CD Projekt: Polarizing Cyberpunk 2077 launch 'the wrong approach'

"We ignored the signals about the need for additional time to refine the game on the base last-gen consoles. It was the wrong approach and against our business philosophy."

CD Projekt Red management have taken responsibility for the rocky launch of Cyberpunk 2077 on last-gen consoles. 

The long-awaited title finally landed on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One last week after multiple delays and instances of mandatory crunch, and has already recouped its development and marketing costs

Yet, despite that apparent commercial success, many players (especially those on base last-gen consoles) have been plagued by a swathe of bugs and frequent crashes -- prompting CD Projekt to offer refunds to those who feel the title failed the meet expectations

During a conference call held to address that polarising launch, CD Projekt joint-CEO Adam Kicinski explained the management board is to blame for the situation. He said they were too focused on getting the title on shelves after three delays, and also "underestimated the scale and complexity of the issues" affecting the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game. 

"We ignored the signals about the need for additional time to refine the game on the base last-gen consoles," said Kicinski, opening the call with the candid admission. "It was the wrong approach and against our business philosophy. On top of that, during the campaign, we showed the game mostly on PCs.

"This caused the loss of gamers' trust and the reputation that we’ve been building through a big part of our lives. That’s why our first steps are solely focused on regaining those two things. We are concentrated on fixing Cyberpunk on last-gen consoles."

During a Q&A portion of the call, Kicinski also indicated the COVID-19 pandemic impacted certain aspects of production, but that ultimately these factors -- which included a decrease in the number of external testers -- weren't a "major source" of problems. 

Curiously, when asked if the board were too preoccuipied with launching Cyberpunk and subsequently ignored clear issues, Michal Nowakowski, the board member responsible for publishing, appeared to contradict Kicinski's earlier statement by suggesting the studio didn't feel extra pressure to launch on date. 

That said, Nowakowski reiterated that the company "did not spend enough time" looking at the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game -- adding that those versions presumably passed certification because Sony and Microsoft "trusted that we were going to fix things upon release."

"It is more about us looking -- as was previously stated -- at the PC and next-gen performance rather than current-gen," they explained. "We definitely did not spend enough time looking at that. I wouldn’t say that we felt any external or internal pressure to launch on the date -- other than the normal pressure, which is typical for any release. So that was not the cause.

"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."

Later on in the Q&A, CD Projekt's other joint-CEO, Marcin Iwinski, also stepped into push back against the notion that the company didn't show the title running on base consoles in order to mislead players -- with some disgruntled consumers suggesting the Polish studio deliberately withheld console review codes and gameplay footage to keep them in the dark. 

"With regard to not showing the console version -- we’ve actually shown console footage, but never on the last-gen consoles. The reason is that we were updating the game on last-gen consoles until the very last minute, and we thought we’d make it in time," commented Iwinski.

"Unfortunately this resulted in giving it to reviewers just one day before the release, which was definitely too late and the media didn’t get the chance to review it properly. That was not intended; we were just fixing the game until the very last moment."

There are more interesting tidbits in the full transcript, so be sure to check that out here if you want to learn more about what's turning out to be one of the year's more eventful launches.

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