Following the messy launch of Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt Red says that it will adjust its development process so that it can develop multiple franchises simultaneously. The studio will also stop hyping up games for years ahead of their release, instead opting for shorter marketing cycles. The announcements were made during a financial presentation today.
It seems a bit counterintuitive that CD Projekt Red would shift towards a model working on multiple games at once considering Cyberpunk 2077 was released as a half-baked game. But the company thinks it can improve future releases by centralizing the development of its proprietary game engine and creating new interdisciplinary teams that can be redeployed across the studio as needed.
Shooting for the sun — The highly anticipated release of Cyberpunk 2077 last year was panned by gamers who found it to be littered with bugs and performance issues, a big disappointment for one of the first major releases on next-generation consoles. The company is still trying to fix the game and just yesterday released a patch that addresses hundreds of problems (though there are still plenty left).
The studio first announced Cyberpunk 2077 in 2013 and spent years teasing the launch, which set it up for failure with sky-high expectations. CD Projekt Red is acknowledging that was a bad idea.
Cyberpunk was a highly ambitious game from the start, promising to offer an open-world role-playing experience akin to Grand Theft Auto, but with glitzy graphics and gaming mechanics. But problems like textures loading slowly and odd behavior by characters undermine the experience and make gameplay feel janky. Even without those problems, some gamers have found Cyberpunk 2077 to have a fundamentally weak storyline.
Mismanagement — The problems with Cyberpunk 2077 were so bad at launch that CD Projekt Red was forced to offer full refunds to buyers after retailers pulled the game from store shelves. Sony still does not offer Cyberpunk in its PlayStation Store, and Microsoft warns Xbox users of the game’s problems before they can purchase it. CD Projekt Red, which is based in Poland, saw its stock plummet in wake of the backlash, and it was later sued by an investor for not being more transparent about problems with Cyberpunk before its release.
Reports have indicated that management at CD Projekt Red forced employees into overtime and rushed the game out before it was ready. In its presentation, studio head Adam Badowski said the company will work on improving its working conditions. Hopefully that means it will push back against its board of directors in the event they try and accelerate timelines.