Cyberpunk 2077 has been a long awaited game since it was first announced in 2012. Unfortunately for developers CD Projekt Red, since it’s launched on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC, it’s been nothing but a Hot Mess, especially on last generation consoles.
As anyone who follows Games Twitter will tell you, instead of a gorgeously intricate, detailed, and living world, fans have seen their character’s genitals pop out of clothes, headless NPCs roam around the city, and cars sometimes suddenly fly towards you from literally nowhere and anywhere. Elsewhere, they’ve tried to enter a window in a building and been catapulted hundreds of metres into the air, and flung high up into the sky, clipping out of the game’s level design and into an unknown dimension.
The game, which already poorly represented the trans experience, is so buggy in fact that some are calling it virtually “unplayable.” This week, Eurogamer reported that folks playing Cyberpunk 2077 on PC are being advised to “keep a lower amount of items and crafting materials,” because save files larger than 8MB are getting corrupted. On the 14th of December, the company apologised for the game’s unplayable condition, before admitting that they hadn’t shown the game on base last-gen consoles before it released. In response, last Friday, PlayStation announced that not only were they offering full refunds for people who bought the game digitally, but pulled the game from the PlayStation Store.
These issues come after various reports of crunch culture at CD Projekt Red. Back in May 2019, CD Projekt Red co-founder Marcin Iwiński told Kotaku that there was a “non-obligatory crunch policy” at the company. Employees could, if they wanted to, work longer hours and on weekends, but it wasn’t mandatory. But that attitude changed once it started looking like the game wasn’t going to make its initial release.
In January 2020, Cyberpunk 2077 was first delayed from April to September. On the same day, in a public call to investors, CD Projekt Red CEO Adam Kiciński admitted that crunch would need to be done for the game to get out on time. “We try to limit crunch as much as possible, but it is the final stage,” Kiciński said, per Polygon. “We try to be reasonable in this regard, but yes. Unfortunately.” Then, the game got delayed again, from September to November. In October, CD Projekt Red announced the game had “gone gold.” Three weeks later, they delayed it again to its final launch date of the 10th of December.
According to a report by Polygon in early December, employees at CD Projekt Red had been required to work long hours, often six-day weeks, for more than a year. Back in January, amidst all this, CD Projekt Red higher ups told investors that the game was “in its final stages,” despite knowing it wasn’t even remotely done. Staff who worked on the project were left feeling frustrated, betrayed and exhausted from being overworked. This week, in an internal video conference reported via Bloomberg, employees called out the company for the company’s future reputation, unrealistic deadlines and the poor management style they tolerated for years. As the report mentions, one developer “asked whether CD Projekt’s directors felt it was hypocritical to make a game about corporate exploitation while expecting that their employees work overtime. The response was vague and noncommittal.”
For a game that was in development for years and heralded as the dawn of the next generation of gaming, it is wildly disappointing to see it marred by the legacy of cruel working conditions behind it. For every report coming out about Cyberpunk 2077 in the last month, both about the internal development and the game’s reception now, I am reminded that the game goes against the very themes that Cyberpunk fiction looks to rewire and dismantle.
If you really want to, Cyberpunk 2077 is available on PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/Xbox Series X and PC.