Earlier this week, CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwiński once again apologized for the state of Cyberpunk 2077, which has been buggy on PC, and very buggy on last-gen consoles. In that apology, Iwiński suggested that the scope of Cyberpunk 2077's issues was not entirely known before release. We were skeptical of the claim, and in a new report from Bloomberg's Jason Schreier, employees at the studio reject it.
Schreier says he interviewed "more than 20 current and former CD Projekt staff" for the report, and while COVID-19 did cause difficulties with communication and production—developers couldn't work on console development kits in the office, for instance—the employees he spoke to say that external tests showed the problems, and the bugs were not the surprise Iwiński made them out to be when he said that testing didn't show "a big part" of Cyberpunk's problems.
"As the launch date drew closer, everyone at the studio knew the game was in rough shape and needed more time," writes Schreier, referring to Cyberpunk 2077's November 19 release date, which became December 10 after the final postponement. During that three-week delay, "exhausted programmers scrambled to fix as much as they could," he says, but a smooth launch would've been impossible at that point.
Schreier previously reported on crunch—mandatory overtime in the leadup to a game's release—at CD Projekt, and this report includes another story of overwork within the studio.
"There were times when I would crunch up to 13 hours a day—a little bit over that was my record probably—and I would do five days a week working like that," said Adrian Jakubiak, a former CD Projekt audio programmer. "I have some friends who lost their families because of these sort of shenanigans."
– One CDPR developer told their manager that they didn’t want to work overtime, as their CEO had said would be OK. Fine, their manager said, but one of their other coworkers would just have to work extra hours to make up for them. Several other developers shared similar storiesJanuary 16, 2021
The report briefly describes troubles that began much earlier in Cyberpunk 2077's development, such as the challenge of building a new engine at the same time as the game being built on it, and the fallout from overhauls requested by game director Adam Badowski in 2016. Former Witcher 3 developers apparently left the project due to clashes with Badowski's vision. Employees also say that CD Projekt struggled to manage a team of over 500, which was twice as large as The Witcher 3's development team.
There are more details in the full report, which you can read at Bloomberg. Schreier also tweeted out (see embed above) a handful of details that were omitted from the report, saying, for instance, that the police system was "all done at the last minute."
"As is evident by the final product, it was unclear to some of the team why they were trying to make both an RPG and a GTA with a fraction of Rockstar's staff," he wrote.
Now that the Cyberpunk 2077 launch dust has just about settled, CD Projekt says it's focused on patching the game. Because of that, the promised free DLC coming a little later in 2021 than anticipated.
There's also a standalone multiplayer component coming at some point, but there's just about no chance we'll see that this year. It was looking like 2022 for the multiplayer even before the launch problems.