Cyberpunk 2077's Launch
"Today, we're taking a look at Cyberpunk 2077, the most hyped video game I've ever seen. The hype for this game would have you believe that it was going to change gaming forever... The hype for this game was an absolute curse for the final product no matter what CD Projekt Red delivered, it could be the best video game ever made, it was still going to disappoint people who put these incredible, unrealistic expectations on it. But now, the game is finally out and the question begs to be asked: Does it live up to the hype? Has gaming truly evolved?... The answer is "no", this game never stood a chance at reaching these expectations."— Crit1kal, summarizing Cyberpunk 2077's massive hype
On December 10, 2020, after a troubled 8-year production cycle and several delays, Cyberpunk 2077, an action role-playing game developed and published by CD Projekt, was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Google Stadia. The game received generally positive reviews from critics, but mixed-to-negative reviews from users. However, one thing that critics and gamers agreed on is that the game was released in an unfinished state, which caused the game to be filled with massive amount of bugs and glitches, especially on the base PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions. The fact that the game was extremely hyped before release has made the reception from the gaming community much worse. Many reviewers and journalists has cited three factors which lead into the rocky launch of the game; management problem, crunching, and Christmas rush.
Cyberpunk 2077 was announced in May 2012 and a teaser trailer was released in January 2013. However, the development of the game was on hold due to lack of manpower and began on May 2016 after CD Projekt Red, CD Projekt's main development studio had finished their work on the Blood and Wine expansion for The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. They began upgrading their REDengine 3 to complement the game. CD Projekt Red was also granted subventions of US$7 million by the Polish government to aid the development.
In 2018, CD Projekt released several teasers and promotional development details on Cyberpunk 2077. According to CD Projekt Red, they partnered with Digital Scapes to craft additional tools, Nvidia to achieve ray tracing in real-time, QLOC for quality assurance, and Jali Research to procedurally generate the lip-sync for all ten localizations. By August 2018, the story was fully realised and could facilitate a complete playthrough. The content was nearly complete in mid-2019, with the rest of development focused largely on polishing.
Delays, COVID-19, and hype build-up
Thanks to the marketing team of CD Projekt, Cyberpunk 2077 has gained the attention of the gaming community. With CD Projekt has released several trailers that shown various features and advertising the game as the "next-gen open world experience". The trailer has shown several in-game contents that were not in the final game, such as interactive NPCs, dynamic envioment, and much more.
Even before the release of the game, Cyberpunk 2077 won over hundred of awards, such as the best game, the best RPG, the best PC game, and people's choices award from IGN. After E3 2019's third trailer which revealed Keanu Reeves as one of the main cast in the game, the game has become to one of the most discussed and hyped game by the gaming industry. During the final phase of developments, CD Projekt decided to cash-in on the hype train by releasing several merchandise and media franchise before the game release. Including but not limited to; a Funko Pop figures, a card game, an anime series on Netflix, a smartphone, and even sneakers.
At E3 2019, the third trailer set it up for a April 16, 2020 release. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CD Projekt Red's staff started working at home, causing a halt in localisation and causing the game to be delayed to September 17, 2020.
Despite the studio's disavowal of mandatory overtime in May and June 2019, "crunch time" was implemented in the final weeks of the development. The crunch happened due to resource management problem during COVID-19 pandemic which were caused the game's release date to be delayed again to November 12, and finally to December 10. Due to the aforementioned overwhelming hype, after CD Projekt has delayed the game for the final time, a handful amount of people has expressed their outrage to the delay, and some would have go as far as sent death threats to CD Projekt's staffs.
Launching disasters, backlash, and CD Projekt's attempted recovery
Immediately after the launch of Cyberpunk 2077, many players reported several performance issues of the game such as poor optimization and various bugs and glitches, and also cited about various missing features in the game. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are reported to suffer from much more terrible optimization problems, namely awful texture and model rendering, poor in-game physics, downgraded graphics, game-breaking bugs, and massive amount of technical issues.
A few hours after the game's release, CD Projekt released a 58 GB day-one patch to fix various technical issues on the PC version of the game. However, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions were left largely untouched.
Prior the release, concern has arose due to CD Projekt's strict review embargo terms did not allow reviewers to use recorded gameplay in their reviews if they wished to publish the review prior to the release date of the game, and also over the fact reviews were only based on the PC version of the game. As a result, this eroded trust from some consumers. After the news about the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions' terrible performances, many users and critics has suspected CD Projekt for media manipulation and review rigging, and speculate that the game's rocky launch was due to it was being rushed for Christmas and for a tie-in with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X's launch. This, combined with an overwhelming hype prior the release of the game, has created a huge backlash on CD Projekt.
Five days after the releases, CD Projekt has issued an apology statement regarding the terrible launch of the game, and also issued a refund for the PlayStation 4's and Xbox One's physical releases. Because of the how broken the game is, Sony removed the game from the PlayStation Store on December 17, 2020, and offered full refunds for those who purchased the game from said store.
Despite mixed-to-positive feedback, Cyberpunk 2077 was a massive commercial success, with over one million copies being sold during the first few hours of the game's release. Although this has raised a concern to the gaming community, as the game's success might have normalize the "release it now, fix it later" trend of the AAA titles.
However, due to trust issues with the fanbase and community, along with another controversy regarding the removal of Devotion from GOG Store due to Chinese pressure that were happened within a week after the launch, CD Projekt's stock values suffered a drastic drop by over 25%. If that wasn't enough bad luck for the company, investors and law firms are readying up a lawsuit over their deceptions of the final products.