Cyberpunk 2077

It’s hard to believe that Cyberpunk 2077 only launched ten days ago (it came out on December 10, remember), because so much has happened with it since then. The initial PC-centric reviews were pretty much exactly what the gaming republic had expected and hoped for: Cyberpunk 2077 was a huge, ambitious RPG from Witcher darling CD Projekt Red. Life was good.

But then reports started to surface, once the game was in the hands of PS4 and Xbox One players, that all was not right in Night City. Bugs, glitches, unruly genitals, crashes, a cinematic that causes seizures, and garbage A.I. scripting had rendered Cyberpunk 2077 almost unplayable for many.

It turns out, there was a reason that console review codes were withheld from the press.

Cyberpunk 2077

The fallout got so bad that Sony pulled the game from its digital storefront, and retailers like Best Buy were offering refunds more broadly than normal, even to people who had opened the game and had already played it (until December 21, in the case of Best Buy).

To anyone who follows games journalism, none of this is news to you at this point. However, this is unprecedented. Even broken games like Anthem and Fallout 76 — and overhyped feature-light games like No Man’s Sky — remained purchasable in digital storefronts and on store shelving units.

Now, I don’t have concrete numbers regarding how many people completed the refund process — those figures might remain a mystery for a good while yet. That being said, it seems safe to assume that these numbers are probably fairly robust. I mean, enough buyers want refunds that big corporations like Sony and Best Buy were goaded into offering full refunds with few questions asked — this can’t be a small amount of consumers.

Cyberpunk 2077

And that leads me to my big question: Will the people who rushed to sell back their copies of Cyberpunk 2077 ever return? Even if the game gets fixed to the point where it is reasonably stable — perhaps with a few lingering hiccups but without the game-breaking flaws — are any of those people going to buy back in?

I still own a copy of Cyberpunk 2077 (and all the physical goods that come along with it). It was quite an ordeal, to put it mildly, for me to even install and update the game before I could actually play it. Considering how long that endeavor took, I was able to watch the wave of joyful anticipation turn into a maelstrom of vitriol before I ever set a virtual foot in Night City. This probably tampered my expectations, which in turn lessened my disappointment at the sad state the game was in.

For me, it wasn’t the bugs or glitches or defiantly unsheathed penises that turned me off. For me, I was simply far too enamored with Immortals Fenyx Rising to want to rush into a huge open-world RPG. At this point, I can simply wait until I finish Immortals Fenyx Rising before I check back in with Cyberpunk 2077 to see if the ship has indeed been righted.

Cyberpunk 2077

But what of the others? There’s a movement going on that I’m sure will later be termed the Great Cyberpunk Exodus of 2020. Will the Exodusians once again put their sixty bucks on the line for Cyberpunk 2077? If CD Projekt Red fixes truly fixes this mess of a game, will those people come back? Will they even care?

I would venture to guess that anyone who bothered to return the game was either too deeply offended or too casual a player to purchase the game a second time. I mean, that stands to reason, right? If they were at all interested in seeing this thing through, then they would’ve, like me, simply shelved the game until a later date instead of completely washing their hands of it.

I guess only time will tell. Fallout 76 ended up doing alright, and No Man’s Sky recently took home a Game Award for Best Ongoing Game. Even the much-maligned Star Wars Battlefront 2 became a reasonably well-liked game in the end. Redemption arcs do happen in the world of game development.

Part of me hopes the Exodusians don’t re-purchase Cyberpunk 2077. Let that serve as a lesson to game publishers: You can’t just shovel pine-scented crap into stores during the holidays and not reek as a result.

Yet, if history is any guide, there will be no lessons learned for the suits in corporate headquarters around the world. If these moments were truly teachable, we wouldn’t even have a Marvel’s Avengers. Don’t forget that Square Enix had previously created their own disaster with the release Final Fantasy XIV — if there ever was a teachable moment in that company’s history, that should have been it.

And no one seems to have learned anything from Anthem. Likewise, the suits calling the shots on Anthem didn’t seem to learn anything from watching The Division or Destiny.

Cyberpunk 2077

Back in 1989, there was an interview in which Sega’s director of marketing, Al Nilsen, pointed to a framed copy of Atari’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. He told the interviewer that he’d hung it on the wall as a reminder of what can happen when you fail to meet the expectations of your consumers. Here, at the end of 2020, we still haven’t learned a thing. CD Projekt Red had more than three decades of bad game launches to ponder, yet the Cyberpunk 2077 controversy was still allowed to happen.

When will we ever learn?

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x