As CD Projekt Red continues doing damage control on the launch of Cyberpunk 2077, joint-CEO Adam Kiciński admits the company’s administration ignored warning signs about the game’s subpar performance on current-gen consoles.
Speaking to investors on a conference call, Kiciński claimed he and his fellow board members were “too focused on releasing the game” after eight years in development and a series of delays.
“We underestimated the scale and complexity of the issues, we ignored the signals about the need for additional time to refine the game on the base last-gen consoles. It was the wrong approach and against our business philosophy.”
Adam Kiciński added that CD Projekt Red has received “positive feedback from players enjoying it on stronger machines—PCs and next gen consoles and Stadia,” but feedback on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One has been “way below expectations.” This may have been a gentle way to phrase the situation, as the company has formally apologized to those customers and begun offering refunds.
“We definitely did not spend enough time looking at [current-gen perfomance,” said CFO Piotr Nielubowicz. “I wouldn’t say that we felt any external or internal pressure to launch on the date – other than the normal pressure, which is typical for any release.”
When asked whether the studio could have simply abandoned the current-gen version of the game if it was going to underperform, Nielubowicz highlighted that a proper next-gen version does not exist for PlayStation 5 or the Xbox Series X|S. Cyberpunk 2077 was developed for the current hardware with enhancements for next-gen, with a native release to follow for Sony and Microsoft’s new consoles at a later date. “It’s not like we could have decided at any point recently to ‘flip the switch’, so to say,” he added, “and change the old-gen version to the next-gen version.”
In terms of sales numbers, Nielubowicz claimed Cyberpunk 2077 had performed well out of the gate, especially on PC. Preorders favoured PC, with 59% of sales. Though they expect numbers to decline sharply in light of the launch debacle, preorder and day one sales alone had already recouped the massive development cost of the game, as well as its marketing budget.
The studio has now shifted its focus to correcting the current-gen version of the game, while continuing to support the other versions. A substantial patch is estimated to arrive within the next week and squash another handful of bugs. For now, development for DLC and expansions is on pause.
CD Projekt Red has been taking a lot of flak over their massive title’s release and development, first when reports of extensive mandatory overtime policies raised concerns for the development team’s working conditions. They announced Cyberpunk 2077 had gone gold in early October but the team remained in “overdrive” preparing day one patches. Later that month, the game was delayed once again to December 10, only to be plagued by reports of heavy graphical failings, buggy AI, and light sequences designed to induce epileptic seizures.