In a week that saw the biggest launch in PC gaming history, there was only one thing bigger: all the problems surrounding it.
Cyberpunk 2077 released a mere week ago but it's already experienced a storm of complaints and controversy, and CD Projekt, through some dubious decisions and bafflingly poor communication with players, has only made things worse. Plenty of big games have had rough launches (and many of them eventually recover nicely), but it's rare to see so much go wrong so quickly. And oddly enough, there's even an additional CD Projekt debacle that has nothing to do with Cyberpunk 2077 at all.
CD Projekt has had a hell of a week! Here's everything that went wrong.
Cyberpunk 2077 has big-time bugs
First and foremost, even after several delays this year, Cyberpunk 2077 is extremely buggy. Not buggy in the sense that a couple patches and hotfixes will straighten everything out, either: the game has some serious issues, as we said in our review. And despite hopes a Day 1 patch would sort it all out, that wasn't even remotely the case.
And it's not just goofy jank where players clip through their cars and stand buck-naked on the roof while driving. There are multiple bugged quests, disappearing NPC companions, and even glitches that prevented people from completing the tutorial. The 2018 trailer has been recut (hilariously) with glitchy footage. We quickly got the feeling that Cyberpunk 2077 simply wasn't ready to be released, and that was more or less confirmed by CDPR, as we'll see in a moment. As James said in his review, "Play it in a few months." It's good advice.
Cyberpunk 2077 had seizure triggers and no in-game seizure warning
A buggy product is one thing, but a dangerous product is something else.
Seizure warnings are basically boilerplate for videogames these days, with a notice appearing among other intro screens every time you boot up a game. At launch, not only did Cyberpunk 2077 not have an in-game seizure warning (there was a warning in the EULA, which most people don't read) but the game actually triggered a seizure for Game Informer's Liana Ruppert due to the braindance sequences closely mirroring real methods doctors use to deliberately trigger seizures.
That's both terrifying and incredibly irresponsible. On the plus side, at least, CDPR worked with Ruppert on the issue to rush out a hotfix. There is now a seizure warning when you start the game, and the sequences in question have been altered to be less dangerous for players who are prone to seizures.
Cyberpunk 2077 has major problems on consoles
Prior to launch, review code wasn't sent out for console versions of Cyberpunk 2077, and now we can see why. On PS4 and Xbox One, Cyberpunk 2077 is not doing well at all.
I doubt anyone playing it on last-gen consoles was expecting Cyberpunk 2077 to look like it does on PC, but in some cases it's been nearly unplayable, with scandalously low resolution, long pauses before textures will load in, and the world nearly empty of NPCs.
Especially considering Cyberpunk 2077 was due to launch back in April, before the PS5 and Xbox Series X even arrived, it's tough to forgive or even understand such a poor showing on last-gen consoles. Some of the reasons for this have now come to light, but those reasons aren't going to make anyone happy.
CEO admits many of the game's issues were ignored
Things got so dire, so fast, that CD Projekt held an emergency call with investors about the issues surrounding Cyberpunk 2077's launch, admitting there wasn't enough focus on the game's problems in the mad push to just get it released.
"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," said joint-CEO Adam Kiciński.
Kiciński also said most of the footage pre-launch shown was from PC, which further hid the issues on consoles from customers prior to release.
I guess it's good, for certain values of "good," to have confirmation on what many of us are feeling. Cyberpunk 2077 just was not ready for launch. Not in April, not in November, and not now.
There was terrible refund messaging for console players
We haven't been covering this topic fully because it's not an issue for PC gamers, but players on console who were unsatisfied with their purchase of Cyberpunk 2077 were told by CDPR that they should request a refund. For digital copies purchased on PS4 and Xbox, CDPR said players should seek a refund through Sony or Microsoft.
But that's not working out for a lot of unhappy players. While Microsoft will refund a game within two weeks of purchase, getting a refund on PS4 wasn't quite so easy. While some players reported they were able to get the game refunded through Sony, many others told a different story, saying that Sony was not offering refunds for players who had started playing the game. Instead, Sony told players that CDPR was fixing the game, and if they had complaints they should contact CDPR directly.
As anger was directed at both Sony and CD Projekt, CDPR eventually changed its message and is no longer instructing console players to contact Sony for a refund. Instead, CDPR told players to "wait for us to get back to you." The whole thing was a complete shambles, leaving many PS4 players with no idea who to ask for a refund, or if they would even get one.
Then, the PS4 refund situation was abruptly resolved. Great news for players who wanted their money back, but more bad news for CD Projekt:
Sony pulls Cyberpunk 2077 from the PlayStation store
"SIE strives to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction, therefore we will begin to offer a full refund for all gamers who have purchased Cyberpunk 2077 via PlayStation Store," Sony wrote on Thursday night.
And then the bomb drop:
"SIE will also be removing Cyberpunk 2077 from PlayStation Store until further notice."
Wow. One of the biggest and most anticipated games of all time, and you can no longer buy it on PlayStation. I'm sure that will change after more patches have been released to resolve issues for Cyberpunk 2077 on console, but that's a staggering development. And it could be weeks or even months before those patches address all the issues. We're also left wondering if Microsoft will make the same move Sony did, though that seems unlikely due to its refund policy. But we'll have to wait and see.
And somehow, despite all of the above, Cyberpunk 2077 wasn't the only source of drama for CD Projekt this week.
Devotion pulled from GOG hours after being listed
On Wednesday, Red Candle Games announced its horror game, Devotion, would be published on GOG, which is owned by CD Projekt.
You probably remember Devotion, which contained references to China's president, Xi Jinping, leading to massive review-bombing on Steam and its removal (by Red Candle Games) from Steam entirely in 2019.
Well, mere hours after the announcement that Devotion would be sold on GOG, GOG issued a brief tweet saying the game wouldn't be listed in the store after all, due to "many messages from gamers." Not only is that yet another blow for Red Candle Games, it's an utterly baffling statement—what messages, and what gamers?—that immediately drew sharp criticism during an already terrible week for CD Projekt.
I guess it wasn't all bad
That's a lot of shit to go down in a mere week's time. But it was hardly all bad news for CD Projekt. Just a day after launch, Cyberpunk 2077 had already recouped 8 years of development costs and was turning a profit. On launch day it quickly skyrocketed to the singleplayer Steam record for consecutive players, and it's the biggest PC game launch in history.
And there's a bit of good news (relatively speaking) for the staff that's been crunching to get Cyberpunk 2077 out the door—at least their bonuses are no longer tied to review scores. Hopefully they're comfortable in their jobs and keen to stay in Night City, because it looks like they've still got a lot of work ahead of them.