a large base migrates over to PS5 and Xbox Series throughout next year.
It’ll be interesting to see how Cyberpunk 2077 fares in the coming months, once the game starts getting fixed on consoles. Currently, the best way to play the game is on a high-end PC, which is something most gamers may not have access to. Even then, for a game that has been in the works for the better part of a decade, it’s quite disheartening to see it release broken on the platforms it was originally marketed for.