Becoming the Villain ~ by AJ Forrisi
How long does it take for a video game to become its own villain?
Recently I talked about the most recent CD Projekt Red release of Cyberpunk 2077.
This game has been hyped up to be slotted as, “the greatest video game to ever be released.” CDPR was marketing this game to be so revolutionary that it would change the video game world forever. Now, I might be over-exaggerating a little bit, but given the fan feedback during each pushback, followed by the even larger marketing effort; could you blame me? They started by hinting at a game that would be larger than life, forge a new path and a new world outside of the Witcher series, while subtly hinting that one of the Witcher III’s main characters will appear in the game. They later worked hiring Hollywood legend Keanu Reeves to play a star role in the new game. Then proceeded to put out, what some would say, are the coolest theatrical videos for a video game.
CDPR already had a reputation for putting out some of the greatest video games. The Witcher series revolutionized that way that the traditional Role-Playing-Games (or RPG for short) were created.
The path of linear games was no longer desired. A vast open world, multiple side-quests, decisions that altered the world state, and enhanced combat techniques influenced the way new RPGs were being created. Just look at the newest iterations of the Assassin’s Creed games. They play and act more like the Witcher than their predecessors.
But, CDPR made a major mistake. One that will potentially cost the company billions.
They focused more on marketing and their theatrical trailers, than they did on actually making the game. Though the gameplay itself isn’t the issue. The overall storyline and concepts within the game are what still draws people to play. The complete customization of every aspect of the game, from the character creation, all the way to complete gameplay and storyline does make it quite the revolutionary game. Kill a Non-Playable Character before a potential quest line because you think they’re going to be a problem later on? Done, and the story has completely changed to exclude that NPC and any storyline they had entirely.
Looking at the game on a more technical level is where CDPR failed and the game fell apart drastically. Some gamers would argue, “Cyberpunk 2077 should never be played on a console. PC only.” From a console gamer myself, I found myself a little offended. But I shouldn’t be. The game is optimized for PC better. These consoles graphics cards simply don’t have enough power to compute the power CDPR put into the graphics. The console versions of Cyberpunk simply didn’t receive the same care from CDPR as the PC version did. Players on console, especially the older generation consoles are experiencing frame rate drops, terrible resolution, missing vehicles, random floating objects, massive downgrades in appearance. While these aren’t aspects that will completely break the game and render it unplayable, it’s enough to ruin the experience for players.
But these experiences apparently are enough for players to be demanding refunds from the console companies and even from CDPR. Sony has even gone as far as pulling the game from its online store. It’s been reported in multiple sources that CDPR is expected to lose close to $1 billion dollars as a company because of all of the refunds and repairs to the game. Fans and critics have been screaming that the game is “unfinished.” This leads to CDPR ‘s stocks falling by 12%. And while this is a major issue for the company, they’ve been plagued with a new issue: hostile staff.
In an article from Bloomberg, they’ve reported that the staff at CDPR have become rebellious, plastering the walls with posters reading, “We are rebels.” The developers are firing questions at management, covering topics about the company’s reputation over the unrealistic deadlines, and consistent overtime. This overtime would consist of “mandatory six-day weeks,” all in the effort to “improve production practices in the future.” Employees at CDPR even went as far as asking the board why they straight up lied to the gaming community as stating the game is “complete and playable,” when everyone at the company knew that it was the furthest thing from that. Developers have even gone as far as calling the board hypocritical for creating a game about corporate exploitation, and then exploiting their employees for an incomplete project.
And now, according to even more sources, CDPR investors are looking to bring the board and company to court over their “materially misleading information.” The law firm has considered filing class-action lawsuits against CD Projekt Red because they marketed the game as being an incredible new project yet failing to meet the mark. Both law firms in Poland and in New York have considered filing suit over the publishers of Cyberpunk 2077 over misleading their investors and consumers to purchase a product that was vastly underdeveloped and poorly made. These losses are mainly from the CDPR stock falling, leading many shareholders to lose a considerable amount of money. But is this a fair trial? While I’m no lawyer, isn’t it your incurred risk as an investor when investing in a product or project? Is there actually a case here?
As for myself, I haven’t played Cyberpunk 2077 yet. I’ve asked friends who have the game and while they’re playing on older systems, their stories about the extensive glitches seem to line up with what a lot of gamers are saying around the world. But the complaints are mainly coming from those who have the older generation systems. The publishers focused more on the PC version of the game and optimized it for the newer systems instead of the older ones. In a personal opinion, I’d like to say that CDPR did drop the ball. With the new systems barely in enough consumers’ hands, optimizing it for newer systems would hurt those who play on the older consoles (like myself). But I digress.
What do you think? Leave a comment below on your thoughts about the CDPR debacle and Cyberpunk 2077. We’d love to hear your thoughts!