Cyberpunk 2077 has had a rough post-launch week as multiple hit stories have come out covering big issues the game had at launch. The news barrage has not even spared CDPR’s game platform GOG. The launch of the much-anticipated game has brought to light a series of issues plaguing the developer and parent company. Everyone wants to take a bite at CDPR(CD Projekt Red) and the effects of this negative press barrage have affected the company significantly; However, at the beginning of the week it just looked like a smaller more contained controversy.
The initial controversy that set off the alarms this week was regarding the disastrous console launch for the much-anticipated game. Cyberpunk now sits at a 55/100 critic score and 3.3/10 user score just on the PS4. Metacritic scores like this are a disaster for the development studio because it shows that both gamers and reviewers have labeled their product as trash. A low Metacritic score can also deny game developers of bonuses on top of the PR nightmare (CDPR have come out saying they will not take away bonuses this time due to pressure). The reason these scores are low goes much deeper than just a bad game experience though.
CDPR has been accused of hiding the console performance before the launch to salvage sales. This has some merit as promotional materials for the game were mainly PC and there was an embargo on reviewing console versions of the game that lifted after the PC review embargo. CDPR must have known how bad the console version was internally and someone decided to release it anyway to capitalize on the millions of pre-orders prepped for December. The game has been so bad in the console space that Sony(in collaboration with CDPR) has removed Cyberpunk 2077 from the PlayStation store indefinitely and offered full refunds to angry customers. This course of action is almost unprecedented from Sony as refunds are never promoted by the console giant.
The extreme strife caused by the games launch also extended internally as CDPR developers questioned their leadership about the rocky development and launch. CDPR had promised to make healthier work schedules and realistic deadlines earlier in the year, but those are nowhere to be seen. Another point of contention was the mixed signals that CDPR communications put out about the game throughout the year which was opposite to the reality developers were dealing with. The fact that such a questioning took place shows how the launch most likely was a result of leadership commandeering the launch schedule to fit their needs(specifically fiscal quarter bonuses) rather than taking the development team into consideration.
Shortly after the Cyberpunk scandals started making the rounds a new issue popped into the blue which was especially potent in the current geopolitical atmosphere. News came out that GOG(a platform owned by CD Projekt which is the parent company of CDPR) had censored the game “Devotion” due to its controversial past of an in-game image mocking the current Chinese president. This debacle marks another game company that has bent the knee to the Chinese censors over minor issues. This scandal has made many western fans lose trust in the company as this Chinese sponsored conduct is generally reserved for companies like “Activision-Blizzard”. Surrendering to a communist country is also antithetical to foundations of CDPR which was founded after the fall of communism.
The wave of scandals has hit the company hard in two main ways. The first way is that CDPR’s stock dropped over 20% after the launch of the game due to the plethora of issues. The company is estimated to have lost over 1 billion dollars in value as a result of this price drop. The second main impact the company has faced is the loss of the intense consumer trust that CDPR held before the launch of Cyberpunk 2077. The company went from the darling child of the gaming industry to another greedy Chinese puppet. It will be hard to get back the level of trust the company once had due to the insane burnout many fans probably felt after the Cyberpunk 2077 debacles.
CDPR and its Parent company will have to fight a long uphill battle in the coming months if they hope to become an industry star once again.
Sources: https://www.ign.com/articles/cyberpunk-2077-developers-reportedly-confront-cdpr-leadership-over-crunch-and-launch-issues, https://www.polygon.com/2020/12/16/22178225/red-candle-games-devotion-censored-steam-release-gog-date, https://screenrant.com/cd-projekt-red-stock-drops-cyberpunk-2077-controversy/