CD Projekt Red has been considered one of the best developers in the business. Where most developers release buggy, clearly unfinished games, CDPR had at least a reputation of releasing games with a solid foundation that were improved to such a level that the game’s earlier issues were all but forgotten. (I’m looking at you Witcher 3)
Unfortunately, it looks like Cyberpunk 2077 was their breaking point, having used and abused the goodwill of the gaming community to release something that’s so barely functional it draws comparisons to Fallout 76 and not the last game they released.
All you really need to do is look at the headlines to really see why. PC performance is all over the place with top-of-the-line RTX 3080s struggling to put out a consistent framerate and console performance so bad it’s only relatively playable on the next-gen consoles, while the current generation of consoles (the Xbox One and PS4) offers what amounts to a slideshow that plays so poorly that Sony has pulled it from their digital storefront for the time being while Sony, Microsoft, and even Best Buy offer full refunds with very few questions asked.
If you’ve been a part of the gaming community for a long enough time, that story doesn’t sound particularly new. Games like Fallout 76 and Anthem were met with similar criticisms, although even those weren’t so bad that the games were pulled from online stores, but that’s not saying much. Those games were broken or incomplete, but they were at least relatively playable on the original Xbox One and PS4. Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t even manage that, and it seems like CDPR may face the music soon.
Multiple outlets have reported that investors are looking at their legal options when it comes to CDPR’s portrayal of the game and what they promised compared to what shipped.
I feel like it’s worth pointing out that this isn’t for the benefit of the consumer or the people who pre-ordered or bought this game soon after release. While any potential lawsuits could come as a win for gamers as a whole, it seems far more likely that CDPR was promising insane amounts of revenue and a new IP that could last years like Grand Theft Auto V only for that promise to blow up in their faces amid reports of crunch and CDPR developers demanding answers from their executives in questions that echo what’s filling Reddit and other online forums from the player base.
My natural cynicism aside, any potential lawsuits against CDPR could only promise good things for gamers. Where Fallout 76 somehow hit mainstream news without so much as a single meaningful punishment towards developer Bethesda, for some reason, Cyberpunk 2077 feels different. In the same way that EA’s Battlefront 2 controversy helped kick loot boxes from the majority of games, it feels like maybe, just maybe, Cyberpunk 2077 might see developers finally held to some meaningful standard for the games they release, forcing them to ship complete games as opposed to works-in-progress that take two or more years to make playable. But time will tell. And this is one story I’ll be keeping my eye on going forward. It could change the gaming industry for the better if I’m right.
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