Cyberpunk 2077 was CD Projekt Red’s crown jewel. It was the summation of the efforts that it had been putting for over 8 years. However, a game that was so obviously destined for greatness fell way too short of its expectations. So what went wrong?
Cyberpunk 2077 boasted of its next-level graphics and extremely interesting storyline ever since it was first teased in 2012. Fans went ballistic when they first found out that the most-awaited game would have Keanu Reeves on-board the project as well. The game managed to break consecutive player records and total buys on Steam when it was released. This was after the fact that it wasn’t in the most polished condition on all platforms. Such was the hype behind the futuristic RPG.
The company had an unrealistic approach right from the get-go
After Witcher 3’s massive success, CDPR might have become too full of themselves and expected to ride off the coattails of their previous hit. While this might have worked to some extent, the amount of backlash they have received over the past couple of months wasn’t worth it.
According to Jason Schreier, the belief regarding work ethic in CDPR was quite simple-minded. The directors believed everything would turn out fine when deciding on unrealistic timelines for their work. They had made The Witcher 3, after all. The management had this unwavering belief if they worked hard enough and crunch, their games would come together.
Developers had to put in an ungodly amount of work at times.
Due to this ideology, the developers were the ones that got the bad end of the deal. Some developers ended up working 13-hour shifts for five days a week at times. When some developers stated that they couldn’t put in the overtime, the manager said fine, due to their CEO saying that they wouldn’t force their employees to work overtime. However, the manager also added that other coworkers would have to work several extra hours to make up for them.
The non-Polish developers complained that Polish staff would routinely converse in Polish in front of them. This was a violation of company rules and made them feel ostracized and disconnected. Not to mention the time crunches and low salaries that they had to endure. As a result, a number of foreign developers left the company.
The game was initially meant to be 3rd Person and have flying cars in it.
Apparently, the company actually started working on the game from 2016 onwards. The company was ready with a mostly fake demo by 2018. Most of the staff knew and openly said that the game wouldn’t be ready for release by 2020.
Coupling this with the fact that Cyberpunk was initially thought out to be a Third-Person game (up until 2016) really puts a spanner in the works. Certain features that were originally included in the game such as wall-running, flying cars, and car ambushes were cut later. Other features such as the police were actually added in last minute.
Devs at CD Projekt said despite promises that crunch would not be mandatory, they felt pressured to work overtime on and off for years. I can’t share all the stories, but here’s one on the record that may help explain why it’s been infuriating to see people downplay CDPR’s crunch pic.twitter.com/Qne7pti2tT
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) January 16, 2021