CD Projekt executives said they accept responsibility for Cyberpunk 2077’s shortcomings in an email sent to staff earlier today, Bloomberg reports.
“We underestimated the lengths and complexity involved to make this a reality, and still you did everything you could to deliver an ambitious, special game,” CD Projekt Red studio head and game director Adam Badowski is said to have written.
Cyberpunk 2077 developers were expecting to receive bonuses for their work on the game depending on how it fared on review aggregator Metacritic — a terrible practice common in the video game industry — with an average score of 90+ initiating bonus payouts. The game currently sits at 90 exactly, but that number doesn’t take into account the noticeably inferior versions on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which reviewers weren’t able to play before release.
Bloomberg’s reporting also provides an inside look at the bizarre bonus structure employed by CD Projekt Red’s leadership. Developers deemed to have done good work were given tokens emblazoned with the studio’s red bird logo, which they were told they could redeem for post-launch bonuses should Cyberpunk 2077 receive critical acclaim. It’s these bonuses that the company now says will be paid out regardless of average score, on top of the profit-sharing payouts employees already enjoy.
The report notes concern within the ranks of CD Projekt Red that pursuit of these bonuses pushed developers to work long hours over nights and weekends to prove themselves worthy of the red bird tokens. Bloomberg reported in September that, despite public promises to the contrary, Cyberpunk 2077 devs were asked to work six-day work weeks leading up to the game’s release on December 10.
“I take it upon myself to receive the full backlash for the decision,” Badowski wrote to employees in an email from that time. “I know this is in direct opposition to what we’ve said about crunch. It’s also in direct opposition to what I personally grew to believe a while back — that crunch should never be the answer. But we’ve extended all other possible means of navigating the situation.”
While I suppose it’s nice that Cyberpunk 2077 dev bonuses won’t hinge on critical reception, the patronising method by which those bonuses are doled out is emblematic of what we’ve learned of the toxic work culture fostered by CD Projekt leadership.