Taking a Closer Look at the ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ Controversy
Cyberpunk 2077 was considered one of the most anticipated games of the decade. It even won the Gamescom 2020 RPG of the Year, Best of Gamescom, Best PC, and Best PlayStation Game Award long-before it even hit store shelves. Everything seemed to be going CD Project Red’s way as they started to prepare for the game’s imminent release. Now, just a little over a week later, the company may be facing legal action. It seems that a Warsaw-based lawyer and investor in the company, Mikolaj Orzechowski, has started exploring options to sue the gaming studio for misrepresentation to secure funds. New York-based Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP also intends to take legal action to represent shareholders. With everything going on so far, it might be a good idea to take a closer look at what has happened with one of the most anticipated games of the year.
When Cyberpunk 2077 launched, it got rave reviews with a Metacritic average of 87 on PC. Yet, the reviews started to reveal some strange pre-requirements for the review’s release. Tom Marks states in his review for IGN that they weren’t allowed to use their footage, and were only provided with the PC version to review. So, shortly before release, there was a notable absence of the console version.
There was also quite a bit of controversy surrounding some of the few negative reviews. Most notably surrounding one major problem the game had in its approach. Game Informer shared a piece regarding the game that highlights how it includes epileptic triggers. This issue started to make the rounds, as there were no disclaimers included. Once the review embargo lifted, there were many findings of the game’s standing. Various PC bugs were starting to pop up, such as floating assets, UI issues, and many more. What pushed it even further was the issues surrounding last-gen games, which couldn’t hold a candle with the PC version. When IGN released their updated review for consoles, it got downgraded to a 4/10.
Please don't play Cyberpunk 2077 on a base PS4 or Xbox One. It is a shockingly bad way to experience what is otherwise a fantastic RPG on better hardware. 4/10
— IGN (@IGN) December 14, 2020
There is a general trend with recent releases facing multiple bugs and issues, but all this didn’t stop CD Project Red to have a successful launch from a financial standpoint. They took to Twitter to announce they had 8 million pre-orders with 59% on PC alone. These were massive numbers for the company and quite a success. Yet, as the issues started to pile on, they released a statement a few days later highlighting that they would offer refunds to players facing these issues. Sony even stated to lower their usually strict refund policy to allow players to get a full refund. Not just that, they even pulled the game from the PlayStation Store while Microsoft added a warning into their store. In a web call with investors, Board meetings with CDPR did not help matters, as VP of Business Development Michal Nowakowski stated regarding how the game passed Sony and Microsoft’s certification process:
In terms of the certification process and the third parties – 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.
Bloomberg also shared an article highlighting internal issues, as the development team dropped blunt questions in an internal call. They discussed unrealistic deadlines, the immense requirement of overtime building up to its release. It got delayed three times that led to an additional necessity for crunch. Some reports even stating the development team went through all year. It even got delayed after the game had “gone gold” in October, which means that the game’s final code was up for certification. As such, the team had to work more overtime. The issue was that the company claimed it was against these business practices and offered humane working conditions.
How does this all lead to investors seeking legal action? Well, the consequences of these controversies have led to its stock plunging by a third. Their reputation has been strongly affected and led to the company’s founders and investors to lose around $1 billion in stock. It’s future development also heavily depending on how they manage to fix the bugs. It may pushback the planned release of a multiplayer component. As such, the initial plans for 2021 are vital to avoid further plunges in their stock. For now, these lawsuits seem to be just considerations without actually being brought to court. So, only time will tell if actual consequences follow but this seems like a current reaction towards recent investor calls and statements.
There still does not seem to be an end in sight for now, as a recent save corruption bug was uncovered. Still, the bones are there for a great experience and game, especially with the beautifully futuristic world that was built. CD Project Red has highlighted they will be releasing major updates in January and February to address as many issues as possible. These patches will especially try to fix the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game. Hopefully, these can address the major aspects so players on the console can share the experience that PC players are having. If you have been facing issues so far, they have uploaded the Hotfix 1.05 on all platforms, so you can check out what has been fixed here:
— Cyberpunk 2077 (@CyberpunkGame) December 19, 2020
Source: Game Medium, The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times via PC Gamer and EuroGamer, Metacritic (PC), YouTube (IGN), Inverse, Happy Gamer, Twitter (IGN), Twitter (Pre-Orders), Twitter (Sales Split), Twitter (Refund), The Verge, EuroGamer, Gaming Bible, Bloomberg, Polygon