Cyberpunk 2077, One Month Later

Cyberpunk 2077, One Month Later
Image: CD Projekt Red

After multiple delays, reports of mandatory overtime at the studio, and a years-long, nauseating hype train inescapably intertwined with edgelord marketing tactics and transphobia, CD Projekt Red finally released Cyberpunk 2077 into the world at the tail end of last year, and almost every day of its existence since has been utterly wild and often a complete mess. Here’s a rundown of everything that happened in the game’s first month, from glitches that went viral and week-one refunds to missing seizure warnings and targeted harassment campaigns.

  • Reviews and impressions went up for Cyberpunk 2077 three days ahead of its December 10 release date. Kotaku editor-at-large Riley MacLeod was full of “mixed feelings” after spending 30 hours with the sprawling open world RPG. Cyberpunk 2077 wasn’t setting new standards in storytelling or world building the way The Witcher 3 had, but it wasn’t terrible either. Some critics loved it. Others were let down. Most of them encountered plenty of bugs. All of them only had access to the PC version of the game at the time of review, something Kotaku and many other sites noted in the initial coverage. Reviewers were also prohibited from sharing any of their own captured footage of the game until it was out.
  • That same day, an editor at Game Informer reported suffering a a grand mal seizure during her time with the game. “During my time with Cyberpunk 2077, I suffered one major seizure and felt several moments where I was close to another one,” associate editor Liana Ruppert wrote in a warning to other players with epilepsy. CD Projekt Red responded in a tweet the following day on December 8 that the game had a seizure warning in its EULA, but one wasn’t added to the game’s startup screen until patch 1.03 for PC went live on release day. The actual strobing effects causing the issues were later patched on December 11.

Screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku Screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku
Screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku Screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku
  • Some of Cyberpunk 2077’s day-one bugs were extremely entertaining. The game’s customisable dicks had a penchant for glitching out of players’ paints. Cops, meanwhile, were spawning out of nowhere, Matrix-style, hounding players no matter where they tried to escape to. There was also no shortage of NPCs t-posing in diners, dance clubs, and even on top of cars. Other shortcomings were more disappointing. Traffic looked like cardboard cutouts from far away, and cars and people would frequently disappear when you turned your back.
  • Despite all of this the game ran surprisingly well on Stadia. The game had better graphics and fewer crashes than on some consoles, with Digital Foundry eventually suggesting the Stadia version of Cyberpunk 2077 was nearly on par with the Xbox Series X version. Google even had to stop its promotion giving away Stadia founder’s editions with copies of the game because it quickly ran out.
  • CD Projekt Red changed its incentive structure so Cyberpunk 2077 developers would still get bonuses, despite some poor review scores. “We initially had a bonus system that was focused on the game’s ratings and the release date, but after consideration, we believe that measure is simply not fair under the circumstances,” studio head Adam Badowski told staff in an email, according to a report by Bloomberg on December 11.
  • Players began reporting getting refunds for the game within just days of release. Claims that the game was “broken” on both console and PC led to at least some players getting their money back from platforms like Steam and the Microsoft Store during Cyberpunk 2077’s launch weekend. “Got my refund from Microsoft after playing for almost 2 hours,” wrote one person on Reddit. “I was surprised they didn’t hassle me about it.”
Image: CD Projekt Red, Fair Use Image: CD Projekt Red, Fair Use

  • CD Projekt Red officially started apologizing for the state of the game on base consoles by December 14. “First of all, we would like to start by apologizing to you for not showing the game on base last-gen consoles before it premiered and, in consequence, not allowing you to make a more informed decision about your purchase,” the studio wrote on Twitter. It promised the game would be improved in later patches, but also promised refunds to players who didn’t want to wait.
  • But the refund situation on consoles was a mess. Following CD Projekt’s Red guidance, some players attempted to get refunds from Microsoft and Sony but were denied. The studio later clarified in a call with investors that no special refund policy had been put in place, and everyone was still subject to the platform holders’ existing draconian terms.
  • During the same investor call the studio also tried to explain why it had kept the terrible console version hidden from the public. “We definitely did not spend enough time looking at [PlayStation 4 and Xbox One performance],” vice president Michał Nowakowski said during the call, with billionaire co-CEO Marcin Iwiński claiming the console version wasn’t shown because the studio was working on it right up until release day. Of course, this was contrary to everything CD Projekt Red had said about the game in the years and months leading up to launch.
  • In the midst of all this, Cyberpunk 2077’s popularity on Twitch filled streams with nudity as it got a pass from the platform’s normal rules. In addition to the regular sex scenes and glitched dicks, players noticed the game was also overflowing with dildos. Senior quest designer Philipp Weber explained that part of that was due to dildos dropping as random loot. “We’re going to adjust them so that the dildos don’t appear too out of place/context and distracting and more where they should be by design,” he told Kotaku over email.
Screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku Screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku
  • CD Projekt Red changed its messaging on December 16 and stopped telling customers to seek refunds through Sony. “If you own a digital copy of the game on Xbox, visit this Xbox support article for detail on how to refund,” read an email from the studio’s “helpmerefund” address. “If you own a digital copy on PlayStation, please wait for us to get back to you.” CD Projekt Red gave players until December 21 to formally request a refund.
  • The next day (and only a week from launch) Sony pulled Cyberpunk 2077 from the PlayStation store. In addition, Sony said it would guarantee refunds to anyone who already purchased the game and wanted one. CD Projekt Red put out a statement saying that the decision to remove the game from Sony’s storefront was made by the platform holder following discussions about issuing full refunds.
  • Meanwhile, the game’s developers grilled management over working conditions and its troubled launch during a digital all-hands meeting. “Developers asked blunt questions about the company’s reputation, the game’s unrealistic deadlines and the relentless overtime in the months and years leading up to the game’s Dec. 10 release,” Bloomberg reported.
  • By December 18, options for full refunds expanded to the Microsoft Store, and even some brick and mortar retailers. “To ensure that every player is able to get the experience they expect on Xbox, we will be expanding our existing refund policy to offer full refunds to anyone who purchased Cyberpunk 2077 digitally from the Microsoft Store, until further notice,” a spokesperson for the company announced in a statement. Similarly, Best Buy said it would accept returns for the game even if copies of it had already been opened. A few days later, Kotaku received reports that GameStop was doing the same.

Screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku Screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku
  • The whole mess blew up so much that not even The New York Times could resist doing a story about it. The hallowed daily put two reporters on it, including verteran tech writer Mike Isaac, and published its conclusion on December 19: “Cyberpunk’s rollout is one of the most visible disasters in the history of video games — a high-profile flameout in the midst of the holiday shopping season by a studio widely considered an industry darling.” The paper of record also claimed in the initial version of the story that game developers usually send out review copies of games “months in advance.” It later updated that to “with ample lead time,” which is still often wrong.
  • Sports blog and media worker collective Defector called video game reviewers who signed Cyberpunk 2077’s pre-release NDA “sellout clowns.” “[R]eviewers who signed the NDA abandoned any claim to adversarial journalism, as well as any utility they might have had to their readers, and are clowns,” Albert Burneko wrote, kicking off a complete self-dunkfest on Twitter, but also some worthwhile discussion about the nature of review embargos and the video game media’s relationship to the industry that creates them. The whole thing culminated in a much more interesting Q&A with former Kotaku senior critic Heather Alexandra on December 29.
  • Despite the clusterfuck, Cyberpunk 2077 went on to sell a ton. CD Projekt Red announced on December 22 that even counting refunds, the game had already sold 13 million copies. The initial sales numbers weren’t enough to quell investors, however, and led the company’s stock dropping another 3.7%, down a total of 42% from where it had peaked early in the month.
  • A hotfix went out the next day to address a bug that had been corrupting players’ saves. The update improved “memory management and stability,” addressing an issue where save files that grew over 8 MB started having problems. Prior to the fix players were told to simply limit the number of items in their inventory and not craft so much.
Screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku Screenshot: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku
  • A Manhattan law firm announced a class action lawsuit against CD Projekt Red on Christmas Eve. The lawyers charged the company with making false statements to investors about the quality of the game prior to launch, and wrote in a December 24 press release that they’d represent any “persons or entities who purchased or otherwise acquired publicly traded CD Projekt Red securities between January 16, 2020, and December 17, 2020.”
  • Players created a third-person mode and all sorts of other mods. These ranged from improvements to jokes. Uploaded on January 2, Jelle Bakker’s mod turned Cyberpunk 2077 into the sort of normal third-person open world game you might expect from the makers of The Witcher 3. It also let you see all of your custom outfits all of the time. Another mod by homes432 added barbers to the game so you could actually change your haircut whenever you wanted.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 players also discovered how to go really, really fast. YouTuber Max Dakka used manoeuvring systems and reinforced tendons cyberware mods to make it so their character could dash and do mid-air rolls, eventually building up enough momentum and speed to run faster than a car.
  • By January 5, the game lost close to 80% of its initial concurrent player-base on Steam. This was partly a reflection of just how high the numbers started out. Despite the massive drop-off, Cyberpunk 2077 was still averaging more concurrent players than The Witcher 3’s all-time peak.
Gif: CD Projekt Red / Strikielol, Fair Use Gif: CD Projekt Red / Strikielol, Fair Use
  • CD Projekt Red uncharacteristically took to Twitter to denounce rumours about the game’s troubled development circulating in a Reddit thread on January 6. “Normally we don’t comment on rumours but this time we wanted to make an exception as this story is simply not true,” the company wrote.
  • Poland’s Consumer Protection office (UOKiK) announced on January 9 that it would investigate Cyberpunk 2077’s development, marketing, and post-launch fixes to see if people were misled. If the regulator foundanything awry it could slap CD Projekt Red with fines of up to 10% of annual revenue.

And that’s where we are now. Cyberpunk 2077 still isn’t available to buy on the PlayStation Store, and is still not in great shape on consoles. Players are currently waiting on the game’s 1.07 patch, which is expected to be one of its bigger since release, and potentially kick-off the game’s long road to some potential No Man’s Sky-style redemption arc. Meanwhile, PC players are waiting on the game’s eventual multiplayer DLC, and the game’s free next-gen upgrade is also in the pipeline. What this means for those working hard hours on the floor at CD Projekt Red — last year to ship the game, and this year to fix it — remains to be seen.

Comments

  • One month later, I’ve hit 208 hours played on PC (GOG) which has slowed considerably due to the addition of a kitten named Valerie to the family. Its because she keeps wanting attention and being super playful, rather than her running quick hacks on the system.

    Now if only I can keep her distracted I might finally finish the critical path, since all the side content is done at this point. (I think I’m still in Act 2? It hasn’t said Act 3 yet)

      • Ah, cheers. I’m used to plays being in four Acts, so I was thinking the second was just super stretched out. Not at that point yet then!

        • When you do hit that point, save and after you finish to the end(s), you get the option to reset back to that save, with a bonus item or two, at which point you can do it all again for another ending path and any rewards you get from that ending. Any XP or items earnt from the point of no return are lost however.

    • Genuine question as someone who did every side mission, gig, police scanner and everything there is to do in the city in 80 hours on the hardest difficulty, how have you not finished the game yet at 208 hours?

      • my guess would be exploring the map. its something you really dont notice, but there a shit load of nooks and crannies that you can get to and a the amount of verticality is massive. theres whole sections of the map that you never visit or see because the game doesnt take you there, or its hidden in within the map icons

  • You missed the part where the woman who went into a potentially deadly seizure was issued death threats for telling people. I think that’s important to note.

    Gamers are the worst sometimes.

    • It’s especially notable since since reviews like hers are relied on to determine whether or not these games are safe to play for other photosensitive people. Her review was valuable for that experience alone for many people.

  • It’s a quite good game. In the state it is in right now it’s not at “great game” level. I’m on PC and it runs well but crashes every hour or so – I just save a lot. I’m invested in finishing the story and leveling up, equipping my character. Runs okay on a 2070 super with regular setting tweaked down a bit from ultra and only medium lighting on for RTX.

    With UX, the interface clearly needs more work. Lists of shards and messages need to be searched through manually and don’t have a way of sorting for latest. Everything feels like a first draft. It could do with a whole rethink but they could probably get away with several tweaks to make the worst parts work better. Overall controls are not quite there. I mean, who decided to make the mark enemy and throw grenade the same key with a mode switch?

    The world has a lot of broken edges, especially if you start double jumping around the roofs. Fall damage mechanics can be weird and glitchy, especially on slopes. Cars in the distance are sprites, which is fine, but seem to be stuck on max, so even in the desert with no cars near you, the distance has lots of traffic which disappears as it gets closer.

    Missions triggers and conversations occasionally crap out but a reload has fixed those problems for me so far. Not blocked or game breaking. Some occasional odd visual glitches with characters, items.

    Progression and weapons are okay but a bit underbaked. Some useless, some seem overpowered. I started building a cool based character with various handgun bonuses so I could use silencers and ended up being able to single headshot almost anyone short-medium range. Clothing upgrades are expensive for a few points but the mods can provide hundreds. Mod slots are often the most important thing, even more than rarity or base values of the item. Crafting is mainly useful for creating lots of armour mods and upgrading weapons as you level.

    Hacking is good and simple once you get the hang of it. But not so many options or tricks to use there. Being able to go through security cameras and tag everyone is the most useful fleshed out part. I’d love more ways to get in and set up for a job. Like say if you could unlock and lock doors throughout a building or adjust a guard schedule or create a major distraction. There’s a couple of interesting ones like whistle that allow you to manipulate guards, but it’s mostly just about attacks or disabling or taking control of cameras/turrets, or minor distractions. Want more tricks.

    The crashing is the annoying part, though. If I am playing and it doesn’t crash for a couple hours I really get in the zone with it and love finding my way into buildings and doing sneaky shit. Ghosting it is fun, but some of the bad guys are real bad and you find some nasty stuff in there. That’s when it’s time to kill everyone.

    • Haven’t had any crashes yet at all in my stupidly long playtime, and thats with typically playing 3 – 5 hours at a time. I’ll chalk that up to no two PCs behaving quite the same for anything.

      Have had weird UI glitches, an example of which was the enemy failing to do the ‘locate’ ability, because I’d taken everyone out and it kept the word ‘Failed’ in the middle of the screen until I’d saved and reloaded. Most of the UI glitches seem like that.

      Single most annoying thing I’m experiencing is that it seems impossible to do targetted pick ups. Like I want to pick up an item, or use a computer, but it just prompts me to pick up some consumable that isn’t in the immediate field of vision. Happens constantly, and I’m part wondering if its a configuration option I’ve got turned on.

      Definitely hear you about the mark / grenades thing. Can’t count the amount of times I accidentally tossed a grenade at someone until I replaced it with the Blood Pump mod. Which seems to have become broken in one of the first patches.

    • Running a 2070 Super here, and no crashes, but running DLSS at balanced/performance @ 1440p causes massive CPU load though, to the point where I’d be peaking 90-99% CPU, even hitting 100c and the computer turned itself off as a thermal safety feature.

      If I turned raytracing on, this seemed to throttle the CPU usage somehow so it would sit at about 40-60% instead.

      Went a mostly netrunner build and I was unstoppable. Kind of wish connecting to a network had more risk to it, like in Ghost in the Shell where getting back-hacked was an actual danger. Systems would be air-gapped requiring actual physical access to run hacks against people/systems on that system, or using the Monowire to jack into someone long range to put more serious hacks (triggering cyberpsychosis/suicide/system reset/etc)

  • I keep an eye on the Official news page to see when the next patches drop.

    Waiting till the bugs and issues are resolved before I purchase.

    Still trying to avoid spoilers and viewing too much gameplay as i want to experience it myself 1st hand.

  • ctrl+f trans, typical. american article. please find a new reason to report on this game. you arent fooling anyone with your bullshit.

    • What report? You’ve been here long enough to know how these X amount of time later articles work.
      Also the word only appears twice and only once in context before you contributed to the third.

    • Ctrl+f reasons to be angry with a site I read

      Trans people exist, they had reason to be upset and worried about their representation in a game and reporting on that isn’t unusual, nor is it unique to the American site.

  • To similarly introduce the best and worst game of 2020, with the same title, due to 4 really bad console ports is insane.

    PC game is pretty good for an original IP open world game… Ubisoft, Rockstar and Bethesda have given us a lot worse.

    But to completely fail 4 console ports is monumentally stupid. I can’t understand how they manage to completely fail console players…. they should of stopped the console releases.

  • Ill be honest having spent about 50 total game play hours on my playthrough, i think im allow to say … it needed another 6 months of polish. Its not a bad game per-say, but there is so many bugs/glitches that prevent it from being decent.
    I played on PC, had a few random crashes, a couple of times where quests would not progress unless I reloaded an earlier save.
    Overall i didn’t seek a refund because i enjoyed my time, i most likely do another play though again, but only after a lot of patches have been released to fix all the bugs.

  • Loving it. I wish it had another six months in the oven and I am willing to bet so would have every dev making it.

    As with everything else about 2020, it launch as messy as t was necessary. Truly the only thing i hated was (once again) the internets overreaction and hysteria. Yes their were bugs (but honestly I had worse in Valhalla), yes it shouldnt have launch on last gen base consoles in that state (is anyone really debating that?) but there was just soooooo much bollocks around the game. The disappointment of it to some seemed more about their overall frustration with the year, the game merely the target. Sorry, no, the target was all the hundreds of people who made this labour of love to see their hard work reduced to memes. What a crap way, for a crap year to end for them.

    I found it frankly embarrassing, even with the flaws it was one of my most favourite games in the last year and while I do see the issues, there is just so much brilliance there that can be over looked. Bugs can be fixed, and CDPR has a long history of exceptional after launch care. Some people want to rule them out, but not me, cos frankly it is a good game and currently there are way more serious issues afoot in the world than holding a grudge against a games dev company being infuriatingly backed into a corner.

  • Im playing on a base PS4 and honestly have not once thought about getting a refund. It has issues sure. But it is still a great game.

  • Ive played it for a bit on a Pc with good specs and it does run ok but needs a bit of work and also some optimisation. But unfortunately there all still a lot of bugs and glitches. Then also, strangely enough, the 1.05/6 patch actually made my performance worse, which confuses the hell out of me. Saying that the time I did spend (20hrs) in the game I really enjoyed! This is what made me think maybe I’ll wait a bit for a big patch addressing issues.

    But am I the only one that is a bit disappointed that since the initial talk of refunds and such that we have not heard anything else from Cdpr? I would really like an update on patches.

    • They weren’t even responding to refund requests unless you outright threatened them with chargebacks. I’d like to hope otherwise, but I don’t see much coming from the patches if they needed chargebacks on GOG to carry out basic consumer legal obligations.

  • I’ve gotta say that I really had no serious problems with the game on PC. The occasional weird glitch but nothing that crashed the game.

    I had a blast, really. And doing all that Johnny Silverhand stuff was a hoot.

    Some of the things I found strange were no cosmetic modding, haircuts, etc. And for some reason I really thought that it would be OPEN open world. Like choosing your own path and profession. I wanted to be a cop or be in the unit that hunts cyberpsychos. Being one of the medivac guys would’ve been cool.

    The city was really beautiful too. Barring some weird road intersections, it was a cool futuristic city.

    Damn, nostalgia! I’m heading back in tonight!

  • I’ve got almost 200 hours logged into this game (PC – GOG version) and so far am really liking it. I’ve got a pretty high end PC (5600x + RTX 3080) and the game runs really well for me. I’ve had no crashes in this time, a few minor graphic glitches and did run into the crafting/save file issue before it was fixed. Not a big deal for me, just reloaded an earlier save, lost a few minutes of game play and then avoided the issue.

    I hope their upcoming patches can make a positive difference for the many people who are having so many issues. A common denominator appears to me to be playing the game on lower spec’d machines (either previous gen consoles or low/mid range PCs). It’s absolutely CDPR’s fault as they heavily marketed to console players and the game should play well (with lower FPS or graphics) for all players with minimum and above spec’d PCs.

    Still for me, it’s been a blast and I’m looking forward to the DLCs at some point after the patches. I’m one of the few people who hasn’t really liked Witcher 3, but am so pleased with CDPR’s representation of a Cyberpunk world, that I bought another copy of Witcher 3 (on sale from GoG of course) and will try yet again to see what so many other players see in it.

  • And yet despite how overwhelming the negative coverage has been by the same gaming press that hyped the game up in the first place, Cyberpunk 2077 is still the top selling singleplayer game on steam with a user Review Score of 79% of Mostly Positive out of 319,168 user reviews.

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