Following the tumultuous release of Cyberpunk 2077; fans, journalists, and even investors have been trying to figure out what happened at CD Projekt Red that led to such an unfortunate and disappointing release.
With these kinds of events, where the careers and reputations of many hard-working developers are on the line, the world might never know the full story behind why Cyberpunk 2077 was rushed to release before its time.
Nevertheless, some new information and developer insight has been uncovered and added to the discussion that helps contextualize it for everyone else.
Cyberpunk 2077 suffers shaky management
Perhaps the only thing that the common people and fans of Cyberpunk 2077 have been able to find so far is that management at CD Projekt was problematic, to say the least.
Recent reports from interviews conducted by Jason Schreier for Bloomberg have revealed some of the questionable decisions made by management at CD Projekt.
Reportedly, although Cyberpunk 2077 was announced in 2012, development had to start from scratch in 2016 when The Witcher 3 was wrapping up. At this time, management pushed for significant changes in the underlying structure of Cyberpunk 2077. They even went as far as having the developers build the engine it would run on while they worked on the game.
This kind of management led to experienced developers leaving the project, further slowing down development for Cyberpunk 2077. To make up for this, CD Projekt instituted a prolonged crunch period that reportedly did nothing to speed up development.
Overall, it comes off like a tragic tale about the risks of being too ambitious. CD Projekt Red wanted to create a massive game on the scale of rival AAA games with a team half the size.
They wanted to create a lifelike city that would run on top-end PCs and consoles released in 2013. And they wanted all of this to release before the next console generation.
It was simply too much to ask for.
Outside developers offer their own insight into the matter
The challenges faced by CD Projekt are not unique to them; every studio goes through similar moments where they must decide what is achievable and what is not. Inflexible leadership can result in setting unrealistic goals that only cause further problems down the line.
Part of being a good leader on any project is knowing what can be done, how long it will take, and knowing when to let go of something that would be too difficult to implement.
The legendary Japanese developer, Masahiro Sakurai (Super Smash Bros. series) recently took a moment to write about his impressions regarding Cyberpunk 2077 in Famitsu. His column's translation suggests that he was very sympathetic to the developers behind Cyberpunk 2077 and compliments them for offering refunds to unhappy buyers.
Sakurai explained that his own experience on the PC version had multiple bugs cleared up after he bought a better graphics card. He added that the game's PS4 Pro version ran smoothly when he got around to playing that version.
He compared his impressions of the ambitious goals set for Cyberpunk 2077 to his own experiences working on development for Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Accordingly, he said there were many features and characters they wanted to include in the middle of development which they were unable to do simply because the planning for them hadn’t been done in the early stages of development.
This emphasis on planning shows just how important it is for ambitious projects like Cyberpunk 2077 to have almost all of their development goals lined up. Figuring it out along the way simply isn’t an option.