Cyberpunk 2077 Delay Was Kept From Most Of The Team, Studio Says (Update)

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Cyberpunk 2077 Delay Was Kept From Most Of The Team, Studio Says (Update)
Image: CD Projekt Red

A tumultuous 24 hours after CD Projekt Red announced Cyberpunk 2077 would be delayed for a third time, the studio has confirmed reports that most of the game’s developers were unaware of the decision before the news broke, stating the reason for the secrecy had to do with Polish stock market regulations.

“In a nutshell, early, the unplanned release of this information could have potentially led to market abuse and manipulation of CD PROJEKT’s stock price on the WSE,” the studio told investors shortly after the delay announcement, according to a copy of the remarks shared in a statement to Game Informer. “Therefore, due to the aforementioned regulations, the information on postponement of Cyberpunk 2077‘s release date couldn’t have been shared with all of the Group’s employees before the current report was filed and made public.”

The news that Cyberpunk 2077 would come out three weeks later than originally planned in order to prepare a day-one patch came as a surprise, in part because the game’s Twitter account had stated only a day earlier that the game’s release wouldn’t be delayed again (it was originally set to come out in April, was later shifted to September, and then moved to November).

Shortly after the announcement, former Kotaku editor Jason Schreier reported on Twitter that most of the game’s developers found out at the same time as everyone else via an internal company-wide email that blamed the secrecy in the lead-up to the news on stock regulations. Game Informer writes that, according to one developer who wished to remain anonymous, “about 90 per cent of the studio didn’t know about” the delay ahead of time, and the decision came as a surprise.

Cyberpunk 2077 Delayed To December

Cyberpunk 2077‘s release is being pushed back three weeks until December 10, CD Projekt Red announced today on Twitter.

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One thing that’s still unclear is where the new delay leaves the game’s team, who has been crunching officially since late September, when studio head Adam Bodowski announced six-day work weeks until Cyberpunk 2077’s release. The studio had previously claimed multiple times that Cyberpunk 2077 wouldn’t involve crunch. CD Projekt Red did not respond to a request for comment about whether September’s mandate has also been extended by three weeks, let alone the weeks and months following launch in which modern blockbuster games are expected to push out further updates. Cyberpunk 2077’s next-gen upgrade, for instance, is still due out some time early next year.

None of this stopped some people online from harassing developers over the delay. “I understand you’re feeling angry, disappointed and want to voice your opinion about it,” senior game designer Andrzej Zawadzki wrote on Twitter yesterday. “However, sending death threats to the developers is absolutely unacceptable and just wrong. We are people, just like you.” Today he shared a screenshot of one example of those death threats, which read in part, “I will burn you alive if you don’t release the game.” Many other fans took to the comments of the announcement post to complain about pre-ordering the game or taking time off work for its release.

It’s a testament to the bizarre and often twisted relationship studios have to the people who play their games that a brief delay can drum up so much hate among certain parts of their fanbase. It also puts the developers, who are at the centre of making big budget games with unrealistic expectations, in an impossible situation: asked to live up to over-the-top marketing campaigns, forced by their bosses to crunch, kept in the dark about delays, and then blamed by some toxic fans whenever something doesn’t go perfectly according to plan.

Update – 1:50 p.m. AEDT, 29/10: CD Projekt Red released the full remarks from a Tuesday Q&A with investors about Cyberpunk 2077‘s delay over on its website. Following a question about reports of crunch at the studio, co-CEO Adam Kiciński said, “Regarding crunch; actually, it’s not that bad – and never was.”

He went on to confirm hat mandatory overtime would “be extended a bit” as a result of the new release date:

Of course it’s a story that has been picked up by the media, and some people have been crunching heavily, but a large part of the team is not crunching at all since they have finished their work; it’s mostly about Q&A and engineers, programmers – but it’s not that heavy; of course, it will be extended a bit, but we have feedback from the team; they’re happy about the extra three weeks, so we don’t see any threats regarding crunch.

Comments

  • “However, sending death threats to the developers is absolutely unacceptable and just wrong. We are people, just like you.” Today he shared a screenshot of one example of those death threats, which read in part, “I will burn you alive if you don’t release the game.” Many other fans took to the comments of the announcement post to complain about pre-ordering the game or taking time off work for its release.

    Sigh. There are (very, very rare) moments when I (very briefly) consider that there would be some advantages to a more overtly Orwellian police state. This is fucking ridiculous.

    Though while people like this are mostly self-entitled losers who need to get a grip on reality or be jailed in the case of death threats, I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to place 100% (maybe 90-99%) of the blame on the rabid consumers who’ve turned to biting their owners.

    We’re seeing weak individuals falling prey to very deliberately-designed marketing machinery that gloats about instilling and cultivating zealotry in fans. A dedicated effort by the top minds in psychological manipulation, determined to twist a normal human being into something that considers corporate brands worthy of fierce tribalism, so passionate about a consumer product that it is elevated to near-religion.

    That’s something they’re doing intentionally. They benefit from this and consider it a good thing, as it drives sales. They hold conferences discussing how to do it more effectively. So a fair amount of blame for consequences of that – of people getting so emotionally invested in a fucking entertainment product that they consider it core to their identity – should absolutely fall on the shoulders of the insidious architects who engineered these conditions.

    “Oh no, people are acting irrationally zealous about these products that we manipulated them into being irrationally zealous about buying!” Shock, horror. How very unexpected and not at all a consequence of the industry’s actions.

    Yes, these psychopaths sending threats need to ‘get a grip’/go to jail, but it should be acknowledged that there is an industry that spends more than many nations’ GDP every year on innovating how to knowingly exploit their feeble-mindedness to bypass the defences of sanity and reason and prevent these consumers from holding an appropriate perspective on the importance of an entertainment product’s release date.

    I’m getting frustrated with the concept that this relentless and increasingly sophisticated assault on sanity from marketing is something against which modern humans should be expected to have an innate resistance, and the expectation that those billions of dollars spent fostering fanaticism is totally ineffective if people desperate for some happiness in an increasingly bleak and unfair world ‘just ignore it,’ when they’re promised some relief or respite.

    We need to do something. I don’t know what, but it needs to be more than telling victims of sociopathic manipulation to ‘get over it.’

    • This is unrelated to Cyberpunk, but relevant to your overall comment, I feel like this year has brought out some of the worst fucking absolute vultures in marketing…

      I’ve seen two different car companies recently directly referencing lockdowns and such due to the current state o f the world, and people basically feeling down due to it, all as a reason to buy a new fucking car to make themselves feel better.

    • I’m interested to hear what you think has changed with marketing that makes it particularly sinister. I haven’t paid much attention to the Cyberpunk advertising aside from a few trailers and the little I saw seemed relatively standard but for the presence of Keanu.

      • I don’t think much has changed dramatically recently, and not with Cyberpunk itself specifically. It – and all other AAA covered by a rapacious games media – takes advantage of a well-cultivated field of rabid enthusiasts.

        What I think is that hysterical, self-entitled fan-babies are a symptom. Even if each one of these individual symptoms were to be ‘treated’, it wouldn’t stop the cause, which is a generation-spanning trend of increasingly aggressive consumerism, and the embrace of products, brands, franchises, as identity.

        The fact that publisher-based fan conventions are now ‘a thing’ that cost millions of dollars and draw tens of thousands of attendees instead of generating sceptically-raised eyebrows is a post-2000s sign of how normalized this kind of marketing symbiosis has become.

        From the Ford vs Holden rivalry to the first Console Wars, to Apple vs Everyone Else fanboyism, it’s not new, but I wasn’t joking when I said marketers hold regular conferences discussing explicitly how to turn brands into a part of consumer identity and turn enthusiasts into evangelical missionaries.

        The spectacular success of the digital skinner boxes in the mid-00s in both conventional MMO and even more exploitative mobile space was probably a tipping point. When the industry revenue overtook movies, TV, and music combined, there’s no doubt marketing was involved. There’s nothing more complex, deep, evocative, competitive, or aesthetically inspiring about Angry Birds than any other popular games of the half-century previous. …Just marketing, to expand an audience then bind it to a franchise.

    • Sorry, but that’s not how marketing works. I’ve worked in the field most of my life, and generally? On my weaker days, I’ve wished that it works like you say it does! Though not in any meaningful sense, since – yeah, a world in which powerful corporations can just wave their hands and create dutiful programmed consumers would be dystopianly terrible.

      Marketing is incredibly limited in what it can do. At the core, it can’t force anything; it can’t create demand in people who don’t want something. All marketing can do is make something look appealing, and/or introduce people to a product.

      Unfortunately, people are people. They can be passionate. They desire things. They are prone to tribalism. Even if there had never been any marketing for any console, for example, people would still be waging console wars. The marketing doesn’t make them do that. The fact that they have invested into something and developed a personal stake in that has done that. People will always passionately defend, and passionately engage in, the things that matter to them. For example, go and find a fan of opera, and tell them that you think that opera is terrible and you much prefer pop music. More than likely, you’ll end up in an equally passionate discussion as you would had you disparaged someone’s favourite console. But you’ve probably never seen a great deal of advertising for opera.

      This isn’t to say that marketing doesn’t try to take advantage of that. Sometimes, it does. Marketing can’t create desire, but it does work hard to a) find existing desire and b) stoke that desire. Sometimes, that’s irresponsible (the post from Kasterix below being a great example), sometimes it’s not, but… asking seriously, would you say that the marketing for Cyberpunk has been irresponsible? There have been trailers and videos that showcase the game. Not manipulative, not seedy, not lying (as far as we know – game details may have been exaggerated, but we’ll only know that when we have the game). The worst I could say is that the release date has been incorrect, which… happens. What, in the marketing for that product, has been dangerously irresponsible?

      • I think you might possibly be too close to it, or too focused on the small scale. As I mentioned to d3cadent, the problem of the rabid fanboy who needs the product so desperately they’ll abuse the maker over a delay isn’t about Cyberpunk specifically. It’s about the industry, and the last few generations of marketing.

        Look at articles from back 2012 and Rovio’s attempt at world domination through brand. https://www.cnet.com/news/angry-birds-and-rovios-plans-for-world-domination/ Look to the Disney+ and its heavy-handed use of brand clout in an attempt to dominate the streaming market, its billions of expenses in purchases of Marvel and Lucasfilm IP that accounted in no small part for the captive audiences that came with the franchises they were purchasing. This is the environment we live in, now.

        You said: “Unfortunately, people are people. They can be passionate. They desire things. They are prone to tribalism,” and “People will always passionately defend, and passionately engage in, the things that matter to them.” And you’re right! But there’s an underlying assumption there – that people should care so passionately about these things that such reactions can ever seem warranted, when they absolutely should not. And that is the fault of marketing.

        At its heart, the question asked by marketing is, “How can we make someone CARE about the product, so that they want to buy it even when they don’t need it?” That one question is the root of this entitlement problem. Marketing makes people care when they shouldn’t.

        Yes, people are tribal and even some overreactive by nature, but this is encouraged. Marketing takes an irrational impulse (“My life is over if I can’t have the thing I want right now!”) and validates it, telling people that yes, this thing WILL make your life better, it WILL solve your problems, and yes, you DO need this right the fuck now. Not tomorrow, not six months when you’ve saved up enough, not in a year’s time when it’s fully-patched and arguably the best experience available for a lower price, but now. Now.

        The increase in income in Australia for the last ten years has been literally doubled by the increase in household debt, as consumer spending plotted over decades is a steady line upwards. Because we need to have everything now. Even though we can’t. Because we pretend that we can! If we sacrifice a little bit of our future for it. Long-term thinking is discouraged, because you can have instant gratification for one first-time instalment of $49.95 (paid monthly over a period of 24 months to a value no less than $1198.80)!

        What caused consumers to become such spendthrifts to the detriment of their futures? What caused them to spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need?

        Technology, techniques, they improve, they get sophisticated. Marketing is no exception. From the 1st year uni marketing course example of adding eggs to post-war packet mix cakes to overcome cultural objections, to the eager adoption of neurolinguistic programming in every high-pressure sales script of the 70s-80s, the increased volume of TV advertisements relative to core programming, to loyalty cards to email subscriptions for promotions through to downloading the ‘convenient app’, the refinement of the simple task of bypassing objections, of “choose us, not them,” is ongoing.

        I can’t find them right now (I wish I’d saved them, I’ll go for another look later), but I have seen literal conference slides discussing how to cultivate zealots dedicated to the brand, to turn their passion into lifelong sales. It might not be the content brief of an ad campaign, but expanding brand power through emotional investment is absolutely 100% in the minds of the executives in charge of strategy, if not a pillar of their philosphy.

        • First of all… neurolinguistic programming doesn’t work. It’s a pseudoscience, with no basis in reality. It sounds scary, but there’s nothing there to be afraid of. But the fact that it’s been packaged and sold and that some people, even in the industry, does tie into my second point.

          Which is this. The one, terrible truth that The Marketing Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know.

          The average response rate for any campaign is around 2 to 3%. That wavers some, but if you can push that up to about 5%? You’ll be lauded and celebrated for the incredible job you’ve done. And that 2-3% average? That’s not consumers of your product. That’s ‘people who saw your marketing and cared enough to investigate further’.

          And yeah, I’ve seen those slides too. And people think about them, and work for them. Building customer loyalty and creating ‘brand ambassadors’ is important. And yes, we do work towards that. Giveaways, events, all that stuff does tie into the development of that core group of loyal consumers who will spread awareness of your product. But again… marketing can’t create desire, can’t create behavior out of nothing.

          The thing is, there is one big group… well, technically, two big groups that the marketing industry lies to, or at least misrepresents to, on an ongoing basis. Businesses, and ourselves. We put out this image of being exactly what you fear, these big, surefooted controllers of customer intent. But it’s largely untrue. Heck, look at the example you put up, of Rovio’s attempt to conquer the world. They took every Right Step. Built brand ambassadors, licensed, marketed, got their brand out in front of everyone. And today is the first time I’ve heard anyone mention their name in years.

          Now, you’re not wrong. Marketing can take some shady steps. It can do things, or promote things, that I won’t touch with a ten foot pole, because I have to get up and look at myself in the mirror. I’ve had meetings where I have shouted down, in no uncertain terms, the idea of putting the company I was working for on Taboola, because there are marketing concepts I think we’d all be better if we never saw again. But… again, I loop back to Cyberpunk.

          What, in the campaign for Cyberpunk, do you think has created these rabid consumers? Why would people scream and thrash over Cyberpunk so much more than over, say, Watchdogs Legion? That game was delayed. That game comes from a company that has massive brand reach. But there wasn’t this same reaction.

          The biggest piece of marketing for Cyberpunk 2077 was The Witcher 3. People are rabid because they want the next game from these people. Not because marketing has driven them to it, not because CDPR have been carrying out most of the actions you’d need to create that kind of mindset. No conventions, no massive brand ambassador program – no more than you’d see for most other games. It’s huge because the fanbase was already there, already eager, based on the products they’ve already engaged with.

          • We have very different lenses on at least one point: you see Rovio’s eventual obscurity as an ignominy, where I see it as a case of an unoriginal flash game clone somehow managing to reach a staggering billion-dollar net worth through no virtue of the game itself, only marketing. Marketing couldn’t grant them immortality, but that inconceivable height itself was miracle enough, considering the product. That’s one hell of a power to apparently not have.

            Very minor objection: NLP being bunk isn’t the issue so much as it paved the way for persuasive language in scripts that came after. There’s mountains of call centre evidence driving now industry-standard scripts that mandate elimination of questions that could be answered ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’, why suggestions of doubt are removed and cold callers ‘assume the sale’ when asking directly for details instead of asking for permission to collect details, etc, etc. Those NLP-inspired methods of psychological manipulation work on enough people to be incredibly effective in generating leads in cold-call campaigns.

            This does lead into a point on why the response rate isn’t as important as the quality of the responses you get, and why the 5% you mentioned can be incredible, when that’s the tool you’re looking for. Look to mobile/MMO monetization experts who tout the ‘fun pain’. They know full well that having dozens of unique premium currencies and daily login and other task rewards turn their games into chores that turn off a massive chunk of their potential player base. They don’t care. Because for the people who that does work on, it pays bank. Enough to outweigh all the players they drove away.

            The demographic matters. Without the addicts, gambling dies. Which is why a major factor of targeting gambling addiction is targeting the marketing. And why those efforts are countered by turning them into a joke, a meme. (Remember to gamble responsibly.)

            I’d agree that in this very specific game’s example Witcher 3 created the care, the passion for Cyberpunk, more than any bus shelter ads or TV spots. Marketing didn’t have to do shit for Cyberpunk, because Witcher 3 did all the work already. And frankly, Witcher 3’s marketing didn’t have to do much work either, because the devs did a fucktonne of work instead. One of those true ‘sells itself’ situations.

            So no, in this specific situation, the ‘caring about things you shouldn’t care about’ isn’t so much Cyberpunk itself as much as… just entertainment products in general. Enthusiasm for a specific product isn’t where the death threats come from, or the demands for a deadline met at the cost of either a lower-quality product or death-marched dev team.

            It’s deeper than that. It’s cultural. It’s the expectation that ANY entertainment product – regardless of what it happens to be – is worth that kind of response, if you care about it enough. The fact that anyone can’t take that step back, that the escapism is so desperately required that a delay has a any kind of impact on their life at all… That’s where I’m laying the blame at the feet of marketing as a whole, and its influence on consumer culture, on the reinforcement and validation of consumer self-entitlement.

            You can’t attack developers for a delay without being too deeply-invested in entertainment as an identity, a need, a way of life… and that’s the place where publishers want gamers to be. They don’t want them taking a step back and realizing games aren’t as important as family, friends, health, and a variety of interests. They want rabid fans, they want franchise loyalty, they want evangelism, and all other kinds of insane overinvestment which they try to achieve through binding fans to franchises, to making them ways of life, through conventions, cosplay, documentaries, social media engagement, competitions and ambassadors, etc. You know… marketing.

          • End of the day, I feel like you’re arguing that people don’t go up on ledges if they aren’t already thinking about jumping, and I’m arguing that many won’t jump without being pushed, and there’s no reason to encourage them, let alone do the pushing for them and maybe we should be thinking about adding some barriers.

    • This is spot on and an argument I’ve been making for a while.
      Companies have been radicalising their customer base for years now, looking for ways to transform mere products into identies.

      You can’t have it both ways. You can’t go about goading your customers into a tribal like zealotry about your products, then turn around and complain when it bites you.

  • I think the most interesting thing out of the Cyberpunk delay, was Ark System Works making fun of the announcement, and then pulling a 720 about face and issuing a groveling apology for offense and hurt caused to hardworking Devs.

    And look… actual legal reasons for not having announced the delay? Who would have thought. Has Jason gone ‘Oops. There was a valid reason. So sorry!’

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