Cyberpunk 2077 demo at E3 was 'earlier' than alpha, full release could be years away

CD Projekt finally showed off what it's been getting up to with Cyberpunk 2077 at E3 earlier this month. The demo was behind closed doors so we, the people without appointments, didn't get to see it for ourselves (you can listen, though) but by all reports it was good. Really good. All of which might lead you to think that the full release of the game isn't too far off.

Maybe it is—anything is possible—but it doesn't sound like that's the case. Following a similar presentation this week in Warsaw, according to a report (Google translated), CEO Adam Kiciński described the demo as being "earlier" than alpha and "not the final quality yet," which is why it's not yet being shown to the public. 

"This is the most polished part of the game we have now, prepared in some sense to show it to people outside the company," CD Projekt chief financial officer Piotr Nielubowicz said.   

When the studio does reveal the game to the public, you can expect it to go all-out: The marketing budget for Cyberpunk 2077 will be "much larger" than what was spent on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt—which got a pretty big push, I think it's fair to say. Nielubowicz added that CD Projekt has been "holding cash," which I take to mean that it's building up cash reserves, in part to support a big marketing budget. 

Kiciński's description of the game's current state isn't particularly well defined. Maybe it's content complete and in the early stages of polish, maybe there's still a big pile of side quests and dialog to be added, maybe work on the main storyline was put on hold so they could polish the hell out of this E3 presentation, or maybe it's something else entirely. 

Whatever its actual status, the statement does broadly imply that there's still a long way to go before it's ready for rollout. At least one analyst predicted that the game may be out in the second half of 2019 or first half of 2020, but given the likelihood of unexpected delays and CD Projekt's well-earned reputation for taking its time, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it take even longer. 

And as VG247 noticed, original Cyberpunk creator Mike Pond told YouTuber YongYea at E3, "I waited 30 years to get this. It was worth it. You guys can wait a few more years." 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.