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Cyberpunk 2077 director says CD Projekt Red's work culture has improved

CDPR can't fully change the past, but it can change how its post-Cyberpunk 2077 projects will be made.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

June 14, 2023

2 Min Read
Key for Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, showing the Female V with a pistol.

Ahead of the release of Cyberpunk 2077's Phantom Liberty expansion, director Gabe Amatangelo says CD Projekt Red has been working to change its studio culture. Speaking to Bloomberg, he spoke about how things have improved since the studio was alleged to have crunched on the sci-fi RPG. 

Following Cyberpunk 2077's final delay to its eventual December 2020 date, the Polish studio was said to have gone back on its attention grabbing word about not crunching its staff during development. While the studio later downplayed that crunch, it was just one of many issues with the game's initial launch. 

In early 2021, CDPR later said it would work to avoid crunch on any of its future projects. According to Amatangelo, the studio has since stuck to this by implementing different methods and policies to prevent burnout or overwork. One system, for example, alerts management if someone's working for long stretches of time. 

And should an employee ask him for overtime, he said it's allowed, but only up to a point. Once it gets past "a few extra hours," that's the point where he steps in. 

He stated that the studio's overall work-life balance is "very healthy right now," a claim further backed by lower level staff. 

Even so, they stressed that CDPR didn't find a magic bullet to end crunch, just that it was doing better than it had been years prior. The issue across the larger game industry continues to be "ongoing and complicated."

Cyberpunk 2077 has one final shot, one opportunity, to seize everything

With Phantom Liberty months before release, the larger narrative around it is that it's CDPR's last chance to redeem Cyberpunk 2077. Though its player base has grown since its 1.5 update last year, the stigma around its initial launch is still there. 

Amatangelo joined CDPR in mid-2021 following the departures of director Konrad Tomaszkiewicz (after allegations of bullying) and his brother Mateusz. 

When the latter Tomaszkiewicz departed, Amatangelo (who led development on the 1.5 update, and will direct Cyberpunk's sequel) took over directing for Phantom Liberty. He told Bloomberg that he was given free reign (and time) by CDPR's board to fix the original game.

He said he was "struck by the humility and willingness to change. The commitment to it from a board level is something else. [...] There’s an absolute dedication to what’s needed to be done to make it right."

Game Developer attended Summer Games Fest, where Amatangelo spoke about wanting to use Phantom Liberty to "fulfill the potential" of the original Cyberpunk 2077. His thoughts, along with changes to the game that'll come with the expansion, can be read here.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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