This has already been voiced many times, and despite the fact that I was lucky on PC and in Cyberpunk 2077 I never encountered serious problems, one cannot deny the large-scale technical flaws of the game at the start. I have no doubt that CD Projekt RED will put things in order and make the adventure in Night City even better in the long term, but until then, one can speculate about the effect of the painful launch of a dystopia suffering from an identity crisis. After all, with all the mess, it should be used as a lesson and draw conclusions. Not only for gamers, but also for publishers and developers.
Let’s take a look together at a few points that have the potential to change against the backdrop of everything that has happened with Cyberpunk 2077 in recent weeks. After all, accepting the problem is the first step to fixing it.
Effect # 1: Aggressive marketing is not a measure of quality
We already went through this with No Man’s Sky, and Cyberpunk 2077 only once again showed that active social networks, mountains of merchandise, guest stars, crowds of bloggers and other activities have nothing to do with the state of the game.
Over the course of months, Twitter and YouTube of Cyberpunk 2077 have been sharing screenshots, holding a series of presentations, taking part in discussions, tagging celebrities, memes and jokes. With this backdrop, it’s not surprising that many gamers have the impression that the game will be something revolutionary and grandiose. You can say that “your expectations are your problems,” but marketing is what creates these expectations. This is their job – to raise the buzz and make the audience crave for a product based on certain qualities.
As a result, CD Projekt RED, AFTER the release, changed the description of Cyberpunk 2077 from an action RPG to an action adventure game. That is, at a minimum, the presentation of the game as a role-playing game was already misleading.
I doubt that ordinary gamers who don’t follow the industry but only buy new items from time to time will change their habits. In addition, there remain a large number of ardent fans who turn into fanatics who only make fun of the situation with consoles. But there is also a decent group of those for whom the dissonance between the ad and the final product will be a wake-up call. And its essence is that the main task of marketing is to sell the game in its idealized form, like the profiles of people on dating sites. In reality, unicorns do not exist, and even the most beautiful ones have … stomach problems.
Effect # 2: Crunchy is not a guarantee to be in time for release
Who would have thought that hellish overhauls and a six-day workweek a few months before release does not necessarily result in a polished product. Given that Cyberpunk 2077 was originally supposed to be released back in April 2020, the question arises, what state was the game in at the time of the original release date?
In the interactive entertainment industry, delays are the norm. A rare title comes out right on time. But crunch, that is, rework, was a standard phase in game development long before Cyberpunk 2077. But this practice hardly leads to a positive effect. Developers are more likely to burn out and not linger in the studio than to continue to be exposed to months of overtime over and over again.
And it’s not about ambition or fat bonuses. When dozens and hundreds of people crunch like crabs in galleys, and the release is still a mess, it can put out the brightest fire in the eyes of developers.
If the result is still deplorable, then why all these months of processing? Maybe it was worth delaying the release for another six months and solving all the problems at an adequate pace? Alas, there are financial plans and commitments, the management itself is under pressure to release as soon as possible. There is no universal solution here, and the most reasonable thing to advise is to postpone and not inform the date until you are sure of the state of the game.
Effect # 3: the harm of too early announcements
I would like more developers to take into account the situation with Cyberpunk 2077 and not rush to announce their games many years before the release. Initially, the new game CD Projekt RED became known eight years ago, but it was in a state of hidden development until 2018. It would be wiser to continue active development without advertising until mid-2019. Imagine how much money, coordination and effort could be saved without unnecessary demos, previews, and ads. In this case, CD Projekt RED has become a hostage to its vanity. They were eager to show the image of the game that they themselves imagined. And then Keanu Reeves drove up. Well, how with such a star and not talk about the game years before its release.
The problem is that by showing the game a few years before the release, the developers are already setting themselves a tough condition. Fans begin to pester them with questions, advertisers pull with or without reason, and the desire to share the result of their labors is growing.
Difficulties like these aren’t exclusive to the gaming industry. People generally like to rush to talk about their work. And it can create the feeling that everything is going according to plan. But life rarely moves on one track. No one could have imagined that 2020 would be like this, and this also had a negative effect on work processes.
Therefore, it is better neither to promise nor to give guarantees, but to name the release date, when I am absolutely sure that the team will finish optimization and polishing within 5-6 months.
Effect # 4: Hollywood Stars Won’t Save Reputation
Probably, many game developers are now looking at Cyberpunk 2077, comparing sales and thinking that this is it, the time has come when you need to start actively invoking celebrities in video games. Because Keanu Reeves has no doubt had a very positive effect on the game’s pre-orders. In recent years, the actor has returned to the mainstream, and his fame as a good guy could convince many that pre-order the game can be done without hesitation. Keanu won’t cheat, will he?
Only Keanu’s participation in the development is quite limited. Most likely, he himself was annoyed with how Cyberpunk 2077 turned out at release. But he was the key person of the game for many months.
And as much as Reeves wants to change the current narrative, the fact is that CD Projekt RED has severely damaged its reputation. It is not destroyed, but many gamers are disappointed. Hollywood actors can and do contribute to pre-orders and exit sales. Only if the product comes out lame, then no stellar cast will save the studio image from harsh and deserved criticism.
Naturally, these are not all the “lessons” that can be learned from Cyberpunk 2077. Only the most superficial. The implications will become clearer in the coming months, with other developers taking note of this experience. We’ll try to chat with a few and find out from them what they learned as they watched Cyberpunk 2077 come out.
Until then, enjoy your walks in Knight City.