Everyone knows the truth now: the PS4 version of Cyberpunk 2077 is a buggy mess and the XBox One version isn’t running so well either. One month ago folks were begging to play the game for just a minute; now they want refunds. Today Sony took the unprecedented step of removing Cyberpunk from the PS Store and doing just that. Microsoft and other merchants soon followed. As of this writing most major retailers are allowing you to return a physical opened copy, something they almost never allow in any other instance.
We’ve seen highly anticipated games get hyped up for years and then hit with a thud. But we haven’t seen a situation where one of these games bombs so badly that the actual game itself has to be removed from sale within a week of its launch. That’s quite an accomplishment, and one that will take a long time for CDPR to live down. However, it’s not the end of Cyberpunk yet.
Kotaku called attention to a recent phenomenon of games being “too big to fail.” They pointed out that the end result of AAA games taking years to make, gazillions of dollars to craft, and the only release from that publisher all year, is that the game simply can’t be allowed to bomb under any circumstances (even if it has). So instead of moving on, the company will continue making updates to the same game until it reaches a point where customers are satisfied.
This worked for No Man’s Sky. It half-worked for Fallout 76. It didn’t really work for Anthem, but EA is still plugging away. The difference between Anthem and Cyberpunk, however, is that Anthem was at least playable. This is a AAA bomb on a scale we haven’t encountered yet.
So the question is…with so much riding on the success or failure of Cyberpunk 2077, with so much of CDPR’s short-term profits depending on the launch of this game….WHY on EARTH would the company willingly ship a broken version of that game on the most commonly used consoles? Their actions suggest they actually thought they could cover it up (reviewers were only sent PC versions of the game; only next-gen footage was shown in trailers and previews). Consumers might’ve been fooled for about one day, but it wouldn’t take long for videos to circulate online.
If this were 2019, the public might’ve been surprised by such behavior. But CDPR itself has fallen under scrutiny in recent weeks for bad crunch conditions, a transphobic marketing campaign, and willingness to bow to censorship from the Chinese government. That was all BEFORE this happened. It’s a lot of fail, and CDPR may not be “too big” enough to weather it.