The developers behind Cyberpunk 2077 have reportedly begun asking the leaders at CD Projekt Red why the game was overhyped and pushed out the door.
Reports from Bloomberg say that developers asked questions such as why the board at CD Projekt Red described Cyberpunk 2077 as “complete and playable” as early as January of 2020, which prompted the board to answer that they would take responsibility.
Another reportedly took the opportunity to ask “whether CD Projekt’s directors felt it was hypocritical to make a game about corporate exploitation while expecting that their employees work overtime.”
The developer-director divide on Cyberpunk 2077
These reports seem to tell an unfortunate story where those in charge of decision making and selling Cyberpunk 2077 described it one way, while those responsible for making the game described it another.
It’s not too uncommon for leaders to attempt to build hype and dismiss fears by describing an unfinished product how they want it to be rather than how it is, but it seems that CD Projekt Red’s directors may have outright ignored information.
“The game’s deadlines, set by the board of directors, were always unrealistic. It was clear to many of the developers that they needed more time.” - Jason Schreier, Bloomberg
The problems with the Cyberpunk 2077 release, and its development, aren’t uncommon to the gaming industry. There is a very real stigma associated with discussing, or even mentioning, the problems faced in the development of a game.
When a development team encounters a problem that could delay a game, it’s usually in the directors’ best interest to only delay when absolutely necessary.
Considering that Cyberpunk 2077 had been delayed three times during the last year of its development alone, it seems that the bugs and performance issues inherent in the game were too much to be ignored for much of the year. However, even these much needed delays were announced in a way that suggested that the problems were smaller than they actually were.
Depicting exploitation while being exploited
Needless to say, worker morale at CD Projekt Red has been quite low, and the team meeting last Thursday was meant to address it.
In the wake of the troubled release of Cyberpunk 2077, it’s hard to remember when the most damning story coming out of Poland was that CD Projekt Red had instituted lengthy and grueling crunch periods. This was done in an attempt to push the game out the door, despite previously promising to do away with crunch altogether.
When working in an industry long enough, developers and directors alike should have a sense for the scale of various obstacles and for how quickly developers can fix them.
Crunch periods are meant to extract as much time and energy out of the workers as possible at the last second, with the goal of having them “burnt out” following the game’s release.
The problem with Cyberpunk 2077, beyond the horrific practices already associated with crunch periods, is that the game was delayed multiple times. This means that the very time when developers had hoped to recover from crunch, they were instead expected to continue on as usual.
It’s no surprise that resentment and anger about these practices has only grown. It’s obvious that Cyberpunk 2077 was produced by some highly talented and passionate developers. When players are blessed with a brief period where the game runs smoothly, the game can shine.
With passionate and committed workers, it’s likely that this game could have shined more, had they not been rushed and driven to work beyond what should be expected.
Ultimately, it’s clear that the problems associated with Cyberpunk 2077 don’t come from the developers who seemed very aware of the game’s issues, but rather from the directors who decided they would rather push Cyberpunk 2077 than give their workers enough time to do their jobs.Published 19 Dec 2020, 03:37 IST