Report: Cyberpunk Development Didn’t Really Start Until 2016

Report: Cyberpunk Development Didn’t Really Start Until 2016
Image: CD Projekt Red

Cyberpunk 2077 was announced back in 2012 and shown off to the world with a cinematic trailer in 2013, but work on the game didn’t begin for real until 2016, according to a new report by Bloomberg. That’s when CD Projekt studio head Adam Badowski took over as director, several veteran developers from The Witcher 3 left, and core concepts like whether the game would be first-person or not were still being hashed out.

Despite some praise for the PC version of Cyberpunk 2077, the long-awaited sci-fi RPG from the makers of The Witcher 3 has had a poor launch, especially on console, where performance was so bad CD Projekt Red guaranteed refunds and Sony pulled it from the PlayStation Store shortly after release last month. Based on Bloomberg’s investigation, much of this was the result of mismanagement by studio leadership and the decision to rush the game out before it was ready.

“At E3 in June 2019, CD Projekt announced that the game would come out on April 16, 2020,” writes Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier. “Fans were elated, but internally, some members of the team could only scratch their heads, wondering how they could possibly finish the game by then. One person said they thought the date was a joke. Based on the team’s progress, they expected the game to be ready in 2022. Developers created memes about the game getting delayed, making bets on when it would happen.”

In addition to its rushed timeline, Bloomberg reports that development suffered from the studio trying to staff up too quickly and also not hiring enough people to deliver on Cyberpunk 2077‘s ambitious open world. Language barriers, with some developers speaking Polish while others spoke English, also apparently caused trouble, as did the eventual move to working from home after the covid-19 pandemic began. On Twitter, Schreier shared one example of the chaos: when someone needed a new shader they would make it themselves, having no tools to tell them whether it was already existed in the production pipeline. Meanwhile, the studio’s success in delivering The Witcher 3 to critical acclaim was reportedly used to downplay concerns during development.

Cyberpunk 2077, One Month Later

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.

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Shortly before E3 2019 release date announcement, CD Projekt Red boss Marcin Iwiński told Kotaku that it was committed to not making anyone crunch during Cyberpunk 2077‘s development. Bloomberg reports that many developers still felt pressured to work overtime to make sure the game could hit its unrealistic launch date.

“There were times when I would crunch up to 13 hours a day — a little bit over that was my record probably — and I would do five days a week working like that,” Adrian Jakubiak, a former audio programmer at CD Projekt Red, told Bloomberg. “I have some friends who lost their families because of these sort of shenanigans.”

Cyberpunk 2077 ended up being delayed anyway, first until September, then until November, and finally to December 10. In addition to failing to make sure developers didn’t feel pressure to work overtime, studio leadership also officially went back on their word last September when they mandated developers work six day weeks until the game launched.

In an apology to players and fans earlier this week, Iwiński said he takes full responsibility for Cyberpunk 2077‘s performance issues and terrible launch. In a separate Q&A published online, the studio also once again promised it won’t make its employees crunch to fix the game. “The team is working to bring relevant fixes to the game without any obligatory overtime,” CD Projekt Red wrote. “Avoiding crunch on all of our future projects is one of our top priorities.” This time around, it’s hard to believe it.

Comments

  • How is that surprising? The company clearly wasnt big enough to be working on Witcher 3 and this at the same time, full time. Having a break off team/s doing R&D for the next project, while most work is happening on a flagship, is hardly surprising or unique.

    One of the most maddening things gamers have been screaming about for a month now is the “whole seven-eight years in development’ thing.

      • the million of whiners reddit who keep bringing up the whole seven-eight year thing as a form of insult. Those who truly believed this game was in serious development before that first trailer.

    • It’s not surprising, nor is it news. Sometime after the cinematic trailer they publically stated several times not to expect the game for several years, because the studio’s focus was Witcher 3. I think they announced it so early as to avoid people demanding Witcher 4 immediately, they wanted to work on something new.

  • “Report: Cyberpunk Development Didn’t Really Start Until 2016”

    Yeah no shit. Since 2018 the Wikipedia page has said the game started development after Witcher 3 Blood and Wine, which was in 2016.

    Did you guys do any research before writing this article?

    I’m not joking on this, It has been public information since 2018 that development started in 2016. Check for yourself:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20180617130854/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberpunk_2077

    There could have been plenty of ways to platform your former associate’s article. This headline makes it a laughing stock.

    • It’s easy to assume that everyone is attuned into the same information. You’re forgetting that there are many — likely millions — of people who bought Cyberpunk but haven’t been following the game’s development for four or more years.

      Also, can we moderate the tone a little? The vitriol is so massively unnecessary.

        • There is no “if”, man. You went in hard on the accusations and then got called out on your obvious hostile tone. It’s really unpleasant to see.

          I wasn’t aware of this “public information” either, which has only been further obscured by what appears to be thousands of voices sharing misinformation about development time frame.

          On another note, I feel like the line of “obligatory overtime” isn’t explicit enough. We all know that non-obligatory overtime can feel pretty obligatory in certain workplaces, especially if you feel indebted to millions of customers that you feel you’ve let down. I’d rather see them put a cap on maximum working hours, if they were truly serious about it.

          • “There is no “if”, man. You went in hard on the accusations and then got called out on your obvious hostile tone. It’s really unpleasant to see.”

            There is no accusation. Its a proven fact that it’s been public information of the date when game started development.

            This article and the Bloomberg one are acting like its some amazing revelation when it isn’t.

            I wrote my comment coming from a point of view of laughing my head off at the terrible headline.

            “which has only been further obscured”

            Obscured? its been on the Wikipedia page, a website accessible by anyone at any time, since 2018.

            “I’d rather see them put a cap on maximum working hours,”
            There is a government-mandated cap on overtime hours in Poland.

          • “There is no accusation.”

            You accused them of not researching before writing and article, and then you made a thinly veiled allusion to nepotistic publishing. Even if you didn’t intend these as accusations, your tone was intentionally antagonistic.

            “Obscured? its been on the Wikipedia page, a website accessible by anyone at any time, since 2018.”

            Things can be obscured by a relative volume of disinformation, that should be simple to grasp and happens with alarming frequency. You just have to browse any comment section about CP2077 to see that a large number of people either don’t know, or are actively spreading inaccurate information about how long CP2077 was in development.

            “There is a government-mandated cap on overtime hours in Poland.”

            So there is. An average of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, over a cycle that is not to exceed 4 months. It appears the mandated cap failed the CDPR employees then. I’d still like to see CDPR management incorporate an explicit mention to adhering to this.

        • If? For real, if?

          Reading through these comments and remembering some previous times I’ve spotted djbear in the wild I am perplexed at how you can be unaware of exactly how hostile and obnoxious you can be.

          One would think you were cracking Watergate here. It’s just a story about the troubled development history of a game. And you don’t appear to have anything to contradict the facts presented in the article. Your problem is simply that the article exists, and some ambiguity over whether this is a scoop or old info.

          I mean maybe there’s a legit complaint about the headline here but you come in with broad attacks.

    • but you are missing the huge flaw… it doesnt matter what is on record, it is what people BELIEVE. EG at launch you didnt have to go far on reddit without reading things like ‘this is the best they could do with eight years’ etc, sooooooo many gamers truly believe just cos a video came out in (what?) 2013 that means the game was in totally development then.

      It has been this fictitious reality on social media that many have created.

  • Its worth noting that Jason posted a response from CDPR on his twitter which fairly responded to all the points. Its a pity all his fanboys and girls are so blinded to reality and reasonableness that they see it as some big corporate conspiracy and never being good enough. They’ll keep lapping up anything he says as God’s Gospel Truth, even when its been debunked by other rank and file employees of the company.

    Even the response to Jason’s small interview size can be seen as justified with the outcome of any number of elections recently where it seemed that actual professional researchers managed to screw up consistently.

    • Jason has been called out several times by CDPR employees for misrepresenting the facts or flat out leaving them out/ ignoring them.

      I mean this is the man after all who said objectivity is a bad thing

  • What I don’t get is why they bothered to do a teaser or announce it four years before even basic production began. This entire project has been set up for failure since it was announced because they knew at the time wasn’t commencing until well after that time period. Talk about unprofessional.

    • because teasers are not about gamers, in some circumstances they are about the money people. The public reaction, gives a boost of support to the company and often creates a wave of attention that helps gives the money people a sign of confidence especially if they are trying to find new investors. Likewise things like E3 trailers they arent not about showing gamers as such, but more act like a huge advertisement to inspire a rush to pre-order, that once again renews the confidence of those giving money.

      • All good answers, cheers @thyco and @blakeavon. I completely forgot that Cyberpunk 2077 was actually a licensed property, which means drumming up support would be used to drag in more investor confidence and money.

    • because news broke that CDPR had accquired the rights to the license just after Witcher 3 had been announced, and so people got freaked out like they usually do and though CDPR was going to develop it at the same time as the Witcher 3.

      See since the announcement of Wild Hunt, CDPR has never been able to do anything with out people freaking out

  • “In an apology to players and fans earlier this week, Iwiński said he takes full responsibility for Cyberpunk 2077‘s performance issues and terrible launch.”

    What… what does that even mean? What does ‘taking full responsibility’ actually look like? What consequences does it have? How does it affect decision-making, moving forward?

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