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Daily Reaction: CD Projekt RED’s Excuse-Filled Cyberpunk 2077 Statement Was, Quite Frankly, Terrible

Just over a month after the disastrous launch of Cyberpunk 2077, and just under one month after it was removed from the PlayStation Store, CD Projekt RED finally issued a full statement, apology, and plan of action for the future in order to regain the trust of players and get Cyberpunk 2077 back into a playable, if not enjoyable, state. Or at least that’s what they’d have you believe. On the surface, a lot of vague promises, but underneath, a terrible excuse-filled statement that continues to shift the blame rather than taking ownership of the issues the way leadership needs to. The statement from CDPR on Cyberpunk 2077 was, quite frankly, terrible, and continues to highlight the issues leadership at the studio has.

You can watch the full statement featuring CDPR co-founder Marcin Iwinski in the video below:

After a bit of posturing about a culture of honesty and transparency, Iwinski then mentions the positive reviews for the PC version of the game before finally getting to the sub-par console version. “The console version of Cyberpunk 2077 did not meet the quality standard we wanted it to meet.”

“I and the entire leadership team are deeply sorry for this, and this video is me publicly owning up to that,” Iwinski says, a statement that precedes a bunch of excuses for what happened, including casually placing blame on QA by saying they hadn’t discovered these issues and “old consoles” as if the game wasn’t announced before the PS4 even came out. “Please, don’t fault any of our teams for what happened,” says the man who goes on to fault his teams in a roundabout way. We’re not even a minute in yet.

“Myself and the board are the final decision makers,” he says, and it appears that he might actually be taking accountability here. “We are the ones who made the decision to release the game.” Iwinski’s ownership here is immediately overshadowed by the next few minutes. “Now, I’d like to tell you how the situation looked from the inside.”

cyberpunk 2077 refunds
Image credit: @RonnySchmatzler (Twitter)

He talks once again about the enormous scope of Cyberpunk 2077, something we’ve heard repeatedly over the years in the lead up to the game’s release. It was that very line that got everyone stoked enough to preorder blindly years ahead of even having any idea when this game would actually come out. But instead of admitting that they were out of their depth and the scope of the game was more than they could realistically handle, Iwinski blames the decision to optimize how the game looks on PC and then adjust it for “old-gens.”

Okay, I’m sure that’s part of it, but the litany of discovered dropped features and systems, including ones previously announced or shown in trailers and then never included in the final game, suggests that the problem was not simply in visual optimizations. This whitewashes the issues that PC players also had with the game—despite the glowing review scores—that were baked into the systems and mechanics. CDPR bit off more than they could chew. Quite simply, Cyberpunk 2077 didn’t live up to the eight years of promises that preceded it. But there’s no admission of that here. This focuses solely on visual bugs and issues, not half-assed systems.

Getting back to the gap between PC and consoles, Iwinski goes on to talk about how regular improvements to the PC version, required regularly reworking the “old-gen” consoles. Now let’s not forget that PS5 and Xbox Series X didn’t even release until less than a month before Cyberpunk 2077 did, not to mention that the native next-gen versions weren’t even available at launch either. In fact, in the interest of actually fixing the game (and also somehow prioritized behind releasing free DLC for players), the native PS5 and Xbox Series X versions now won’t launch until a vague “second half of 2021” window.

It’s a nice buzzword to be able to blame the gap on “old” consoles, but the fact is this game was in development on those “old” consoles for a majority of the time it was in development. Iwinski then says that the team did not catch the issues that players started having at release, believing that everything would be up to par by the Day Zero patch. “Every change and update needed to be tested, and as it turned out, our testing did not show a big part of the issues,” he says, casually laying blame on the QA teams. Conversely, he then talks about seeing improvements each and every day leading up to release. So which was it? Testing didn’t catch the issues, or you caught issues and saw improvement? The inconsistency in the statement jumps from one excuse to the next without thinking about how they play together.

cyberpunk 2077 refunds
Image credit: Twitter user PolaczekAdam

Iwinksi moves on to discussing the review process, in which PC copies were sent to limited outlets first with heavy limitations in place, while console copies of the game were limited to just a day or two before release. To many, this seemed like intentional obfuscation of the issues present on the console version in order to secure a positive initial outlook from PC players lucky enough to be hand selected for a code, before dealing with the ultimate blowback that would come from the shoddy console launch. However, Iwinski downplays this, saying it was due to the “fighting for quality on old-gen consoles” that console codes weren’t sent until late.

While that may be true—even if it flies in the face of previous statements saying testing hadn’t caught the issues—the absolute lack of communication and transparency to reviewers or even the public during this time was a big problem. This statement indicates that CD Projekt RED knew there were issues, enough that they didn’t want to have early codes out there. But it takes no accountability for how this whole process was handled in a way that intentionally misled audiences. It just kind of… says what we already knew.

After tossing a COVID mention in there for good measure—something that has absolutely impacted multiple developers over the last year and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future—Iwinski moves on to promises for the future.

The goal for CDPR right now is to fix bugs and crashes that players are experiencing, so don’t expect any inherent gameplay mechanic changes. Unfortunately updating the systems, AI, and boring open-world aren’t on the priority list when the developer is trying to figure out why characters are falling through the ground or T-posing with their bare ass out of the sunroof of a car. The first two big updates are coming within the next few weeks, though it’s not clear what exactly they aim to fix with these.

Beyond fixes, they haven’t changed their big plans for long term support (besides shifting them out further than initially planned), including free and paid DLC and expansions, as well as the next-gen update. Free DLC is planned to be rolled out mid-year, while the native next-gen versions have been pushed to the second half of 2021, even though it strikes me as odd that the proper native next-gen versions aren’t the priority right now. Given the blame that was laid on the “old” consoles, you’d think the studio couldn’t wait to get this out on PS5 and Xbox Series X proper.

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The roadmap presented at this point is extremely vague, and doesn’t offer much in the way of exact dates or even precise information about what’s coming. “Multiple Updates and Improvements” will apparently cover the rest of the year, but that’s about all we can clearly glean. The rest of the video is more posturing about treating this situation seriously and working hard to right the issues.

At a glance, it’s a nice PR message, and it will certain do what it’s intended to do by placating investors who see apologies, “accountability,” and promises for the future—not that those are worth much from a company that has disintegrated trust with its fans. However, this terrible statement is full of contradictory statements and circular excuses that still fail to own up to the issue. Other people in the games industry agree, seeing the flawed logic in these statements that sweep the blame anywhere but taking full accountability for the decision to intentionally mislead players and reviewers after undertaking a project that was simply too enormous in scope.

All in all, it seems like a desperate attempt to placate people with circular excuses, faux transparency, and a vague timeline for the future. The video doesn’t even mention when the PlayStation Store listing for Cyberpunk 2077 might be returning, relegating that to a line in a FAQ that still remains uncertain about when it might happen.

There are also legitimate concerns about ongoing crunch the studio will potentially face in getting these fixes out. While the FAQ promises that there won’t be any mandatory overtime, we’ve seen similar statements from the developer in the past that proved to be false.

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This video is, despite promises of honesty and transparency, just another effort to whitewash the situation and not address the real issues. While I’m certain CDPR is actually working hard to fix the game, they could do so without a dishonest video that tries to pretend they had no idea of the issues Cyberpunk 2077 had on last-gen consoles. They could do so without subtly shifting blame to the overworked QA teams. They could do so while actually admitting that they intentionally misled the public about the console versions of the game. Then again, this is a publicly traded company beholden to investors, investors who have launched lawsuits for that very thing, so admitting that isn’t exactly in their best interests right now, no matter how true it may be. So instead we’ll continue to get month-late sappy videos like this with contradictory excuses and vague promises of “accountability” and “transparency” without actually piercing the core of the issues.

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