Almost three years after its initial release, CD Projekt's VP of PR and communication thinks players were too harsh on Cyberpunk 2077 around launch, claiming that "it became a cool thing not to like it."
Michał Platkow-Gilewski sat down with GamesIndustry.biz to chat about Cyberpunk's launch woes and the developer's journey to rectify its mistakes, such as the major base game overhauls due to release alongside upcoming DLC Phantom Liberty. "I was personally not happy with how things turned out," said Platkow-Gilewski of Cyberpunk's initial reception. "I was not expecting that. I knew immediately that we had to come back. I liked the spot we were in [before launch]. I'm not talking about the peak of hype, but two years before that, we had our community, we liked them, they liked us, it was awesome to work at CD Projekt Red."
Despite generally favourable media previews and an aggregated score of 86 on Metacritic (including our own 72% review of Cyberpunk 2077), the weeks after its December 2020 launch would prove disastrous for CDPR. Most of us on PC got an easier go of things compared to our last-gen console pals who faced a myriad of game-breaking bugs and performance issues. It was still pretty tragic all around though, and CD Projekt felt the full force of a fanbase whose intense hype had gone far beyond what the game could deliver. Refunds were issued, PlayStation store listings were taken down, and things weren't looking great for a once-revered developer.
It's surprising, then, that Platkow-Gilewski thinks people were down on the game a little too much. "I actually believe Cyberpunk on launch was way better than it was received, and even the first reviews were positive," he said. "Then it became a cool thing not to like it. We went from hero to zero pretty fast. That was [a] tough moment. We didn't know what was happening."
Despite the rather fierce criticism, Platkow-Gilewski says the team remained confident in its creation. "We knew that the game is great, yes we can improve it, yes we need to take time to do it, and we need to rebuild some stuff. That took us a lot of time, but I don't believe we were ever broken. We were always like: Let's do this."
Phantom Liberty will most certainly serve as evidence of the hard work CD Projekt has undertaken over the last few years to clean up the messier parts of Night City. Morgan Park had a chance to check out the DLC at Summer Game Fest, and seemed pretty receptive to where the game is at: "Based only on what I actually played, Phantom Liberty is so far a second helping of Cyberpunk 2077. If it were still 2021 that would've been a hard sell for me, but last year's Edgerunners update smoothed over some of the game's worst problems and let its best qualities shine—the characters, guns, cars, and unbelievably pretty city. If the Phantom Liberty update does the same, I'm hopeful it'll be the expansive sendoff that Blood and Wine was for The Witcher 3."